Archivos de diario de febrero 2023

05 de febrero de 2023

February 4, 2023 Lopez Canyon

Wow! It's hard to believe we're already into the second month of the year! And signs of spring are popping up in many places. Thanks to a generous amount of rainfall, lots of plants are growing and everything looks very green (thanks to a lot of non-native grasses gracing our hillsides).

Today I visited Lopez Canyon, a place I just started visiting in the fall of last year. I hadn't been since November and hoped that the trail was in decent shape since the recent rains have really negatively impacted many of the trails in Southern California. However, I found the trail in this area pretty much intact with the exception of seeing one large boulder in the middle of the trail (where fortunately it is more of a fire road than single track).

This trail seems relatively untouched and potentially a great wildlife area as it is a bit less travelled than many of the other trails I visit. Even on a Saturday I only saw two people, one a mountain biker and one jerk on a dirt bike that definitely should not have been on the trail. But bad behavior on the trails is par for the course these days.

That being said, all in all it was great to be out again looking for new and interesting wildlife even if for the most part, pretty much everything I saw, I've seen before. Still, it's always nice to see the first flowers of the year including one blue dicks, one wild caterbury bells plant, several wishbone bushes and a few large patches of clearwater cryptantha. And I finally was able to get a photo (this year), albeit very distant, of a Sara orangetip. I've been seeing orangetips on almost every visit out to the local mountains for the last couple of weeks and even saw one in Orange County on December 25th, but they never paused long enough for a photo. While they are always an early appearing butterfly, I'm afraid they're still a bit early as there aren't a whole lot of their favorite plants in bloom. With our variable weather, I'm sure insects are very confused as to when to emerge, as if I recall, last year, January was a very warm month, while this year it was cooler than average.

In addition to the orangetip I saw at least two dozen side-blotched lizards and quite a few other insects including at least 3 gray dragon lubber grasshoppers, a species I haven't seen that much of in the last couple of years. There were several species of insects on the fragrant yerba santa plants and my best find of the day was this cool moth ( that to me looks like it is in the genus schinia, but I can't seem to find any matching species so I'm probably way off as my moth ID skills are pretty weak. And right after I spotted that moth, I found a diamondback moth, which though fairly common isn't always easy to spot due to its small size.

I'm looking forward to a return visit to the area before it gets too hot as even today with temps in the high 60's, low 70's it was pretty hot on the uphill climb. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to handle it once it hits more than 80 as I'm sure there is a lot more cool wildlife to be found in the area.

Publicado el febrero 5, 2023 05:31 MAÑANA por naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 8 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

14 de febrero de 2023

February 12, 2023 Triunfo Creek Park

It has been nearly a year since I visited this area. Last spring I was enjoying a great day out when I was coming down a steep slope and slipped on some very loose gravel. My momentum made me lose my balance and tumble into a ditch. Though I only sustained a bruised knee and a small scratch on my nose, I still cringe when I remember the sound of my camera lens literally breaking right off my camera. Perhaps that's why I haven't been back for awhile!

Eleven months later all is well and with an almost year old camera and lens purchased new after that mishap, I set out to check out Triunfo. The interesting thing about this area is that at the top of the hill near the reservoir (off limits) is a large field with several ephemeral ponds that form after rains. While it has been awhile since our last storm, I wanted to check out the ponds to see what life I could find. I was in luck as there were at least 3 ponds still intact in addition to a couple of minor partial creek beds with water. It's still early in the year and we've had a fairly cool winter for a change (with the exception of a few days last week) so pond life is not as robust as it might be later in the year.

However, the ponds were literally teeming with ostracods, maybe numbering up to a thousand. They were swimming about but there were also clusters of them in some spots which you can see from the photos.

Ostracods are actually small crustaceans, which inhabit virtually all aquatic environments on earth. This group of animals have bodies completely enclosed between two valves which in many species occur as calcified “shells”. There are actually over 2000 species of ostracods, some living in saltwater and others in fresh water. In addition to the ostracods, there were quite a few mosquito larvae as well as a couple of tadpoles in the ponds. I even saw one frog but it jumped away and I wasn't able to re-find it for a photo.

In addition to the ephemeral ponds, this area can also be a great one for wildflowers if we get the right weather conditions. While the number of flowers is not necessarily out of the ordinary, the variety of species in this location seems to be greater than in many areas of the Santa Monica mountains. Though too early in the year for much to be in bloom, there was a nice scattering of goldfields, several ceanothus plants and some shining pepperweed. A California peony was in bloom though partially hidden under a black sage plant and I found one Padre's shooting star, one of my favorite early spring flowers.

Best of all, I made it back down the hill, this time without any mishaps. I look forward to a return visit later in the spring to see what flowers appear after our generous rainfall this winter.

Publicado el febrero 14, 2023 06:38 MAÑANA por naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 5 observaciones | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario