Journal archives for January 2022

January 25, 2022

January 21, 2022 Briar Summit Open Space

The start of a new year and new observations.

I'm happy to report that despite the DWP mowing down all the plants along the road in this area last spring/summer, many of the plants are growing back. Thanks to our great rainfall in December, things are looking really good. However, if we don't get anymore rain, I think our spring time may be early and possibly brief. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

I checked this place out a few times in December and many, many brittlebush were growing in with a few flowers on some. A few of the laurel sumacs are also growing in. The black sage is leafing out and looks pretty healthy. And several of the buckwheat have had a few flowers for awhile. And of course, there is plenty of mustard and a few other invasives.

With our warm weather in the last few days and with a bunch more flowers in bloom up on Briar Summit, it appears bugs have begun to come out all over. I'm still truly amazed at the number of insects California brittlebush attracts. Even without flowers there are plenty of insects if you look closely and have patience.

On this day, perhaps the most commonly seen insect was the sunflower seed maggot as well as a few other species of Trupanea. But I would say my most interesting finds are the three species I found in the vicinity of the smallseed sandmat which is also in bloom in a few patches. Just sitting in the dirt next to the plants I found these three interesting insects: a cool looking true hopper, a colorful tiny little plant bug (about the size of a large mite) and an insect I found the week before which I think belongs to the genus of spurge flea beetles. Last but not least I found a warty leaf beetle which seem to like the brittlebush and are such interesting little creatures.

I'm not sure how all these early arrivals will affect our wildlife as I'm sure they get confused with our erratic weather. By visiting the same areas on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule you can observe all the newly emerging plants and animals, even if it's not as exciting as going to a wholly new area.

Posted on January 25, 2022 12:53 AM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 26, 2022

January 26, 2022 Las Virgenes Canyon

It's always great to post something when you have an amazing discovery or see interesting creatures. However, sometimes things don't work out and you find very little. Today was such a day, and it seems worthwhile to post something based on the condition of the habitat.

I went to one of my favorite areas, Las Virgenes Canyon and I saw very little on my 4 mile hike. In fact, it was very disappointing to see the habitat. While the initial trail into the area never has great habitat due to the amount of invasive plants, once you get past that, things usually pick up. You can also count on this location as having a little bit of water in some places most of the time, even during droughts.

I hadn't been to the area since our last big rainstorm and it appears that a combination of that storm along with all the dead and dying trees that were a result of the Woolsey fire in late 2018 as well as our recent strong winds, pretty much destroyed the two riparian habitats where I normally find a fair amount of wildlife.

Instead, the reeds in the creek bed were bent down and clogging the stream. Trees and limbs were down in several places, many of them small, but nevertheless, contributing to the general look of destruction. While there was water in some areas that normally are dry, that didn't seem to make up for the lack of wildlife in general. As you can see from the few photos posted, the trees (for instance the one on which the nuthatch is perched) in the riparian areas pretty much all look like that one--charred. Even some of the willows and valley oaks that seemed to have bounced back after the fire didn't look too good.

I'm hoping that we actually get more rain at some point this year and maybe some of the habitat will recover. That being said, I did see 5 red tailed hawks --a species that seems to be having a very good year as well as one Lewis's woodpecker, a species that is also having a good year.

Posted on January 26, 2022 10:43 PM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment