Friday, August 22, 2014

Red Car Canyon: If It Comes Out Of Your Dog's Butt, Pick It Up

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 19, 2014.  No matter where your dog poops, pick it up.  There is no shortage of trashcans in which to dispose of it in this neighborhood.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Corralitas Drive: Clouds Over The Eastside

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 20, 2014.  It must be August; it's time for dramatic clouds again.   (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

2 Freeway & Corralitas Dr: Native Wire Lettuce

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 5, 2014.  Earlier this month, native Wire Lettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora) started blooming throughout the neighborhood, primarily in dry, sunny, neglected vacant lots. It comes in shades of white & purple.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Click here for all our native plant related posts.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Corralitas Drive: "Are Those Parrots?!"

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 15, 2014.  Neighbors have been reporting flocks of 6 to 12 squawky bright green birds flying noisily by & landing high in their trees for the past week or so.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

In the morning sun, they have absolutely brilliant green plumage.  If you look closely, they are about 8" high, have a spot of yellow under their wings and have white circles around their eyes.   

They fly really, really fast.  When the Red Tailed Hawks are scarce (like this year), the parrots fly more noisily & at a lower altitude through the neighborhood. 
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 18, 2014.  Judging from earlier photos, these are either Yellow-chevroned Parakeets or  White-winged Parakeets.  Yep,  they're wild. 

Report your parrot sightings: California Parrot Project.

Monday, August 18, 2014

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

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August, 17, 2014.  Some off-road cyclists rode down the Red Car Property past the Silver Lake Ave Public Staircase.  (Click on photo to enlarge.) 

Red Car Property: It's Still A Lawless Place; Neighbors Cutting Down Native Tree, Dumping & More

Photo: Red Car Neighbor #1, August 15, 2014.  Friday morning, neighbors were alarmed at the sound of chainsaws coming from the Red Car Property, particularly when one discovered a neighbor in the process of cutting down a healthy, protected native Southern California Black Walnut Tree on the Red Car Property.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)
Photo: Red Car Neighbor #2, August 15, 2014.  Neighbors asked what they could do to prevent this from happening in the future.  Here's a piece from Enviro Defenders & The Sierra Club: Protecting Native Trees
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 17, 2014.  The City's Urban Forestry Division issues permits for removal of protected native trees*.  In this case, the Black Walnut Tree was definitely on the Red Car Property, behind Rose Scharlin Preschool.  There's also a new encroachment of stairs next door.

Those are just the latest problems.  Here's a review of the long since existing problems...
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 17, 2014.  Trash chute (for an abandoned construction site) still in place since it first appeared in February.
Photo: Red Car Property Neighbor, July 1, 2014.  Adelbert Dumphouse, it's only gotten worse.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 17, 2014.  Then there are all the parked vehicles, some of which have not moved in years, dumping & storage of crap on Lot C.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, July 16, 2014.  This pile of dumping had collected for years behind one neighbor's house.  Last month, someone moved it behind another neighbor's house.  Really?  Just haul it to the dump at that point.  The City is not going to come onto private property to pick it up.  

In the meantime, other neighbors have gone out of their way to paint out graffiti & pick up trash on the Red Car Property, only to have their efforts undermined by their neighbors.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, May 27, 2014.  Back in February a graffiti artist decided to paint the historic landmark viaduct footings without permission from the property owner nor the City's Cultural Heritage Commission.

Oh yeah, brush clearance within 100' of structures (including combustible fences) was not done this year, unless a neighbors took it upon themselves to clear the brush from the area near their homes.

The Red Car Property is a lawless place.  If neighbors don't respect it, how can we expect anyone else to?

*Los Angeles Protected Native Tree Ordinance: 177404

Sunday, August 17, 2014

LA River: Marsh Park Phase 2 Now Open

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 16, 2014.  The latest addition to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy's Marsh Park features a spectacular gate to the river & some imposing signage forbidding, among other things, martinis in the river channel (defined as, I believe. 6' from the water line).  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

The 3-acre parcel now open also features exercise equipment in a fitness trail, grassy areas, bioswales, native plantings, bathrooms a river rock seating area near the river & an open Spanish revival style patio area (reminiscent of the River Center at the old Lawry's California Center) for rent for special events. 
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 16, 2014. In front of a crowd of several hundred community members & children, a host of politicians and other officials talked for far too long before cutting the ribbon & opening the new park gates to the LA River.  Among those cutting the ribbon included FoLAR Founder Lewis MacAdams,  former City Councilmember Ed Reyes (CD1), City Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell (CD13), Mayor Eric Garcetti, State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin DeLeon (SD22), Board of Public Works Barbara Romero, City Councilmember Tom LaBonge (CD4), Executive Director of Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Joe Edmiston, and LAUSD Boardmember Bennett Kayser.  From all the media & folks taking cell phone photos, you would think movie stars were present. People here just really want parks & trees.

