[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
81°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
October 23
1888 - 8:15 a.m.: Newhall's luxurious Southern Hotel burns to the ground [story]


Let's Go Outside | Commentary by Evelyne Vandersande
| Thursday, Nov 7, 2013

evelynevandersande_mugHalloween was a lot of fun, and we are still munching on the leftover candies – but we are starting to check recipes for Thanksgiving, buy gifts for Christmas and think about what to do for New Year’s Eve.

Our life is carefully regulated by those different holidays as well as the birthday celebrations throughout the year.

Animals also follow a calendar of events, and right now we are in the migration season.

I used to have a turkey vulture roost in my backyard, and when it was migration time I counted up to 47 of the large birds in the huge eucalyptus tree. Some birds would join the flock just to make the trip together.

Each year on Sept. 22 or 23, they would fly away, returning exactly between Jan. 2 and 3. I would anxiously look around at dusk if it was the day they normally came back, and I would make note of the date, time and number of birds. The number of birds on the trip back was always much less, and it would increase progressively through the year.

monarch-butterflyBecause I sent the data to the Turkey Vulture Society, which had requested it, I became acutely aware of different migration patterns around me.

We still do not have all the answers about how the animals manage those migrations. Many animals, such as monarch butterflies, make the trip for the first time without parents showing them the way.

I was recently in Moss Landing, a fantastic place to observe animals of all kinds – sea otters, sea lions and harbor seals, white and brown pelicans, and many other types of sea birds.

I was surprised not to see any ducks. The captain naturalist directing the boat on the estuary told me, “Ah, the ducks are coming in two weeks.” Migration is so precise, you can expect certain events to happen on an exact date.

For example, each year, the return of the swallows to Mission San Juan Capistrano is expected on March 19 (which is also St. Joseph Day). The mission was founded in 1776, and the arched belfry was always a good spot for the birds to protect their nests. The swallows travel 6,000 miles (10,000 km) south to their wintering range of Goya, Argentina, before making the long trip back to the San Diego area.

In late October, I was in Ventura and noticed the fluttering flights of many monarch butterflies. The butterflies that started their long journey from as far away as British Columbia were here to spend the winter.

How the species manages to return to the same overwintering spot and even the same tree over the gap of several generations is still a puzzle. They seem to use a combination of the position of the sun in the sky and the Earth’s magnetic field for orientation.

Butterflies that are born in the early summer live for two months, but those born in the late summer are part of a group that will enter a special phase called diapause, where they won’t reproduce for seven months. During that time, they make the long flight south, where they will spend the winter.

This overwintering generation does not reproduce until it leaves the overwintering site sometime in March. No individual makes the round trip.

In California, the monarchs keep close to the coast. Some wintering spots are Pacific Grove, Santa Cruz and Grover Beach. I just visited the site in Santa Cruz, and it is always an exciting place to see this wonderful event.

In Santa Clarita, our nights are just too cold for the monarchs to spend their winter with us. But the coast is not too far, and there is an excellent wintering spot in Goleta (just north of UC Santa Barbara). Do not go there too early in the morning; wait until mid-day when the temperature goes up a little and the butterflies have had time to warm their wings in the sun.

It is a special and interesting experience to see so many monarchs in one spot. If it is a cold day, take your binoculars with you and start to check on those suspicious clusters of what look like seeds stuck together on the eucalyptus. They are monarch butterflies piled close together, keeping each other warm during the night. I could give you the information to drive there, but check the website, goletabutterflygrove.com – it will be faster and might be more accurate.

Go there on a nice day and know that in March, they will be gone. Take a break from your Christmas shopping and enjoy a day at the beach. On top of the bluff, there is a nice trail with a beautiful view, so take your lunch and enjoy.

You can also stop in Santa Barbara on the way back; that is always pleasant.

BirdMigrationWe have five major migrations happening right now in California. I mentioned the monarch butterflies and a little bit about the Pacific Flyway.

