Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Red Car Property: That's No Turkey

Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 22, 2015. An enormous Red Tailed Hawk was one of a pair hunting on the north end of the Red Car Property.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

I heard a very loud crashing of branches and looked up to see a huge Red Tail trying to balance in a Eucalyptus off Adelbert.  Usually, adult Red Tails are not that clumsy.  I suspect it was chasing a squirrel and missed, or the squirrel jumped to escape and went tumbling down to the ground.  
Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 22, 2015.  It took a moment for the  Red Tail to regain its composure, it was panting, as I've seen them do after making a kill.  It must be the adrenaline of the hunt.   It sat in the tree watching something on the ground below for a few minutes before taking off, circling low around the north end of the property a few times, looking for alternate prey.  Considering neither AM/PM nor Rick's keep their trash bins covered, there should be an ample supply of rats on this end of the property too.

The first hawk quickly gained altitude, soaring in larger circles in the high winds and landed near the top of the DWP power line tower across Fletcher behind Home Restaurant.

The second hawk had been calling to the first throughout this encounter. I don't know if the second hawk was its mate or one of this year's babies.  Red Tails will hang around with their parents for the better part of a year while they learn to hunt. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Red Car Property: Mantis Ootheca On California Black Walnut Tree

Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 19, 2015.  An inch long praying mantis ootheca, or egg case, is attached about 11' up in the California Black Walnut Tree at the Corralitas cul-de-sac entrance to the Red Car Property.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Hundreds of tiny praying mantis will hatch from this egg case.  Praying Mantis are a beneficial insect that help control pests.

Click here for for all our praying mantis posts.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Viaduct Footings: Rest In Pieces, Patina Man

Photo: Jonathan Vandiveer, November 20, 2015.  I don't think Patina Man will be returning from the dead this time.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)  

Patina Man seemed to have a life of his own, standing watch over the Historic Landmark Pacific Electric Viaduct Footings.  

Patina Man was so named due to his pasty complexion reflecting all the green on the property, creating a patina effect in the early morning light. My midday, the patina effect was gone (left photo below).

Patina Man was often found "face down" in the dirt by midday.  By dawn the next day, he'd be up again.  After all, he did photograph better in the early morning lightRest in pieces, Patina Man.

Photos: Gary Vlahakis, left, November 9, 2015; right, November 10, 2015.

Red Car Canyon: It Takes Effort To Dump Here, Even More Effort To Get It Picked Up

Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 22, 2015.  Someone must have driven onto the Red Car Property, into the canyon and dumped the 5 - 6 foot tall broken windows with what appear to be metal frames, in between the tall jade plants.  Some dead yucca trees, dead Giant Bird of Paradise and palm fronds were piled on top, partially concealing the windows from view.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 22, 2015.  While checking out the pile with a longtime Riverside Place neighbor, we noticed a chaise lounge hidden back behind the broken windows. 
Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 22, 2015.  Standing on the trail looking toward the dumping, it's almost completely hidden by the jade plants.  This is not the first time someone has dumped in this exact location.  In May, someone dumped a large screen TV here.  

In May, the property owner's rep and the guy he hired to pick up the dumping, kept insisting the TV came from the house above.  Right.  They threw it off they deck and it landed intact?  Just like today's pile of carefully stacked dumping?  Red Car Property neighbors are keenly aware of the "broken window" effect of dumping that only attracts more dumping and other nuisance problems.

Someone wants to keep the Red Car Property as their own private dumping ground.  They know the property owner doesn't pick it up, nor does the City.  The City will not pick up dumping on private property.  The property should be closed to vehicle traffic except for emergency vehicles.  Friday night around 7PM, I received a text from a canyon neighbor saying they saw a van driving through the canyon toward the Corralitas end of the property.  It was too dark to see license plates or details like color or make. 

If you see someone dumping anywhere, get a license, make and model of the truck and/or take a photo with your cell phone and call the non-emergency 1-877-ASK-LAPD and report it immediately.  Then report it to 311 for pick up, as illegal dumping (if it's on a City street or sidewalk.)  (The LAPD does not call it in to 311 for you.)

Don't dump your bulky items here, or anywhere.  Arrange a bulky item pick-up on the City;s website or download the app: MyLA311. You can call 311, but that takes longer.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Red Car Canyon: Feel Like You're Being Watched?

Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 21, 2015, 11:11 AM.  Once again the birds were absolutely silent as I walked through the wooded canyon between Corralitas, Lake View and Riverside Place, so I looked up. The owl was not pleased to see me.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Since my encounter earlier in the week with a Great Horned Owl and a really pissed-off Cooper's Hawk, I knew where to look in the pine trees.  Naturally, the Great Horned Owl was in the most dense part of the tree.  This time, it was awake and cleaning its chest feathers.  No Cooper's Hawks, nor any orther birds were around to harass it.  The light was hitting it just perfectly.  I spent several minutes trying to find a clear shot.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 21, 2015.  If you look closely, you can see its "horns." I'm always impressed at how well Great Horned Owls' horizontal pattern on the chest and abdomen feathers aid in their camouflage among the pine needles.  

After 10 minutes, the light shifted and it was an impossible shot again.  This was just pure luck and knowing wildlife tend to be creatures of habit, in this case, sleeping in the same tree every day.

Neighbors report hearing owls in the neighborhood lately, particularly in the canyon area, where there are usually lot of squirrels.

Learn more about Great Horned Owls: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Click here for all our owl related posts. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Red Car Canyon: Cooper's Hawk VS Owl 2015

Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 16, 2015, 12:22 PM.  While walking through Red Car Canyon Monday,  I heard two unusual sounding birds calling in an alarmed manner, high in the pine trees.  It took me a while to find the first one.  It was a Cooper's Hawk.  Long horizontal striped tail feathers, with rounded ends were the giveaway.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)
Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 16, 2015.  I heard two Cooper's Hawks calling and directing anger at something between them, in the middle of a bunch of dense branches. However, I could only see one adult Cooper's Hawk.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 16, 2015.  The hawk had been hopping from branch to branch, flapping its wings in  threatening manner, making itself big, calling intermittently before settling on one branch in the shade of the tree trunk.  

Hiding in the shade of a tree trunk is a smart technique I've seen hawks use when hunting.  They are hard to see (and photograph) because their prey can't easily see the hawk as they're blinded by the sun behind the tree.  (I know I was blinded by the sun.  I just shoot on instinct in these situations.)

The hawk kept looking over her shoulder, in the direction of Lake View Ave.  Last week and just the day before, two different neighbors sent photos of a Cooper's Hawk on Lake View and behind Rose Scharlin Nursery School.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 16, 2015.  Finally, I found the target of the Cooper's Hawk's wrath, a Great Horned Owl.

Unfortunately, I could not get a clear shot of the owl.  Last week, the Lake View neighbor said he'd recently heard owls in the canyon on his walks.  He also thought the Cooper's Hawks had a nest nearby.

Great Horned Owls are the apex predators of the sky, so other birds tend to gang up on them.  This is not the first time we've seen a Cooper's Hawk take on a Great Horned Owl in Red Car Canyon.  The owl just ignored the hawk.  Great Horned Owls are known to sleep in the canyon in the daytime.  If you don't hear birds at all in the canyon - look up - there's usually a hawk or an owl hanging around.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 16, 2015.  After almost a half hour of observing the drama, which was already in progress when I arrived, the Cooper's Hawk called up to Lake View.  This is the last shot I got before she took off in that direction.  The dense trees, Cooper's Hawks preferred habitat, prevented me from seeing where she went.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 18, 2015.  I forgot to get a wide shot on the same day as the standoff since I'd been blinded by the sunSo here are the trees the owl and hawk were in.  Arrows point to their approximate location - they are not in this photo.  It's the same clump of trees where we first documented a Great Horned Owl in the canyon.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology has great info, photos and audio:
Cooper's Hawks
Great Horned Owls

Friday, November 20, 2015

Historic Viaduct Footings: Pensive Patina Man

Photo: Jonathan Vandiveer: November 15, 2015.  Sadly, last weekend was likely Patina Man's last, as he watched over the historic landmark viaduct footings.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Red Car Property: California Black Walnuts, What Season Is This?

Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 16, 2015.  The native Black Walnut Trees are dropping their leaves for fall at the same time their sprouting flowers because we had 3" of rain in September.  And there are still a few walnuts on the trees too.   (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Red Car Property: Not A Park, It Just Looks Like One

Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 15, 2015.  Thank you for keeping your dogs on leash and for picking up after them.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Red Car Property: Someone Is Trying To Blame Adjacent Neighbors For Dumping

Photo: Jonathan Vandiveer, November 14, 2015.  A handwritten sign on a piece of cardboard says "LAPD has been notified about the property above this ILLEGAL DUMPING."  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

I had to laugh when I saw the sign.  Yeah, those neighbors 50' upslope on Lake View Ave would bother to drive a dishwasher and a couple dozen bags of trash to Corralitas, onto the Red Car Property and dump them under a tree, below their house.  The bags were intact when they were dumped there a few weeks ago.  The dishwasher and  full bags of trash were not flung down a steep slope.  Since they first appeared, scavengers (human and/or animal) have torn into the bags and spread the trash around.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 13, 2015.  The sign is propped up between discarded concrete and bricks, 10' in front of the bags of trash, under a huge tree which is a known dumping ground for someone who dumps large appliances, TVs and computers

Last week, a neighbor pushed the last dishwasher dumped there into the open, in hopes the Red Car Property owner would actually have it cleaned up.  (We send photos of every instance of dumping to the owner's rep).  Instead, the very next day, several dozen bags of trash were dumped under the dishwasher tree, followed in the next few days by the additional wire frame and tree branches dumped at the dishwasher.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 13, 2015.  So to review, it seems someone is setting out to trash the Red Car Property because they know the property owner does not clean it up.  The City won't pick it up because it's private property.  The pile of glass and general trash in the foreground was clearly swept out of the back of a pick up truck the same time the dishwasher first appeared under the tree (where the trash bags now reside) in early October.  

