8. elokuuta 2022

August 7, 2022 Malibu Bluffs Park

It's been a hot summer, but then lately all our summers have been hot. As have our springs and falls for that matter. In an effort to avoid the heat, I headed out to Malibu Bluffs Park along the coast. Though I usually avoid the beach area during the summer, Malibu Bluffs Park tends not to get busy...at least the natural part of the park doesn't. I did see about 6 people but they were all spread out during my visit and I had the place mostly to myself.

I'm sure one of the reasons this area doesn't get many visitors is that it looks quite unremarkable. It's basically a big open area along the coast. Yes, it boasts nice views of the ocean, but there is nothing but chaparral here. No big attractions and probably a less natural feel due to the busy traffic going by on PCH and the helicopters whirring over the coastline.

While I didn't find anything remarkable here, it is a place where I've had good luck finding things that I don't find elsewhere. And while I'm always on the lookout for new species, any time I can find something in an area that I haven't seen in that area before, or that hasn't yet been recorded in that area, I am happy to add it to the inaturalist database.

My favorite find today were two, yes, two great spreadwings. I don't see these often so it was really nice to find them. I'm frequently discouraged when I don't see species that I used to see a few years ago. Yet I'm often encouraged when I find species in a new location where I wasn't expecting to see them.

In addition to the spreadwings, what I found interesting were the number of marine blue butterflies around. I actually was at this park last week and counted over 50. I'm sure there were still at least that many if not more. Interestingly enough, there are really not that many records on inaturalist of these butterflies in the coastal area of Malibu--or at least not anywhere near the observations that reflect the abundance I saw last week and today. It certainly reminds me that the data we add, while very valuable, often does not reflect what is actually happening out in nature.

In addition to seeing a large variety of bee flies, I also was pleased to find an ashy gray lady beetle. I've seen them before, but this was my first sighting in the Santa Monica Mountains area. Another cool find, and one of my favorite genera was a scriptured leaf beetle. I saw a couple of these last week but I always enjoy seeing them again.

Finally, I'm still amazed at how well animals are able to "hide" in plain sight. Today I saw both a moth and a spider, which had I not been looking very closely I would never have seen. I've posted both in conjunction with this journal entry and it makes me wonder how many things we all overlook as we're going about our visits in nature.

The more I observe nature, the more I learn. Not only have I discovered that many things that look the same are not necessarily the same, I've also learned to spend a lot of time looking over everything to make sure I'm not missing something interesting. Some of my best finds have been when I spent time in one spot looking at something, only to find something else crawling/flying by that I never would have noticed had I not stopped in that spot.

Lähetetty 8. elokuuta 2022 03:58 käyttäjältä naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 6 havaintoa | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

30. kesäkuuta 2022

June 28, 2022 Zuma Canyon

It has been six months since I visited Zuma Canyon. I used to visit this area quite regularly as it has some nice trails and habitat. Since the 2018 fire, though, things have changed. I was quite disappointed at my last visit in December 2021, as it looked very dry and inhospitable. The ongoing drought has not been kind to this area that used to regularly have a bit of water in the creek at least further back in the canyon.

While no water was present, and hasn't been for some time, I am pleased to report that the habitat looks much improved. For some reason our weird rain storms...a big one last December and another decent one in April, with almost nothing in between seems to have been just what our flowers needed.

I've certainly seen a lot more flowers this year than last year. What struck me most at Zuma Canyon was the sheer number of flowers in bloom. There must be over 100,000 flowers in bloom. Are there flowers everywhere? No. As usual, when you first start on the trail, the vegetation looks fairly dry with a few flowers here and there. However as you head back on the main trail, more and more flowers appear and though the variety is somewhat low, this being the end of June, the quantity is great. Thousands of cliff asters line some portions of the trail and hillsides and chaparral bush mallow plants are looking great and spread throughout. The coastal buckwheat is almost at peak and as everywhere in the Santa Monica Mountains, the laurel sumac bushes are filled with flowers. And, there are still some flowers to come, at least in this location.

That being said, things are far from perfect. This area used to be one of the few locations with western gray squirrels. I haven't seen one since the fire. I checked inaturalist and it doesn't appear that any have been reported since then either. Sadly, I notice that none have been sighted in Solstice Canyon this year at all--and this was the other reliable place to see them. I hope there is a population somewhere still hanging on but I'm a bit concerned. I know I saw a roadkill gray squirrel last year near the turnoff to Solstice and that worried me. With such low numbers, it's difficult for animals to maintain a viable population.

