Journal archives for August 2020

August 03, 2020

First Evening of California Wild Women's Challenge

I took a brief walk around the block in my residential neighborhood looking for insects a little after 9 PM when the challenge officially started. What a disappointing experience! First, I did not find a single moth under any light. Second, there were so many people out walking about that it made me very self conscious. I'm sure people thought I was casing the neighborhood since I had a flashlight and was looking around buildings. Not an ideal situation. One woman definitely gave me the eye when I was crouching down to photograph my one find.... a large family of cockroaches. Not something I was too excited to see. Not only that...they aren't even native cockroaches!

Posted on August 03, 2020 04:54 AM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 4 comments | Leave a comment

August 13, 2020

Santa Ynez canyon 8/12/20

Today I visited Santa Ynez canyon for the first time in at least 2 months. Since Covid became such a big part of our lives, all the trails seem busier, even during the week. It was difficult today to really look for stuff as the trail is narrow and I had to step off trail many times to let people by.

Because I have been visiting various areas in the Santa Monica mountains for several years, I have spent the last few years trying to get to know the flora and fauna better, particularly plants and insects. Ultimately I would like to find as many total species as possible for this rich diverse environment. If I can find something unique, so much the better.

I also hope that my observations can help in showing the biodiversity and importance of the natural world around us.

One of the advantages of returning to a place frequently is that you really become aware of changes. Today, I noticed that a rock wall where some dudleya plants were growing is now empty with visible holes where the plants had been dug out. It’s sad that people have to steal plants. And yet another large oak has fallen across the trail, most likely a victim of the drought. Since the drought, we’ve lost so many trees and Santa ynez has lost many over the last 6 years.

Although I always enjoy observing the natural world, it’s a real treat to find something you haven’t seen before. Today I was rewarded with seeing my first true walking stick. I didn’t get great photos but I count any day when I find a new animal a good day.

Posted on August 13, 2020 03:15 AM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 1 observation | 4 comments | Leave a comment

August 14, 2020

Topanga State Park 8/13/20

Today I visited Topanga State Park...or tried anyway. When I arrived the street was jammed with more cars than I’ve ever seen for a fairly early weekday. I’m finding trails are busier than ever...which is not a welcoming sight to me. I ended up going back down Entrada and parking in the little dirt lot that has a trail that meets up with the dead horse trail. Unfortunately I really couldn’t handle the extreme humidity and the constant gnats following me around.

Consequently I didn’t go far and didn’t stay long. In keeping with one of my purposes for this journal, I am trying to highlight at least one find I make each time I’m out. I didn’t find anything spectacular, but I did find one sort of interesting insect which I’ve included below. I’m still trying to research it but I don’t think I’ve seen one like this before though the angle is not ideal.

I also thought I’d highlight one more insect from my visit to Santa Ynez canyon yesterday which was new to me. Incredibly small, there were actually a pair of these gall wasp parasitoid insects sitting on top of the gall. They’re pretty cool looking insects.

Posted on August 14, 2020 04:22 AM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 18, 2020

August 17:Corbin Canyon

I braved the extreme heat and humidity today to take a short walk in Corbin Canyon. Needless to say I didn’t see anyone else. The weather is really making it difficult to get out; and going near the beach in this heat, while appealing, means dealing with crowds.

So in spite of the heat and going out earlier than usual for me, I did make a couple of nice finds. One was the cool blue wasp with the large white/light blue eyes that Andrea had found a specimen of not too long ago. It’s a really different looking wasp. The other was Scat that beartracker ID’d as gray fox. I’ve actually seen one gray fox in the Santa Monica mountains once but couldn’t get a photo of it. Anyway, I hope to actually see and photograph one some day here in our local area.

Last but not least I found a pumpkin gall wasp...I’ve probably seen them before but this time actually really looked and found one.

Posted on August 18, 2020 04:56 AM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 3 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

August 20, 2020

August 19 Leo Carrillo State Beach

I am going seriously stir crazy with the heat hampering my ability to get out and explore. So, this morning I headed for the beach. I’ve been staying in Studio City more since the shutdown ... as such it’s more of a trek to get to the ocean, but I hadn’t been out there for awhile. I arrived at 9 AM and street parking was surprisingly easy. But it was already quite warm...83 according to my car’s thermometer. And the humidity was high. I combed the beach for detritus and came up with quite a few different things. One of the more interesting was I believe a sheep crab leg..still waiting on ID but it was I think about a foot long. I understand they’re fairly common here but for some reason this was the first one I’ve run into.

After looking over the beach as the tide was rolling in, I headed over to the state park. Already it was getting very steamy and there were a lot of cars coming into the lot as well as many people wandering around in general. I didn’t have patience to look for much and headed back over to the beach side where at least there was a minimal breeze. My best find there was a wandering tattler, a bird I don’t see very often and have never seen anywhere in the LA area except the Ballona area. It was foraging alone. I’ve heard there are more of these around this year. I had hoped to see more seabirds and or dolphins but there was nothing close enough to photograph or ID.

