Unless otherwise attributed,
all photos are taken by Jean.
Elfin Forest Activities
By Jean Wheeler
When parking near the Elfin Forest while visiting, please avoid blocking driveways or mailboxes.
February 5 - Weed Warriors
The volunteer work party known as the "Weed Warriors" will meet from 9 am to about noon. Anyone is welcome to join in and help pull obnoxious invading weeds and work on projects to reduce erosion. Wear comfortable shoes, long pants and sleeves, and park at the north end of 15th Street in Los Osos.
February 19,9:30 a.m.
For our annual Fungus Foray in the Elfin Forest, intrepid leader and fungophile Dennis Sheridan will take us on an exploration of the Elfin Forest floor for wood bluetts, black elfin saddles, earthstars, golden caps, boletes, poisonous amanitas and many other fascinating fungi. Bring a magnifying lens and, if you have a mystery mushroom in your yard, bring a sample for Dennis to identify. This is not a mushroom collecting walk, as all plants in the Elfin Forest are protected by law. Only a very heavy rain will cancel the walk, and if it hasn't rained, Dennis will give us an equally fascinating walk examining lichens that grow abundantly in the Forest.
Besides docent-led events, visit the Elfin Forest any day to experience the quiet natural beauty of this small wilderness area. Park at the north end of any street from 11th through 17th streets off Sta. Ysabel in Los Osos and take a sand path to the boardwalk or the wheel-chair accessible boardwalk entrance at 16th Street.
Coming Up in the Elfin Forest
February is a great month to visit the boardwalk in the Elfin Forest while you can still enjoy lots of birds floating on the Bay as well as birds flitting though the shrubs and low trees among abundant and colorful wildflowers!
As I write this in mid- January, buckbrush ceanothus shrubs (a species of California lilac) are covered with white to light lavender blooms all around the boardwalk. They are also covered with buds still to open and should continue to bloom at least through February. Morro manzanitas still have a lot of their pinkish white bells now, but they began blooming with the rains so early this year—long before the holidays—that they are fading fast and may be nearly gone by early February. So get out on the boardwalk soon if you want a chance to see their blossoms this year, or you'll have to settle for the fruits, the red "little apples" of their Spanish name.
Fuchsia-flowering gooseberries are covered with red floral tubes which hummingbirds are industriously pollinating in exchange for their nectar. I've already seen a male Anna's Hummingbird do several of his startling courtship dives. Closer to the ground, red color can also be seen in the drooping flower balls of California peonies. Seaside fiddleneck, golden yarrow and seaside golden yarrow, California poppies, and sticky monkey-flowers provide yellow and orange flowers at this season.
A native vine with big green leaves and small white blossoms with yellow centers is wild cucumber. These vines should be all over the Elfin Forest by February as they were last spring. But don't confuse them with the nastily invasive cape ivy, which has a shiny leaf with yellow flowers.
Winter avian visitors to our chaparral and pygmy oak groves are nearing the end of their visit and will soon head north or up into high mountains. So these are the months to look for Ruby-crowned Kinglets, American Robins, and several wintering species of sparrows. Also migrants will be passing through from wintering sites in Middle and South America. Among them you might be lucky enough to spot Rufous or Allen's Hummingbirds. Some of our summer birds, including House Wrens and all of our species of swallows, will be returning from their holidays in the tropics to get to work again building nests for this year's families.
Of course our year-round birds are here, such as Anna's Hummingbirds, California Quail, White-crowned and Song Sparrows, both species of towhees, the California Thrasher, and the Western Scrub Jay. The Wrentit is often heard but seldom seen.
Our winter water birds will still be abundant on the estuary at least through February. This includes all ducks and geese, all wading birds, and all grebes known to occur within view from the Elfin Forest. American Avocets and most species of sandpipers are also here well beyond February. Enjoy the views from Bush Lupine Point and Siena's View while the Bay is still teaming with these birds that wade or swim as well as they fly!
Spotted Towhee image on banner by Jean Wheeler.