I haven't seen a rattlesnake at Zuma Canyon either since the fire and another check of inaturalist shows no reports of rattlesnakes since the fire. While that doesn't mean there aren't any, as not all people are using inaturalist, it does seem as though the fire has had a very tough impact on many animals.

The good news though is that the lush vegetation is definitely attracting lots of insects and pollinators. As someone who photographs a lot of insects, it is a bit overwhelming to see so many flying around and try to find cooperative ones. I saw many, many bees, several of which I'm still waiting for ID's on. Many were visiting ground nests in several locations, and I'm sure they will have plenty of pollen for their offspring.

As for butterflies, there were many. It's been a great year for checkered whites and Zuma Canyon was filled with them. There were also many marine blues. One interesting thing I noticed was that though this area used to be a haven for variable checkerspot butterflies I didn't see a single one (although it is getting late in the year for them). I used to see dozens of these along with a few gabb's checkerspot butterflies. On this day I saw one gabb's checkerspot and I notice that there have been no variable checkerspot sightings in this location since before the fire.

At least the insects and flowers seem to be having a good effect on bird life and though many cool birds have been reported on ebird, I wasn't able to spot or take photographs of as many species as I'd like. However, it's always nice to see the resident nanday parakeets and there were several black headed grosbeaks. Being able to photograph a juvenile quail (probably at the "teenage" stage) was also a highlight of the day.

Interestingly enough, many of the charred sycamore trees have sprouted a tremendous amount of leaves that are predominately growing at the base of the trees while the charred trunks are still on top. I don't know if the trees will grow taller and the leaves eventually rise but it's an interesting phenomenon...so instead of a canopy, there is more of a "skirt". Still it is nice to see life return and the amount of leaves on some of the trees is amazing.

If I've learned anything from visiting and revisiting areas over time, it is that the impacts of fire are long lasting. While the initial shock was difficult to take, the great rain year of 2019 seemed to mitigate that feeling by bringing lots of life back to those charred areas. Since then, we have experienced three dry years and are anticipating more of those along with higher and higher temperatures. From this review of just one small area, it is obvious that things are far from "back to normal". I do so wish more people would feel a sense of urgency to do what they can to protect our planet. So many animal lives depend on it.

Lähetetty 30. kesäkuuta 2022 05:55 käyttäjältä naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 7 havaintoa | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

8. kesäkuuta 2022

June 5, 2022 Corbin Canyon

I haven't visited Corbin Canyon much this year, partially because I've been trying to focus more on desert habitats, but also because I was so disappointed in how the area was decimated last year for "fire prevention" reasons by MRCA. It has taken a long time to recover from that extreme mowing down of every living plant within 100 yards of the trail. Between that action and the drought, the place has taken a beating.

However, I always like to check in to places I've visited in the past to see how they're faring. I'm pleased to report that the area looked very good. It's obvious that some vegetation "trimming" took place already this year. But, amazingly enough, it appears as though the people who manage the area actually listened to my concerns about how it was handled last year. I definitely don't want to take all the credit so I'm hoping that I was not the only one that complained.

While they did mow down a fair amount of the non native grasses and mustard this year, they actually trimmed around the native plants. For instance, the milkweed plant that was mowed down last year, was actually left intact this year--and it had a monarch caterpillar on it! New tarweed plants and elegant clarkia are all there. California aster plants are sprouting now that last year never even appeared except in areas not mowed. And the area that was trimmed was reduced substantially. Is it perfect? Probably not, but there were many, many birds around unlike last year when after the trimming I didn't hear a single bird for more than a month.

So what else can I report? I don't know if anyone else in the Los Angeles area has noticed but it sure seems like a good butterfly year. Though we only had two rainstorms of any significance, the wildflowers and butterflies seem pretty abundant this year. Maybe the spacing out of those storms contributed to this but I'm thankful for this. After all, we have no idea what will happen this coming rain year.

In addition, the purple sage plants that are very abundant in Corbin Canyon and looked totally dead after our dry, dry year seem to have revived and are thriving again and attracting many pollinators. Though some are definitely well past peak, there are still many that are in full bloom. The toyons have many flowers and the blue elders have many many berries. I saw band tail pigeons in the canyon for the first time since I started coming here. They were feasting on the berries.

And like everywhere else, the sapphire woollystar flowers are really prolific. It's a great year for Eriastrum flowers in general, though they've definitely already peaked.

