Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Nature Study Outing :: At the Beach Retreat

Would you like to come along on our CM West :: Retreat at the Beach nature walk?

The house we stayed at was up the hill a bit from the coast, so our walking route took us first along the street, then on to a little dirt trail down a gulch, ending in the sand on the north side of the beach.

As you can see, along the trail ran a little trickling brook.  It actually turned into a little waterfall at some of the steeper points.

see that little pond at the bottom?

The hills along the trail were covered with the ever-present-and-always-beautiful ice plants as well as other dune favorites...

hottentot fig

beach strawberry

yellow bush lupine
And something completely new to me: these horsetail reed (both fronds and spore-bearing shoots) growing in a patch at the very top.

As we neared the sand, the trail got a bit steeper, and the little brook opened out onto the beach.

looking back at the trail from the beach

water heading through the rocks and down to the water

We did some painting and watched the godwits in the morning. And I made a challenge to myself to paint some "landscapitos" (a John Muir Laws term :)) in the field.  Honestly, I wasn't super pleased my results, but they were fun to make and did get me looking at the way the light played on the landscape much more carefully.

The rock formations, with their brightly colored layers, were just beautiful.  They made me wish I knew more about geology!

We did a little tidepooling in the afternoon.  There definitely weren't as many shells here as I usually see, but we still found mussels, anemones, clams, barnacles, and more. 

And then we walked back up through the gulch to the house.  Funnily enough, we found quite a few wildflowers on the roadside!

purple woundwort

blackberry brambles?

blue-eyed grass -- my first time id'ing this

perennial favorite that grown everywhere: scarlet pimpernel

We brought home a few, and you know me: I had to set up a couple nature trays with our little collection! :)

We spent the pre-dinnertime hour drawing and identifying and observing.  Such a good time.  And here's the equisetum (horsetail) again, this time up close:

Apparently they are very common, so I don't know why I have never seen them before.  But wow, what a strange looking plant!

Now, that's it for our beach walk, but I can't help but add an amazing little stop we made on the drive home, about ten minutes east from the house: a little place commonly called Elephant Rock.  We stopped there for this...

...but we ended up finding this....

dudleya rosettes
sun cups
(l to r) - unknown - red sheep sorrel - checkermallow - dove lupine

This is what happens when you're on an outing with a bunch of Charlotte Mason mamas.  We stop for a quick photo op with a gorgeous view, and we leave with a handful of wildflower specimens to draw when we get home. :)

And as a bonus: I thought I'd share the little dune "cheat sheet" I put together for the retreat.  For those of you on the West Coast: it has some of the most common plants and animals you'll find along my local coastline, and perhaps on yours as well.  Feel free to download it for personal use!