Every year, millions of birds, more than 350 species, traverse the Pacific Flyaway. It is one of the four major migratory bird routes in the Americas. Most of the migration is coming from the north and going to the south. If you go to the tropics in the winter, you will see some of the birds that were in your backyard at some time of the year, but which are spending the winter in a warmer climate.

Some birds do an up-and-down type of migration. They spend the summer at higher elevations and come down for the winter. The junco is one of those birds that we are going to see soon. The fall has been warm, so it is a bit uncertain exactly when they will decide to show up.

greywhaleAnother migration that we definitely won’t see in Santa Clarita, but which is happening along the coast, is the grey whale migration. There again, you can board ships in San Pedro or Ventura to see the migration close by, but I think you might have better luck seeing the mother and the babies on their way back in March.

Each October, as the northern ice starts to form, the whales start the long trip south. They travel day and night and they cover 75 miles per day. The trip is the longest migration done by any mammal. In December, many can be seen between Monterey and San Diego, but in late December and January, they arrive in the calving lagoons of Baja.

The pregnant mothers will give birth to the calves, and from mid-February to mid-March, the lagoon is full of nursing mothers, calves and mating grey whales.

Another spectacular migration is made by Chinook salmon. Sadly, the population is declining, and the fall run has not been good. However, there are still some good spots for viewing: on Butte Creek, Deer Creek and Mill Creek, all tributaries of the Sacramento River – Butte Creek being the best spot to see those glittering fish wriggling their way back to their birthplace so they can spawn.

Sandhill cranes

Sandhill cranes

The fifth migration in California is the one made by Sandhill cranes. It is one of the oldest living species of birds; fossils of this bird date back 10 million years. They return to California from Alaska, traveling 350 miles per day.

They are a large bird with a strange call. I once had the rare opportunity to find myself too close to one in a field in France (a very different migratory route), and we made about the same frightened noise – although the bird’s was louder than mine. They can be found in the Carrizo Plain in the Central Valley, as well as the Sacramento River delta. The town of Lodi just had a Sandhill crane festival earlier this month.

Migration is such complex and fascinating concept. The trip is dangerous, long and difficult, but the survival of the species is always the motivation for the animal, and there really is no other choice. In the south, the climate will be more clement, the food is plentiful, and for some species, it is the only place where they will give birth to their young. So fall is time for them to pack up and leave.

We have the choice to turn up the thermostat and go to the supermarket to fill the fridge, so it can be difficult to comprehend those life-and-death decisions that surround us come fall. But it is certainly interesting to read and observe theirs, and to dream about those long journeys.

 

 

Evelyne Vandersande has been a docent at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center for 27 years. She lives in Newhall.

 