In addition to the numerous native bees I saw (and yes, there were still an abundance of western honeybees) I found some interesting arthropods including this super orange bee fly (genus villa), a boldly patterned tiny bee fly (genus neacreotrichus), an ant mimic spider and a wasp that captured some sort of prey and took it into it's burrow.

And I'm always amazed at what I don't capture. As many insects as I was able to photograph, there were probably three times as many that I wasn't able to capture. Life is all around us just waiting for us to take notice. It brings me much joy to immerse myself in nature. I just wish more people would take the time to pay attention to the natural world around us. Perhaps if more people did, our planet would not be in such bad shape.

Lähetetty 8. kesäkuuta 2022 06:41 käyttäjältä naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 8 havaintoa | 2 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

24. toukokuuta 2022

May 22, 2022 Carrizo Plain National Monument

The Carrizo Plain has always had a magical appeal to me. It's a place that seems timeless and one in which you can immerse yourself in nature with very few if any distractions. It is also a place of ups and downs. Known for superblooms, it is also a place of drought. Subject to a rain shadow effect, it has never been a place where a lot of rain falls. Yet it seemed to be home to lots of wildlife--a place where wildlife can thrive without much human interference.

However, with California's continuing drought, Carrizo is really suffering. Last year was incredibly dry. This year was not much better, though there was enough rain to produce flowers in many places and make some areas green again. But the water deficit shows, based on my one day trip to the plain on May 22nd, which is about 2 months to the day from my last visit. Not only are flowers fewer in number, bloom periods are much shorter as there is not enough groundwater to sustain them. Without plants, wildlife has nothing to sustain or to shelter them.

On my last visit, I was feeling somewhat encouraged. I found several patches of flowers and some areas where things looked very good. However, there was also a sense of desolation...things were much quieter than before. Less wildlife was around. It was somewhat subtle but there was definitely a difference.

May's visit was even more discouraging. Yes, wildlife and flowers could be found; and some areas looked as if they could sustain life; but there were many areas that just looked dead and devoid of any living thing. Vast areas were covered with nothing but dirt and stubble from dried vegetation.

It has been two years now since I saw a kit fox at Carrizo. While these charismatic animals are primarily nocturnal, I've been lucky enough to have had some brief encounters that made my visits special. The pronghorn population has decreased and most of them spend their time in California Valley, an area to the north of Carrizo where there is better grass for grazing. And the number of reptiles seems way down. I saw only one snake this year and that one was roadkill. Even bird numbers seem to have dropped.

The southern half of Carrizo has always been less populated from a wildlife standpoint than the northern half. However, that was never more pronounced than on this trip. As we drove out after dark, I remember past visits when we saw so much wildlife on the road that we were stopping every few feet to avoid hopping kangaroo rats and zigzagging jackrabbits. We saw short eared owls and barn owls, and insects were pelting our windshield.

This time we had one area where we saw many jackrabbits and thankfully some juvenile kangaroo rats, the keystone species of Carrizo. But for the last 12 miles or so of our journey, we only encountered one kangaroo rat and no rabbits. And owls seem to be a thing of the past. It was very sad and yes, scary.

However, I don't actually think all that wildlife has gone. More likely, it is migrating. The main road through Carrizo travels the lowest part of the plain, and probably the driest. If you take one of the roads leading up to the hills, things improve considerably. It looks much more hospitable and you see and hear a lot more wildlife. It does take more effort to go into these areas as the roads are narrower and in some cases, in poor shape. And it makes a visit somewhat different.

So what did I see on this short trip to Carrizo? Lots of red tailed hawks, a decent number of adorable antelope squirrels and at least six coyotes, more than I've ever seen there. I also saw elk and pronghorn so I can't really say that I didn't have a good visit. And I saw a couple of blooming plants that I hadn't seen at Carrizo before. These included some beautiful woollystars (several very nice patches in different areas) and quite a few lovely small buckwheat plants (I'm waiting for confirmation on ID's on these).

It's difficult as a naturalist to go out and visit areas that you once loved and see them suffering whether it be from climate change, wildfire, degradation, trashing or development. On the other hand, we are the eyes and ears of the planet and its wildlife. It is my hope that our observations will help those who have the power to help wildlife continue to thrive in our world.

Lähetetty 24. toukokuuta 2022 06:23 käyttäjältä naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 6 havaintoa | 2 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

8. toukokuuta 2022

May 3, 2022 Jackrabbit Flat and Blalock Wildlife Sanctuaries

I haven't been out to the "wildlife sanctuaries" that I visit each year for quite some time and I wanted to get out there before spring is over. It takes a bit of fortitude to visit these places these days due to the stress of drought.

