Sunday, December 9, 2007

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

Looking East Towards LA with Snow-covered San Gabriel Mtns. in Background


I did manage to get outside today and went about four minutes away from my house to the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. This little gem is so close--yet miles away in terms of allowing one to get a nice dose of Nature right in the middle of sprawling Los Angeles. This was my first trip here and I was pleasantly surprised to see how large the park is. Although primarily geared towards family recreation, including the obligatory play areas and fishing pond, they have nonetheless created an environment that is Nature-friendly. The old adage, "If you build it, they will come" is very true of places like this; the critters show up, too, and make their homes here.

I started out near the large 'lake' near the parking lot and I'm glad I did, for I was treated to a spectacular show put on by a juvenile Osprey! It is my profound regret that I did not take my good Nikon 35 mm camera with the 300 mm lens, because I could have had some amazing photos. Alas, the memory of this must remain trapped in my memory where I cannot share it with you.

But I shall describe what I saw and hope the words will enable me to share this spectacular event. I heard the bird before I saw it, it's sharp cry telling me that a bird of prey was close by. Then I saw it circling over the lake. Around and around it went, circling high, then swooping in lower. At first I thought it was another type of hawk and that it was about to grab one of the coots swimming in the lake. I grabbed my binoculars, glassed it, and made the positive ID. This was a BIG beautiful bird, too.

I watched it for a long time, about 45-minutes, as it alternately hunted and stopped to perch in a eucalyptus tree very close to me. I had a sort of reverse-bird's eye view looking up at him. He repeated the flying and resting behavior until about an hour into the watch he did a slow swoop over the lake near some cattails, went into a stoop and dove right into the water! He came back up immediately grasping a good-sized trout (at least 12") in its talons and flew off. He made the circuit of all the trees surrounding the lake until choosing a stout eucalyptus branch to plop his lunch down on. He sat there with it, just standing on it, until the fish expired, which I think the bird did to avoid losing it when it eventually flew off with it. It was quite a show and one that I will long remember.

Other birds seen:

  • Cattle egret
  • Cormorants
  • American Coots
  • Mallards & Geese
  • Immature Black-crowned Night Heron
  • American Widgeon
  • Yellow-rumped warblers
  • Rock Pigeons
  • Crows
There were also a number of medium-sized Red-ear Slider Turtles sunning themselves on rocks and stumps along the lake.

Nice [Artificial] Stream Environment

Running water soothes the soul and calms the spirit. Sitting next to this burbling little stream lulled me into a pleasant torpor; like I'd taken a tranquilizer...

[Man-made Waterfall] - But Close Enough to the Real Thing

At the head of the stream is this man-made waterfall. It is using reclaimed water, which I deduced from the characteristic smell of it (hard to describe, but let's just say it's 'unnatural' yet not unpleasant).

Algae Design on River Rock

Nature's little artistic touches are everywhere, even in the most seemingly unlikely places. This algae creates an interesting abstract design.

Flow

Water moves. Water flows. It is life.

Spent Sycamore Leaf

One of the many fallen leaves scattered on the ground, reminding me that the hardwood varieties of trees are preparing for winter.

Leaf Pile

Leaves collect in all the nooks and crannies now. Their brown husks crunch under foot and scatter along the ground in the wind.

American Coot

This little guy came over to me and I wondered why when all the others seemed so skittish. Then I noticed that the poor little feller had a wad of fishing line wrapped around its leg. The leg was rubbed raw and the bird was limping. I felt like it was asking me to take it off and I sure wish I could have. This is a vivid reminder of the damage that callous and inconsiderate people take on wildlife. It kind of put a damper on the day for me.

American Widgeon - Male & Female

In the center of this photo you can see a pair of American Widgeon. They are wintering here from their normal range, which is the far north of Alaska and Canada. These were the only ones; I wonder where the rest of their flock was?
As can be seen by this outing, there is abundant wild life sometimes with minutes of home. So the next time you are feeling worn out, stressed, tired, upset, despondent, or depressed--please drag yourself to a nearby park or the beach and get outside for a gentle dose of Nature's healing energy!

[Composed to the haunting music of Lisa Gerrard, from her "DUALITY" CD. Highly Recommended.]

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