As part of our scouting hikes retracing P-22's likely route from the Santa Monica Mountains to Griffith Park for P-22 Day & Urban Wildlife Week October 16-22, we traversed the park from west to east with the help of our wonderful guides, Gerry Hans and Mary Button, founders of Friends of Griffith Park. Although it's a relatively short trek, it's a strenuous one. Yet we were well rewarded for our efforts with a really cool urban wildlife sighting--a red-tailed hawk perched on the Hollywood sign. I guess even the raptors are trying to duplicate mountain lion P-22's famous shot....
A mountain bluebird to me is the Sierra blue sky come to life, a burst of the vibrant blue dashing over the landscape, as if the sky decided to briefly visit the land to check things out.
Although I am a terrible birder, this is one avian species I feel confident in identifying, for as Joseph Grinnell wrote in his Animal Life in the Yosemite, "There need be no difficulty in recognizing the Mountain Bluebird in its summer haunts, as there is no other bird of similar size with conspicuously blue coloration in the high mountains or on the east slope."
Usually these shy birds make for a tough photo as they typically flutter away when I encounter them, but today this friendly bluebird followed me for part of my hike along the Kuna Crest and curiously checked me out.
Very cool news! A black bear has been caught on camera wandering in Malibu Creek State Park.
Why is this so cool? Aside from that we just all love bears, this is a rare sighting. According to the National Park Service scientists with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area who discovered the bear photo as a part of their study, "The Santa Monica Mountains have not had a resident bear population since the 1800s, when grizzlies were extirpated from California. Since then, black bears have settled in the mountains bordering the north end of Los Angeles, including the Santa Susana and San Gabriel Mountains, but it is extremely rare for a black bear to be found south of the 101 Freeway."
As one of the last bears sighted in the area was killed on the 101 in 2014, this just demonstrates even more the need for connectivity for wildlife and building the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing #SaveLACougars
We're rooting for this guy (or gal). Welcome to the Santa Monica Mountains, bear!
PS: My friend the scientist and writer Jason Goldman came up with the best name ever for this bear: MaliBooBoo
In the Sierra foothills outside Yosemite where I make my home, I am lucky enough to share my property with an array of wildlife: bears, gray foxes, mountain lions, mountain kingsnakes, coyotes--and many more remarkable creatures. Some just pass through and take a drink from my frog pond from time to time, others are full-time residents like a beautiful family of bobcats I've noticed for years now. These recent photos show they are not shy about posing for the trail cam!
In my book, When Mountain Lions Are Neighbors, I quote my friend and mentor in all things wolf, Yellowstone Wolf Project Leader Douglas Smith about the return of the wolf to the Golden State: “California is a great example of the adventurous spirit that wolves have,” he said, “and it also shows that wolves don’t need much; give them a little bit of a break and they’ll do the rest.”
After OR-7 made his historic trek into California in 2011--the first wolf to enter California in over ninety years--it didn't take long for word to get out in the wolf world about this new land of opportunity. Defying the predictions of most experts who thought a permanent wolf presencein California was still probably a decade away from OR-7's visit (he chose Oregon to raise his family), the Shasta Pack appeared in 2015 and made California an official wolf state again. "We were really excited, if not amazed, at the appearance of the wolves. They have beat us to
the punch,” exclaimed Eric Loft, chief of the Wildlife Branch for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, to the Los Angeles Times.
This week, California Fish and Wildlife released a photo of what could be yet another wolf residing in the state. Although the DNA tests were inconclusive as to whether the animal rated as a wolf or dog or hybrid, the remote location and other evidence strongly point to a Canis lupus.
Welcome to California, mystery wolf!