Who does this benefit?  The property owner will say it's a dumping ground - well it's the Red Car Property owner's responsibility to clean it up.  The owner's rep has tried to make this the neighbors' responsibility to catch the dumpers.  In 25 years, I've only ever caught someone in the act of dumping in our neighborhood 3 times.  It can happen in the time it takes to drive to the post office and back, in the middle of the day.  If it is someone from the neighborhood dumping on the property, then they're really not very good neighbors, and I'm betting it's not the people directly above the tree.

If you see someone dumping - anywhere - snap a photo with your cell phone, get a license plate and vehicle/person description and call it in immediately to the non-emergency 1-877-ASK-LAPD.

Red Car Property: Dumping Ground On Lot C

Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 15, 2015.  For the better part of a year, Lot C had been looking pretty clean.  In the past few months, it's once again become a lawless place.  Even the black dump truck that was not parking on the property for the past year, has returned. (Click on photos to enlarge.)
Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 14, 2015.  Squatters have several shacks on the Red Car Adjacent lot below the pile of salvage.  The shacks are on a Riverside Drive lot, NOT the Red Car Property.  The property line is about 20-30' downslope from where this photo was taken.  The pile of salvage is actually on the Red Car Property's Lot C.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Taylor Yard: Dust Storm This Morning

Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 16, 2015.  Before 8 AM, high winds caused a dust storm from Taylor Yard.  Worth noting: that bright green fence toward the lower right corner of the tree line is dust screening material.  It's not really helping those homes on the other side.    (Click on photos to enlarge.)

It appears the dust was blowing from the soccer fields, but it may have been the construction site.  It was too hard to see through the trees in those conditions.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 16, 2015.  Earlier, the dust was everywhere, obliterating the view of new homes built on the other side of the river on the lower portions of Taylor Yard and Cypress Park.  

This is not the first time we've seen Taylor Yard dust storms.  This just adds to the serious local air quality problems in the area where we have a natural topographic and atmospheric bowl that keeps the contaminants closer to the ground in the area around Cypress Park, Lincoln Heights and Elysian Valley.  

The Taylor Yard dust storms illustrate why we emphasize extreme dust control with any environmental mitigation proposed for the former rail yard.  Highly toxic dirt still needs to be removed from Parcel G before it can be developed as a park.

Red Car Property: It Would Look More Like A Park Without The Parked Cars

Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 15, 2015.  Thanks for keeping your dogs on-leash and picking up after them.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Corralitas Drive: Skunk Tales

Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 14, 2015.  Last night at dusk, my dog surprised a skunk in my yard.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

I know better than to let my dog run off leash in my yard in the waning light.  Luckily, we think it was the skunk that pals around with my neighbor's semi-feral cat.  The skunk puffed out its coat to look larger, but did not turn the business end toward my dog, who was barking really close to it - practically nose to nose.  When the skunk did finally fire a warning shot it was not pointed at the dog. 

I know skunks have really bad eyesight, but this one was just not right. It proceeded to hang around for the next hour, stamping around in the leaf litter.  Usually they take off once there has been a threat, especially if it's followed by a photo shoot.   Which is why we think it's the semi-feral cat's buddy.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, September 20, 2015.  Yup, that's the semi-feral cat's skunk buddy, "hiding" in the bushes waiting for dinner.  The neighbor does not leave cat food out for the cat, because she doesn't want to feed all the neighborhood wildlife.  But the skunk and the cat pal around together and apparently have quite a system to get food.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, September 20, 2015.  The semi-feral cat has questionable social skills - even his own brother, who is an indoor outdoor cat - hates him.  The cat will insist he's starving.  The neighbor puts a small amount of kibble out on the steps for him, pets the cat and goes inside for ten minutes and returns to pick up the food.  

The cat eats a few bites, then lies down on the stairs and the skunk, who's been "hiding" in the bushes nearby, comes out to eat the rest of the kibble.   (We think they do this routine at a few neighbors' houses, since we know the cat is fed by several.)  The neighbor chases the skunk off the food, who ambles up the stairs reluctantly.  The cat looks bored and sometimes follows the skunk up the stairs.  If the weather is too hot - the skunk just goes over and lies down in the damp dirt (photos above).  

