Spring has sprung and birds are migrating through. It has been a very colorful month with butterflies and birds. Lazuli Bunting is definitely a highlight, but Western tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Yellow Warbler, and Hermit Warbler are pretty good too. I watched a House Wren trying to maneuver a large twig through a hole to build a nest. The twig won. I saw mating Killdeer and Caspian Terns (two separate sightings, not cross-species action). A pair of Kestrels had a nest nearby and mama had some fresh prey to deliver to the chicks. There was definitely love in the air.
At the end of March spanning into April, I participated in an invertebrate survey for the Tejon Ranch Conservancy. We spent three days camping and visiting sites on the San Joaquin Valley side. In addition to insects, there were wildflowers and snakes. (Warning: under vertebrates there are images of predation, snakes, and animal carcasses). The San Joaquin Valley side was very green and the weather was close to 80 during the day. I went back to Tejon Ranch at the end of the month for a birding trip. We stayed on the dry southern side. What a contrast! It was mostly very brown and dry, but here was some green up in the canyons. It was about fifty degrees, and the wind was howling. We did see some birds mostly at a distance or from the comfort of the van. It didn't make for great photography but there were highlights to be enjoyed, including a close look at a Golden Eagle, beautiful scenery, sights of Pronghorn, and a huge number of Black-headed Grosbeaks.
I went with Pasadena Audubon to Bob's Gap. That is an area on the north side of the San Gabriel Mountains on the edge of the Mojave. Going with knowledgeable guides is great for finding a new place and special birds. The highlight was a Gray Vireo. It is kind of a drab bird, but is a state species of special concern and has not been seen in the area since the 1990's. There were many 'prettier' birds too, including Scott's Oriole and a White-throated Sparrow. Even though it was a birding trip, I couldn't resist photos of the horned lizard, a few butterflies, and some other insects I encountered.
On my monthly butterfly survey we saw a few butterflies, but I must admit that I wasn't looking as hard as usual. Instead, I kept looking over my shoulder. Just after we were dropped off at the top of the trail head, we saw a fresh pile of scat, huge paw prints from a mountain lion, and turkey vultures circling over what we believe was fresh kill. There is a big difference in knowing that you are on a trail 'where there could be mountain lions' and knowing you are on a trail 'where there IS a mountain lion'. We again saw tracks further down the trail. I am happy to report that the day was uneventful after all. I went back at the end of the month to do some blacklighting. There were some cool beetles and moths. My faves were the Red-fringed Emerald moth, the Black Burying Beetle, and the fireflies and glowworms.
I went to Catalina with my husband and friends. We left from San Pedro, visited the famous Casino, enjoyed the tile work, and had a great time. Since this wasn't a 'nature' trip, I only brought my new compact camera and took photos of landscapes and artwork. I played with some of the settings to get used to the camera. It certainly is smaller and lighter than my regular cameras, but the jury is out on quality.
Watch the slideshows or click on the links to look through at your own pace.
Enjoy the show! I always appreciate corrections to ID's.
Local stuff: http://kimssight.zenfolio.com/new_apr_2018
Irvine Ranch butterfly survey: http://kimssight.zenfolio.com/irc_apr_2018
Irvine Ranch blacklighting: http://kimssight.zenfolio.com/irc_night_apr_2018
Audubon's Trip to Bob's Gap: http://kimssight.zenfolio.com/bobs_gap_apr_2018
Tejon Ranch Invertebrate Trip (1 of 3 - Landscapes): http://kimssight.zenfolio.com/tejon_mar_2018_habitat
Tejon Ranch Invertebrate Trip (2 of 3 - Invertebrates): http://kimssight.zenfolio.com/tejon_mar_2018_inverts
Tejon Ranch Invertebrate Trip (3 of 3 - Vertebrates): http://kimssight.zenfolio.com/tejon_mar_2018_vertebrates
Tejon Ranch Birding Trip: http://kimssight.zenfolio.com/tejon_apr_2018
Trip to Catalina: http://kimssight.zenfolio.com/catalina_apr_2018