It was a festive occasion with live music, an endless supply of food (for those who waited through the speeches), & educational demos on how biofiltration works around the park. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Red Car Property: ALERT 20-lb Chunk Of Rotting Meat On The Path Near Adelbert*

Photo: Red Car Neighbor, August 15, 2014.  If you've got dogs - keep them on a leash - particularly near the Adelbert cut-thru. Someone dumped what appears to be a 20-lb ham a few days ago.  We don't know if it's been laced with poison to try to kill coyotes - but it's disgusting - attracting flies - maggots hatching.  

There's now way it just fell out of a grocery bag.  It's huge, it was perfectly square.  Several path regulars thought it was a huge brick of clay when it first appeared in its plastic bag Thursday.  Even the coyotes haven't finished it off yet.  If this is someone's way of attracting coyotes to the area - it's not ok.  It's illegal to feed wildlife.  And you could harm someone's pet in the process.  

*8-17-14 UPDATE: As of this morning the hunk of meat is gone.  Either the coyotes finished it off or someone disposed of it.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

LA River: Marsh Park Phase 2 Grand Opening, Saturday, August 16, 2014, 11:30 AM

Photo: Diane Edwardson, April 23, 2011. Phase 1 included fanciful playground equipment in the LA River adjacent park.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy hosts the Grand Opening of 
Saturday August 16, 2014
11:30 AM
2960 Marsh St, Elysian Valley
The event is family friendly

The 3 new acres of park space will include bathrooms, something sorely needed along the LA River for those who bike, walk or kayak the river.  It will also include space available for rent  for special events, bioswales, native plants & a really lovely gate.  See story & current photos: KCET
Photo: Diane Edwardson, May 27, 2013.  You can put in your kayak at Marsh Park too.

If you're coming from the Red Car Neighborhood, we recommend walking, biking, kayaking or carpooling to this event.  Elysian Valley is an older neighborhood easily overwhelmed by large events when people drive in.  Make a day of it.  Visit Friends of the LA River (FoLAR) sponsored Frog Spot just a few blocks south on the River Path at Benedict Street.

Corralitas Drive: Wasp Gall Snatched Quickly By Predators

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 4, 2014.  A huge, tennis ball-sized gall (a woody growth containing wasp larvae) appeared, seeming overnight, on the Blue Elderberry Tree in our backyard.  The next day, it was gone.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Galls are formed by trees in reaction to a gall wasp laying eggs in the branch.  The larvae grow in the gall (which does not harm the tree) until they break out of the gall as mature adult wasps.  According to Bug Guide, there are more than 750 species of gall wasps in North America.  In this area, you usually find galls on Coast Live Oaks.  I'd never seen a gall on Blue Elderberry.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 4, 2014.  Since this gall was so large, I noticed it immediately.  The next day,  it was completely missing.  I suspect the marauding raccoons found an good source of protein in the larvae.  (Raccoons stripped the fruit trees in our yard this summer.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Corralitas Drive: Butterfly Bonanza Continues, Giant Swallowtail Butterflies

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 11, 2014.  A Giant Swallowtail (Papilio crestphontes) Butterfly finally cooperated & allowed me to get a few photos with my cell phone (thus the poor image quality).   (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Sunday & Monday, almost every time I stepped outside, I ran into another Giant Swallowtail.  I had never seen one in the neighborhood until this summer.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 11, 2014.  Not only are Giant Swallowtails larger than their cousins, Western Tiger, Pale & Anise Swallowtails, they are the largest butterfly in North America.  Their wings are black with yellow stripes on top, so they are unmistakable flying by. 
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 11, 2014.  The underside of their wings is mostly yellow.  (I could not get a clear shot with my phone.)  This one was sucking up minerals from the damp dirt in the yard.  

All of the Swallowtails appear to be coming from my neighbor's yard.  She noticed a big increase in their numbers this year too. Giant Swallowtails' preferred larval foodplants are various citrus trees.  According to What's That Bug?, their caterpillars look like bird droppings I think they look a bit more like snakes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Allesandro Elementary School Lockdown:
Joys Of Hillside Living

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 13, 2014.  LAPD closed area streets around Allesandro Elementary School which was locked down for several hours this morning while they searched for a suspicious person on campus.  Read more: The Eastsider

Neighbors on Riverside Place, Riverside Terrace, India & those who park illegally on the Red Car Property were unable to drive out of the neighborhood during the lockdown as there is only one means of access to their streets behind Allesandro Elementary School.  At least one Riverside Place neighbor called his assistant to pick him up at Ralph's; he took the Silver Lake Ave Public Staircase out the back way.  (Photo above shot from Silver Lake Ave stairs at the Red Car Property.)  

Other neighbors were scrambling to reschedule clients & explain to their bosses why they would be late to work since there was not a lot of news coverage, despite 3 news helicopters hovering nearby.  Once again, The Eastsider was first with the important local news.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 13, 2014.  LAPD helicopter circled aggressively for a couple of hours, here seen over Red Car Canyon - not a park, it just looks like one.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 13, 2014.  Neighbors atop Corralitas Drive felt their homes shaking from the low altitude circling by the LAPD.  At times, it seemed as if they were definitely lower than the 300' altitude above homes they are supposed to maintain.  Early in the lockdown, they seemed to be barely above the tree line atop our hill.  

We're glad the LAPD puts on a good show of force to prevent a school shooting tragedy.  It's just another joy of hillside living. 

