Monday, August 22, 2011

La Jolla Canyon, August 14th

Sycamore Canyon was planned today, but as La Jolla popped up along the way, a detour was made. Before even reaching this area, the GPS had taken us to "Sycamore Canyon Park", which is no more than a child's playground.

Mugu Lagoon was going to be planned, but as soon as we arrived we discovered it was right in the grounds of a Naval Air Weapons base. Doubt having a camera here is a good idea, not that there were any birds other than a lone Great Egret.

Mugu Rock was also located, but apart from the typical Western Gulls and Brown Pelicans there was nothing to offer, though the Pelicans did offer some very close fly-bys, which compared to the offshore birds before was definately appreciated.

Sycamore Canyon was approaching, but as the turn in for La Jolla came, I decided based on what I was told about this location, that this would be a nice detour. Apparently it had a good population of Lazuli Bunting, Costa's Hummer and the two chapparal wren species; the Rock and Canyon Wren. I also expected to find Wrentit here, which so far I have only heard off in the distance. In the car park a few Western Scrub-jays and California Towhees flitted around the gravel, the former later taking up residence in the Sycamore tree canopy. Bushtits were also present.

Further up the path was a sign warning us of Rattlesnakes and Mountain Lions (what is a park without these signs?). Despite the possiblity of near-death encounters, my 5-year old brother was much more worried about little spiders that stick to you i.e. ticks. For the next few minutes absolutely nothing was heard in terms of bird life, but I did start seeing some butterflies. Marine Blue was fairly abundant here, as was the Californian ssp. of the Common Ringlet. I even managed to find a few Northern White Skipper here too for revenge on the Rancho Sierra Vista visit a few weeks back.

From here to the end I found a few Lesser Goldfinch, heard a Wrentit (far off in the distance again) and saw a Raven and a Turkey Vulture (they seem to be extremely common in Los Angeles) fly over. Apart from these birds it was totally devoid of bird life.

On the way back a Tarantula Hawk-wasp flew over (a reminder that Tarantulas are indeed found in the United States), landed briefly and went on its way again. This would have been the first time I ever saw one land, but alas no it was not long enough for pictures. A pair of worn Marine Blue were fluttering around here which included my first female (the two-striped one) of this species.

A Red-tailed Hawk appeared over the canyon on the way back to the car park, and at a similar time a Nuttall's Woodpecker started calling, those respective birds being the last seen on the day.

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