This week we went out with something special to look for: lichen! On our last outing, I noticed that there's a lichen walk to be held locally a couple times over the next few months. We're planning to go if we're able, but that got me interested--so today we went out to take a closer look at the lichen and mosses at our favorite spot. I see lichen all over the trees there, but I have never really stopped to observe it, and I don't think the kids had either...which is funny considering how technicolor some of it is in comparison to the brown-and-dry landscape we see here for much of the year!
In addition to taking photos, we brought home some samples to identify...and were somewhat successful. There are so many different varieties of lichen that is was tricky narrowing them down. I suppose that will make great fodder for discussion with the lichen expert-docent when we meet. I immediately put a field guide for local lichen on my wishlist. I know I saw one when we were last at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History; I'm regretting not picking it up then! And we discovered how hard it is to draw moss and lichen without them all just looking like blobs. :)
Of course, there was lots of other sights there too. We had a great time watching a pair of mallard pals checking us out at the pond. They obviously thought we had something tasty because they swam right over to us after hearing three-year-old Xavier throw a pebble into the water. We didn't, but they treated us to a diving show as they grabbed grub from the shallows right next to us. Xavier could have stayed there watching them forever!
...and gigantic pinecones to examine. This one (which was about a foot long!) was conveniently split down the middle, allowing us to get an up-close look at its structure.
We also noticed lots of other new growth today--not only the mosses were green! But more about that another day.