Saturday I went back to the PV Nature Preserve's Portuguese Bend Reserve. It had rained the last time I went, making picture-taking a muddy venture. I parked the car, walked to the trailhead and was stopped in my tracks when I saw just how beautiful the vista was. The visibility on my earlier hikes was no more than 20 feet so I never saw how high, or breathtaking the view was.
The first thing I noticed on this hike was the great commotion above me. Ravens. There were up to 50 or so ravens ganged together partly to attack nearby hawks or vie for potential mates. Their calls varied from the typical "Hey-Everybody!-Check-This-Out" coarse caws to very sweet and rounded "Hey-Baby" hoots. Some carried pebbles in their beaks, the raven equivalent of a fat wallet. The aerial acrobatics lasted the entire hike.
The ravens weren't the only aerial stunt-masters I saw that day. Zipping in and out of the clouds were 3 fixed-wing aircraft that were performing spectacular maneuvers as part of a mock dog fight. The area right off the coast here in Southern California sees a lot of historic aircraft, zeppelins and blimps.
As I continued down the trail the sun started to gather strength and heat, drying out the water-logged flora. I started to hear a consistent clicking or popping. I leaned closer to the bushes from where I heard the sounds and found these little guys.
Acacia melanoxylon. The plant is non-native and considered invasive. Originally from Eastern Australia, it finds American soil just ducky. It grows fast after fires and is easily propagated. If left unchecked it can grow into a substantially tall tree. Like most invasive (and successful) species it tolerates almost any kind of environmental condition. Kind of like a special ops soldier.
I ended up walking to a nice little shady spot near the start of the Klondike trail. From here I was able to see Palos Verdes Drive South and Catalina Island peeking out of the clouds. I sat down and watched pelicans dive into the ocean, ate my banana, and let whatever doubts and confusion about life's constant dramas dissipate from my mind. It was a good hike.