This blog is a going to be new home for my first Berkeley nature blog:
Eventually I will transfer all the old posts to The Nature of Berkeley, but in the meantime, if this post intrigues you, I hope you’ll stop by Berkeley, Naturally! and enjoy the many wonderful nature images and articles there.
I’ll be doing more posts soon to tempt you into the Hills—if you need tempting!—but to whet your appetite, here’s one of my very first posts, which I hope you will enjoy. The title speaks for itself, and I hope it’s a feeling you come to share too!
Why I Love the Berkeley Hills(Originally posted on December 1, 2009)
(A point of geography: the term Berkeley Hills applies to one of ranges of the Pacific Coast Ranges. These hills used to be called the Contra Costa Hills. Therefore the term "Berkeley Hills" includes those hills above Oakland as well as those above Berkeley. "Berkeley Hills" is a geographic term (a toponym, to be exact) and has nothing to do with political or city boundaries. I just want my good neighbors in Oakland to know they are not being left out when I speak of the Berkeley Hills!)
But today, the first day of December, that changes! I thought the least I could do was post some introductory images from my hikes in Strawberry and Claremont Canyons. I wanted folks to see why I’m so in love with the Berkeley Hills area and why I feel so grateful to live here.
I’m also working on my first post about an animal you’ll often run across in the Hills. It’s actually a much-loved insect (yes, insect!) More on that later!
For now, click on “Read More,” below, to see some lovely images that highlight some of the natural wonders our beautiful ecosystem here in the East Bay.
If you click on any of the small images below, you’ll get a much larger one you can download to use for your desktop image or wallpaper. Enjoy! Steve
After 33 years in Boston, I can't tell you what a marvel it is go a whole summer without a trace of rain! As a boy growing up in the Mojave desert, I was used to long rainless periods, but even in the desert, we had summer "monsoon" thunderstorms. The Bay area's "Mediterranean" climate and summer drought are fascinating, and I look forward to discussing how they shape this ecosystem.
These next two photos were just two weeks after our amazing October rain storm. (The heaviest October rain in 47 years!) What a difference!
As a newcomer to the area, I was amazed at how fast the hills “greened up.” The plants in this area have some amazing adaptations to the Mediterranean climate we have here, and I’ll be writing a lot about that in later posts. Here's a nice shot looking across Strawberry Canyon to the historical UC Berkeley Cyclotron.
My favorite trees in the Canyons are the somewhat controversial Eucalyptus, which were introduced to this area in the 1850s. These beautiful trees dominate much of the terrain in the Canyons.
One of the best things about living in Berkeley is being so close to wonderful hiking and fire trails. Here are some images from some of my favorite hikes.
Once you gain some altitude into the hills, you are often rewarded with beautiful vistas of San Francisco Bay and unobstructed skies.
There are a huge range of plants in the Strawberry and Claremont Canyons. Here are two of my favorites: lichens and some wild (unripe) blackberries:
Many of the trees on the steeper slopes have a real battle with gravity and erosion. (I’ll be writing much more about Berkeley Hills plants and their challenges in later posts.)
Finally, hiking in the hills you’ll definitely come across wild animals. I’ll never forget the first time I came upon a flock of wild turkeys in Strawberry Canyon. (Alas, I’ve yet to have my camera with me when I’ve come across them.) There are many kinds of birds, too, including large raptors. But the toughest, most aggressive bird you’ll come across in the Canyons is the smallest! Meet the pound-for-pound champ, the Rufous Hummingbird:
You’ll also run across reptiles on your hikes. I’ve seen several kinds of garter snakes, and along the sunnier trails, you’ll almost see always some Western Fence lizards:
And some of the creatures you’ll find in the Hills are, well, just fantastic:
I hope you enjoyed my first “Berkeley, Naturally” post. In the weeks ahead, I’ll be creating new posts, as well as moving old posts to The Nature of Berkeley.
See you in the Hills,