Monday, November 17, 2008


For the second time in as many months wildfires are again consuming wildlife habitat and urban homes. I had hoped we would be spared from this for the rest of the season, but nature failed to cooperate and sent 70+ mph winds through the canyons late Friday night.

The photo above was taken Saturday morning at about 9:30 AM from Jefferson Blvd. at the north end of the Ballona Fresh Water Marsh. The huge plume of smoke is from the Sayre fire in Sylmar, which started at about 10:30 PM the night before. At this point it was all we here on the westside of LA had to deal with.

It was very warm this morning, and not pleasant for walking on the path around the marsh. Birds were fairly plentiful, however. I counted 6 Great Egrets, including this one hunting on the margins of some cattails.

This Great Blue Heron snagged himself a huge crayfish. I watched for several minutes as it worked to subdue and swallow it. It finally succeeded, and took several long draughts of water afterwards to wash it down.

Cinnamon Teal

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Audubon's Warbler stretches for insects in the vegetation below a small tree.

Audubon's (Yellow-rumped) Warbler, with characteristic yellow patch on rump.

Other birds seen at the marsh:
  • American Kestrel
  • Ruddy Duck
  • American Coot
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Thick-billed Fox Sparrow
  • Common Yellowthroat

Later in the afternoon we got the smoke from the Orange County fires in our area. The sky was a sickly yellow-gray and the smell of smoke was strong. These crows, which gather in the huge sycamore behind our house every evening, made a striking image against the sky. This was around 4:30 PM and it already looked like early evening.

Smoke or no smoke, the crows hold their late afternoon conference every day in that tree.

The sky is an ugly reminder that habitat is burning somewhere and that birds and wildlife are losing thier lives and their homes. I hate fires and wish there was more that could be done to prevent them.

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