Los Osos Oaks Nature Reserve

Curt Beebe, docent,  June 18, 2001, 5:30 - 7:00 AM

Note:  This activity is one of an ongoing, almost daily series, entitled Adventures with Nature, sponsored by the San Luis Obispo Coast District State Parks Docents supported by Central Coast Natural History Association, Museum of Natural History, Morro Bay, CA State Park.

Introduction, from Los Osos - Baywood Park Chamber of Commerce:  

Watch for small signs and a parking lot on the south side of Los Osos Valley Road, -mile east of South Bay Boulevard. An easy one-mile trail leads visitors under the low canopy of "Pygmy Oaks," dwarfed oaks that are 600 to 800 years old.

The leaf-covered trail winds among the trees' gnarled gray trunks and the mushrooms, wild cucumbers, hollyleaf cherry and other flora that exist in this shaded land where Chumash Indians once lived. Visitors should be wary of a prolific member of the reserve's plant community - poison oak. Avoid its shiny "leaves of three" lining the trail in many places.

The Sierra Club write-up is below:

This serene and unspoiled 85-acre area is located about one mile south east of the town of Los Osos on Los Osos Valley Road. A one-mile long self-guiding trail wanders through a grove of coast live oaks including some mature oaks that are no more than six to eight feet in height. These dwarfed oaks grow in the mineral depleted soil of ancient... sand dunes. A wide range of plants and animals can be seen here including three kinds of lichens not found elsewhere. (more information)

Several dedicated nature lovers paul-curt.beebe.jpg (37258 bytes) heidi-buffy-5.30AM-what-is-this-early-rise-anyway-misbehaved-and-evicted-anyway.jpg (58971 bytes) came out for this beautiful docent-led walk through the Los Osos Oaks Nature Reserve.  By starting out early in the morning, we were treated to the sight of Venus resting to the right of the moon venus-w-moon-sunrise-6-18-01.jpg (100037 bytes), against a sunrise over the Morros sunrise-6-18-01-from-los-osos-oaks.jpg (46997 bytes) morros-in-distance-from-loo.jpg (35648 bytes).   The many birds were awakening, and visible high cb-6-18-01-bird-at-LOO.jpg (21413 bytes) (Black Phoebe shown here, courtesy Curt Beebe) in the trees bird-watching.jpg (127840 bytes) as they perched high to dry their feathers and sing in the new sun.  

To hear some of these bird sounds, click here (beware, this is a 4 MB .avi file, which may take many minutes to load unless you have a very high bandwidth connection.  Turn volume to maximum.

The following images are to some extent self-describing by image name.  Click to enlarge these thumbnails.  

Among the many majestic oaks majestic14-oaks.jpg (135162 bytes) majestic-oaks.jpg (162623 bytes) los3-osos-oaks.jpg (135584 bytes), some covered with lace lichen flat-lichen.jpg (94787 bytes) flat-lichen-hanging.jpg (110565 bytes), and sheltering much poison oak poison-oak.jpg (53857 bytes) poison-oak-berries.jpg (88726 bytes) poison2-oak-vine.jpg (142945 bytes) poison-oak-vine.jpg (100704 bytes),

we encountered raccoon footprints raccoon-foot-print.jpg (60707 bytes), deer, a small intermittent feeder creek, Los Osos Creek (fairly dry in June), a bee hive bee-hive-nest.jpg (123613 bytes), a hollow in a tree called the "birdbath" bird-bath-by-nature.jpg (139483 bytes), and grasses and rush of various types nodules.jpg (26526 bytes) oats-or-veldt-grass.jpg (123089 bytes) grass.jpg (115727 bytes) rush.jpg (162986 bytes) horse-tail-silica-abrassive.jpg (41333 bytes), harboring delicate spider webs spider-web.jpg (158703 bytes).

Wood rat nests dusky2-footed-wood-rat-nest.jpg (173620 bytes) dusky-footed-wood-rat-nest.jpg (110226 bytes), flowers, such as this sticky monkey flower sticky-monkey-flower.jpg (159362 bytes), and native shrubs, such as this bush lupine bush-lupine.jpg (110269 bytes), dotted the area.

The variety of forms arch-loo.jpg (133193 bytes) presented by this preserve was accentuated by the shadows cast by the early rising sun majestic17-oaks.jpg (155215 bytes) majestic16-oaks.jpg (160548 bytes) lichen2.jpg (146347 bytes) imagery.jpg (168535 bytes) majestic8-oaks.jpg (118686 bytes)

Willow herb willow-herb.jpg (129431 bytes), California holly calif-holly.jpg (169973 bytes), coffee berry coffee-berry.jpg (106865 bytes), oak "apples" oak-apple.jpg (78572 bytes)... were just a few of the hundred items Curt Beebe identified for us.

The preserve contains some natural and artificial meadows and pastures meadow.jpg (86719 bytes), adjacent to the many oaks majestic15-oaks.jpg (165985 bytes) majestic9-oaks.jpg (159058 bytes), some of which exposed their three inch thick bark to us thick-bark-on-oak.jpg (152456 bytes), and sundry growths cramp-ball-put-under-arm-pit-for-m-cramps.jpg (83505 bytes).

Chumash Indian middens (old trash and garbage dumps) midden-clam-shell.jpg (97381 bytes) provided evidence of human habitation, as pieces of clam and oyster shells could be found under the chaparral.

Here are 23 photos taken on 25 August 2001 of the adjacent Los Osos Creek bed, explored by Curt Beebe and Mike Baird.

read "All about Poison Oak" by docent Curt Beebe.