Monday, October 27, 2008


There is nothing like an early fall hike here in California. It's not quite like fall in a hardwood forest, but it has its own charm. The sycamore leaves are generally the first to turn a golden yellow, with the maples, elms, and others following along as we move into November.

The waterfall trail at Walker Ranch (in the eastern section of Placerita Canyon) is dry this time of year, and thus my friend Paula and I were able to hike all the way back to the very end of the canyon. But we saw enough evidence along the way to convince us that this place would be quite dangerous when heavy water is flowing.

The canyon walls are steep and covered with trees and brush. It keeps the whole place in shade all day. It was very cool up there and a real pleasureable break from all the recent heat.

The sycamore leaves shone like stained glass as the sun streamed through them.

And leaf litter is left in growing piles around the feet of the trees and in every crevice.

Summer's leaves spent and decaying, creating mulch is Nature's way of recycling.

A Western Bluebird still lingering in the canyon...

...turned out to be one of a pair that has claimed a nesting box.

Acorn Woodpecker - the clowns of the canyon. Their laughing call makes me smile every time I hear it.

This one seems to ask, "Why do you keep bothering me?"

And this is what I call "Fort Knox" - an Acorn Woodpecker granary. This entire tree, from top to bottom, was covered with holes, many of them stuffed with acorns. There were two woodpeckers still busy stuffing more into the holes, as seen in the photo in the lower right.

One of the very special things about this spot was when we got up into the upper reaches of the canyon it was almost absolutely QUIET. All one could hear was the chirping of crickets, some faint birdsong, and the laughing of the woodpeckers. I thought it was all but impossible in L.A. without the aid of earplugs! Since we were the only ones up there for about an hour, we were able to revel in it.
Some words of caution to anyone who decides to walk up there however: IT IS LOADED WITH POISON OAK! So careful where you walk and where you put your hands!
Bird list:
White-tailed Kite
Oak Titmouse
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Canyon Wren
Spotted Towhee
Acorn Woodpecker
Scrub Jay
Steller's Jay
Cooper's Hawk
Common Raven
White-breasted Nuthatch
Dark-eyed Junco
Western Bluebird
This is a protected area, so please tread lightly. "Take only photos. Leave only footprints." Because of the high fire danger, please leave your smoking stuff at home (we actually found a cigarette butt up in the upper reaches of the canyon--shocking!). There are so many creatures that call this home it would be a shame to ruin it by a careless act. They've had a hard road of recovery since the last fire back in the early 90s. So please be kind if you choose to visit here.

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