Monday, June 15, 2009


In a few short hours I'll be sharing a home with these endemic species!


Beechey ground squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi nesioticus)
Santa Catalina island fox (Urocyon littoralis catalinae)
Santa Catalina island deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus catalinae)
Santa Catalina island harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis catalinae)
Santa Catalina island shrew (Sorex ornatus willetti)


Bewick’s wren (Thryomanes bewickii catalinae)
California quail (Callipepla californica catalinensis)
Hutton’s vireo (Vireo huttoni unitti)


Avalon hairstreak butterfly (Strymon avalona)
Scarab beetle (Coenonycha clypeata)
Scarab beetle (Coenonycha fulva)
Scarab beetle (Phobetus ciliatus)
Scarab beetle (Serica catalina)
Walkingstick (Pseudosermyle catalina)
Catalina shield-back cricket (Neduba propsti)
Catalina orangetip (Anthocharis cethura catalina)


Catalina manzanita (Arctostaphylos catalinae)
Trask’s mahogany (Cercocarpus traskiae)
Catalina dudleya (Dudleya hassei)
St. Catherine’s lace (Eriogonum giganteum var. giganteum)
Santa Catalina bedstraw (Galium catalinense ssp. catalinense)
Santa Catalina Island ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. floribundus)

In addition, two other taxa have previously been considered Catalina endemics and have the potential to be recognized as such again:

Wallace’s nightshade (Solanum wallacei var. wallacei)
Trask’s yerba santa (Eriodictyon traskiae var. traskiae)

Trask’s monkeyflower (Mimulus traskiae) was another plant restricted to Catalina Island, however it is presumed extinct.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Off to Catalina

I hope to update you all with gorgeous photos from my summer on Catalina very soon!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Trans-Catalina Trail

The newly completed 37.2-mile-long "Trans-Catalina Trail" is an excellent way to spend some time this summer. It can be completed in about 3-4 days, but to take the trail you must first pick up a hiking permit at the Conservancy House in Avalon.
The campsites along the trail include Black Jack Campground, Little Harbor Campground, Two Harbors Campground, and Parsons Landing.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Final Hours

Well I'm down to the last few days before I leave Monday for Catalina. I went on my last hike yesterday with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, in Baker Canyon. I didn't bring my camera because it's already packed away safely for the island. Of course, whenever you don't bring a camera, you see all the coolest things.
We started off the hike with beetles galore, trying not to step on them as we made our way up the hillside. Then, after pausing to enjoy the view of Red Rocks, we almost walked right past a tarantula on the trail. Everyone took out their cameras while I gazed sadly on. She was passive, but probably very freaked out about the giants crouching around her.
There was a surprising number of wildflowers still out, including a gorgeous little meadow of Plummer's Mariposa Lillies.
As we continued on, butterflies were swarming the trail, and they weren't a species I recognized. They were about the size of a buckeye, with eyespots on the wing, but they were a very dark, sooty gray color.
Lastly, as we neared the end of our hike, I stepped right over a gopher snake lying in the trail. After everyone got a look at it, we urged it back into the bushes off the trail. All excellent opportunities for photos I didn't get :/

I can't believe by Monday I'll be living on Catalina!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Richard Crossley's Wild in the City

Look for me between 35 seconds and 60 seconds! Hope the show gets picked up, it's definitely got potential to be interesting.

Once you check it out, take the survey about the demo here to help them develop the show.

Bald Eagles and Bison

There are about two dozen Bald Eagles on Catalina. The eagles lived on the island, until the 1970's, when a harmful pesticide called DDT wiped them out, and affected many other birds of prey throughout California. DDT increased as it made it's way up through the food chain, weakening the shells of eggs, which caused them to break under their mother as she tried to incubate them. When DDT was banned, the Eagles were reintroduced, and have been recovering their original range slowly. There is a live webcam set up by the Institute for Wildlife Study. It can be accessed by clicking HERE, and clicking on the Eagle photo which says 'Interactive'. Ridiculously cool.

From the Catalina Island Conservancy's website: "The bison were introduced to Catalina. Fourteen head were brought to the Island in the 1920s for the making of a film. Over the last 85 plus years of residence on the Island, bison have become an expected feature, almost iconic, to the Island traveler. A number of tours, literature and attractions feature the bison, which have become rather famous. In 2003, the Conservancy commissioned a scientific study of the bison and their impact on the Island. According to the study, the bison suffer from a poor diet due to frequent drought conditions and a history of overgrazing by other non-native herbivores. 
The study also found that the animals are significantly smaller than mainland bison, and appear in relatively poor nutritional condition.The study additionally concluded that while a large, unrestricted herd of bison can be detrimental to some of the more fragile native habitats, a small herd (between 150 and 200 animals) restricted to certain areas of the Island could be sustained without causing undue stress to native plant communities. The Conservancy is sensitive to the wants and needs of the resident community, and has adopted this strategy. The Conservancy is committed to maintaining a herd of between 150 and 200 animals, the number determined through a scientific study to be optimum for keeping both the herd and the Island ecosystem healthy."

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Catalina Island Fox

I leave for Catalina in 13 days, so over that time I'll be posting information about the island up to prepare. I figure if I have to learn as much as I can about the island and it's ecology, why not share? ;)
Let's start with the Catalina Island Fox. The information I'm posting came from the Catalina Island Conservancy's website. The Island Fox has been on the island for around 4,000 years. There are differing theories as to how they came to be on the island, including making their way across during storms by drifting over, or being brought by the natives that inhabited the islands. They descended from the grey fox, and can be found on 6 of the 8 Channel Islands. 
The sub-species found on Catalina is the Santa Catalina Island Fox - Urocyon littoralis catalinae. They run about 4-5 pounds, and are solitary animals with the exception of January through March, when they breed. They usually produce 2-3 kits per litter. 
The foxes are omnivores, and the island's largest predator. They'll eat eggs, berries, lizards, mice, insects, and even cactus. They are crepuscular, meaning they are active mainly at dawn and dusk. 
In 1999 a particularly virulent form of canine distemper came to the island via domesticated dogs. This ravaged the fox population on the east end of the island. Only 20-25 individuals remained. The far more remote west end was spared and efforts were undertaken to vaccinate all of the west end population, and begin captive breeding and transfers to try and revitalize the eastern population. The species is eligible for being listed as a federally endangered species, and as such, it is imperative that people do not feed these animals, or try to keep them as pets. Often when fed the animals come up to roads, causing a potential for car strikes

Non-Native Species on Santa Catalina Island

As important as the endemic species are the non-natives. While endemic species, found only on the island need protecting. The non-natives need management and removal. These species often have profound negative impacts on the delicate island ecosystem. Out-competing natives, causing erosion, and desertification of native habitat. Here's a list from the conservancy of the non-native species present on the island:

  • American Bison
  • Black Buck
  • European Starling
  • Feral Cat
  • Feral Goat
  • Feral Pig
  • Mule Deer
  • Norwegian Rats
  • Bullfrog

Catalina Endemics

There are 22 endemic species and sub-species on Catalina Island. Endemic means that those species or sub-species are found nowhere else on the earth except there. Certain species are endemic to the Channel Islands, and others to Catalina specifically.
The Avalon Hairstreak is the only full species butterfly endemic to Catalina. The Catalina Orangetip is an endemic sub-species found only on Catalina Island. I love hairstreaks and orange-tips so I'm definitely looking forward to chasing these two down for a photo.
The Bewick's Wren, the California Quail and the Hutton's Vireo are all Catalina endemic sub-species.
The Island Loggerhead Shrike, the Orange-crowned Warbler, the Allen's Hummingbird, the House Finch, Horned Lark, and the Spotted Towhee are all Channel Island endemic sub-species. I've seen the Orange-crowned warbler and the Allen's Hummingbird as well as the Santa Cruz Island Scrub Jay on Santa Cruz Island, years ago. It will be neat to see them again on Catalina.

Monterey Bay Birding Festival

This fall there will be an awesome opportunity to get some birding in the Monterey, CA area. The Monterey Bay Birding Festival will take place in September: the 24th-27th, and should be amazing. Monterey is home to some fabulous views, awesome birding, and excellent birders. Check it out!