Monday, April 26, 2010

Shadows of Leaves

Yet another of my obsessions is Shadows- shadows on trees, shadows of trees...any kind of shadows. So in this post I will show the shadows of leaves that have recently caught my eye. The first four images are of shadows on a Pittosporum Tree, in the grounds of the property on Broadway Blvd/26th Street that I recently wrote about in my post "Tree-for-All"

The next three are of shadows on Moreton Bay Fig trees on La Mesa Drive, that I have written about many times:

Finally, here are shadows of a Fern Tree on the sidewalk of a street near La Brea Blvd that I saw when I was walking with my Granddaughter Violet in her stroller, while her mother was in a meeting:

A Baby Egret!

Those who have followed my Malibu Great Egret Nest Watch will understand my delight at seeing a little white, fluffy head popping up out of one of the three Egret nests in the Ficus tree at the Malibu Country Mart! It has been impossible to see inside the nests as they are so high up in the tree- it was just luck that I suddenly saw it when I checked the nest after hearing a loud baby bird cry following the partner bird's visit.

I say "partner" because both birds incubate the eggs and feed the chicks, although it is the male bird who builds the nest out of twigs (perhaps if it was the female bird the nests would be more feminine and downy?- or am I being sexist?) BEFORE he chooses his mate.

Apparently, although 1-6 eggs are laid Great Egrets often only end up with one nestling because the strongest one will sometimes kill his weaker siblings! Also, the chicks have a tendency to climb out of the nest...AND they often fall prey to predators- and I have witnessed Crows in the tree on several occasions... Listing all this tragic info has made me realize how lucky I was to see ONE baby Egret!

Because the nest was so high and was obscured somewhat by leaves, my photos of the chick are not as clear as I would have liked- but at least I have some to complete my vigil of the last few weeks. When I say "complete" this does not mean that I have finished with the Egrets- I still have more images to show in another post.

In the meantime, here are some images of the conquering, surviving Egret Chick. The day began grey but later brightened up- if you look carefully, you will decipher the chick's head through the twigs of the nest:

Here it brightens up and it is easier to see the chick:

In the next two photos you can see the chick trying to induce food from his parent's beak:

Taken while it was still grey, one would like to think that this one shows the parent bird protecting his babe with his wing- but no, he is just preening himself...

Since taking these last photos, it has dawned on me that this period I have spent here in Los Angeles since November, has been focused entirely on Nests, Birth and Nestlings- starting with the amazing birth of my first Granddaughter Violet, including the Mourning Dove's nest and ending with the birth of the Egret- who's progress has totally obsessed me...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Musical Postscript to Arbor Day

Having read my post about Santa Monica's Arbor Day celebrations, Sunny Wieler of Stone Art's Blog drew my attention to one he had written: it is about a sound designer and composer- Diego Stocco- who created a piece of music using a tree in his garden as his instrument.

It is well worth reading- and you can hear the results of Diego Stocco's experiments- so click on this link:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Earth Day and Arbor Day

Yesterday- April 22nd- Earth Day and Arbor Day were jointly celebrated in Santa Monica by the planting of two substantial Camphor trees in Los Amigos Park. The planting of the trees was watched and assisted by the students of two local schools- Santa Monica Alternative School House (SMASH) and John Muir Elementary School. The trees were supplied by Santa Monica City Council.

Camphor trees are natives of Taiwan, Southern Japan, South East China and Indochina.

One would have liked to see more than two trees being planted- some cities plant hundreds of trees- but two trees is better than none. Also, it is good to be able to write of trees being planted rather than being destroyed.

As I was unable to get there, I am showing a photo from the Santa Monica Daily Press:
Photo: Brandon Wise
Last month I wrote at some length about the origins of Arbor Day: Link

Monday, April 19, 2010


Tree-For-All consists of a committee of Santa Monica Treesavers. Their agenda is to save trees, shrubs and plants that would otherwise be destroyed by new developments or new landscaping, by recycling them. This is achieved- with the co-operation of the Developers- by allowing individuals or companies to come to the sites where they can have the trees or plants free, as long as they are responsible for digging them up and removing them.

