Twelve Days of Christmas 2012

January 4, 2013

Since tomorrow is the twelfth day of Christmas, I thought I'd give you your belated gifts. Of course they're all part of L.A.'s surprising biodiversity, yes even those turtle wasps!

Twelve weevils wandering

 



Eleven pepsis wasps piping

 

 



Ten spiders-a-leaping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Nine ground squirrels dancing

 

 



Eight ants-a-milking (though technically they should be milking aphids)

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

Seven spittlebugs-a-spitting

 



 

Six roaches-a-laying (down that is)

 



 

Five under wings

 



 

Four warbling birds

 



 

Three French (phorid) flies

 



 

Two turtle wasps

 



 

And a hawk in a pear infested pond

 



Wishing you a happy New Year...what urban nature will we find this year?


(Posted by: Lila Higgins)

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What's that Bird of Prey Eating?

August 31, 2012

We've had another visitor at the pond. Since it's a bird, Kimball was kind enough to write this week's post!

"Cooper’s Hawks, Accipiter cooperii, such as this adult, have frequently been recorded by Sam Easterson’s “camera traps” as they drink and bathe at the Natural History Museum’s North Campus pond.  These hawks are among the most conspicuous vertebrate predators in urban Los Angeles – a significant turn of events given that this species was on the National Audubon Society’s “Blue List” as recently as the 1970s.  The “Blue List” – a sort of early warning list of potential endangerment – included species “suffering population declines or range diminution in all or parts of their range.”  Cooper’s Hawk populations have rebounded spectacularly in part because of reductions in the use of certain pesticides, but also because they are now rarely persecuted as the pest their nickname “chicken hawk” alludes to.  But the increasing population of Cooper’s Hawks in our region is not without ecological consequences.  These hawks, and other species in the genus Accipiter, are bird-eaters – they catch songbirds, doves, and many other kinds of birds by ambushing them with short flights over and through vegetation.  We don’t know the extent to which declines in populations of some urban bird species (such as the introduced Spotted Dove, which is now virtually gone from southern California, or the Inca Dove, whose population in the Tucson, Arizona region has plummeted) can be attributed by increased predation pressures by Cooper’s Hawks.  Careful observations by scientists and citizens – and Sam’s technological wizardry – may help us better understand the role of predators such as the Cooper’s Hawk in regulating populations of their prey species."Thanks Kimball! Finally, here's some footage Sam's trap captured of the hawk taking a bath in the pond!


(Posted by: Lila Higgins)


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Camera Trapping

June 23, 2011

Last week Sam got an awesome package in the mail, our new camera trap! On Monday afternoon he set it up behind the Butterfly Pavilion to see if it worked. We were also curious to see if we'd capture any interesting images. Boy were we in for a surprise!Night 1: Monday pm-Tuesday am

Our first cat tail caught on camera! We've known for a long time about the feral cats, Felis catus, that live in Exposition Park, but we weren't expecting to capture one of them on camera so quickly.

Just over an hour later this Opossum, Didelphis virginiana, sidled into view. Again we knew they were around as we'd seen their tracks in the mud.Night 2: Wednesday pm-Thursday am

When Sam showed me this picture, I was blown away! I definitely wasn't expecting the trap to capture a juvenile Cooper's Hawk, Accipiter cooperii, in this space. I am very curious to know why it landed here, was it chasing a rat or a mouse, or did it just feel like posing?

I'm pretty sure this is the same cat as in the first image. If it is the same cat, it obviously goes on the prowl after dark. Maybe we'll have to move the camera trap to the bird feeders next time. 

Here's another view of an Opossum. We can't be sure if it is the same one, or if there's a family that lives in the park. There's a possibility that there's a den under the shed. I think we'll have to investigate.


(Posted by: Lila Higgins)

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