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No salesman will call.
Nearly all local aficionados of California native plants know that Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants is one of the best sources around. These semi-annual sales are a great time to stock up on stuff to replace your lawn. Throughout the sale, TPF staff and volunteers will be on hand for sage advice.
Native Plant Week Symposium, Wildflower Show & Plant Sale: Saturday, 18 April 9AM – 4PM.
Location: Sepulveda Garden Center, 16633 Magnolia Blvd, Encino 91436
Co-sponsored by the Theodore Payne Foundation and the
California Native Plant Society, LA/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter
Open Tuesday-Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Closed Sunday-Monday)
We had perfect weather for the dozen people who came on this trip – sunny but not much beyond 70 degrees. The Acorn Woodpeckers were numerous and conspicuous and noisy, and also very busy. In addition to the trees they chose for acorn storage (trees that look like they have been machine-gunned with an acorn in every bullet hole) we found they had pounded holes in some of the glassed-in information cabinets, and there were piles of acorns inside.
We had good looks at four different warblers with an exceptionally lemon-yellow Wilson’s Warbler taking the prize. We found two Bushtit nests hanging like dirty hiking socks in the oak trees, and several active Acorn Woodpecker holes. Chris, Don and Ann found and, after long discussion, identified a Hammond’s Flycatcher. The more common Pacific Slope Flycatchers were calling but we only spotted one.
We came up short on raptors with only one red-tail. A few people saw the Western Tanager. We all saw the colorful Black-headed Grosbeaks and Spotted Towhees. All things considered, it was a very good outing. Nobody brought a camera – you had to be there.
Black-throated Grey Warbler.
We’re announcing this trip earlier than usual so that you can make motel reservations in Yucca Valley, before they disappear. Indian Cove Campground in Joshua Tree N.P. is already sold out, and Black Rock Campground may be as well.
Link to map of motels.
Big Morongo Canyon Preserve is one of the finest birding spots in southern California, known as a springtime migrant trap, frequently catching rare eastern migrants, hummers and orioles at the feeders, local specialties such as Vermilion Flycatcher, Summer Tanager and Brown-crested Flycatcher. On a busy day, the trees are fulled with migrating birds, especially warblers. Many of the common desert species are also seen. Reserve hours are 7:30 a.m.-sunset.
Nearby Yucca Valley has several motels and Joshua Tree National Monument has several campgrounds.
Saturday, 4pm – Black Rock Campground near Yucca Valley: For those staying overnight Saturday, we meet at the Campground Visitor Center and bird in and near the campground, looking for Gambel’s Quail, White-winged Dove, Roadrunner, Ladderbacked Woodpecker, Pinyon Jay, Scott’s Oriole and whatever else is around. If you’re late, just drive around until you spot some birders. The campground may already be fully occupied Saturday night. Know how to get there as local signs are not well marked. Allow at least 2.5 – 3 hours for the 140 mile trip from Santa Monica. Leaders: Chuck & Lillian Almdale 818-894-2541
Google Map to Black Rock Campground
Sunday, 8am – Big Morongo Canyon Preserve: We officially start at 8am in the reserve parking lot, but feel free to arrive early. Birding is great in next-door Covington Park. We’ll walk around the large reserve until we’re too hot, tired or hungry to continue, then lunch, probably in the reserve. Allow at least 2 1/4 hours for the 125-mile trip from Santa Monica. Leaders: Chuck & Lillian Almdale (818-894-2541)
Google Map to Morongo Reserve
Family Guide: can get quite hot; not for younger children. 1-2 miles of boardwalk, cinder and hard dirt paths. Dress in layers & hat. Bring water. Lunch near the cars.
Map of motels in Yucca Valley, nearest town to Morongo Valley: Super 8, Best Western, TraveLodge, Sands Motel, Desert View.
Directions to Preserve: Allow at least 2 1/4 hours. Santa Monica #10 Fwy East about 115 miles to Highway 62. North on #62 about 11.5 miles, passing partway through small Morongo Valley town. Angle right on Park Ave. to Covington Park. Turn left on Vale St., then bear right through several turns until you reach Covington Dr., the entrance to the preserve. If the preserve is not yet open (7:30am), birding is excellent at Covington Park. [Chuck Almdale]
In an average year, approximately 200 California Sea Lion pups would strand, (lose the company of their mother and end up stranded on a beach alone). So far this year, that number is in the thousands – and it’s still early. Rescue groups are at full capacity and are being forced to make heart-breaking decisions – which pups to save and which to euthanize because of lack of space and resources for rehabilitation or medical needs. But sea lions are not the only ones suffering, sea and shore birds are also in trouble.
There are two main reasons for this being cited by scientists: the first is warming oceans that are driving prey further afield, sending mother sea lions further away from their pups to hunt. This leaves the pups vulnerable and without food for longer and longer stretches of time. As they begin to starve, they leave the Channel islands where they are born, usually to end up stranded or dead.
The second reason also has to do with the food supply: west coast fishing managers have long been concerned with the depletion of forage fish (sardines, anchovies, sivversides, smelt, etc.) Commercial fishing operations are fishing them to near extirpation levels on the west coast.
BUT – unlike with warming oceans, there is good news regarding forage fish: on March 10th, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to prohibit fishing of dozens of these species. This should certainly help the sea lions and marine birds who depend on them for food in future years.
But what about this year? There IS something you can do: Report any marine mammal or shore bird strandings to a rescue organization (see below) and if you can, donate to one of these groups to help provide much needed food and medications – crucially important this year, when numbers are so high. Even small amounts will make a difference.
The California Stranding Network 1-866-767-6114 will connect you to your closest rescue organization so you can report a stranding, and if possible, they will send someone to rescue and tend to the stranded animal.
You can also click the Bird and Marine Mammal Rescue link at the top of this page to find local Santa Monica Bay rescue groups.
Laurel Jones, Education Chair