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Tuesday, Oct 10, 2017
It was 10 years ago this fall semester that we opened the Canyon Country Campus on Sierra Highway. We are celebrating a decade of academic excellence and community impact. What a difference a decade makes.
Tuesday, Oct 3, 2017
The Trump budget proposes decreasing funding to the Department of the Interior by $1.5 billion. Trump is calling for more drilling in national parks and monuments. He plans to open BLM land to drilling and fracking.
Tuesday, Oct 3, 2017
We are quickly approaching the culmination of the year-long celebration of our city’s 30th anniversary. It is truly a time to celebrate all the hard work, dedication, perseverance and passion that took our City from being a tiny portion of Los Angeles County to the thriving third largest city in the county.
Tuesday, Oct 3, 2017
This month marks an exciting milestone for the premier arts and entertainment district in Santa Clarita.
Friday, Sep 29, 2017
Kaepernick has never spoken of personally experiencing any negative interactions with the police. Appearances are he had a pretty nice life provided by people with white skin while living in a country that presented him with obvious, mind-boggling opportunities.
Thursday, Sep 28, 2017
Despite its close proximity to the city of Barstow, Rainbow Basin remains virtually undiscovered. It is well worth a visit. Visitors to the area can find scenic opportunities for hiking, rock scrambling, camping, photography, sightseeing and horseback riding.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1888 - 8:15 a.m.: Newhall's luxurious Southern Hotel burns to the ground [story]
Bobbi Jean and her husband Jim Bell, whose OutWest clothing store and popular TV concert series celebrated all things Western and equestrian and helped revitalize Old Town Newhall over the past decade, will soon ride east into the sunrise: They’re moving to New Mexico.
OutWest Owners Jim and Bobbi Jean Bell Ride East Into the Sunrise
1898 - Birth of Mary S. Ruiz, eldest child of Enrique & Rosaria Ruiz of San Francisquito Canyon; all died in 1928 dam disaster [cemetery census]
2007 - Buckweed fire chars 38,000 acres, destroys 21 homes in Canyon Country and Agua Dulce [story]
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, a sexual assault suspect was arrested Thursday night. Plus, some great weekend events. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Friday, October 20, 2017
Forever Fit SCV, a Santa Clarita sports and personal fitness training company, will host a "Pumpkin Workout" at its Centre Pointe location on Saturday, October 28, starting at 9 a.m.
Oct. 25: Pumpkin Workout Benefits American Cancer Society
The next regular meeting of the Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District is set for Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.
Oct. 25: Hart School District Governing Board Meeting
The LA County Public Defender has won the Silver Eagle Award for its Public Defender Jail Liaison Program during the 31st Annual Productivity and Quality Awards Ceremony on Oct. 18 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
LA County Public Defender Soars with Silver Eagle Award
The Los Angeles County Health Officer has issued a heat alert as high temperatures have been forecast for the Los Angeles Basin on Monday, October 23 through Tuesday, October 24.
Heat Alert for SCV, L.A. County on Monday, Tuesday
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has received three major gifts toward the creation of the museum in Los Angeles, bringing fundraising to more than $300M, nearly 80 percent of its $388M campaign goal.
Motion Picture Museum Nears $388M Campaign Goal
Caltrans added nearly 1,200 lane miles of pavement repair and 66 bridges to its growing list of projects to be delivered sooner than planned, thanks to the imminent influx of revenue from the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB 1), the transportation funding and reform package passed in April.
Nearly $3.4 Billion in Transportation Projects to Be Accelerated
The city of Santa Clarita and SCV Veterans Memorial, Inc. invite the public to attend a special ceremony unveiling the new Fallen Warriors Monument at Veterans Historical Plaza in Newhall on Wednesday, November 8 starting at 10 a.m.
Nov. 8: City Unveils Fallen Warriors Monument in Newhall
Crime Prevention deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station along with Los Angeles County Probation Department officers conducted probation compliance searches Friday throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.
SCV Deputies Check Probationers, Aid in Domestic Violence Call
Here is the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station's public safety report for Canyon Country (West), aka Zone 7, for October 2 through October 8, 2017
Crime Blotter: Robbery, Grand Theft in Canyon Country West
A suspect has been arrested in the investigation of an alleged sexual assault, according to Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station officials.
Suspect Arrested in Alleged Sexual Assault
Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States and a concern the California Highway Patrol addresses with its "Start Smart" program.
CHP Helps New Drivers with ‘Start Smart’ Classes
The California High-Speed Rail Authority punted one of the most important decisions during its monthly meeting Thursday, stoking concerns the entity is not moving quickly enough on the $64 billion project.
California’s Bullet Train Board Delays Award of Key Contract
An extensive investigation by the county of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs in conjunction with the office of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has resulted in a lawsuit announced today by the Attorney General against retailer Curacao.
AG Sues Retailer Curacao for Allegedly Preying on Consumers
1873 - Santa Barbara lawyers Charles Fernald and J.T. Richards purchase Rancho San Francisco for $33,000 (75 cents an acre) in a sheriff's sale [story]
CHESTERFIELD, MO — NewGround, a St. Louis-based experiential design-build firm, recently teamed up with Logix Federal Credit Union to work on a large scale facility project, a new corporate headquarters building for the full-service credit union in the Burbank, California area.
Valencia Will Soon be Home to Logix Federal Credit Union Headquarters
The CSUN women's volleyball team (10-9, 4-3 Big West) opens the second half of the Big West season this week as the Matadors head up the coast this week for road tests at No. 23 Cal Poly (17-2, 7-0 Big West) and UC Santa Barbara (4-15, 3-4 Big West). CSUN, coming off a tough five-set loss to Hawai'i at home, is 3-4 in seven road matches this season but has won two of three Big West road contests.
Matadors Volleyball Testing Their Skills on the Road
No. 5 College of the Canyons defeated L.A. Mission College 3-0 on Wednesday to earn its eighth consecutive match and fifth straight sweep. Set scores were 25-15, 25-11, and 25-20.
Cougars Volleyball Earns Fifth Straight Sweep
CSUN Women's Soccer (7-4-5, 3-1-1 BWC) looks to move up in the Big West standings this week as it hosts UC Irvine on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.
Matadors Get Ready for Big West Matchups
Behind Julio Rubio's goal in the 11th minute CSUN defeated UC Riverside 1-0 in Big West Conference men's soccer action Wednesday night.
Matadors’ Lone Goal Enough to Hold Off UC Riverside
Northridge, CA – CSUN Athletics officially opened its new satellite athletic training facility on Thursday at an event featuring Athletic Director Dr. Brandon Martin, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Steven Grech, student-athletes, coaches, staff and campus partners.
Matadors Student-Athletes Welcome New Training Facility
Want unique gifts and a shopping experience unlike any other?
Nov. 18-19: City’s Annual Two-Day Fine Craft Show
City officials gathered Wednesday for the Grand Opening of "Three Oaks," the first 100 percent affordable family development in Santa Clarita.
Affordable Housing Comes to Santa Clarita
The Gibbon Conservation Center will celebrate Halloween for the first time on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Oct. 28: Gibbon Conservation Center Celebrates First Halloween
California State University, Northridge is partnering with the California State University Entertainment Alliance to host a morning of workshops designed to offer students and members of the public advice on building successful careers in the entertainment industry.
Oct. 23: CSUN Workshop; Succeeding in Entertainment Industry
Spotlight Arts Center, a local non-profit that provides free performing and visual arts classes to children in the Santa Clarita Valley, will hold its Fall Festival, Sunday, Oct. 22 from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Oct. 22: Fall Festival Spotlight Arts Center
The College of the Canyons Athletics department is inviting all players, coaches and cheerleaders associated with a Santa Clarita Valley youth sports league or cheer organization to attend Saturday's Cougar football game free of charge.
Oct. 21: SCV Youth Teams Invited to Free COC Football Game
College of the Canyons freshmen Joanna Roecker and Cassandra Lee both turned in scores of 79 to lead the Cougars to a second place team finish at the Western State Conference (WSC) event hosted by Glendale College at Brookside Golf Course on Monday.
COC Falls Short at WSC Glendale
Beginning Monday, October 23, 2017, the city of Santa Clarita will increase the frequency of street sweeping throughout all areas of the City.
Oct. 23: City Begins Increased Street Sweeping Frequency
In a battle for Western State Conference, East Division supremacy, it was College of the Canyons that came out on top Tuesday night, as the Cougars scored two second half goals to secure a 2-0 win against visiting Antelope Valley College. Justine Hoeft and Jennifer Roney collected goals for the Cougars (11-2, 2-0).
COC Secures Win Against AVC With Two Second-Half Goals
The upcoming 10-year anniversary of the Buckweed Fires offers Santa Clarita residents a reminder of the ever-present fire danger in Los Angeles County, as blazes ravage the northern half of the state, as well.
Officials Reflect on 10-Year Anniversary of Buckweed Fires