Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Something was visiting our yard last week and tearing up the lawn and parkway...
Upon closer inspection of the culprets paw prints, I suspected a raccoon.
This morning the parkway lawn was really torn up; they were back! I went on the county animal control website and lo and behold, read this:
"Raccoons causing lawn and turf damage may be encouraged to leave by controlling the grub worms or other subsoil insects that raccoons eat. Remember the safety of your pets when dealing with chemicals on your lawn."
When I was replacing divets, I did notice a very large grub, so this is definitely what they are after. This is going to be a real challenge to deal with. I don't want to put down any chemical control for the grubs unless it's non-toxic (which isn't likely), but I don't want the lawn torn up anymore either. Thankfully the major damage is the parkway area. They only tore up two divets in the front lawn enclosed by the fence. Pesky littel devils! But kind of cool knowing there is wildlife like this in the city!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The leaves don't quite look like this yet here in Southern California, but the first sign we got was the return of Santa Ana winds, which sparked 5 brush fires. It's the time of year I dread, for it seems that we lose more and more of our precious wildlands every year at this time. It seems so unfair that the south gets a deluge and we are still in a drought. But there it is. Call it global warming, call it climate shift, but whatever it is, we need to start the rain dancing here now!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Mr. Pinchy, the crawdad I found about 6 weeks ago, is thriving in his new 10 gal. freshwater aquarium home. But he really goes through the plants! A lot of them he eats, but some I think he just tears up in his nighttime foraging around the tank. This photo shows the new plants I installed last night--some water wisteria, anacharis, and moneywart. I divided some of the wisteria and anacharis to spread it around a bit more. As of this morning, he'd left it alone, but I gave him 4 salmon eggs last night and I think that satisfied his appetite.
A nice close-up, showing the eye, antennae, and pincers.
Heading towards the "Craw Cave.'
Thursday, September 17, 2009
It is way beyond words. Way beyond sad. It is a tragedy of huge proportions.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Mr. Pinchy peeks out from behind his rock.
Angus waiting for Mr. Pinchy to make an appearance.
One of my cats, Angus, has become quite curious about the new fish tank I installed to house the crawdad I found in front of our house about a month ago (hard to believe I've had it that long now). First he was just captivated by the bubbles from the airstone, then he discovered there was running water flowing in the back from the filter. He loves water and I have had a little trouble disuading him from climbing up on top of the glass tank top and light fixture to get a better look.
Last night he was very persistant and I kept moving him down and saying, "NO!" very firmly. When I went back into the room, Angus had taken up a spot near the tank where he could keep an eye on things. He minded, and yet continued to do what he wanted. Have to admire him for that!
Friday, September 11, 2009
Observations from trip into the Angeles National Forest
By Dan Abendschein on September 9, 2009 12:01 PM Pasadena-Star News
Yesterday, I got my first chance to get deep into the Angeles Forest after the fire. Like most people who hike in the area, I'd been feeling a lot of anxiety about what might have been destroyed up there.
The news is not good. The lower end of the forest, up to the intersection with Big Tujunga Canyon Road, is absolutely devastated. There are stretches where there is almost no foliage left anywhere in sight. Guard rails are laying on the side of the road, the wooden posts that held them up burned to ashes. Without any trees left for wind break, yesterday's slight breeze felt very strong, sending up little dust devils whirling around the charred landscape.
There are few bright spots left for outdoors enthusiasts. Hiking trails off Big Tujunga Canyon Road will be useless. The trail up to Strawberry Peak that starts near Mt. Wilson is burned.
The backside of Mt. Wilson is one of the few exceptions in the area. Firefighters did an amazing job protecting the area, and hiking trails down in the canyon next to it could still be intact. Another bright spot is Switzer Falls, an extremely popular picnic area low in the park. Though the fire burned hillsides on either side of the canyon it sits in, the canyon itself is still mostly intact, especially right in the picnic area. The hiking trails in the area may not be open for a while, though, as trees and boulders have rolled down the hills into the canyon.
Further up in the forest is a different story. Firefighters are still battling the blazes up there. One side of Mt. Waterman is burning, but the fire does not appear to be out of control. Higher peaks are still outside of the burn area.
The area below Waterman is a mixed bag. In the Devil's Canyon area, where there are several popular campgrounds, there are some trees left standing, and some burn areas. It looks different around every curve up on Highway 2. There are still smoky hotspots in the area, and it is hard to tell exactly what has been preserved and what hasn't.
It's hard to say exactly what the future of the forest holds for recreational users: some areas will be reopened, some may not be, at least in the near future. But even in the best-case scenario the loss of great wilderness areas is very staggering, and a little hard to take once you see it with your own eyes.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
The latest danger that has come to the attention of Los Angeles Audubon is discarded monofilament fishing line. Monofilament fishing line, though it may look harmless, is deadly to birds. It is designed to be invisible to fish, but it is also invisible to birds. Entanglements with fishing line have led to the deaths of thousands of birds, as well as the amputation of limbs of many others. Shorebirds and waterfowl are particularly susceptible to entanglement with fishing line when they forage for food. Birds may also become impaled with hooks, and if they are hooked in the neck or swallow the hook it will prevent them from feeding and they will die of starvation.
