Journal archives for September 2021

September 04, 2021

August 31, 2021 Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space

It was with a bit of trepidation that I decided to visit this place, long one of my favorite areas. The last time I visited it was so bone dry I was really depressed. But with overcast skies and a starting temperature of only 71 (in August no less!) I couldn't pass up the pleasant temperatures to go somewhere where I rarely go in summer.

Surprisingly, I found much more life than expected. While I didn't see any mammals nor did I see any snakes, the insect life was good and I found a lot more flowers blooming than expected. As usual in this drought year, it took some effort to find those blooms in places, but compared to many of the areas I've been visiting that do not have water, Las Virgenes looked better than expected.

Probably the most striking aspect of the area was its absolute inundation with bagrada bugs. I wonder if these have any predators. Perhaps not as there were literally thousands of them throughout the area. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if there were hundreds of thousands. They like mustard plants and there are hundreds and hundreds of dried up mustard plants in the area. Most were on these but I also found more on almost every flowering plant I saw.

Fortunately. I did see some other interesting insects including one of my favorites, a velvet ant and one of my favorite beetles, a coscinoptera aenipennis. Another striking find was an eight barred lygropia moth. Though I've seen one before it's always great to see these beauties.

In terms of plant life, I was encouraged to see several sapling valley oaks with new leaves and one of my favorites down the trail a bit, a beautiful old very healthy looking valley oak with some beautiful red cone galls. And the long stemmed buckwheat plants where I found some interesting wasps last year, were in bloom though I didn't find those wasps. Last but not least, and though it isn't by any means a favorite of mine, I was quite surprised to find a purple nightshade in bloom which seems very late.

I understand the forecast is for another dry year and I can only hope the experts are wrong. Nature is somehow hanging on in places but it needs as much help as it can get.

Posted on September 04, 2021 00:54 by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 8 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment

September 18, 2021

September 8, 2021 Jalama Beach

I've always enjoyed going off the beaten path to explore. Unfortunately, with social media, it's much more difficult to find places that are not overrun with people. With that in mind, I took a short trip up to Jalama Beach and the Lompoc area last week to see what I could find.

Jalama Beach is definitely not off the beaten path as much as it was ten years ago when I last visited. It boasts a big campground, small cabins you can rent and many RV spaces. So if you're a camper, a surfer, or just a day tripper visiting for their self-proclaimed "world famous Jalama burgers" this is the place for you.

Still, in spite of the pretty large crowds and a completely full campground on a September weekday, I did some of my exploring in the marsh...less a draw for visitors than the expansive beach. The weather was great. Tired of the omnipresent heat of the Los Angeles basin, it was such a pleasure to bask in the foggy damp environment of Jalama. The temperature was probably 68 degrees at its peak and though the sun did poke out briefly around noon, soon after a heavy fog rolled in and stayed in for the rest of the afternoon.

The marsh was pretty overgrown and the paths were narrow. It's a pretty small area but still inviting for the nature enthusiast. I've found that marsh areas seem to harbor lots of insects so it's a great place for me to find new things. Probably my best insect finds were a red-lipped green lacewing, a very cool fly called a Tephritis rufipennis and some very interesting small bees of the subgenus nomadopsis on heliotrope . There was also a beautiful large flowering Island mallow bush. Though I've heard that many have been planted in areas along the coast, the one at Jalama was in the marsh area so I'm thinking it might be the result of seeds getting distributed from the Channel Islands by one of the many sea birds that visit Jalama. Speaking of which, there were several snowy plovers at the beach and I noticed one was banded so I'm awaiting information on it's history.

Finally, I did walk down the beach. Cool, foggy and with visibility no more than 25 feet in front of you, you almost felt as if you were hundreds of miles from civilization. While I didn't find too much on the beach. I did see many Pyrosoma atlanticums--something that many people have spotted on our local beaches but I have yet to find in the LA/Ventura area. And though, not fully ID'd. I found this interesting creature on the back of a washed up sand dollar--a Cnidarian. These are fascinating creatures that I was not familiar with so I'm so glad I found one.

Coming back to the parking lot, it was teeming with people, so in spite of my interesting finds, I was glad to leave it all behind.

Posted on September 18, 2021 00:24 by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 7 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment