Journal archives for December 2020

December 03, 2020

December 2, 2020 Leo Carrillo

We made a trip to Leo Carrillo State Beach this afternoon knowing that the tide would be somewhat low. We saw a few things but overall we were disappointed how little was in the tide pools. In fact, we found most of the interesting stuff in a pool much closer to the beach than by the shore. Someone we ran into said she was there two days ago and saw many sea cucumbers. We didn't see any. In addition, I remember coming here as recently as two years ago and seeing much more. For instance I saw only one chiton, though I admit I didn't comb all the rock faces. Still I recall many more in the past. I'm hoping that this may be temporary but I'm not sure if it's the result of people taking things..way too many doing that...or the increasingly acidic ocean.

That being said, I did see a few interesting things. One was a pelagic cormorant. I believe I've seen them before but never bothered to photograph one. There were a few sea hares, a california aglaja and what I think is a tidepool sculpin which I tried very desperately to get a good photo of...I loved its green color. I also saw an anemone with a piece of what I think is kelp in it's maw. Very different.

Posted on December 03, 2020 06:57 AM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 08, 2020

December 5, 2020 Charmlee Wilderness Park

Finally open after being closed for nearly two years since the Woolsey Fire, this was my second attempt to visit. I drove out here on the day after Thanksgiving only to find the gate closed with the no trespassing sign up. The website said the park was open but I didn't want to take any chances so I didn't go in. A few days later, the gate was open when I drove by so I thought I'd try again. I arrived on this Saturday morning to find the gate still closed but a few cars parked outside. I decided to join them.

The day started out great with seeing a pair of coyotes, a red tailed hawk and a northern harrier all during a one minute period just as I entered the road into the park. I failed to get a photo of the coyotes as they took off running when they saw me and disappeared into the brush. Later I heard their distinctive howling down in the canyon.

I was expecting great things, thinking that wildlife might have gotten used to having no humans around and be in abundance. While it was certainly true that the area around the inside parking area, picnic tables and surroundings was where I saw the most wildlife, once I got out on the trails, it disappeared for the most part. It seemed very quiet.

I didn't stay long on the trails as it was a Saturday and people kept coming in to the park and I really wasn't in the mood to see a bunch of people. Though I didn't spend much time in the park, I managed to spot a third coyote--they obviously have enjoyed the lack of humans in the park and the third one seemed pretty comfortable walking down the main trail.

Why people continue to bring dogs into these areas off leash--I saw one toy size dog running around nowhere near its owners--when there are plenty of coyotes around, I can't fathom. As a side note, I even saw a sign posted at Malibu Bluffs park awhile back that their dog, I believe a golden retriever, was bitten and killed by a rattlesnake there. Yet people continue to let their dogs run loose in these wild areas.

Though I was disappointed in the lack of abundant wildlife, it does seem as if the vegetation is doing fairly well. This place used to be quite lush before the fire but it is definitely drier now. That being said, it was nice to see some chaparral currant blooming, again, much earlier than I would have expected. And two dragonflies were still out and about.

Posted on December 08, 2020 05:00 AM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 14, 2020

December 13, 2020 Point Fermin

Chris and I have been on a tide pool kick thanks to the super low tides (as have Andrea and Laura). Today we checked out Point Fermin using Laura's directions. Neither one of us had been to this area before and we're glad we tried it even though it was a weekend. We also ran into a volunteer with the Cabrillo Museum and she told us that theft from the tide pool areas has gotten much worse since Covid--not only because there are more people coming to the pools but also because there are fewer people available to patrol the area. Fortunately we didn't see too much bad behavior today and though there were people at the pools, it was not overrun as some places are.

Our best find of the day was the nudibranch that I have currently listed as a sea clown triopha. However there is a very similar one called a McDonald's dorid, so the ID may have changed by the time you read this. Another great find was the bright orange brooding anemone. This was another first for me (as was the nudibranch) so I was quite happy. Yet another cool find was the western spiny brittle star. I don't think I would ever have noticed it if it hadn't moved as it was crawling around some giant kelp. I realize these are one of the most common brittle stars around but I don't think I've seen one of these before.

The most unusual find of the day was the egg strings of the black sea hare. I saw something pink and moved some sea grass only to find this big spaghetti shaped ball of pink string. Once again, AI provided the impetus for the ID. I had no idea that sea hares laid these bright strings of eggs. We didn't see any black sea hares at all so maybe they were hiding or they are now going to add to the population at Point Fermin.

Chris actually found a couple of additional cool animals (specifically a dorid) as he went all the way to the actual point while I turned back after going about 3/4 of the way. Nonetheless it was one of the better days at the tide pools.

Posted on December 14, 2020 07:12 AM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 4 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

December 18, 2020

December 16, 2020 Paradise Cove

Our original plan for this day was to visit Point Dume to look for tide pool stuff. I wasn't so keen on climbing down the rickety staircase to the beach but we decided to at least check it out. As usual the 6 parking spaces were all taken. There was also a park ranger there so we chatted with him briefly. He told us that they had just demolished the unsafe stairs and that they were in the process of building two new staircases with completion dates being in February. That's sort of good news but also bad news as it will just draw more people there.

We thought about walking from the parking lot down below around the point (of Point Dume) as we really wanted to be south of the point but I wasn't too keen on this option either knowing how rocky it is and how rough the surf can be there. So we were planning to go to Leo Carrillo. However we were very close to Paradise Cove and I thought I recalled that Paradise Cove was supposed to have good tide pools--of course that was at least 20 years ago, before it became the hipster, instagram place that it is now.

We drove down to the parking area and the gate was blocked off but you could drive around the gate. There were a few construction workers there and one other car in the parking lot. We decided to see what was happening and the person we asked said that since the restaurant was closed and the construction people were there we could park for free. Since they normally charge the astronomical price of $35 for parking, we definitely got a bargain and decided to investigate.

We ended up walking about half way to Point Dume. The tide pools were a mixed bag. There were lots of snails and limpets. Particularly abundant were purple dwarf olive snails, either with their original owners or as shelters for hermit crabs. We didn't see as much variety as we had hoped. However we did find a few cool things. There were several bat stars including a cool white one. There were many anemones, primarily aggregating ones but a fair number of starburst anemones too. I also found a few small things including some tiny shrimp as well as an interesting isopod.

I have a feeling that the tide pools probably improve the closer you get to Point Dume. I would imagine the amount of people coming to this beach (I always see a mob scene at the intersection of PCH with people trying to park to go down there) can't be good for the wildlife. Though we didn't see many people almost everyone we saw had at least one to three dogs off leash. In fact only one woman had a dog on a leash (I'm not even sure that's permitted) and that was because I heard her tell her companion that they had to watch out for the dog that attacked her dog the prior day. So I'm sure that has had an impact on the tide pool life.

Recommendation: it might be a cool place to go at really low tide if you have the time to walk all the way to Point Dume.

Posted on December 18, 2020 03:36 AM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment