November 11, 2020 Placerita Canyon and Golden Valley Ranch Open Space

Today I met a friend up at Placerita Canyon in Santa Clarita for a socially distant hike. I hadn't been to the area in awhile but I was surprised at how healthy most of the vegetation looked. It definitely looked like it was doing better than much of the Santa Monica Mountains. The nice thing about this area is that though it is fairly close by and is at not much elevation, you do find different species here than in our local mountains.

For instance Stellar's jays can be found here, even though I normally only see them much higher up. I only saw one today so I'm not sure how well they're doing in the area. The Sand Fire, a really huge fire in 2016, wreaked havoc on the area. Placerita Canyon was closed for quite some time and some trails are still not fully open. I do know that the fire changed a lot and some of the more unique species that used to be in the area, have not been seen since then. For instance mountain quail used to be in the area but I haven't heard any reports of them since the fire, though they may be up at higher elevations.

In addition to the Stellar's jay it was a good day in general for raptors. In one small area of the canyon we saw two red shouldered hawks, a very healthy looking red tailed hawk and the pair of white tailed kites that have been seen in the area for the last year and a half or so.

And I continued on my gopher sighting run. Today I had the third one I've seen in the last two weeks. Perhaps it's the time of year? I also caught a ground squirrel with a mouth full of vegetation--perhaps stocking up on nesting materials for the winter?

After I parted ways with my friend I went over to check out the Golden Valley Ranch Open Space. I didn't spend much time here as I had been out for over 3 hours, but I was happy to find a flock of pine siskins right near the parking area. There is an irruption of pine siskins this year; however these were the first I've seen. In addition to the pine siskins, I was able to get pretty close to a normally skittish kestrel and also saw a northern harrier which is always a treat.

Finally, it was nice to see a few different plants. I've not had confirmations on them yet, but saw a threadleaf groundsel and a matchweed which I think is a California matchweed.

It was a beautiful day today and my visit made me want to return to this area soon.

Posted by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze, November 12, 2020 02:51

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

November 11, 2020 10:06 AM PST

Description

Placerita Canyon

Photos / Sounds

What

Botta's Pocket Gopher (Thomomys bottae)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

November 11, 2020 10:59 AM PST

Description

Placerita Canyon

Photos / Sounds

What

White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

November 11, 2020 11:06 AM PST

Description

Placerita Canyon
One of a pair

Photos / Sounds

What

California Ground Squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

November 11, 2020 11:19 AM PST

Description

Placerita Canyon
Gathering material for the winter??

Photos / Sounds

What

Threadleaf Groundsel (Senecio flaccidus)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

November 11, 2020 12:37 PM PST

Description

Placerita Canyon

Photos / Sounds

What

Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

November 11, 2020 01:11 PM PST

Description

Golden Valley Open Space
One of a flock of 10-12 feeding on the seeds of this plant

Photos / Sounds

What

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

November 11, 2020 01:15 PM PST

Description

Golden Valley Open Space

Photos / Sounds

What

California Matchweed (Gutierrezia californica)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

November 11, 2020 01:35 PM PST

Description

Golden Valley Open Space

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