Images taken in the
Alkali Meadow
at
Kaweah Oaks Preserve
A completely natural alkali meadow is sandwiched between Valley Oak Woodland (the Sycamore Trail) and a Riparian Forest (south-west of the picnic area). For centuries, this area was swamp most of the year with so many mosquitoes that the Indians wore them like clothes! The constant flooding and evaporation in this level spot eventually developed into the alkali meadow we see today.  White-tailed deer, Tule elk and Pronghorn antelope grazed on the abundant native grasses that thrive in this meadow during the dry season.  The Gaweah Tribe (yes, a G) of the Yokuts Indians, who resided near Woodlake, often hunted here with great success. Yokuts used the many native herbs and grasses for food, medicine and materials that filled their lives with diversity.
Alkali Meadow in bloom - early June.
 
 
 
 

The Meadow

Early June in the Alkali Meadow is an artist's dream. The pure white blossoms of Yerba Manza with the Sierra foothills as the backdrop is a sight that fills every visitor with a sense of balance and beauty. The slight scent of this native herb hints at the past secrets this meadow once revealed to a lost civilization.

alkalia minerals create a surreal mini-landscape
 
 
 

Alkali Soil
Some areas in the meadow are covered with the salt crystals that surface after a rain. The native saltgrass relies on this harsh soil for its survival - and there are many others that thrive here, too. 
 

There is always something blooming in the meadow.
(hover over images to learn their names)
cat's earmini lupinesticky conzacudweedcurly dock (buckwheat family)doveweed
fun filareejimpsonprickly lettucefilaree blossompineapple weed flowerpopcorn flower
alkali heliotropegumweed flowerpuncture vinesand spurrynitrophila

 
Yerba Manza (lizard tail)
 
 
 

Yerba Manza
The shining star of the meadow.

 

Say's Phoebe - a winter visitorWestern Meadowlark - year-round residentBlack Pheobe - resident
(hover over images to learn their names)
Birds of the Meadow
Loggerhead Shrike - occasionalCalifornia Quail - residentWestern Kingbird - summer resident
Ground nesting songbirds and birds of prey can be observed in the meadow everyday. The food web is as discernible here as anywhere in the world; with insects, birds and small mammals feeding on the flora and the coyotes and birds of prey feeding on the small mammals and birds. 

Nature in balance? Not exactly.
Large mammals and annual flooding are missing, but cattle will soon be reintroduced in an attempt to establish some balance here. Annual flooding was forever stopped when Terminus Dam stopped the river in 1962. Water is foundational to this historic landscape; but adapting to change must be intrinsic to all who will survive it.


(hover over images to learn their names)
red-backed jumping spider wind scorpion velvet ant  Invertebrates
of the
Meadow
darkling beetle or stink bug ants antlion larva

Monsters roam the meadow hidden by their mystical ability to camouflage their gruesome appearance. You may only catch a quick glimpse of these creatures, unless, of course, you know their secrets. Read and study about these intriguing invertebrates and maybe you'll discover their secrets, too.


Mammals and Reptiles of the Meadow
(hover over images to learn their names)
cottontal rabbit meadow vole coyote alligator lizard
ground squirrel raccoon weazel blue-bellied lizard

Gaze out upon the meadow in the early morning or late afternoon and you will see hints of the intricate road system in the thatch made up of hundreds of trails,  tunnels and holes. This intricate system was designed by the many small mammals that forage the meadow by day and some by night.

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