Bug City!

Well the corn Farmlab planted a few months ago has been teeming with insect life for quite a while now. On my most recent adventure through the tall stalks of corn, I brought my trusty camera and captured the bugs in action! Here are the results of my endeavors.

Lady bug soakin' rays
Lady bug soakin' rays

Green Fig Beetle
Green Fig Beetle
Honey Bee
Honey Bee
Another Lady Bug!
Another Lady Bug!

Dog of the Week #9

Well it is Friday and you know what that means, yes indeed it time for another installment of Dog of the Week. Meet Boxer he is a male Boxer who is quite fond of Los Angeles State Historic Park. He visits almost weekly and do you know why he is jumping for joy in this photograph, because he is wearing his leash!

Boxer the boxer
Boxer the boxer

NAME….THAT….TREE #2

This tree is a member of the Poplar family and is a native of the Los Angeles region. Its bright green heart shaped leaves calmly rustle in the wind and it too can be found along waterways. Its cousins are scattered across North America, Europe and Asia. The Tongva Native Americans used it’s flexible inner bark that they would cut into strips and would work until soft to make aprons with. Finally, like our first “Name That Tree” contestant, it can be found here in the park.

What a mysterious tree.
What a mysterious tree.
The mystery continues...
The mystery continues...

It…..is…..the….. Cottonwood tree. Yes my friends the glorious Cottonwood tree. Come on down to Los Angeles State Historic Park and say hi to your leafy friends.

Sunset Campfire Tomorrow Night!

Come tomorrow night for our second Summer Sunset Campfire!

Roast marshmallows and learn about nature.

Call Thomas at (323) 441-8819 with any questions.

Black Phoebe sighting!

As twittered last week, we follow up with a photograph of a Black Phoebe that is enjoying the park as much as we do. A few quick facts about the Black Phoebe…
1. Black Phoebes are flycatchers and prefer water ways and open grassy areas to catch their prey.
2. They build mud nests, but unlike swallows, they nest alone not in large groups.
3. They can found through out the Los Angeles region through out the year.

Black Phoebe
Black Phoebe

NAME….THAT…….TREE!

This tree is a native of Los Angeles and can be found along various water ways in the western United States. It is a deciduous small tree that has long slender leaves and and part of its name is shared by small river that joins the L.A. River close to the park.

What could this be?
What could this be?

Long slender leaves?
Long slender leaves?

drum roll please It is the….Arroyo Willow! Gabrielino Native Americans (the original people who lived in this area) would use the branches of the willow to make bows with. In case you haven’t seen the Arroyo Willow, come on down to L.A. State Historic Park where we have many fine specimens.

Empty Nest, Concrete River, and LASHP

Sadly, it appears that the LASHP Tweet received over the weekend is correct. Our resident Killdeer and chicks have indeed moved on, leaving not a trace but the two orange cones which were situated on either side of their gravelly nest. While we’re sorry to see them go, it’s still quite exciting to see a variety of birds here in the park and be reminded daily of the tremendous impact a little open space can have in supporting urban wildlife populations. At the same time, it’s sobering to think of the wildlife that has been lost over the years due to urban expansion, and in our particular location, the channelization of the Los Angeles River.

Los Angeles River
Los Angeles River

This is what the river looks like today – 52 miles of concrete, minus a scant few in the soft-bottomed Glendale Narrows where complete channelization was not possible due to a particularly high water table. Yes, Los Angeles was once home to a wild, free-flowing river. It was the river that primarily attracted the Spanish to this location, one of the few where water flowed year-round, as an ideal spot for settlement. The river was the reason that over 45 Tongva/Gabrielino Indian settlements had already been in residence along the its course for over a millennia before the Spanish arrived. The Tongva village of Yang Na, one of the largest settlements, is thought to have been located within a half mile of LASHP.

In 1769 the Portola expedition crossed the Los Angeles River near where the park meets the Broadway Bridge. From the bluff, the Spanish noted flourishing native settlements and the particular beauty of this location near the river, a verdant marshland of dense willow and sycamore. Father Crespi appreciated the fertility of the land, and wrote in his diary that they encountered “a great vineyard of (wild) grapevines and countless rose bushes having a great deal of open blossoms, all of it a very dark friable soil.” A few years later, in 1781, El Pueblo de la Reina de los Angeles was founded by a small group of 46 settlers.

Portola Trail marker at Elysian Park entrance off Broadway
Portola Trail marker at Elysian Park entrance off Broadway

The river was a vital component of the young agricultural village and provided the sole source of irrigation and drinking water for over a century. Water from the Los Angeles River was transported to the growing Pueblo through irrigation ditches, or zanjas. A section of the most significant channel, the Zanja Madre, or “Mother Ditch” was actually uncovered during the construction of the MTA Goldline and this brick covered remnant of the old Pueblo irrigation system is still visible from LASHP. The conveyance of water to El Pueblo was so important, in fact, that a prominent municipal position, that of Zanjero, was created in 1854 to oversee the water supply and maintenance of the zanjas.

Zanja Madre
Zanja Madre
Brick Detail on Zanja Madre
Brick Detail on Zanja Madre

Although the river was vital to the sustenance of the Pueblo, it was also dangerous and prone to violent flooding along its meandering, undefined path. As the population of the region grew and development increased in proximity to the River’s shallow banks, the danger to residents from periodic flooding increased exponentially. Three great floods, in 1914, 1934, and 1938 all hit Los Angeles with catastrophic consequences. Public distrust of the river grew along with the expanding population. Eventually, the seasonal threats of raging flood waters were met head on by the Army Corp of Engineers which began channelizing the river in 1940 making it what it is today, a vessel for the rapid delivery of floodwater to the ocean.

So that is why LASHP no longer has a natural connection to the Los Angeles River and the historic floodplain. And it is why we relish the site of a lone pair of nesting Killdeer, where there were once Condors, and Cuckoos, Owls, and Vireos, deer and antelope roaming the region, along with mountain lions, foxes, coyotes, and even grizzly bears, coming down from the mountains to feast on steelhead trout that once filled the river. Looking at the river as it is today, it’s hard to image that less than a hundred years ago it probably looked much like this.

Santa Ana River -  Riverside County
Santa Ana River - Riverside County

But, concrete channel or no, the Los Angeles River remains an integral component of the past and future of LASHP. During the our planning process, the local community consistently emphasized the paramount importance of re-connecting the park with the Los Angeles River. Even amidst the doom and gloom of an economic meltdown, we’re still looking forward to making that connection and hope to see the northern end of the park return to a natural wetland and supportive wildlife habitat. For now, we’ll keep our eye on the Killdeer.

Babywatch ’09

The little peeps are up and around this afternnon.

Precocious Killdeer
Precocious Killdeer

Dog(s) of the Week #8

We apologize for the resent drought of Dog of the week posts but that’s why we are making up for it with TWO dogs of the week. First meet Elvis, he is a Chihuahua mix rescue who has a distinctive prancing gate due to neurological damage from being on the street. When he was rescued by his current owner he would compulsively kick out his left leg, just like Elvis.

Elvis the dog
Elvis the dog

Elvis’s canine companion is Maude who is possibly a lab great dane mix as well as rescue. She, like Elvis, enjoys her walks around L.A. State Historic Park.

Maude the dog
Maude the dog

Tag Team

Turns out, there are two.

Teamwork
Teamwork

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