Journal archives for January 2021

January 05, 2021

January 5, 2021 Las Virgenes Canyon

I hadn't been to Las Virgenes Canyon for quite some time. Since that time it has continued to be dry and until recently, very warm. We had about an inch of rain a couple of weeks ago....barely enough to wet the ground. The habitat is clearly under stress. The beautiful large old oak you see upon entering the trailhead was dried up and looking very poorly. I hope it survives. I took a photo of another oak tree up on a hill to show what several of them look like. At the same time that the oak trees and sycamores are stressed, a non-native Peruvian peppertree looked like it had plenty of water.

In spite of the dismal state of most of the terrain, there was still a bit of water in some of the riparian areas. I was pleased to see that. I didn't hear a lot of birds but I think most of the wildlife was taking advantage of the better habitat near the water sources.

The best find of the day was the small green sharpshooter I found in the creek. Otherwise I didn't see anything super unusual but noted the abundance of red tailed hawks--at least four to five in different areas along the trail and above. It seems that raptors in general are quite abundant this year.

Posted on January 05, 2021 23:08 by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 02, 2021

January 1, 2021 Carpinteria State Beach and Deer Creek Beach

We decided to head further north on this first day of the new year to check out tide pools and hopefully avoid the crowds. That really wasn't to be. We stopped at Carpinteria State Beach as there were some good sightings there for nudibranchs. I don't think we found quite the right area but the tide was still up a ways and more and more people kept on arriving so we decided to leave. We mostly did some beach combing for shells and didn't find anything too unusual. Tip: Don't go to the beach on a holiday or weekend even in January.

We wanted to stop somewhere else but as we drove along the coast we saw crowds and crowds of people and cars. We eventually made it to PCH and Point Mugu. It was mobbed there. Not that we were planning to stop there but it was discouraging. The trailhead for the Chumash trail was absolutely packed and teeming with people. So was the area of the steep sand dune.

Finally as we approached Deer Creek beach we saw an area where we could get down to some rocks and though there were people, there were fewer. We got down to the beach and most of the beachgoers were taking selfies and throwing balls for their off leash dogs (ugh). No one was at the rocky area.

The good news was that I thought the tide pool area looked in better shape than most I've seen. The animals we did see looked healthier and more robust (check out the nice mossy chiton). However, there just wasn't a lot of tide pool life. There is probably not quite the right terrain for a diversity of plants and animals.

But we did make a few good finds. I finally started using my macro lens which I should have been using at the tide pools all along. It paid off as I was able to capture very small animals that just aren't that easy to photograph using a long lens like I have been using. Our best find was a nice looking brittle star. I also found a really cool tiny snail on some surf grass. Last but not least, I found and photographed a nice surfgrass limpet.

Deer Creek beach is probably not a hot tide pool zone but I can bet on a week day non-holiday it is probably fairly quiet so for the solitude alone I might stop back there some time.

Posted on January 02, 2021 19:12 by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 21, 2021

January 20, 2021 Malibu Bluffs Park & Legacy Park

The winter doldrums are upon us and the never ending hot dry weather is making explorations more challenging. If you don't go to an area with a water source, finding wildlife other than a few expected species is difficult. At this time of year finding anything other than birds and dried up vegetation is a lot of work. I find myself spending a lot of time looking for interesting new species and coming up empty frequently.

Yesterday I went out to Malibu Bluffs Park and Legacy Park. I hadn't been to Malibu Bluffs in two months. I was interested to see how the burned area was recovering since my last visit. The natural area certainly looked better than expected with some new plant growth and spots of green--mostly non-native grasses that were popping up all over, probably as a result of our one inch of rain in December.

The burned area definitely is seeing new growth. Several laurel sumac bushes that burned have re-sprouted nicely. I was also able to find a cool new bug, a Nyctoporis carinata, underneath some wood. It kind of reminds me a tiny bit of an ironclad beetle. A couple of milkweed plants also had new growth but overall, the burn area did not look as good as I had hoped. I'm sure our lack of rain has impacted that.

I went on to Legacy Park and the pond was full; however I didn't see a whole lot of birds like I did late last year. What was nice to see was that a volunteer was there planting several new natives and it appears that there are many new plants in the park that were planted recently. Hopefully that will help to draw new birds in during spring migration. And I did find some very robust willow apple sawfly galls on one of the trees in addition to a few other insects. Having native plants and water is definitely the key to supporting wildlife.

Posted on January 21, 2021 17:15 by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment