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Nature Gardens at NHM: LA's Urban Nature

Showing posts with label : sphinx moth

May 13, 2011

Lizards Galore

It has been a week of lizard happenings at NHM! We've had a confirmed sighting of another Western Fence Lizard in Exposition Park, we're installing underground lizard tubes in the North Campus, and over the weekend we held our first Lost Lizard Spotting field trip.

Lizarding at Malibu Creek

This past Saturday morning a group of NHM staffers, and our good friend Dr. Bobby Espinoza, from Cal State University Northridge, led the first ever Lost Lizard field trip. Malibu Creek turned out to be the perfect location for this event and the group of kids and their families had a great time catching and identifying lizards. We found a number of species including Western Fence Lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis), Side-blotched Lizards (Uta stansburiana), and Western Whiptails (Aspidoscelis tigris). Hopefully the trip inspired all the participants to become Lost Lizard Citizen Scientists. If you're interested, find out more at the...

May 6, 2011

Black Phoebes Build Nest

More Nest Surveillance

This week we found another active bird nest! This nest belongs to a pair of Black Phoebes, Sayornis nigricans, and is built under the eaves of the Rose Garden maintenance shed. Once again this find is thanks to Kimball Garrett, who noticed the nest Monday morning on one of his regular Expo Park bird surveys. 


 Footage of the phoebe landing on her nest


Naughty Neighbors

This is the second nest Kimball has found in this location this year, but it is a site that has been used by phoebes in past years. Unfortunately, this year's first nest was disturbed by unknown causes, but it is possible that a squirrel is to blame. Eastern Fox Squirrels, Sciurus niger, are very common in Expo Park, and they are known nest predators. When they locate a nest they will eat any eggs or young birds they...

April 29, 2011

Bushtits Move In

New Neighbors

 

 

A pair of Bushtits, Psaltriparus minimus, just built their nest in the live oak tree behind the Butterfly Pavilion. Kimball Garrett, our resident bird expert, found the nest this Monday and promptly sent me an e-mail detailing the nest's location. As soon as I got into work on Tuesday morning, I headed out to the Butterfly Pavilion to check it out.

 

 

 
Adult Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
 
Nest Hunt

 

Thankfully Kimball had given clear instructions to find the nest, as it was very well hidden in the oak foliage. The effort was well worth it, as it was one of the coolest nests I've ever seen in the...

April 22, 2011

North Campus Insect Survey

Survey Fun
 
 
As mentioned in an earlier post New Fly for North Campus, we've been trapping insects on the North Campus for a while now. This week however, is a milestone for NHM as we held our first quarterly insect survey. Our aim was to go after the insects that our Malaise trap wasn't sampling, like large flying insects such as crane flies and bumble bees and ground dwelling insects like earwigs and beetles.  Since this was our first time and the site is still an active construction zone, we limited participation to NHM staff and partners. As the specimens get prepared and sorted, I'll keep you all up to date on the species we identify.
 
Brent "the bug guy" Karner demonstrates...

April 22, 2011

North Campus Pill Bugs

Finding Pill Bugs

I always knew we'd find pill bugs in the North Campus, but until recently I didn't know what species, or that they'd have such an interesting story.

In the North Campus there are two species of terrestrial isopods, what we at the Museum call pill bugs and their relatives. The Common Pill Bug (aka roly poly), Armadillidium vulgare, rolls up into a tight little ball when disturbed. We also find a closely related species, the Common Rough Woodlouse, Porcellio scaber, a more agile creature. In North America most of the people I've talked to refer to both as pill bugs, whereas in England, where I grew up, we called them all woodlice! Regardless of what one calls them, they both share a similar story of how they come to live in North America.

Common Pill...

April 5, 2011

New Fly for North Campus

Insect Trapping

To better understand the insect diversity of the North Campus, we've started surveying the insect fauna on the construction site. A few months ago, Dr. Brian Brown, the Museum's Curator of Entomology, set up a Malaise trap. This type of trap is commonly used by entomologists to capture small flying insects, and so far we've collected hundreds! One of the coolest (at least in Brian's opinion, and now mine too) is the Boatman Fly.
  
Dr. Brian Brown setting up a Malaise trap in his backyard
(yes Entomologists take their work home with them too!)

The Boatman Fly, Pogonortalis doclea, is a small (1/4 inch) fly originally from Australia. It was first recorded in California in 1963, and to date has not been recorded in any other state.  These flies are quite...

April 1, 2011

New Bird For North Campus List

165 and Counting...

Earlier this week, Kimball Garrett, NHM Ornithology Collections Manager, spotted a not-so-common sight, a pair of Rufous Hummingbirds, Selasphorus rufus, in the Rose Garden. This hummingbird species is now number 165 on Kimball's Exposition Park Checklist. Over the last 28 years, Kimball has been keeping track of all the birds he sees in Exposition Park, even those that are just doing a fly-over!
Male Rufous Hummingbird

An Annual Migration

Most of the year Rufous Hummingbirds cannot be found in our region, but in March and April they are often seen passing through. Every year this bird makes an over 3,000 mile migration from its overwintering grounds in Mexico to the Pacific Northwest. It is easily confused with one...

March 23, 2011

North Campus Interactives

Inter-whats? Interactives are what we at the Museum call cool gizmos and hands-on experiences in exhibits. We are planning to have some really great outdoor interactives in the North Campus. Right now we are getting ready to test prototypes in the Butterfly Pavilion yard. I'll post more about them when the Pavilion goes live on April 8, but as a teaser, check out this article posted on LA County Board of Supervisor, Zev Yaroslavsky's website.


This is the first round prototype of our proposed Butterfly Counter. Stay tuned for the version that visitors will try out in the Butterfly Pavilion.

March 22, 2011

Ladybug Central

New Ladybug Record For North Campus

On a recent jaunt around the Museum I found a new ladybug record for the North Campus. Yes, I do get paid to walk around outside and look for insects (awesome job)! I also get paid to keep track of all the creatures we find out there and make sure they are added to our ever expanding North Campus species list. Including this new record, we have found seven different species of ladybugs in the North Campus!

This is Adalia bipunctata, also known as the Two-spotted Ladybug. One of the many things I love about ladybugs is they are so aptly named! Just refer to our Lost Ladybug Field Guide for Los Angeles and you'll find fantastically named species ...

March 16, 2011

New Trees for Transition Garden

This week we have been planting trees in the Transition Garden.
 
Before I launch into an animated discussion on the individual plants we've chosen for the space, let me give you a basic primer on what the Transition Garden is all about. Firstly, this is the space that ramps you up from the lower level of our new Car Park to the Entrance Plaza where you'll get your tickets. It is a nice gentle slope, so it will be easy for people of all abilities to make their way into the North Campus. It is also a stepped garden on a fairly severe slope. With these points in mind Mia Lehrer + Associates (ML+A) had to design a garden that would function physically, biologically, and thematically (we wanted more than just a random selection of plants). Thanks to ML+A this garden tells a great story.
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