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Friday, November 27, 2015

Take a Stroll Under the Oaks - November in Rocky Oaks Park

We took an early stroll the day before Thanksgiving, 2015 in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area through a little 200 acre gem of a park.

Rocky Oaks Park is a short drive away from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles.


 Sunlight in the early morning plays through the oaks, pines, and rocks of the park.

Rocky Oaks Park is located in the 31500 block of Mulholland Highway west of the Kanan Road intersection. The entrance is on the north side of Mulholland Highway.

Take the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101) to Kanan Road. South on Kanan Road to Mulholland Highway. Turn west (right) on Mulholland Highway and right again into the parking lot.

GPS Coordinates: N 34.0967 W -118.8141

Nice, well maintained trails.
Dogs allowed on leash.
Water available.
Meeting circle, ranger area under the oaks. 
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Visit Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park (endangered Channel Island fox)  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Band-tailed Pigeons take over Feederwatch!

Band-tailed pigeons (Patagioenas fasciata) are some of the larger  native birds we find in our backyard. 

Flocks of over 35 at a time have come to jostle each other and eat in shifts from our feeder.


They usually eat acorns, nuts and small fruit that grows wild in the neighborhood.
But they LOVE the shelled peanuts in the bottom of the feeder tray!!

Visit us at!  

And view more in Southern California:

Honey Bees in a Lemon Tree 

This Morning In a Habitat Yard 

Backyard Breakfast Buddies - Reptile Style 

Ring-necked Snake in the Garden

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Desert Tortoise Hibernation

One of our California desert tortoises is having a hard time settling down for the winter.


The weather has been cool and windy. The others are fast asleep, but this old female is still up and about.

What causes desert tortoises to enter winter torpor? The science is still out, but it seems to me that it is not one thing. Yes, cool weather is part of it, but it's been in the low 40 degrees F at night for nearly a week. The days have been windy and typically in the low 60s. Still she slowly wanders out to find a place in the sun.

Low angle sunlight, shortening daylight, cold winds, all of these play a role. Yet, this old girl hasn't settled in. 

This is her first winter with us and she just hasn't decided to let down her guard and go to sleep. Despite her grumpiness it is calming to spend time with her. She's probably close to 90 years old. She's a wise one, she'll find a place to sleep away the winter.

Other Earth Minutes with Turtles, Lizards and Snakes
Backyard Breakfast Buddies (desert tortoise and western fence lizard)
Tortoises in Turkey
Hidden Garden - Pierce College Botanical Garden (red-eared slider)
Ring-necked Snake in the Garden
Hike Limekiln Canyon (lizards)
Watching Lizards in Southern California 
Spotting a Lace Monitor in the Wild 

for a weekly Natural Moment 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Walking the L.A. River - West San Fernando Valley

Bridge at Tampa, decorated with river related wildlife
Yes, there is a Los Angeles River.

I started walking the river from its Headwaters in Canoga Park and some friends became interested. 

Walk along with us from Winnetka to the bridge at Tampa and the end of the Bike Trail at the Vanalden footbridge.


Each bridge and section has its own artistic style. Here there were decorative leaf patterns.

We saw 13 species of birds, including a pair of killdeer, American crows, white-crowned sparrows, lesser goldfinches and the group of least sandpipers that I saw further up the river.

We had a great walk. Native plants in the landscaping were blooming, including wild roses, desert morning glory, and more. For more photos of the flowers check out my friend Douglas Welch's blog.

We're almost to the area where the creeks from the Chatsworth area join the river. Hike Limekiln Canyon Park, CA (Pacific tree frog, western fence lizard)

Visit weekly for a new 1-minute escape.