Ano Nuevo means “new year” in Spanish, so my new years resolution has been to explore Ano Nuevo State Park, just north of Santa Cruz. It has trails, a beach as well as guided Elephant Seal tours during breeding season, however I like thinking of Ano Nuevo as a year round local nature destination!
Do you have a lizard at home that feeds on crickets? Well Ano Nuevo will be a pet lizard owners dream come true. At night before going to sleep I hear a choir of crickets going off, so I’m sure these little lizards have their hands and cheeks full. Abundant rabbits provide food for the coyotes and wild cats such as bobcats and Mt. Lions.
Dogs are not allowed at this state park, in joke I would say its because a Mountain Lion might eat a small pet, but in reality it has to do with more important issues such as protecting near endangered wildlife at Ano Nuevo such as the San Francisco Garter Snake or American Badgers.
The poison oak thrives near certain trails here so be aware of everything you touch. I got some poison oak on my arm when photographing a butterfly and it was a good reminder I stand in the shadow of the powerful flaming bush known as poison oak.
Just behind the waves, A family of Harbor seals swam by (adult parents and a pup). Further out about 100 meters I witnessed a movement of dozens of California Sea Lions swimming north. These are big mammals that have smooth hips and are distinguished from a sighting of a dolphin swimming by, mostly because they are missing the triangular dorsal fin. These are definitely the mermaids of the seas, pushing along and cutting through seabirds plunge feeding. I enjoyed watching how sleek the water rolls of their thick dark brown fur.
The Elephant Seal season is at the end of winter where tour guides refereed to as “docents” walk you to safe viewing areas of new born seals. Hearing about the Ohlone native people who used to inhabit Ano Nuevo reminded me of how we inhabit the same area in modern times. In the sand there are still relics such as arrowheads and ancient tools. During the summer although some areas are still restricted, Ano Nuevo trails and beach are still accessible, as I mentioned earlier this is a year round destination that wont let you down!
Ano Nuevo State Park is just a few miles north of Santa Cruz. Being so close to us and having so many layers of ocean and land to experience, it fits into any quick trip out of Santa Cruz or urban life and into our local wonderful state park!
8 foot tall bush of poison oak with thousands of berries:
You are looking at the mightiest poison oak bush I have ever stood in front of, I came home with a poison oak rash because there were thousands of poison oak berries being shaken by the wind, speaking to me to get out of there quick. You might ask why these bushes still stand and the answer is that local wildlife sustain themselves on the berries.