Posts Categorized: nature + environment

The Santa Ana Winds Have Started

At 8:24 pm (PST) the Santa Ana Winds started.
I walked out at 8:55pm and the the ashes from the fire were whirling everywhere along with leaves and debris. Yet, the stars were still obscured by clouds and fog.
Now at 9:36pm, there is ashes and dust on every surface in the house and the sky is clear. Mars is shining orange gold half way up the southern sky.

The Santa Ana Winds Have Started

At 8:24 pm (PST) the Santa Ana Winds started. Or at least, after 2 days of claims that they had been blowing through the Inland Empire, they have travelled southwest throught the Santa Ana Canyon to the coastal areas.
I walked out at 8:55pm and the the ashes from the fire were whirling everywhere along with leaves and debris. Yet, the stars were still obscured by clouds and fog.
Now at 9:36pm, there is ashes and dust on every surface in the house and the sky is clear. Mars is shining orange gold half way up the southern sky.

Snowing Ash

102503ash.jpg 102503sun.jpg

I woke up late this morning to weird diffused brown-yellowish light streaming into my room. It was not the bright yellow of California sun, nor the soft, diffused grey light of fog/inversion clouds, but an odd apocalyptic brown-yellow mist.
After a week of high heat in the 90s, yesterday was cool and misty. Thick fog rolled in by 8pm and blanketed Orange and Anaheim, and most likely the rest of the LA basin but I only ventured as far as the Doll Hut. When I woke up, I half expected the fog to still be lurking about, but the color of the light was so odd, I got up to investigate.
I took my camera and looked out all of the windows of the house into the back and side yards, and found the world to be draped in soft orange-brown-yellow tones. Upon exiting out to the driveway, I found a layer of ash on my car and on every surface. Ash was falling down much like a light snowfall. The sun, which was trying to break through the fog / cloud cover, was a reddish-orange ball.
CNN.com and the LA Times are reporting that the Rancho Cucamonga Grand Prix wildfire has grown to over 16,000 acres and has closed down the 15 fwy. They are both reporting high Santa Ana winds are flaming the blaze. Usually if the SA winds are coming through the Cajon Pass then we here in Orange would not be socked in with fog / inversion clouds, as the SA winds usually roar down the the Cajon pass through the Inland Empire then it speeds up through Santa Ana Canyon to clear out all the air through south LA and north / central OC.
The ashfall seems strangely out of place given the lack of winds here in Orange, the stagnant cloud layer, and we are approximately 50 miles southwest of the Grand Prix Fire. It is now 3pm, and the sun has not burned through the cloud cover. We are in an all day twilight with ash continuing to fall lightly down.

Flocks of Migrating Birds

Today, I went over to Blue’s to help her out with her computer. As I was walking up to her place, the olive trees were full of flitting, chirping birds. At first I thought they were the usual SoCal crew of twittering bushtits, but I kept seeing flashes of blue.
As I walked up the sidewalk, the birds would flush out of the nearest tree to the tree just in front of me. It was enough movement and flight for me to realize that I had walked into a large migrating flock of western bluebirds, orange-crowned warblers, and yellow rumped warbers. There were at least 40 plus birds.
Truly wonderful and extraordinary.
Get out in the next week to areas of trees and calm, and you may find yourself delighted to be in the midst of a flock of northern birds on the way to their winter holidays in Latin America.

The Evening Walk at Bolsa Chica

As mentioned in my posts of the last hour, Erika and I went on a circumnavigation of the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. Usually we walk on the path that is a couple of hundred yards east of Pacific Coast Highway. Today we started at the parking lot just off PCH and walked around and ended up walking down PCH. Bad idea. Halfway through the walking south on PCH in the bike lane, I was lightheaded by the car fumes. Luckily there is a culvert between the two lagoons that allowed us to walk back on the good path.
Here are my pictures of the various photogenic and attention hound birds that we came across in our 1.5 hour jaunt at sunset /dusk. There were several snowy egrets, 3 great egrets, and one kingfisher in the photos. We also saw, but I did not capture with the Mavica, brown pelicans in flight, a lot of ruddy ducks, a few surf scoters, various terns & gulls, and pied-billed grebes.

Snowy Egret Great Egret Great Egret
Snowy Egret Snowy Egret Kingfisher
Great Egret and the Sunset Great Egret Snowy Egret

Homesteaders Evicted

This late-afternoon / early-evening, Erika and I went for a walk at Bolsa Chica Wetlands and then to dinner at Kung-Pao in Huntington. At dinner, Erika asked me what was happening with the spider family that was homesteading on the trash bin. She reminded me that I had not blogged about it in weeks and that I had a duty to my readers to update.
Here’s the update: Two Tuesdays of Trash Days after the last update, the trash bin went out to the curb with Ms. Spider and her two egg sacs attached on Monday evening and came back on Tuesday afternoon sans Ms. Spider and her two egg sacs. I did not bring the trash cans back, as the front house neighbor got to them before I could, so I don’t know if the spider family took off on their own out at the curb, was shaken off into the trash truck, or if the front neighbor sprayed them with Raid. I am sorry to report that there is only a remnant of her web left dangling on the trash bin.

October Garden Update

100603basil.jpgIn many parts of the country, this is the time of year when the leaves are falling and folks are tucking their gardens in for the winter. Here in Zone 23 of the Sunset Garden Guide, we are losing leaves and many of the garden plants are thinking about tucking in for a short nap.
Right about now is when the basil and tarragon decide that it is time to die. If I clip them down and continue to water them, they will rise again in March or thereabouts. The basil in the driveway side garden is now over 4 feet tall and just starting to yellow a bit. I suppose I ought to harvest it now before it dies off on me. Although, I am still getting new shoots and side branches. Desicions, decisions, decisions.
Many SoCal gardeners will plant a whole new season of vegetables and flowers in Sept. and Oct. for the fall and winter. I have pansy and winter sweet pea seeds waiting to go in as soon as the summer garden is over.

Ms. Woodpecker and the Elm Tree

090903downeywoodpecker.jpg

Since last summer the large branch nearest to the garage on the big backyard elm tree has been dying and is now officially dead. I am not sure why – maybe an Elm Disease, maybe bad pruning, the big wind storm last winter, maybe drought, who knows.
But the local Downy Woodpecker population loves the dead branch, as evidenced by the apprearance of this little woodpecker doing her job on the bottom side of the branch by pecking a large patch of bark off to get the boring insects. I took about 7 pictures before I got one that really showed the bird’s coloring and best angle.