Several recent incidents have raised the awareness of this problem. The first was on March 18 and involved me personally when I found a Royal Tern along the Ballona Creek bike path. The bird was standing just off the path, shaking its head involuntarily. A woman nearby said that she and her boyfriend had removed a hook from its neck (kind, but not the smartest thing to try on your own) and some fishing line that was wound around its neck. Eleanor Osgood rescued the bird, but it died that night.
A second incident was on March 30, reported in the LA County Birds listserve. David Chadsey of Etiwanda reported seeing a “gull tied to a white buoy directly out from the little green pier. It appeared to be caught in a long loop of fishing line and was struggling to get airborne.” This lucky bird was saved by the lifeguards at the lake, who went out in their patrol boat and rescued the gull.
The third incident, reported by Judith Raskin of Echo Park, involved the near-strangulation of a Double-crested Cormorant on April 10. Barbara Jarvik found the “hapless cormorant dangling from fishing line in a eucalyptus tree.” The LAFD was called and fortunately was able to cut the bird down before it strangled to death. This bird likely survived; others are not so lucky.
Many people are surprised to hear that it takes fishing line 600 years to break down in the environment. That's six times longer than tin cans and batteries, 17 times longer than fishing nets, and 40 times longer than plastic bags. This makes fishing line a real danger that does not go away, making clean-up and recycling of this lethal waste material a critical issue.
All these hazards to birds due to human activity are preventable. With education and raising the awareness of the public, these threats to birds can be managed and even eliminated. Birds deserve as much of a chance to survive as human beings do. We at Audubon believe in being good neighbors and sharing the environment with birds rather than usurping it from them.
If you would like to become involved in our conservation efforts, we would welcome all the help we can get. These problems won’t go away on their own; it takes people to undo the problems created by people. So do something nice for the birds for a change and volunteer on one of Los Angeles Audubon’s conservation projects today!
Friday, September 4, 2009
"Investigators will pick through clues at the scene, try to establish a likely motive for the arsonist, then predict the characteristics and traits of the unknown offender as they look to make an arrest.
Timothy Huff, a former profiler with the FBI who has interviewed more than 100 convicted arsonists, said the typical profile of an arsonist is that of a white man aged between 15-25. The most common arson motivation is revenge, Huff said, with offenders seeking to harm individuals, groups, institutions or society in general."
Yeah, well--thanks a lot, arsonist! I don't care how mad you are at something, this is an incredibly selfish way to have your revenge.
California MyotisWestern PipistrelleBig Brown Bat
Mexican Free-tailed Bat
California Jack Rabbit
Western Gray Squirrel
Beechey Ground Squirrel
California Ground Squirrel
Antelope Ground Squirrel
Valley Pocket Gopher
California Pocket Mouse
Pacific Kangaroo Rat
Western Harvest Mouse
California Meadow Mouse
--And remember—this is just the mammals.
I hope they catch whoever started this fire. I hope they catch them and make them pay dearly for this hideous tradgedy.
*To put this 147,000 acres into perspective, UCLA is 419 acres. You could fit a little over 350 UCLA’s in the area this fire has burned.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
A deer surveys the aftermath of the Station Fire.
I could hardly believe what I was reading this morning:
(on a discussion board of San Gabriel Mountain hikers)
From Greg Sweet. Chantry Flats pack station:
I have just received word from a Forest Service briefing that they are going to let Chantry Flat and Big Santa Anita Canyon burn. The Station fire is to the west and they have cut a fire break to the east. This canyon is home to 80 historic cabins, 113-year-old Sturtevant's Camp, and the last pack station in Southern California. It would be a shame to loose this piece of history, but to have no intention to defend it is disgraceful. This canyon is a living museum and as much a part of LA history as the Observatory.
Here's what they plan to let burn--like it's inconsequential:
You can bet if there were multi-million dollar homes or a judge living there, they'd be all over it. How they can let this valuable piece of history, not to mention a popular recreation area, burn to the ground without lifting a finger to try and save it is unconscionable. They could have done something to lay down protection earlier in the fire before it started moving in that direction. But hey, guess what? They were too busy trying to save the houses that were allowed to be built up in the canyons. I wish every one of those had burned instead.
I am sick to death of hearing people say, "Oh, that's what forests do--for millions of years forest burn and regenerate. It will grow back"
Well listen up idiots! Not in my lifetime they won't! It will take decades to regenerate--and I don't have that much time left. I was reading this sort of crap on a discussion board for hikers of the San Gabriel Mountains. Well, the joke will be on them soon, as the forest burns leaving no where left for them to hike. Discuss that, you morons!