Thursday, May 28, 2009

Article Link

Here's a link to the article I wrote about the Fremont Canyon hike I did last week in our school paper at UCI, The New University.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

I found this entry from a journal I kept in 2005, the first time I did the memorial weekend circuit in the desert with the boys: 

"Hey guys. Just got back from a long ass hardcore birding trip in the desert with all my boys. It was kickass. We saw about 100 species of birds there, +150 something for the entire weekend. (including a day of birding here when they dropped me back home) More Im sure if I counted it. Got about 13 lifers including incredible looks at a long-eared owl in broad daylight. Also, I held a baby Kangaroo Rat!! so adorable. pictures to come...It wasn't as hot as it could have been, hovered around 95-100 degrees, because there was a strooooong wind blowing most of the time we were there. Salt and dust in your eyes constantly. ew. 

We went all over the Mojave, Kern, Inyokern and Death Valley area. Great birding overall, even if the first few days were woefully slow. Ran into a lot of birders doing variations of the same route we were. Apparently desert birding is a Memorial weekend must. lol.We camped each night in the cars or on cots next to the cars, then birded alllll day, stopping sporadically to eat, get gas, or pee. (not as often as my bladder or stomach would have liked I might add...) It was fun and exhausting.

 Even though I got home last night, I birded with them this morning and I plan to sleep the rest of the day so I can go to school tomorrow... hope Im not toooo far behind in all my classes now. ugh.I love my boys. Ryan, Mattie (Matt), Oscar, Dave, Austin and his dad. Others came and went, Ryan's parents, who I adore. Also the Howes, Tom and Leiga, and a man named Mike, and quite a few others who we met at various spots, birded with, then parted ways. Good times, good people, good beer, good birds. What more is there to life? =)"

This year I'm grilling with my parents and beginning the long and depressing task of packing up my apartment because I graduate and move out in a little over two weeks. I have tons of stuff to sort through and decide what stays in CA, what comes to Vermont, and what I need for my summer on Catalina. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hike to Tecate Cypress Forest in Fremont Cyn

This morning I went on a 10.5 mile hike with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy to the Tecate Cypress forest in Fremont Canyon. We began at the staging area at 7:30am, and the first few miles were uphill! After finally getting into our stride we came to the abandoned coal mine. The coal there was poor quality, so the mining was abandoned, but it's a pretty cool example of a strip mine.
Coal layer with sandstone above it

We continued on to the Fremont Weather Station, where some of the strongest winds in Orange County are routinely recorded. Evelyn and I were thrilled to spot some black-chinned sparrows up and about on the hillside, definitely a year bird for me. We then descended down into a little valley for a bit before heading back upwards toward the Tecate grove. As we neared the Tecate grove and the half-way point of our hike we were finding plenty of wildflowers including bedstraw, mariposa lilies, CA poppies, and a few lingering lupins.
Coast Spiny Lizard!

The Tecate cypress suffered huge casualties in the 2007 fires. There were a few remaining plants, but the population was greatly reduced from their pre-fire numbers. Tecate cypress are very rare, and only grow three places in the world, this stand in Orange County, the Otay Mountains, and Tecate, Mexico.
ID help?

I'm thinking GRRO tracks?

We finished our hike around 12:30pm, and not a moment too soon as the heat began to really make it's presence noticed. It was a wonderful hike, and I got to see some very cool critters, all in all, a great day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

IRC Round Canyon Hike

This morning I went on a hike with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy in Round Canyon, off of Portola. The hike was geared toward bird-watching, my specialty ;) Lois Taylor is a wonderful plant guide, and while the group was birding, I was quizzing Lois every few feet: "what's that one? Ohh, what's this?"
Wine Cups
Our plant list included Mustard or evening primrose, star thistle, tarweed, bedstraw, Parry's phacelia, morningglory or bindweed, stinking gourd, an aster which wasn't cud leaf, CA figwort, wine cups, splendid mariposa lily, cliff aster, miniature lupin, stream monkeyflower, telegraph weed, CA goldenbush, elderberry, coast live oak, western sycamore, laurel sumac, black mustard, bull thistle, coastal sagebrush.
Acmon Blue
Good birds included great looks at Bullock's oriole, ash-throated flycatcher, lazuli buntings, blue-gray gnatcatcher, and a beautiful singing, Bell's vireo. Also of note was a gopher snake, very cold, moving slow across the trail. Fun!
Whispering Bells
Parry's Phacelia

Aster I don't know, not cut-leaf

Cliff Aster

Hairstreak on Deerweed - maybe Grey?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Endangered Species Day

Happy Endangered Species Day. Take today to do something that will benefit the preservation of endangered species, plant some natives, do a restoration project, or find a celebration going on in your area!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Update and Countdown

I'm in my last 35 days at UCI, hence the lack of real birding. Here's a link to the article I wrote about the most common species on the UCI campus.
I can't believe I will be graduating in a little over a month, then heading immediately to Catalina Island where I will work as a naturalist. Then in three short months, I'll be Vermont-bound!