Alternatively, the neighbor actually hangs out with the cat while he eats, so the skunk has no opportunity to get to the cat food.

The other night, the front door was wide open, the neighbor chased the skunk off the cat food.  The skunk, who never makes an attempt to spray the neighbor, reluctantly climbed up the stairs, but slipped off the top step, rolled down the stairs in slow motion and landed at the neighbor's feet.  The neighbor was too stunned to jump out of the way.  The skunk did not explode. It just moseyed off in a different direction.  The cat didn't move.

The cat is never phased by the skunk.  In fact they seem to travel together.  The cat usually tries to get a second meal later - and you always have to check to see if the skunk is lying in wait nearby.  There's always another wildlife adventure on Corralitas.

Click here for all our skunk posts.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Corralitas Drive: Chicken Of The Woods Is Playing Chicken This Year

Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 13, 2015.  Every fall, we look forward to the giant yellow mushroom sprouting at the base of a Corralitas neighbor's Eucalyptus Tree.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

According to Mykoweb, Chicken of the Woods is unlikely to be mistaken for another species.  The showy fungus does vary in its shade of yellow from year to year and even throughout its several week life span.  The large mushroom is generally more scenic than just a lump hiding in the iceplant, sprouting every year from the roots of the same tree, between October and early December.

Click here for all our neighborhood fungus. 

Disclaimer: The Corralitas Red Car Property Blog prefers to quote reliable sources, such as CalFlora and California Poison Control on the issue of toxicity. MykoWeb is the resource everyone seems to refer to for mushrooms. The Los Angeles Mycological Society has a recommended reading list

If you are eating your way through the Red Car Property, we DO NOT recommend you eat any plant you find in the Red Car Property neighborhood without first doing your own research.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Red Car Property: Patina Man

Photo: Jonathan Vandiveer, November 9, 2015.  Patina Man seems to have a life of his own at the north end of the Red Car Property.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)  

Note: Early rain helped the protected native California Black Walnut Trees, which are usually starting to drop their leaves by now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lake View Ave: Juvenile Cooper's Hawk

Photo: Gary Macheel, November 9, 2015.  Monday morning, a young Cooper's Hawk paid a visit to Macheel's yard. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

When Macheel sent me this photo, I immediately knew I'd seen a similar raptor near the Silver Lake Ave Public Staircase and the Red Car Property a few months ago.  I've often seen Cooper's Hawks flying north on Lake View, then take a left at Macheel's house, disappearing in the trees on the steep slope between Lake View and Silver Ridge.

Red Car Canyon between Lake View Ave  and Corralitas Drive is prime Cooper's Hawk territory.  Cooper's Hawk's are forest dwelling hawks that have adapted well to the urban forest on Silver Lake and Echo Park.  They like to hunt in the dense trees and have remarkable maneuvering ability. 

Additionally, be on the lookout for Great Horned Owls.  Macheel said he and his wife "saw it on our morning walk two days ago...gliding above us...white underbelly and wings."

Click here for all our Cooper's Hawk posts. 

Learn more about Cooper's Hawks: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Red Car Viaduct Footings: Dawn Of Patina Man

Photo: Jonathan Vandiveer, November 9, 2015.  Atop the historic landmark viaduct footings, Patina Man stood guard over the trail on the Red Car Property. 

Patina Man spent a few years behind a house on Adelbert.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Red Car Property: Not A Park, It Just Looks Like One

Photo: Jonathan Vandiveer, October 26, 2015.  The steep slopes on the Lake View Ave side of the Red Car Property have a number of healthy California Black Walnut TreesBlack Walnuts are protected native trees that help hold hillsides together in the rain with deep root systems.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Red Car Property: Tree Work Ahead

Photo: Red Car Property Neighbor #2, November 7, 2015.  According to the tree trimmers on the Red Car Property this morning, they were DWP contractors trimming back trees near the power lines on the Lake View side.

The DWP website says there's supposed to be 4' of clearance between trees and high voltage power lines in high fire danger areas (that would be us - the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone).  DO NOT attempt to trim the trees yourself.  Call 1-800-DIAL-DWP or use the City's 311 link to the DWP website for more information on their tree trimming program.
Photo: Red Car Property Neighbor #1, November 6, 2015.  Yesterday, a chipper was parked in Red Car Canyon.  A neighbor on Silver Ridge, directly adjacent to the Red Car Property, said they received notice from the DWP that tree trimmers would be trimming trees around the power lines on the slope below their house this week

DWP tree trimmers were out at about the same time last year.  

It might be a good time to consider thinning your trees before another Santa Ana Wind event.  With monster El Nino rains predicted, you should definitely be looking at your Eucalyptus trees.  Consider thinning the branches out, and cutting down the dead Eucalyptus.