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.

Posted by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze, March 01, 2022 06:49

Comments

I went to Cold Creek Canyon on April 3rd and found two patches with Purple Owl's-Clover, one with Adela flammeusella moths, https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/110403232. That was really great. The penstemons were doing okay too, and other than last year, Black Sages had a few flowers. Last year none of them bloomed. There were toad eggs and tadpoles in the remaining puddle of the creek.

In 2021, this spot was the one most suffering in the Calabasas area of the mountains, by far. Maybe because it is really depending on the creeks, which were dry.

As to birds, I heard a Red-shouldered Hawk, saw Acorn Woodpeckers, a Thrasher, and a couple of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, a NoMo, a Scrub-Jay. I saw Orioles in the Eucalyptus on Stunt Rd.

As always, thanks for sharing your impressions!

Posted by andreacala 2 months ago (Flag)

Thanks Andrea. I’m due for a return visit. Right now I’m trying to focus more on the desert as it has a small window of weather in which to visit. But I will probably try Cold creek next week some time. Looks like you’re enjoying your Arizona trip.

Posted by naturephotosuze 2 months ago (Flag)

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