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.

Posted by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze, May 08, 2022 20:06

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Western Whiptail (Aspidoscelis tigris)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 3, 2022 10:40 AM PDT

Description

Jackrabbit Flat Wildlife Sanctuary
First of three seen

Photos / Sounds

What

Costa's Hummingbird (Calypte costae)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 2022

Description

Jackrabbit Flat Wildlife Sanctuary
CV is suggesting Costa's which may well be correct. I was just too far away with my macro lens. It initially was feeding on a paperbag bush and then moved to a creosote bush

Photos / Sounds

What

Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 3, 2022 11:48 AM PDT

Description

Jackrabbit Flat Wildlife Sanctuary
Best find of the day--don't see these too often lately

Photos / Sounds

What

Common Raven (Corvus corax)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 3, 2022 11:52 AM PDT

Description

Jackrabbit Flat Wildlife Sanctuary
Nesting in a Joshua tree on the sanctuary

Photos / Sounds

What

Gilias (Genus Gilia)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 3, 2022 12:05 PM PDT

Description

Jackrabbit Flat Wildlife Sanctuary
In front of the entrance sign

Photos / Sounds

What

Gilias (Genus Gilia)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 3, 2022 12:06 PM PDT

Description

Jackrabbit Flat Wildlife Sanctuary
In front of the entrance sign

Photos / Sounds

What

Cellophane Bees (Genus Colletes)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 3, 2022 12:09 PM PDT

Description

Jackrabbit Flat Wildlife Sanctuary
Looks like the same species I found near the DTNA
The only other bee I was able to capture on the creosote bushes near the entrance sign though there were smaller ones as well

Photos / Sounds

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 3, 2022 12:38 PM PDT

Description

Blalock Wildlife Sanctuary
Amazing sight! If there was a flower in bloom, these guys were on it it seemed--or at least on the buckwheat and brittlebush plants

Photos / Sounds

What

Hairy Tufted Jumping Spider (Phidippus comatus)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 3, 2022 12:44 PM PDT

Description

Blalock Wildlife Sanctuary
Cute little one

Photos / Sounds

What

Chaparral Yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 3, 2022 01:02 PM PDT

Description

Blalock Wildlife Sanctuary
Most of the yuccas were in full bloom..this one still to come

Photos / Sounds

What

Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 3, 2022 01:33 PM PDT

Description

Blalock Wildlife Sanctuary
A blooming cholla

Photos / Sounds

What

Whitemargin Sandmat (Euphorbia albomarginata)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 3, 2022 01:39 PM PDT

Description

Blalock Wildlife Sanctuary
I found a couple of nice patches but there could be more if I had had the time to look further

Photos / Sounds

What

Bees and Apoid Wasps (Superfamily Apoidea)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 3, 2022 01:41 PM PDT

Description

Blalock Wildlife Sanctuary
I saw at least 2 of these..very small and a challenge to photograph

Photos / Sounds

What

Ehrhorn's Rotund-Resin Bee (Anthidiellum ehrhorni)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 3, 2022 01:52 PM PDT

Description

Blalock Wildlife Sanctuary
I saw a couple of these cool bees

Photos / Sounds

What

Mesilla Cellophane Bee (Epeolus mesillae)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 3, 2022 01:52 PM PDT

Description

Blalock Wildlife Sanctuary

Photos / Sounds

What

Little Gold Poppy (Eschscholzia minutiflora)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

May 3, 2022 01:53 PM PDT

Description

Blalock Wildlife Sanctuary

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