Sunday, January 3, 2016

Birding the City of Angels

Battarea phalloides.

Usually I have a crazy extravagant trip proposal for my birthday, however there wasn't much availability this time around so instead I took Dan Cooper's offer of dropping by Griffith Park for the organized Los Angeles CBC meeting. It was great to finally see yellow-chevroned parakeet albeit as tiny smudges well up in the tree, completely obscured by branches. One of the coolest finds though was this native puffball, Battarea phalloides! Non-lichenized fungi are not too common in drought-stricken Los Angeles, so it is always a novelty to find one.

The real star of Griffith Park though was the barred umber splendour that was a female Williamson's sapsucker foraging along aleppo pines! A real high-elevation specialty that is not the most expected down in the LA basin. Not long after a brown creeper showed up! Wow, another great mountain species together on the same tree! Phenomenal. I also saw my first merlin...subspecies. What subspecies is it along this coast anyway? It is much darker than the grey and pale brown ones I grew up with in Europe.

The sapsucker didn't want to show itself in the sun but ah well, I can always find something to complain about so let's not go that route!

Williamson's sapsucker, Sphyrapicus thyroideus,

Later on we checked out Bronson Canyon where I saw my first of Australian waterbuttons. Later that evening I heard Lance Benner had northern saw-whet owl at this location! An incredible bird and not expected this low down. Today seems to be the day of unexpected mountain specialties!

Oh, and I guess I should mention two other new weeds I saw in rural Sullivan Canyon. First nasturtium, and then the highly invasive cape ivy (that is, Delairea odorata, the real cape ivy, and not the other species under this common name!). Cape ivy is nice to look at in full bloom, but it completely blankets everything and chokes out anything else that wants to live there.

Cape ivy, Delairea odorata.

Thanks Dan for the heads up and the lift! Some good species that day.