Posted on August 20, 2020 01:38 AM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 2 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment

August 21, 2020

August 21:Personal location

So the heat has really made it difficult to go out. I did go out briefly yesterday but just couldn’t deal with the humidity and high temps. So today I looked around my friends yard looking for insects. I’ve done so before with not much success. There are no native plants though he is trying to add some (he’s a renter so is somewhat limited). Anyway I was a bit more successful today and found that some of the insects I found are actually much more prevalent than I thought...evidently there are a lot of these things floating around peoples yards as I saw on the map that many were more concentrated in the urban areas. Though that may be due to more people looking for things in their neighborhoods. My best finds of the day we’re a lovely caterpillar and a beautiful moth resting at the bottom of a trash can....a Jalisco petrophila.

Posted on August 21, 2020 11:41 PM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 2 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment

August 23, 2020

August 22nd Santa Ynez Canyon Park

Another hot day but I tried Santa Ynez Canyon Park in the hopes would be cooler. Got there at 11 AM and it was 87. It was already 85 at the beach so definitely not much cooler than any other day this week. However Santa Ynez does have more shade and a bit of a breeze so it was slightly more tolerable than some of the other places I’ve been lately.

I hoped by getting there a bit later I would avoid all the off leash dogs but no luck. I ran into 4 people all with off leash dogs and all of whom were throwing balls into the creek so their dogs could retrieve them. One woman was doing this as I walked by. She asked what I was taking photos of and I said wildlife. She told me I should have gotten there earlier to see wildlife. I then told her that there might be more wildlife around if people weren’t having their dogs run in the creek as there are tadpoles in there.. She told me that she thought the frogs “could handle it” and then proceeded to tell me that she knows some people come here to capture the tadpoles and raise them to frogs and then return them to the park. (The implication was that Her behavior was nothing compared to some other people’s behavior ) I said that people shouldn’t be doing that and she said I should mention it on Nextdoor but that I should be prepared to be attacked.

Anyway, this is one of the reasons I hate going to certain places...people always think they have more rights than the wildlife.

In spite of this negative encounter...and I’ve had more than a few at this place...I did find a few new insects. One of the more interesting finds was a very tiny green fly. I don’t think I’ve seen one quite like it. I also found what I think is a virgins bower plant of some sort, which to be honest I don’t think I’ve ever noticed here and I’ve been to this location probably more than a hundred times over the years. That’s what I love about inaturalist. I’ve become even more attuned to the environment around me.

Posted on August 23, 2020 04:14 AM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 25, 2020

August 24, 2020 Longridge Park

In light of the continuing heat I was looking for some place close to go. I don’t like driving so far to only be out for an hour. I found a tiny pocket park in Sherman Oaks called Longridge Park so I thought I’d give it a try. It is basically an open area on a ridge with canyons on either side. Even at a small size and with a very short trail, I was able to find a few things. And in addition to what I posted, I saw or heard the following (no photos) A Cooper’s hawk, a rabbit, a couple of swallows, several dragonflies and I heard coyotes yipping in the distance,. I also saw a displaying Allen’s hummingbird...seems late in the year for that but two red tails flying near by also we’re doing a display. No spectacular finds but got a nice photo of a young mourning dove. They have very nice wing patterns when they’re young.

Posted on August 25, 2020 05:01 AM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 26, 2020

August 26th 2020 Tuna Canyon Park

The weather forecast said it was to be a bit cooler today and near the ocean it was supposed to be overcast until about 10 AM. I’ve been wanting to return to Tuna Canyon Park so I set out for there, arriving at 9:15 AM. It was 78 but not a cloud in the sky. It was also very humid and by the time I left at 11:30, it was 88...still way too hot for me. Due to the heat I really didn’t explore as much of the park as I wanted. I also ran into some guys with clipboards who said they were doing scouting to build more trails. I thought that was a bit odd as it seems like there are plenty of trails in the area. I walked by them later and they were talking about the gondola plan for the Hollywood Sign. I heard one of them say that he works for a company that won the bid...I just hope it doesn’t come to pass..,we have enough human incursion in our local mountains without a gondola!

Back to Tuna canyon...great variety of habitats and seems to be very good for wildflowers and insects though there were still quite a few people there. Today’s most interesting find was a sort of bee fly that I don’t recall seeing before. Check out the photo below. And no it wasn’t dead. It flew down to the ground in front of me and when I moved to get some other angles of photos, it took off.

Posted on August 26, 2020 10:19 PM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 29, 2020

August 28th 2020 Corbin Canyon

It was finally slightly cooler with a bit less humidity today, so I ventured over to Corbin Canyon. As usual, it was teeming with rabbits. In addition to my posted observations, I saw a deer down in the creek bed about a mile up the trail as well as many birds though I didn’t notice any migrants. Highlights of the day were the lynx spiders I saw including one guarding an egg sac and the numerous non honey bee pollinators. Though not a whole lot is in bloom this time of year, there were enough plants including asters, buckwheat and birds beaks to attract some insects. I also saw another lordotus fly identical to the one seen in Tuna Canyon the other day. Interesting how you see something for the first time ever and then a few days later you see the same thing.

Posted on August 29, 2020 04:22 AM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 2 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment