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

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Mostly clear
Mostly clear
76°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
July 23
1982 - Vic Morrow & two child actors killed in helicopter crash at Indian Dunes during filming of "Twilight Zone: The Movie" [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
Monday, Jul 2, 2018
In her July message, Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste wishes residents a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July, and recaps a bit of local history.
Sunday, Jul 1, 2018
The Mojave rattlesnake or “Mojave green” is a highly irritable and unpredictable pit viper. By comparison, the Pacific rattlesnake you might be accustomed to is fairly tame.
Friday, Jun 15, 2018
Your rights guarantee that you get the health services the law says you can get, protect you against unethical practices, and ensure the privacy of your personal and medical information. You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at all times, and to be protected from discrimination.
Friday, Jun 15, 2018
California voters just bought the feel-good tax proposition that was stated to raise yet another $4 billion for “clean water” funds. Days later, Brown declared it isn’t enough. There will be another ballot measure in November to raise another $8 billion.
Friday, Jun 8, 2018
Our state leaders are finally working together to address one of the greatest inequities in higher education – funding for California community colleges that serve high need students.
Wednesday, Jun 6, 2018
Not every decision on the table must be made within the next week. When it comes to deciding how to fund community colleges, it would be wise to hit pause and devote more careful consideration to the discussion.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1982 - Vic Morrow & two child actors killed in helicopter crash at Indian Dunes during filming of "Twilight Zone: The Movie" [story]
2000 - Historic Larinan house in Pico Canyon burns down [story]
1952 - 7.5-magnitude Kern County earthquake devastates Tehachapi; damage spread from San Diego to Las Vegas [story]
The L.A. County Superior Court on July 17 sided with Los Angeles County and dismissed a portion of Chiquita Canyon LLC's complaint, which challenged 13 conditions of the county's conditional use permit governing how the landfill operates, Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced Friday.
Court: Chiquita Landfill Must Comply with CUP, Pay County $12 Mil.
Four men allegedly stole a van and crashed it at Cinema Drive and Valencia Boulevard late Friday afternoon, breaking gas and water lines and snarling rush-hour traffic in the center of the city.
Suspected Van Thieves Crash, Rupture Gas, Water Lines in Valencia
The Los Angeles County Arts Commission has announced $4,518,000 in two-year grants to 216 nonprofit arts organizations through its Organizational Grant Program, and the Santa Clarita Philharmonic Orchestra and the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival are among the grantees.
Santa Clarita Philharmonic, Shakespeare Festival Win County Arts Grants
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency's board of directors voted in its Tuesday meeting to revise its per-diem payment policy for board members attending industry-related meetings and conferences.
SCV Water Board Trims Own Meeting Attendance Pay
College of the Canyons men's basketball player Robert Moss will continue his playing career at University of Saint Katherine after committing to join the Firebirds program.
COC Hoopster Robert Moss Commits to University of Saint Katherine
When wives earn more than their husbands, a puzzling thing can happen: Husbands say they earn more than they are and wives underreport their income, according to new Census Bureau research.
Census Research: Spouses Report Earnings Differently When Wives Earn More
Responding to a booming economy and a generous state budget, administrators on Thursday approved the first tuition decrease for the University of California system in nearly 20 years.
University of California Cuts Tuition for First Time in 20 Years
The William S. Hart Union High School District and Spirit Holding, developers of Castaic High School, will host a community kick-off event on Friday, Aug. 3, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. celebrating the one-year countdown to the grand opening of the new school, currently under construction.
Aug. 3: ‘Countdown to Castaic High’ Public Celebration
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, July 24, starting at 9:30 a.m.
July 24: LA County Board of Supervisors Meeting
The Los Angeles County Health Officer has issued a Heat Alert for Monday, July 23 and Tuesday, July 24, as high temperatures have been forecast for the Santa Clarita Valley.
SCV Heat Alert Called for Monday, Tuesday
The Lancaster JetHawks jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but two late home runs from Stockton's Sandber Pimentel led the Ports to victory in a 5-4 final on Thursday night at Banner Island Ballpark.
Lancaster Can’t Stop Pimentel, Ports
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and Department of Justice have made public the government's plan for the court-ordered reunification of children ages 5 years and older who were separated from their parents by immigration authorities.
Feds Detail Plan to Reunite Immigrant Children with Parents
2001 - Then-Assemblyman George Runner introduces legislation to memorialize the historic Ridge Route. Enacted Oct. 4. [story]
During a press conference on Thursday at the Gerdau steel mill in Rancho Cucamonga, Chief Eric Parra announced the destruction of 3,566 weapons confiscated within in Los Angeles County. This event comes typically in July, in compliance with California Penal Code 18005(c), which calls for weapons unable to be sold to the public or returned to their owners, to be destroyed.
More than 3,500 Weapons Destroyed at Annual Destruction Event
The Summer Art Festival, at the Oaks Club of Valencia, invites you to a fun, free artists’ reception on Saturday, Aug. 11, 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Aug. 11: Summer Art Festival at Oaks Club
When you think "Advanced Manufacturing," Santa Clarita Valley probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind.
SCV Paves the Way for Advanced Manufacturing
(CN) – Delivering a blow to a Silicon Valley billionaire, the California Supreme Court on Wednesday erased a November ballot measure proposing to divide the Golden State in three.
State Supreme Court Tosses Ballot Measure to Split California in Three
Internationally famous Doña Oxford aka “The Goddess of Soul,” is fronting one of the hottest Blues bands of the 21st century. She has toured all over the world, bringing her amazing keyboard playing and vocals to devoted fans in Europe, Japan, Canada and the United States.
July 20: Valencia Jazz & Blues Series to Feature Doña Oxford
No business is immune from the unthinkable. Workplace violence is an increasingly important topic for organizations of all types.
Aug. 21: Active Shooter Awareness Training at VIA Luncheon
St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish Church is holding their 2nd Annual Summer Night Car Show Friday, Aug. 24 from 6:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Aug. 24: St. Kateri 2nd Annual Summer Night Car Show
The Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority on Thursday launched the Los Angeles Homeless Outreach Portal, dubbed LA-HOP, the new Countywide Web-based portal that channels outreach support to people experiencing homelessness.
County Launches Online Portal to Combat Homelessness
LOS ANGELES - Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) announced Tuesday the company is now offering $75 rebates for residential customers who purchase eligible Energy Star certified smart thermostats that help residents manage their heating and cooling costs and conserve energy.
SoCal Gas Offering Rebates for Customers with Smart Thermostats
STOCKTON – Brian Serven put together one of his best offensive performances of the season to lead the JetHakwks to a 7-2 to win over the Stockton Ports on Wednesday night at Banner Island Ballpark.
Serven Leads JetHawks to Victory in Series Opener Against Stockton
The William S. Hart Union High School District’s Governing Board voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Brad Renison to become the new Director of Transportation. Most recently, Mr. Renison has been serving as the Interim Director of Transportation.
Hart District Names Brad Renison New Transportation Director
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers today acquired four-time All-Star shortstop Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Rylan Bannon, Yusniel Díaz, Dean Kremer, Zach Pop and Breyvic Valera.
Dodgers Acquire 4-Time All-Star Manny Machado
The William S. Hart Union High School District’s Governing Board voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Dr. Catherine Nicholas to become the new principal of Sequoia School.
Hart District Appoints Dr. Catherine Nicholas as New Sequoia School Principal
Welcome to paradise at a high-energy, live show coming up in Santa Clarita’s Concerts in the Park series, presented by Logix Federal Credit Union, this Saturday, July 21, at 7:00 p.m., in Central Park (27150 Bouquet Canyon Road).
July 21: Concerts in the Park to Feature Green Day Tribute Band
SCV Sheriff's Crime Prevention Unit deputies and station detectives have noted an increase in the thefts of catalytic converters from cars in Santa Clarita Valley. The favored target of thieves has been the Toyota Prius (2005-2009).
Deputies Warn of Rise in Catalytic Converter Thefts from Prius Cars
LOS ANGELES – According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, air quality will be unhealthy Thursday for sensitive individuals in San Gabriel Valley, Santa Clarita Valley and Antelope Valley.
Air Quality Advisory Issued for SCV
Would you like to be a volunteer at beautiful Red Rock Canyon State Park? Learn about the volunteer program and the park’s natural and cultural history at our two-day volunteer training, Saturdays, Sept. 1st and 8th from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at the Ricardo Visitor Center (new volunteers must attend both days).
Red Rock Canyon State Park to Hold 2-Day Volunteer Training
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announces the scheduled closure of the Tejon Safety Roadside Rest Areas on Interstate 5 (Golden State Freeway) to replace a water main line.
Caltrans Announces Temporary Rest Area Closure on I-5 at Tejon
1924 - Sherman Block, L.A. County's 29th Sheriff (1982-1998), born in Chicago [story]
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies have arrested a Santa Clarita woman who allegedly spray-painted walls on a city park building in Saugus early Tuesday morning, also discovering she was allegedly in possession of forged checks.
Woman Charged with Defacing Park Building, Check Forgery