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Alum Rock's Special Characters

Alum Rock Park is a special City of San Jose park for all to enjoy because of its unusual features and exceptional amount of wildlife. On Father's Day, KCCB hosted a BioBlitz starting at the YSI building. I headed downstream of Penitencia Creek with one of the docents who was very knowledgeable about local plants.

bay laurel leaves
Bay Laurel with small bug. Photo by Brian Werst

Some of the plant species I learned about were the bay laurel (which are used in cooking, but should not be eaten unless ground up), local blackberry, bay oak. In fact, eastern blackberry bushes are invasive and can produce blackberries at a much faster rate than the local blackberry species. Additionally, elderberries can be cooked and eaten, but not consumed raw.

We also saw woodpeckers, Steller's jays, robins, finches and squirrels. The birds were very healthy and clean. The plumage of the Stellar's jays was very bright and colorful. I saw mainly colorful songbirds, and even a couple of red tailed hawks that flew overhead.

And, did you know that that woodpeckers wrap their tongues around the back of their skull to absorb the shock from pecking. Snowy egrets have yellow feet, which makes it easier to tell it apart from the Great Egret, which has black legs.

Our group had a couple of families and some bird watchers, too, which made for a well-rounded BioBlitz.

BioBlitz and people
Looking at bugs and leaves that cling to trees. Photo by Merav Vonshak

This event was generously funded by a grant from the City of San Jose's Environmental Services Department.

Contributions by Deb Kramer


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