Red Car Property: Native Wildflowers Blooming

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 5, 2014.  While you're looking for Red Shouldered Hawks on the north end of the property, be on the lookout for native California Fuchsia (Epilobium Canum).  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Adelbert Ave: Can You Find The Red Shouldered Hawk In This Photo?

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 8, 2014. If I had not seen the Mockingbird chasing the Red Shouldered Hawk, I never would have seen it, because the feathers on its back camouflaged so well with the tree canopy.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 8, 2014.  Zoomed in from the previous photo, you can see those namesake red shoulders.

Learn more about Red Shouldered Hawks: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Monday, August 11, 2014

Red Car Property: If You Want To Find Hawks Follow The Mockingbirds

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 8, 2014.  While walking near Adelbert on the north end of the Red Car Property, I heard the tell-tail sound of a Mockingbird harassing a hawk.  (That's a Mockingbird flying just behind the Red-Shouldered Hawk in the above photo.)  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Mockingbirds have a distinctive, pissed-off call they use when they are chasing off predators like hawks & cats.  They will harass a hawk for hours.  Since the action was in the California Black Walnut Trees above me, I knew it was a hawk.  It took me several minutes to find the hawk, as it was so well camouflaged among the trees.   (More on this tomorrow.)
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 8, 2014.  I had never been so close (35 to 40') from a Red-Shouldered Hawk.  It was just a beautiful creature doing its best to ignore the Mockingbird.  

It may or may not have been the same Red-Shouldered Hawk I saw a week ago in the same area.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 8, 2014.  Just as I zoomed out to get an establishing shot, the Hawk took off first in one direction, then the other on Adelbert, eventually landing in some trees across the semi-rural street (more tomorrow).  The arrow points to the branch where the hawk was  sitting.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Red Car Property: Monarch Butterfly On California Black Walnut Tree

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 7, 2014.  A boldly patterned Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) flew right toward my head as I walked up the Red Car Property.  It then in landed high above me in a native Black Walnut tree.  You know it's a Monarch by the white polka dots on the black body.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 8, 2014.  The Black Walnut tree it flew into was the one on the far left.  I could not get a good establishing shot due to the huge size differential of the tree to the butterfly. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Corralitas Drive: Look Closely Among The Vines

Photo: Diane Edwardson, July 31, 2014. While editing photos of Gulf Fritillary Butterflies, I thought I'd include a lovely photo of the Passion Fruit, which was starting to ripen, when a tiny visitor caught my eye. Look among the curly-cue tendril vines for a spiky caterpillar. (Click on photos to enlarge.)
Photo: Diane Edwardson, July 31, 2014.  I didn't even see the half-inch long caterpillar until I'd blown the first photo up to actual  pixels - a few days later.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 2, 2014.  So I grabbed my reading glasses & went in search of Gulf Fritillary caterpillars.  I found one that was about 2" long, very skinny & not moving much. 
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 2, 2014. Enlarged from the previous photo, the caterpillar has an impressive looking set of spikes to ward off predators.  The yellow stripes also likely advertise to predators that they don't taste so good either.   

In 2004 & 2010, my neighbor, Shawnda Faveau documented their metamorphosis.    

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Corralitas Drive: Gulf Fritillaries Laying Eggs

Photo: Diane Edwardson, July 31, 2014.  The Gulf Fritillaries have been spending a lot of time flying & landing but not feeding on the Passion Flower vine, which is currently not blooming in our yard.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

I managed to catch sight of one laying eggs, but could not catch the action on camera.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Corralitas Drive: Fence Lizard

Photo: Diane Edwardson, July 28, 2014.  I'm always impressed at how well-adapted Fence Lizards' camouflage is to their micro environments.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Learn how to identify California lizards: California Herps

Monday, August 4, 2014

Red Car Property: Red Shouldered Hawk*

Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 3, 2014.  A Red Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) showed off its scenic plumage on one of the recently trimmed, dying Eucalyptus trees near the historic viaduct footings.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 3, 2014.  The hawk was likely drying out from the rain & extreme humidity Saturday night.  I've watched the Red Tailed Hawks do this routine in the trees outside my house after every rainstorm.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 3, 2014.  Red Shouldered Hawks are seen fairly regularly by residents on Adelbert.  According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology, they are a forest dwelling hawk that will live "in some suburban areas where houses and other buildings are mixed into woodlands."   That pretty much describes the north end of the Red Car Property - for sure.   

Red Shouldered Hawks also like to hunt on the edge of rivers, although Cornell says nothing of how they've adapted to concrete lined rivers, like the LA River.  The historic landmark viaduct footings are just 2 blocks from the Los Angeles River.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 3, 2014.  It is, however, very special to witness one of these magnificent Red Shouldered Hawks in the neighborhood.  They do tend to stay well hidden in the trees.  The Red Car Property affords people the opportunity to get close to nature on a trail a few hundred feet from the 5 Freeway.

*Updated with new Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 3, 2014.  In case there was any doubt the Red Shouldered Hawk was on one of the dying trees on the Red Car Property.

Learn more about Red Shouldered Hawks: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Click here for all our Red Shouldered Hawk related posts.