Despite that, I think it is important to document what is happening in these areas and show what life is making it and note what life is absent. Though this year was maybe a bit wetter than last, the Antelope Valley did not benefit as much from our two rainstorms as the LA area did. Lancaster near the poppy fields definitely did better than the Palmdale area but all are still suffering from drought.

As always, the majority of life is by the roadside where water pools, allowing plants to bloom. Other good areas are washes where water routinely flows through. It was obvious at both locations that there were some early blooms, probably from the December rain, that have now faded. There were also some more recent blooms that provided a bit of relief from viewing a super dry crunchy environment.

My visit to Jackrabbit Flat yielded a couple of good finds, only because not a whole lot of people visit the area, or surrounding area to document life. For instance I saw three western whiptails, yet none are documented for much of the surrounding area. I also found a yellow-backed spiny lizard which surprised me the most as I'm finding these to be much rarer than they used to be. Although from looking at the map, there seem to be many still around.

And it was nice to spot a raven nest in one of the Joshua Trees...it looked as if it has served that purpose for some time--or at least it was large enough that it looked as if it has been used a few times. Of course ravens are a double-edged sword...they're pretty cool birds but they do prey on a lot of animals.

Interestingly enough I also saw a hummingbird that was feeding on both the paperbag bushes that had a few blooms as well as the creosote bushes. I only had my macro so I'm not sure if it is an Anna's or a Costa's but it was great to see it there.

Finally, on the road's edge near the sanctuary sign, I found a couple species of gilias, a favorite flower of mine and many bees, taking advantage of the only creosote bushes with blooms.

I moved on to Blalock Wildlife Sanctuary which has the benefit of a bit more elevation and most likely a bit more runoff from rainstorms. They are only 5 miles apart but the difference was quite striking. Once again, there was a lot of life near the roadside, including a few brittlebush plants that were drawing many insects including another of my favorite taxa: acmaeodera. In addition to these insects, I found quite a few more throughout the area by walking in as many wash-like areas as I could. Many yuccas had bloomed or were blooming which was great. In addition I found one cholla in bloom and almost all the creosote bushes were in bloom to some extent. That being said, there weren't a whole lot of other flowers around.

I did find some sandmat plants which are always good for tiny insects and I found them teeming with life. One of the more interesting insects I found on these plants was this wasp that has yet to be ID'd. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/115513579

Some of my other nice finds included this really cool hairy tufted jumping spider which is apparently relatively common but it was new to me as well as some great bees on buckwheat plants which were also one of the plants that seemed to be doing well.

Finally, as with the tortoise reserve, I found some little gold poppies which seem to be having a pretty good year in the desert. I don't think I'd seen them here before so it's always interesting to find things that are waiting to bloom for the right combination of weather and temperature.

Lähetetty 8. toukokuuta 2022 20:06 käyttäjältä naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 16 havaintoa | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

21. huhtikuuta 2022

April 18, 2022 Desert Tortoise Natural Area

What a challenging time for nature and all it's creatures. The drought is apparent throughout the state. That being said, some areas have fared better than others. For instance, the Los Angeles area where I live seems to have done a bit better than expected thanks to two (yes, count them, two rainstorms). When I was a kid I remember storms lasting for 3-4 days. And they would come at least a couple of times a month in the winter. Now, I'm thankful for one day of good rain.

The desert tortoise natural area in the Mojave is definitely one of the more challenged areas and it breaks my heart to see how dry and dead everything looks. I visited this area on April 2nd and then returned on this day, April 18th. In the intervening time, the few flowers that seemed to have been blooming--and those very few, dried out and were no longer providing sustenance to the animals that depend on them.

During my first 15 minutes in the area, I almost gave up on finding anything as it was just so horrible looking. If you check out this distant photo of a western whiptail you can see what a great deal of the protected area looks like. However, once I traveled further I was able to scare up some life. Always a pleasure to see are desert horned lizards and this one was one of my first good finds at the reserve.

As I came closer to a wash, I started finding more flowers. The nature reserve volunteer later told me that at the end of March they had 2 hours of steady rain. So little rain, and yet, some flowers were able to take advantage of it. Most of the flowers I saw I believe are the result of those rains. However, so many of them look deeply stressed. And I'm sure the animals there are consuming them as fast as they can with so little habitat to provide for them.

There were still many pallid winged grasshoppers around who seem to be having a banner year...I'm seeing many everywhere. And they may be one of the culprits in consuming what little vegetation there is. I didn't see many bees this time however I did find a couple of super cool tiny wasps feeding on wild buckwheat flowers.

Some of the other flowers I found were a gilia that I've never seen at the reserve before, a few booth's evening primrose and several very healthy looking wishbone bushes..another plant I don't recall seeing at this area before. There were also some paperbag bushes with a few blooms--the plants were quite remarkable in that they're quite large and looked almost dead except for a few flowers poking out in a few places. The wishbone bushes which actually were robust were attracting their fair share of insects and I found these beautiful moths on one of them (I think they are orange-banded lithariapteryx but that is not yet confirmed.)

I also saw this small rock bristletail which was racing around the sand. Kind of a cool find in the desert.

Sadly, I saw no desert tortoises this time around and I heard the even sadder news that the one juvenile tortoise that was the source of much hope at the reserve did not make it through the year. Perhaps last year's incredible drought which makes this year's habitat look lush was too much for the youngster.

The other thing I've learned from my visits is that not only is vegetation sparser and flowers smaller due to the drought but their blooming period is very abbreviated. The landscape changes very quickly in this parched area. And perhaps those plants that do make it are better adapted to the dry conditions...in other words, evolving to survive on less water.

My hope is that we get lucky and have a great desert monsoonal season and better rains in 2023. The animals need all they help they can get.

Lähetetty 21. huhtikuuta 2022 01:38 käyttäjältä naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 10 havaintoa | 3 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

1. maaliskuuta 2022

February 26, 2022 Cold Creek Canyon

The last time I visited this area, it was very, very dry and lifeless. Today I thought I'd make a return visit to see how it has fared since our one big rain in December. I entered away from the main trail as I have lately in order to avoid as many people as possible. As it turned out, I didn't see a single other person.

The good news is that there is now water in the creek although in the areas exposed to sun, it is very low and suffering from an algae bloom, thanks to our hot weather. In addition, like in many places around Southern California, there were quite a few flowers in bloom, though they were typically smaller than average and many looked heat stressed even though we did have one week of cool weather.

However, the drought has really taken a toll on everything. And, the wide swings in temperature and humidity have certainly confused our wildlife. As yet, I've seen very few bees out though there are sufficient flowers in bloom that might benefit from their activities. Yes, there are always western honey bees; however, it is quite early for other bees to be out and I just hope there are still some flowers around when they do come out as the high heat and lack of any significant rain since December (and none in the forecast for the beginning of March) doesn't bode well for flowers.

I'm also beginning to see that even within a broad area of Southern California, there are definitely microclimates--areas that seem to be doing much better than others. For instance, in the past I thought Rancho Sierra Vista seemed to weather the drought a bit better than some places. However, my visit there a couple of weeks ago was depressing. I notice eBird counts from there seem to be down quite a bit. Worse, I stopped by Leo Carrillo today and the tide pools were nearly empty. Most, if not all of the surfgrass was brown and clearly dying/dead and very little other algae/vegetation was around. It was 90 degrees there and very dry. These high pressure heat events seem to be happening with regularity in "winter" and are deadly for our environment.

Yet, there are other areas, like Franklin Canyon and Briar Summit (the little pocket park I go to) that look quite healthy. Rainfall patterns and vegetation certainly impact how different areas survive in drought conditions. I think the beach communities, especially north of Malibu Lagoon seem to be faring worse as they traditionally have had very cool and foggy weather patterns that have been replaced by hot windy days during winter.

My visit to Cold Creek Canyon was quiet. Very little bird life was around except for a few scrub jays and a singing thrasher. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a snail..my first one in this location. Sadly, I also found the remains of a gray fox, one of my favorite animals. Since they seem not that common in our area, it is always depressing to find one that didn't make it.

I didn't really make any other unique finds but there seemed to be a huge number of flies and gnats around. With lower numbers of flycatchers and warblers, these insects seem to be thriving. Though I feel quite powerless to do much about what is happening to our environment, continuing to document these changes will hopefully provide further insight into where changes are occurring most as well as what organisms are surviving and which ones are struggling.

Lähetetty 1. maaliskuuta 2022 06:49 käyttäjältä naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 2 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

10. helmikuuta 2022

February 8, 2022 Coldwater Canyon Park

I took a chance on visiting this location as it was close by and I didn't know much about it. I read a few reviews on line and the consensus was that it was "not very busy"...something I always look for. Unfortunately, I'm not sure why several people noted that it wasn't very busy--maybe compared to Disneyland?? It was definitely the kind of place you go if you want to socialize, see and be seen.

I was disappointed, but because I was already there and scored a parking spot--the only one left so that should have told me something...I decided to look around. The trails are well groomed and it does appear that some of the vegetation has been planted; however, once you leave the vicinity of the parking area and associated buildings, the vegetation does appear to be natural.

Fortunately, there were a sizable number of California brittlebush plants which usually are great for insects. I managed to find a couple of warty leaf beetles again as well as a pair of mating streaktails (I don't think I've seen those mating before). Unfortunately, I found my first bagrada bugs of the season...mating of course, so I'm sure we'll see a bumper crop of these invasives soon.

My best finds of the day were a very cute little springtail as well as an unusual gall midge on the brittlebush. So in spite of not really enjoying my visit, I was able to find some new things. I probably will not be back to this place any time soon but I satisfied my curiosity and picked up a couple of interesting finds.

Lähetetty 10. helmikuuta 2022 05:24 käyttäjältä naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 5 havaintoa | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

26. tammikuuta 2022

January 26, 2022 Las Virgenes Canyon

It's always great to post something when you have an amazing discovery or see interesting creatures. However, sometimes things don't work out and you find very little. Today was such a day, and it seems worthwhile to post something based on the condition of the habitat.

I went to one of my favorite areas, Las Virgenes Canyon and I saw very little on my 4 mile hike. In fact, it was very disappointing to see the habitat. While the initial trail into the area never has great habitat due to the amount of invasive plants, once you get past that, things usually pick up. You can also count on this location as having a little bit of water in some places most of the time, even during droughts.

I hadn't been to the area since our last big rainstorm and it appears that a combination of that storm along with all the dead and dying trees that were a result of the Woolsey fire in late 2018 as well as our recent strong winds, pretty much destroyed the two riparian habitats where I normally find a fair amount of wildlife.

Instead, the reeds in the creek bed were bent down and clogging the stream. Trees and limbs were down in several places, many of them small, but nevertheless, contributing to the general look of destruction. While there was water in some areas that normally are dry, that didn't seem to make up for the lack of wildlife in general. As you can see from the few photos posted, the trees (for instance the one on which the nuthatch is perched) in the riparian areas pretty much all look like that one--charred. Even some of the willows and valley oaks that seemed to have bounced back after the fire didn't look too good.

I'm hoping that we actually get more rain at some point this year and maybe some of the habitat will recover. That being said, I did see 5 red tailed hawks --a species that seems to be having a very good year as well as one Lewis's woodpecker, a species that is also having a good year.

Lähetetty 26. tammikuuta 2022 22:43 käyttäjältä naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 3 havaintoa | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

25. tammikuuta 2022

January 21, 2022 Briar Summit Open Space

The start of a new year and new observations.

I'm happy to report that despite the DWP mowing down all the plants along the road in this area last spring/summer, many of the plants are growing back. Thanks to our great rainfall in December, things are looking really good. However, if we don't get anymore rain, I think our spring time may be early and possibly brief. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

I checked this place out a few times in December and many, many brittlebush were growing in with a few flowers on some. A few of the laurel sumacs are also growing in. The black sage is leafing out and looks pretty healthy. And several of the buckwheat have had a few flowers for awhile. And of course, there is plenty of mustard and a few other invasives.

With our warm weather in the last few days and with a bunch more flowers in bloom up on Briar Summit, it appears bugs have begun to come out all over. I'm still truly amazed at the number of insects California brittlebush attracts. Even without flowers there are plenty of insects if you look closely and have patience.

On this day, perhaps the most commonly seen insect was the sunflower seed maggot as well as a few other species of Trupanea. But I would say my most interesting finds are the three species I found in the vicinity of the smallseed sandmat which is also in bloom in a few patches. Just sitting in the dirt next to the plants I found these three interesting insects: a cool looking true hopper, a colorful tiny little plant bug (about the size of a large mite) and an insect I found the week before which I think belongs to the genus of spurge flea beetles. Last but not least I found a warty leaf beetle which seem to like the brittlebush and are such interesting little creatures.

I'm not sure how all these early arrivals will affect our wildlife as I'm sure they get confused with our erratic weather. By visiting the same areas on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule you can observe all the newly emerging plants and animals, even if it's not as exciting as going to a wholly new area.

Lähetetty 25. tammikuuta 2022 00:53 käyttäjältä naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 5 havaintoa | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti