, , ,

Gone With The Wind

Western Sycamore, Malibu Creek SP (11/22/21) Kathy Jonokuchi

The Santa Anas are strong, downslope winds that flow out of the Great Basin toward Southern California in autumn. They’re fearsome, in that they often feed raging wildfires that incinerate dry areas of Southern California’s mountain ranges. This year, they scoured leaves from the branches of deciduous trees throughout the Santa Monica Mountains.

Southern California color spotter and naturalist Kathy Jonokuchi visited a favorite location, Malibu Creek State Park, where the forest appears Patchy with only a quarter of the trees still carrying their leaves.

The park was previously used for on-location filming of M*A*S*H the popular TV comedy about a Korean War mobile surgery unit. Once part of 20th Century Fox’s Movie Ranch, the location continues to appear in motion pictures and TV productions. However, Gone With The Wind was not filmed within the boundaries of the state park, although a scene in which Gerald walks with Scarlet was shot nearby at Malibu Lake.

Kathy did not visit Malibu Creek SP to study film history, but to study its trees and birds. She wanted to see how Western Sycamore have fared since the Woolsey Fire, four years ago, and found a grove that were spared the flames and are flourishing.

That’s good news for the Nanday Conure, naturalized parrots, which feed off sycamore seed pods during autumn. And, once the trees lose their leaves, it’s easier to see the conures. During her visit, Kathy noticed the appearance of ash on the ground, but realized it was the fluffy seeds of cattail rushes, blown to the ground by the Santa Anas. The seeds will propagate in marshy  areas, a benefit of the Santa Anas which are otherwise thought of as a Southern California inconvenience.

  • Malibu Creek State Park, Santa Monica Mountains .91 – 2,739′) – Patchy (10 – 50%)
, ,

Ready for Turkey Day

Turkey Tail fungi, tropical forest, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/18/21) Frank McDonough

These turkeys won’t be consumed on Thanksgiving Day, even though the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens will be open.

Frank McDonough shares these plates of autumn color in preparation for our national day of thanks and fellowship.

Horse chestnuts, Meadowbrook, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/18/21) Frank McDonough

Garden of Quiet Reflection, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/18/21) Frank McDonough

Pecan, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/18/21) Frank McDonough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pomegranate and Japanese Maple, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/18/21) Frank McDonough

Meyberg Falls, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/18/21) Frank McDonough

Late turning Gingko biloba, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/18/21) Frank McDonough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pomegranate, Queen Anne Cottage, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/18/21) Frank McDonough

LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/18/21) Frank McDonough

Horse chestnut, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/18/21) Frank McDonough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This tree … rocks, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/18/21) Frank McDonough

  • LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (482′) – Patchy (10 – 50%)

, ,

Just Ducky

Hooded Merganser, Arroyo Simi, Simi Valley (11/7/21) Kathy Jonokuchi

Ventura County is just ducky, right now. Its waterways are filled with migrant ducks, that have returned to overwinter in Southern California.

SoCal color spotter Kathy Jonokuchi describes Arroyo Simi, in the Simi Valley, as a wash that runs through the suburbs. Presently, it is a birding hotspot, attracting Hooded Mergansers, Lophodytes cucullatus and American Wigeons, Mareca americana.

Hooded Merganser, Arroyo Simi, Simi Valley (11/7/21) Kathy Jonokuchi

The mergansers favor secluded, sheltered or overgrown locations. They often opt for shady areas, so Kathy’s shots of them cruising in the sunlight across dappled waters are special. Male mergansers sport spectacular plumage which contrasts beautifully with irregular fall sunlight and makes the boys attractive to the girls who wear more demure and dusky dress, reports Lone Pine’s field guide, Birds of Northern California. “Mergansers are shallow divers, unlike dabbling ducks such as the mallard or wigeon,” Kathy writes.

American Wigeon, Arroyo Simi, Simi Valley (11/7/21) Kathy Jonokuchi

The male American wigeons have an irridescent green smear that runs from their eye arcing across their heads, with a cinnamon breast and black and white feathers. Their ladies have greyish heads and brown bodies.

Now, you’ve got us inspired, Kathy. We’re off to Colusa on our annual trek to enjoy the beauty of California’s migratory waterfowl. Now, isn’t that just ducky?
  • Wildlife viewing, Aroyo Simi, Simi Valley – Peak (75 – 100%), GO NOW!

, ,

Autumn’s Critters

California Gray Squirrel, Jackson Lake (10/31/21) Gary Skipper II

Normally, photographs a week old aren’t published on CaliforniaFallColor.com. That’s done purposefully so that our readers see what colors are appearing now. However, when Gary Skipper sent these shots of autumn’s critters taken a week ago, I recognized they’re not about the fall color but about the critters, and that’s timeless.

Besides, there’s an autumn story to tell and it’s my birthday, so it’s my present to you … or more properly, Gary’s present.

Leading the birthday party is the California Gray Squirrel, Sciurus griseus. A trait of our native squirrels are that they are timid and will run up a tree at the slightest provocation and sound a hoarse chirping call. Also, they’re threatened by an invasive specie, the Eastern Fox Squirrel, Scurius niger. So, our California squirrel needs all the attention he can get, even if he is camera shy.

Lodgepole chipmunk, Jackson Lake (10/31/21) Gary Skipper II

California quail, Jackson Lake (10/31/21) Gary Skipper II

California Gray Squirrel, Jackson Lake (10/31/21) Gary Skipper II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joining the Western Gray Squirrel (its other name) is a Lodgepole chipmunk, Tamias speciosus, and standing at attention is a California quail, Callipepla californica.

Gary took the photographs at Jackson Lake near Wrightwood in Southern California. He said Vallyermo had good pockets of fall color when he visited, though admitted some of the subtleties may be missing, since he’s color blind.

The only word of advice we have is, “Gary, don’t adjust your white card. The colors are great!” And, because he did so well, despite not having the same ability others have at determining red or green, I’m gonna break that rule and post the rest of his shots, even though the Jackson Lake, Vallyermo and Wrightwood area is Past Peak.

Jackson Lake (10/31/21) Gary Skipper II

Jackson Lake (10/31/21) Gary Skipper II

Jackson Lake (10/31/21) Gary Skipper II

Jackson Lake (10/31/21) Gary Skipper II

Jackson Lake (10/31/21) Gary Skipper II

Jackson Lake (10/31/21) Gary Skipper II

Jackson Lake (10/31/21) Gary Skipper II

Jackson Lake (10/31/21) Gary Skipper II

Jackson Lake (10/31/21) Gary Skipper II

Jackson Lake (10/31/21) Gary Skipper II

 

Black oak, Jackson Lake (10/31/21) Gary Skipper II

  • Jackson Lake, Wrightwood (6,000′) – Past Peak, You Missed It.

, ,

Evolution

Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis (Sunbust [l], Rhus aromatica [r], LA County Arboretum (11/5/21) Frank McDonough

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens is evolving. A week ago, it was just starting. Now it’s just … Patchy.

Walkers and photographers visited the day Frank McDonough took these pics. The Arboretum is a late November peak and it appears to be progressing toward that. It’s a bellweather for other arboretums in Southern California. So, plan your visits based on what you see here and if you’re trying to decide on the right tree or foliage to add fall color to your garden, this month is the time to visit them.

Liriodendron tulipfera, Meadowbrook Section, LA County Arboretum (11/5/21) Frank McDonough

Acer fremanii (Jeffers Red), LA County Arboretum (11/5/21) Frank McDonough

Baldwin Lake, LA County Arboretum (11/5/21) Frank McDonough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carya ovata(Shagbark hickory), LA County Arboretum (11/5/21) Frank McDonough

Crepe myrtle, LA County Arboretum (11/5/21) Frank McDonough

Acer freemanii (Jeffers Red), Event Lawn, LA County Arboretum (11/5/21) Frank McDonough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden (482′) – Patchy (10 – 50%)

,

Los Padres Returns

Fire recovery, Sespe Wilderness, Los Padres NF (10/25/21) Parrish Todd

Los Padres National Forest delighted the senses with beautiful color, last autumn. Though, fans of the forest worried how it would recover from wildfires. Parrish Todd sends proof it is doing just fine.

Frémont cottonwood, Sespe Wilderness, Los Padres NF (10/25/21) Parrish Todd

She visited Rose Valley Falls Campground in the Topatopa Mountains within the forest’s Sespe Wilderness and found a gorgeous texture of vermillion, yellow, moss green and tan shrubs, grasses and ground covers populating the hills.

Los Padres National Forest has a long autumn. Presently, the color varies from Near Peak to Peak, though color will continue well into December.

Curiously, Parrish happened upon a Chinese pistache growing in the Sespe Wilderness. This is an exotic tree whose home area is Asia. So, for one to be growing in a wilderness area means it had to have been planted there at some time. Though they have lovely color, it’s probably not a tree that should remain in a natural area.

  • Sespe Wilderness, Los Padres NF (3,450′) – Near Peak (50 – 75%) Go Now.

Chinese pistache, Sespe Wilderness, Los Padres National Forest (10/25/21) Parrish Todd

, ,

San Gabriel Glory

The San Gabriel Mountains surrounding Jackson Lake are near full glory, reports Gary Skipper.

Black oak, San Gabriel Mountains (10/23/21) Gary Skipper

Gary explored paths around the lake and past campgrounds finding the color to be vibrant and the weather inviting.

He found a particularly illuminated tree in Wrightwood, where desert Joshua Trees live beside Fremont cottonwood and was thrilled to encounter foxes, squirrels, chipmunks and deer out enjoying the autumn sun.

  • San Gabriel Mountains (5,900’) – Near Peak (50 – 75%), Go Now.

, ,

Blazing in LA County

Blaze Autumn, Freeman’s maple, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (10/20/21) Frank McDonough

When our anchor leg runner starts stripping sweats, we know the end of autumn lies ahead. And, California Fall Color’s anchor runner is LA County.

No more beautiful place in LA County to see diverse and vivid autumn color is found than at its Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia.

So, when the Arboretum’s doyen of autumn sent his first photo today, I thought, “What! Already?”

It was received earlier than expected, though Frank McDonough’s selection was not unexpected. This year’s early dresser, like the Hollywood star it is, likes to upstage all the other trees and plants at the Arboretum. Blaze Autumn, a Freeman’s maple loves to put on the Ritz in bold crimson and brash orange. If Blaze was a Hollywood celebrity walking a red carpet, the carpet would look up in envy.

Other plants at the Arboretum pretend to be as colorful as Blaze, but they never compare … at least as far as upstaging goes.

  • The LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (482′) – Just Starting (0 – 10%)
, ,

Forest Falls

Forest Falls is a key gateway to the Sand to Snows National Monument in the San Bernardino Mountains and home to the original trail into the San Gorgonio Wilderness.

Lined with bigleaf maple, black oak and aspen, the trail is a favorite in autumn. SoCal color spotter Jim Van Matre describes the trail as “showing off its color, right now.”

He states, “The drive up Valley of the Falls Drive from Highway 38 is beautiful, but the payoff is at the top around the Falls Picnic Area.

Forest Falls, San Bernardino Mountains (10/11/21) Jim Van Matre
  • Forest Falls, San Bernardino Mountains (5,700′) – Patchy (10 – 50%)
, ,

Big Bear Brightens

Big Bear Lake, San Bernardino Mountains (10/9/21) Jim Van Matre

The autumn show has begun in the San Bernardino Mountains around Big Bear.

SoCal color spotter Jim Van Matre was there on Saturday to find “a lot of color along dirt road N210 for the first mile or two. After that there is no color.”

He estimates the show to be just beginning with native trees (aspen, bigleaf maple, black oak) tending to change quickly, “before falling off.”

Exotic trees in and around town are spectacular with shades of red and orange. Because of the quick peak and some species peaking, we’re categorizing Big Bear Lake as Near Peak.

  • Big Bear Lake (6,752′) – Near Peak (50 – 75%), Go Now!