The first site to welcome Tree-For-All was one at 2602 Broadway, Santa Monica, where the Community Corporation of Santa Monica is planning to build Affordable Housing. It has wonderful grounds, full of amazing mature trees and flowers. In an ideal world, the development would have been built around these trees, and thus enriched the whole project without damaging the environment. However, at least in this case the Project Manager has bent over backwards to try to save as many trees as possible.

Over several months, by holding Open Days, 60 items have so far been rescued. Alas, the mature trees have not yet found homes, which is a tragedy as they are exceptional and would be of immense benefit to the community.

In the first section of this post I will show some of my favourite trees on the site and in the second I will show images from a recent Open Day.


I will start with shots of the magnificent Pittosporum, which has a trunk that always reminds me of a pregnant woman- especially since my daughter was pregnant when I first saw it!

There are many hedges of Bottle Brush trees and there is a possibility these are going to find a home. Here is one of their flowers:

A tree that has been admired by very many people- but received no bids as yet, in spite of an offer to help with costs from the Project Manager- is this delightful, spherical Italian Stone Pine:

There is a profusion of a wide variety of Camellias, which the Project Manager has generously offered to dig up and box ready for collection. This will happen shortly, and here are some of the blooms:

Finally, another of my very favourite trees is this outrageous Pepper Tree:


A good collection of delightful, environmentally aware people came to this Open Day, all appreciating the whole concept. They came prepared to dig, but some planned to come later to pick up larger items they had earmarked. Here, some of the enthusiasts are checking out what's on offer:

And here a child finds a Dandelion clock under a Lemon Tree!

The next four images show some of the intrepid Diggers:

And next they carry off their wares to their cars:

Here they load up their cars:

And there is not much room in the passenger seat:

Should anyone be interested in this particular project, please contact me through "comments" and I can give you a contact's details.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

La Jolla Canyon

This last week I have been frustrated not to be able to write up new posts as my computer has been out of action- so once again I have a backlog of material that I want to share.

Last Saturday a friend took me for my first hike up La Jolla Canyon, which was crammed with both visual and sensory delights, so I will start with this:

La Jolla Canyon is part of the Point Muga State Park in Ventura, West of Malibu, off PCH. In sight of the Mugu Rock standing out in the Ocean, we set off up the Canyon. It was a perfect day for hiking, sunny but not too hot; we did not rush, but stopped constantly while I took endless photographs of this Paradise. Having so many images, that all seem to me to be vital to describe the landscape , it has been hard deciding which to omit...

Coming from the UK, I am always childishly happy to see Cacti growing in the wild, however common, so will begin with them- these being the Prickly Pear Cactus:

That day the most prevalent plants in the landscape were the Coreopsis- or Sea Dahlia- the golden flower heads crowning their delightful green "pom-poms" and making lovely patterns on the mountains, the green glowing in contrast to the complimentary colour of the red rock.

I was constantly excited to see plants that were new to me- here is the Indian Paintbrush growing amidst the Californian Broom, a miniature version of the Broom I first knew as a child in Scotland:

And I loved these spikey vine seeds, which I find are California Manroot:

This elegant, geometric flower is one of a familiar family of plants- the Convolvulus. It is an Orchard Morning Glory:

Before we set out, my friend had told me there was a possibility that the Wild Lilacs would be flowering. This sounded totally magic to me. I love domestic Lilac, and funnily enough the previous day both my daughter and I had unknowingly bought each other bunches of Lilac as Easter presents! I was quite prepared for it NOT to be blooming, so it was wonderful when walking down the creek we turned a corner and there were the Wild Lilacs (Ceaonothus, or "California Lilac"). The flowers are in fact much smaller than regular Lilacs and they do not have that intoxicating smell but they ARE quite magical out here in the wilds...

Down in this creek, with its dried out river bed, were fantastic tulgey scenes. Many of the trees were charred from mountain fires:

Another flower that I remembered from my childhood in Scotland, where it grew wild on the shingle of the River Dee, was this blue Lupin:

Now I come to a flower that I really fell in love with, it is to me so exotic and so enchanting- the Catalina Mariposa Lily:

Here is a Lichen covered rock on which a Gecko WAS sunning himself until some other hikers pushed passed me as I was about to take his photo:

And I will leave you with another Gecko who was more obliging: