April 9, 2023 Phacelia, Valley Butte and Blalock Wildlife Sanctuaries

I took a trip out to the Antelope Valley to visit the “wildlife sanctuaries” designated as such by Los Angeles County. These areas are amorphous plots of land that are protected from development. There are no trails or markers; rather you just meander through the area hoping for some serendipity when looking for plants and animals.

The furthest of these I went to is the remote “Phacelia Wildlife Sanctuary” which is near the border of Edwards Airforce Base in the Mojave desert. What makes this place a bit more special is that you have a chance of seeing some reptiles that have pretty much been wiped out of most places in the Antelope Valley.

My visit started out great with seeing a yellow-backed spiny lizard almost immediately after getting out of the car. I continued my good luck with seeing a creosote moth and a native bumblebee.

Unfortunately, my next “observation” was a human in a vehicle that drove by me on a dirt road that bisects the sanctuary. He parked his truck near my car which made me very suspicious since he did not come from the direction of civilization. I decided to stay within eyesight of my car in case something happened. My gut feeling was correct as I got within 100 yards of the vehicles. It was obvious this guy was up to no good. He tried to talk to me but I yelled out to him to leave me alone. Luckily, he had the sense to do so, got in his truck and sped off. It is always a bit disconcerting to be out in the middle of nowhere which I pretty much was, out of cell service, and have an encounter with some creepy human being.

Anyway, I breathed a sigh of relief when he left and could finally enjoy my exploration of the desert. With warming temperatures, I was expecting to see more insects but I still didn’t see many. I’m particularly concerned as the lack of bees is very noticeable, and even more so since it’s turning out to be an amazing wildflower year. And even though I sometimes feel as if I’ve seen most of the desert wildflowers, there are always more new ones to discover.

In addition to Phacelia Wildlife Sanctuary I stopped at Valley Butte Wildflower Sanctuary and finally Blalock Wildlife Sanctuary. Among my best finds of the day were: at least one cool insect, albeit somewhat common, a green blister beetle and several wildflowers that I hadn't seen before or see rarely. These include the unassuming Pringle's woolly sunflower, a delicate and quite lovey Cooper's wild cabbage, possibly hundreds if not thousands of sandblossoms, a crowned mullia, yellow peppercress and an amazing looking milkvetch I actually found along the side of a road.

I find it interesting how some years, certain flowers seem to dominate and you wonder what exact conditions have to happen between rain, sunlight and temperature that cause this to happen. For instance I haven't seen sandblossoms for several years and now there seem to be thousands. And I don't think I've ever seen yellow peppercress except out at Red Rock Canyon State Park yet this year I've seen it in a few places.

I feel like it is imperative to be out this year exploring for wildflowers as we don't know when and if we'll get another amazing rain year as this one was. Interestingly enough the amount of water pouring out of the San Gabriel Mountains into the Antelope Valley is such that on one street I had to ford a foot deep stream of water that was rushing rapidly down a wash many miles from those mountains. For some reason the "road closed" barrier was only on one direction of the road at least a mile away and there was no barrier on the direction in which I was traveling.

Posted on April 14, 2023 05:47 PM by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

April 9, 2023 09:46 AM PDT

Description

Phacelia Wildlife Sanctuary

Photos / Sounds

What

Creosote Moth (Digrammia colorata)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

April 9, 2023 10:04 AM PDT

Description

Phacelia Wildlife Sanctuary

Photos / Sounds

What

Sandblossom (Linanthus parryae)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

April 9, 2023 10:28 AM PDT

Description

Phacelia Wildlife Sanctuary

Photos / Sounds

What

Milkvetches (Genus Astragalus)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

April 9, 2023 12:59 PM PDT

Description

Antelope Valley

Photos / Sounds

What

Yellow Peppercress (Lepidium flavum)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

April 9, 2023 01:14 PM PDT

Description

Butte Valley Wildlife Sanctuary
Several large patches

Photos / Sounds

What

Crowned Muilla (Muilla coronata)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

April 2023

Description

Butte Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

Photos / Sounds

What

Cooper's Wild Cabbage (Caulanthus cooperi)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

April 9, 2023 02:25 PM PDT

Description

Blalock Wildlife Sanctuary

Photos / Sounds

What

Pringle's Woolly Sunflower (Eriophyllum pringlei)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

April 9, 2023 02:31 PM PDT

Description

Blalock Wildlife Sanctuary

Photos / Sounds

What

Green Blister Beetle (Lytta stygica)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

April 9, 2023 03:12 PM PDT

Description

Blalock Wildlife Sanctuary

Comments

Beautiful photos as usual and I’m so sorry that guy parked next to you in the middle of nowhere but I’m glad he left you alone after you told him to.

Posted by desertsolitude 11 months ago

Thanks for the note and compliment on my photos! Yes, I'm glad he left too...when he drove by I had a bad feeling and it was right. I do have pepper spray so I'm not completely defenseless. Or I could knock someone over the head with my heavy camera!

Posted by naturephotosuze 11 months ago

Sorry for the uncomfortable interaction, that's awful! But glad he left. As for the insects, I, and at least two other people I know, have also noticed the lack of native bees, despite an abundance of flowers. I saw more last year, even with the drought. A very strange year, indeed.

Posted by tastle 11 months ago

Yep..not a good one but luckily it worked out. As for the bees, yes, I'm a bit concerned. I was out at Tujunga wash over the weekend and I did see a few on phacelia plants. So it is picking up. I was in Carrizo last week and same thing..millions of flowers and very few bees. I hope to get back to the Tortoise reserve maybe the week after next as I'm probably heading back to Carrizo next week. There were lots of insects...just not bees. The weather is still cool there. The day I left it was still in the high 40's at 11 AM!

Posted by naturephotosuze 11 months ago

I hope you get back to the tortoise preserve soon! How were things looking with the vegetation and the tortoises last time you were there? Sounds like it was cold out!

Posted by desertsolitude 11 months ago

Yes, it was cool. But the vegetation was the best I think I've ever seen it and I've been going since 2016. I saw one tortoise. I hope to get out there again in the next week or two.

Posted by naturephotosuze 11 months ago

Yes, it was cool. But the vegetation was the best I think I've ever seen it and I've been going since 2016. I saw one tortoise. I hope to get out there again in the next week or two.

Posted by naturephotosuze 11 months ago

I’m so happy to hear the vegatation out there is really good! I went to the tortoise preserve in late May 2021 and it was so dry. Didn’t see a tortoise then. Was the tortoise you saw in the fenced area or was it out on one of the dirt roads?

Posted by desertsolitude 11 months ago

Yes, the last two years at the reserve have been horrible. There was a new juvie that everyone was excited about but it didn't survive--my guess not enough food and water. So so sad. The tortoise I saw was in the reserve. I actually haven't seen one outside the reserve in that area though I have seen them in Joshua Tree a few times.

Posted by naturephotosuze 11 months ago

I might go out there again this week so I'll give you an update if I do. The naturalist there usually has the scoop on what's been going on.

Posted by naturephotosuze 11 months ago

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