October 8, 2020 Las Virgenes Canyon

It was a day of mostly unremarkable finds yet there was something remarkable about it anyway. I hadn't been to Las Virgenes in months. Las Virgenes Canyon was one of the two places I "studied" for the year following the Woolsey fire. I was a regular there for many months. But between the pandemic and the hot weather, I hadn't had a chance to visit in quite some time. Yesterday, it was a study in contrasts.

Walking in to the place is very depressing. It is about as dry and degraded as you can get. When you enter, it looks like it was recently plowed to make the fire road wider. On either side, with the exception of a very few plants, it is filled with the dried up remains of mustard and thistle.

Yet there are two places further on where it is moist and almost lush. Perhaps we have the fire to thank for this as I remember prior to the fire, water in the late summer or fall was not to be found. However, since the fire, the vegetation has grown in lusher than ever in two areas and perhaps that is the reason there is still a small amount of water in the canyon. Thanks to that water there were even some scarlet monkey flowers blooming!

Further down, once you get past the two marsh-like areas, it's back to the parched landscape with a few oaks mixed in. However, once again, I found signs of life in a small patch of long-stemmed buckwheat that was attracting a nice mix of insects. There were several of these beautifully blue colored wasps as well as a buckeye and some bees. On my way out I passed a newly emerged butterfly.

Finally, I had hoped once again to run into some migrant birds or interesting warblers but alas, I didn't see any. However I did record my first chipping sparrow for the Santa Monica Mountains, a bird I've probably seen before in the area but never photographed because it is so plain. Thanks to inaturalist I now try not to overlook anything.

And the last encouraging thing was that I saw several valley oaks growing in or getting new leaves--hopefully bringing more habitat and shade to the canyon. I've also included links to two observations I made shortly after the Woolsey Fire that show both the devastation and the resilience of life: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/27419562
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/27419611

Posted by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze, October 10, 2020 00:30

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Scarlet Monkeyflower (Erythranthe cardinalis)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

October 8, 2020 02:05 PM PDT

Description

Las Virgenes Canyon

Photos / Sounds

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

October 8, 2020 02:22 PM PDT

Description

Las Virgenes Canyon
There were at least a half dozen of these on the long stemmed buckwheat

Photos / Sounds

What

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

October 8, 2020 02:44 PM PDT

Description

Las Virgenes Canyon

Photos / Sounds

What

Checkered White (Pontia protodice)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

October 8, 2020 03:05 PM PDT

Description

Las Virgenes Canyon
Appears to have just emerged

Comments

Great entry that makes me feel like I've been alongside you at this outing. Thank you for sharing!!

Posted by andreacala about 1 year ago (Flag)

Add a Comment

Sign In or Sign Up to add comments