Walter and Sara Let the good times roll
It was partly cloudy on Wednesday March 13 when we started out from Sierra Trails RV Park in Mojave, CA for the short drive southwest to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. It had been very warm all over southern California the previous weekend and we’d heard that most of the poppies at the Reserve had gotten cooked so we didn’t expect to see carpets of them like we’d seen in April 2008 (the poppies were at peak bloom a couple of weeks ago which is over a month early). But there were still supposed to be wildflowers so off we went.

There were lots of Goldfields (Lasthenia californica) in bloom along the way and we saw poppies growing in the verge here and there too.

At the Poppy Reserve there truly was a shortage of poppies but there were all sorts of other great flowers in bloom. Like these Fiddlenecks (Amsinckia tessellata) in huge numbers.

Fiddlenecks (Amsinckia tessellata)

Western Fence Lizards kept scuttling across the trail and a couple of them actually stayed still long enough for me to get a photo. I think that this one is a female ready to lay her eggs.

Western Fence Lizard

And this is a male. You can certainly understand why they have the coloring they do. He really blends in with the native gravel.

Western Fence Lizard  

There were Red Stem Filaree (Erodium cicutarium) in patches here and there.

Red Stem Filaree (Erodium cicutarium)

And lots of Goldfields (Lasthenia californica) with a few California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica) mixed in for variety.

Goldfields (Lasthenia californica) and CA poppies

We hiked a 2 mile loop trail that took us first to the top of the hill to Tehachapi Vista Point. You can see that there are lots of poppies across the valley but not in the Reserve itself.

View northwest from Poppy Reserve

There were a few Desert Pincushions (Chaenactis fremontii) mixed in to give white highlights.

Desert Pincushions (Chaenactis fremontii)

And there were small patches of Grape Soda Lupine (Lupinus excubitus var. austromontanus). Don’t you just love that common name?

 Grape Soda Lupine (Lupinus excubitus var. austromontanus)

The Goldfields swept down the hill in lovely patches.

Goldfieds and poppies

Here and there you could see a Blue Dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum)—Hey I didn’t come up with the name! My camera has issues with blue flowers so I was happy to finally get a decent shot of this lovely blue flower after taking quite a few out of focus ones.

Blue Dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum) and CA poppies

The trail continued in a northwest direction along the North Poppy Trail Loop and gave us a great view of the hills across the valley covered with poppies and goldfields.

View west from CA Poppy Reserve

It kind of looks like someone got loose with an airbrush!

Silver Puffs (Microseris linearifolia) start out looking like delicate dandelions but their seed heads are much more fun.

Silver Puffs (Microseris linearifolia)

The trail looped northward and we got a great view of still more poppies off on the northern hillsides.

 View north from Poppy Reserve

Behind us, the goldfields climbed the hillsides.

Goldfields up hillside CA Poppy Reserve

Along the trail there was a California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) with a Red Stem Filaree growing up through it.

CA Poppy with Red Stem Filaree growing though it  

The trail looped eastward and there were poppies on the far hills too—all outside the boundaries of the Reserve.

Northeast view from Poppy Reserve

We were not without poppies within the Reserve though. Here and there they mixed in with the Goldfields.

CA Poppies and Goldfields

The big thrill was that on this side of the hill we began to see Owl’s Clover (Castilleja exserta)—something new for me. Purple, with Owl in it’s name? What more could you want?  

Owl’s Clover (Castilleja exserta)

All the north facing hills were covered with Goldfields.

Goldfields at CA Poppy Reserve

And here and there you could see Cream Cups (Platystemon californicus).

Cream Cups (Platystemon californicus)

As we turned southward back to the start there were big patches of Owl’s Clover mixed in with the Goldfields.

Owl's Clover and Goldfields

And some lovely deep orange poppies.

California poppy

Just before we reached the top of the trail again I spied some butterflies feeding on the Fiddlenecks. I think that they were Painted Lady Butterfly

On our way back to the parking lot we saw these lovely gold edged poppies that Walter pointed out.

California Poppies

From the Poppy Reserve we decided to drive east back towards Lancaster where we’d seen a huge swath of poppies growing on the hills south of town. One of the volunteers said that they were off Avenue M near Quartz Hill.

On the way I pulled over to take a shot of this field of goldfields and poppies.  

Goldfieds and Poppies Lancaster CA

We followed our noses east and then south until we found a way to drive on a dirt road under some power lines where we could see huge patches of poppies. We found a place to park and had our picnic lunch with this view to the east.

California Poppies Lancaster CA

We were surrounded by poppies. With these to the west.

California Poppies Lancaster CA

And these to the north.

California Poppies Lancaster CA

And here and there were patches of Pygmy Lupine (Lupinus bicolor).   

Pygmy Lupine (Lupinus bicolor)

This was a great day for flexibility training. You set out to see California Poppies at the Poppy Reserve. No poppies but lots of wonderful flowers. THEN you take a side trip and get your fill of poppies. Lovely.

We had a great time and having partly to mostly cloudy skies meant that it was easier to take flower photos. It was windy but it’s always windy at the Poppy Reserve so that’s nothing new.