Posts Categorized: nature + environment

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


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.

Homesteading Spiders!


Living in SoCal also means living with lots of spiders. If you have arachnophobia, it can be a problem or you get used to screaming and using Raid. I happen to not mind spiders, esp. if they will do their job and eat insects.
My general attitude towards spiders is as follows:
1) Only Daddy Long Legs allowed in the house. All others must exit or face death.
2) All Daddy Long Legs must homestead their 144 sq. inches properly. To prove their claim, they must catch and eat at least 4 insects per week, preferrabley of the flying variety or the ant variety. If there are more than 3 homesteaders per room or if they go beyond their allowed 144sq. inches (one foot by one foot), they and their webs will get vacuumed up.
3) All other spiders must live in the great outdoors. If you are a black widow, do not make a nest or hidey hole in my gardening gloves, as I will stamp on you thoroughly before I put them on.
In the summer, there is a certain species of spider (see pics) that is about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide/thick that makes very beautiful, intricate and large webs in between trees or across walkways. These spiders tend to do it at night and I usually walk right into the web and have a good scream as I scrape the web off and hope the spider is not on me.


The she spider, featured in these photos I took today, decided about four weeks ago or so to take up residence and thus nesting & laying of her two egg sacs on the front of the regular trash bin (as opposed to the recycling bin or green bin). I am sure she thought she was being smart, no humans or pets walking through her web, ruining her next or hurting her eggs. But every Tuesday for the last four weeks, she and her egg sacs have gotten to trundle down the driveway, sit out on the curb for 12+ hours, get picked up by the trash truck automatic lever, lifted in the air, all contents (except what is attached to the web) dumped upside down in to the trash truck, set down by the lever not so lovingly and then trundled back up the bumpy driveway.
Out of pure, shear fascination, I have not swept the spider, her web or egg sacks away, because I am very curious how many weeks of the Tuesday Trash Adventure she is will to endure before she realizes that the trash can is a bad place to homestead.

The Evolution of Personal Livestock! had the following intriguing headline today in the Science and Space section:
‘Lousy’ genes show clothes are 70,000 years old

Adam and Eve may have put on fig leaves while still in the Garden of Eden but a study that looked at the most intimate of pests — body lice — suggests that humans started wearing clothes 70,000 years ago, scientists said on Monday.

The genetic study of the lice strongly suggests they — and clothing — arose soon after modern Homo sapiens began moving out of Africa and into the cooler regions of Europe.

In my opinion, one of the true marks of a highly civilized and technological society is not electronics or cars or space flight, but the wonders of being lice and flea free. Ok free of personal livestock as long you don’t rub heads with an infected five year old or get too drunk and go home with somebody you don’t know at a show and rub other parts with them…. Just say no to substitute teaching and drunk bar patrons!

Evening Walk at Bolsa Chica

Evening walk at Bolsa Chica

Tonight around 7:25 pm, I decided to go for a walk down at the Bolsa Chica Wetlands Reserve. I arrived at 7:52pm, when all the signage has the reserve closing at 8pm. Most folks were leaving as I arrived, which left the walking paths all to little ole me. The sun set and the Bolsa Chica State Beach bonfire smoke lilted over PCH and the water to me as I was walking.
Most of the shore and water birds took no notice of me and became very active. The best part was a black & white stilt who decided I was a threat and barked at me. It sounded like a small yapping poodle.
As I neared the bluff, about 7 night herons were hanging out on the walking path. I watched them for a bit and then turned around to go back to the car. It was a delightful walk, cool, alone, and evening.

Evening walk at Bolsa Chica