Journal archives for February 2021

February 19, 2021

Tujunga Wash February 17, 2021

I checked out this area a few days ago and noticed there was a lot of brittle bush in bloom so I decided to head over again to do an insect survey. I basically spent a couple of hours combing the plants and flowers for insects. The habitat in this area can generally be described as disturbed. A fire went thru the area a few years ago and there is still much evidence of it...burned logs, stunted trees and lots of debris. There are also remnants of a concrete slab or possible road there thru which plants are gradually breaking through, The area is probably one of the least appealing areas I have visited. However it has a couple of things going for it. One, there is a creek running through there and it still has water. Two, there are very few people there. The most common visitors are people on horseback as there are a few stables nearby.

My efforts were fairly well rewarded. I found about 18 species of insects and I definitely did not capture everything I saw as there were a few species that eluded me. I also did not take photos of the numerous honeybees as I had observed and noted them in my previous visit. While I didn’t find anything super spectacular, I did find a couple of new species including the chrysanthemum lace bug that I’ve seen photos of many times but have never run into. Unfortunately I didn’t get the best photo so I will have to head back for a better one. I also found this very attractive trupanea fly that I’ve included here.

Considering how dry it has been and how early in the year it is, I think these were pretty good results.

Posted on February 19, 2021 01:59 by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 24, 2021

February 23, 2021 Alpine Butte and Blalock Wildlife Sanctuaries

Since the weather forecast looked good for the desert (low 70's and only 10 mph winds), I headed out there again to see if anything was happening yet in terms of new spring growth. First, I visited the Alpine Butte Wildlife Sanctuary. Sadly, it was very, very dry. In wet years, there is a lot of Mojave lupine growing as well as other flowers. While it is much too early in the season to predict flower bloom, the fact that I only saw a few green shoots--mostly canaigre plants, was discouraging. I did however, find another one of my favorite little bugs, the edrotes ventricosus. These beetles had not been reported in either of these sanctuaries until I found them this year--probably because they are out early in the year and most people don't visit these areas except in spring. Anyway, they are such cute little beetles. I also saw at least 10 side-blotched lizards, most of whom were smaller juveniles but at least 2 full grown adults.

Next I stopped at Blalock which is higher in elevation and much moister in terms of the soil. I didn't really find a whole lot, perhaps because it was later in the day and a bit cooler than Alpine Butte. But I did find a couple of really cool bugs...some sort of stink/shield bug as well as a nice weevil, Apleurus angularis. My most unique find was what looks like a wasps' nest on a juniper berry. I went over to the juniper tree thinking that there had to be at least one insect over there with all the ripe to past ripe juniper berries and I saw something on a berry that I thought was a gall. However when I looked at it in close up after taking the photo, it appears to be a wasp nest of some sort. I haven't been able to narrow anything down yet but there do appear to be many insects that inhabit juniper trees. Once again, it pays to look at things very closely.

My count of helium balloons for the day---six. I brought those with me to dispose of them.

Posted on February 24, 2021 19:05 by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 4 observations | 3 comments | Leave a comment

February 05, 2021

February 4, 2021 Nicholas Flat

Our dry winter is discouraging but the small amount of rain we got a week or so ago helped out some. Today I visited Nicholas Flat for the first time in quite some time. As always it was pleasant, although when I arrived around 9:45 there were four other cars there. It turned out two belonged to some people working on the vegetation and they left shortly after I arrived. Another woman went running by me with her dog soon after I arrived.

About 25 minutes into my visit, a park ranger showed up. First time I've seen one here and always a welcome sight. He saw the woman with the dog approaching--she was on her way back and he stopped her and told dogs are not allowed in the park. He said they are getting ready to put up some new signs. I was glad that they are enforcing this though I don't think this area is the worst by any means.

It was a mixed bag in terms of observations. It was very, very quiet. I didn't see or hear a lot of wildlife so that was sad; however there were definitely more insects around and many of the plants look like they are getting fresh leaves. Canyon sunflower, hummingbird sage and chaparral bush mallow look like those that should be getting some flowers in the next month or so. If we don't get much more rain I'm not anticipating much in the way of flowers though there were many chaparral currant plants with flowers.

The best finds of the day were a greater yellowlegs, a green lynx spider (one of my faves) and a possible cherry plum mining bee that I observed working on digging its chamber.

One of the things I've really been noticing as I travel around is the almost total lack of fungi. Normally this time of year is the best for finding cool mushrooms; however the lack of rain has really made this a challenge and I have noticed that the few observations of fungi posted for Los Angeles County tend to be in the local mountains.

Posted on February 05, 2021 01:43 by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 07, 2021

February 6, 2021 Blalock Wildlife Sanctuary

I thought I’d check out this area early in the year to see what kind of plant and animal life might be around in our so called winter. Last year I went to this place for the first time and over a couple of visits I found a lot of cool insects. Like the other “wildlife sanctuaries” in the Antelope Valley, it is basically an open desert landscape with no physical boundaries apparent. Nothing has been done to preserve wildlife but the fact that it’s closed to development is always good. I’ve also never seen another person here though there is definitely evidence of human activity including a minimal amount of trash and cans that have been shot up. However, overall the habitat is quite good.

What surprised me today was how healthy it seemed. The ground was quite moist and the plants looked in good shape...better than our local Santa Monica mountains. My feet even sunk into the ground in a couple of places...so unlike the crunch I hear when I’m in our local mountains. Perhaps that’s because this area is at a bit higher elevation. The habitat includes some anemic looking Joshua trees...really only a couple but also quite a few juniper trees. So it is definitely closer to a desert montane environment.

A testament to how moist everything felt is that there is a fair amount of lichen present on the rocks as well as some moss growing in a couple of places...quite surprising as I don’t picture moss in the desert. It was very quiet in terms of animal life...but I was able to find a few insects. The most interesting one was this cool round hairy beetle which it turns out is relatively common in the desert and tends to be out early in the year. It’s scientific name is edrotes ventricosus. I was also quite surprised to see a dragonfly out and about. I’ve also included a photo of one of the most interesting lichens I saw.

Overall it was a rewarding visit. The value in visiting a place over a period of time is great as it shows how the habitat and animal and plant communities change with the seasons.

Posted on February 07, 2021 04:17 by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 12, 2021

February 11,2021 Point Fermin

Chris and I stopped at Point Fermin to explore the tide pools. He is on a quest to find different species of nudibranchs. I obviously would like to find some too. Unfortunately we didn’t find anything new but did see a couple of McDonald’s dorids which seem to be the most common nudibranch here. We had the tide pools mostly to ourselves which was good. It has become really difficult to find tide pools with out many people and the problem is not exclusive to our area. If you haven’t read her post in the Forim, you might want to see this along with links to a couple of articles about problems in the Bay Area with rampant collecting: https://www.inaturalist.org/posts/46363-obscuring-my-tidepool-observations-in-sf-bay-area-counties#activity_comment_7b93f9fa-26e8-4e35-825d-415f8b534f9b. It is sad that those of us trying to document and save nature are inadvertently making it easier for bad actors to decimate the environment,

On a happier note, I wanted to share what I think was my best find of the day and a family of creatures totally new to me...sea pills. I found this really cute little guy on some surfgrass and thought I’d share it as I haven’t seen any others like it in the area. I also thought these colorful worms were very cool. Finding and learning about new wildlife is such a rewarding part of inaturalist as well as Inspirational. I am so in awe of all that is around us and am sad that I couldn’t have started doing this 30 years ago as there just isn’t enough time to see and discover everything I want.

Posted on February 12, 2021 18:05 by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment