August 8, 2021 Woodlawn Cemetery

In search of nature, I visited an "urban" area today--Woodlawn Cemetery in the city of Santa Monica. Some people may feel a bit put off by visiting a cemetery to photograph nature but it's a peaceful place and usually has lots of trees. And, the cemetery is surprisingly full of nature in spite of the large swaths of grass and many non-native trees. However, in these times of drought, a place that is watered regularly provides animals, primarily birds, with a great place to feed and even breed.

And for once, humans are actually helping things along! A few years ago a man who makes bird nest boxes began hanging them here and since then, several western bluebirds have made this their home. Lots of water also means many insects in spite of the monculture of grass. And yes, there are some invasive plants like white clover, dandelions and daisies; however even these seem to attract insects, although most are western honey bees.

Things have improved even more with the installation of a "green" burial site. This is an area where people can be interred with minimal impact to the environment and without chemicals. (Interesting bit of trivia--the first person buried in the green site was Tom Hayden, a member of the Chicago 7 and ex-husband of Jane Fonda). While the green burial site is just that, they have chosen to plant California natives for the most part in this area. Initially, I didn't see many insects in the area. But one year later, the area is thriving with many native bees, butterflies and other insects. In turn, because this area is watered even more regularly than the lawn, the small daisies and other non native flowers in the vicinity are now attracting native insects.

Woodlawn for many years was a resting spot for monarch butterflies. Though not on the scale of other areas further up the coast, there was always a colony of maybe 30-40 butterflies that rested here. However, with the massive decline in monarchs, the last few years have seen maybe 2-3 monarchs in the area. Hopefully that will change as milkweed plants are now part of the native garden and I saw a monarch butterfly today making the rounds.

My observations today included a bird I've been wanting to photograph--a Swinhoe's white eye--yes, a non-native bird. Thanks to running into some friends today, they helped me find these very small difficult-to-see birds. I still didn't get the photo I'd like but I'm pleased to have seen these cute little birds. They seem to be expanding their range as a few years ago, none were reported in Los Angeles county. Also a great pleasure to see was a beautiful, brightly colored western tanager. Again, not a great photo but one of most striking tanagers I've seen.

And finally, I even found some cool predators: a couple of interesting spiders and an assassin bug. I definitely will be back to see what new birds and insects have arrived.

Posted by naturephotosuze naturephotosuze, August 09, 2021 01:06

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Striped Lynx Spider (Oxyopes salticus)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

August 8, 2021 10:57 AM PDT

Description

Woodlawn
Saw two and the second photo is of a different individual but shows another angle

Photos / Sounds

What

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

August 8, 2021 11:05 AM PDT

Description

Woodlawn

Photos / Sounds

What

Assassin Bugs (Family Reduviidae)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

August 8, 2021 11:10 AM PDT

Description

Woodlawn
Does not look like the usual leafhopper assassin bug I see but perhaps its at a different stage?
I'm duplicating this so this observation is for the assassin bug

Photos / Sounds

What

Banded Garden Spider (Argiope trifasciata)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

August 8, 2021 12:34 PM PDT

Description

Woodlawn
Looks a bit like a lynx spider but not sure if that's right

Photos / Sounds

What

Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

August 8, 2021 12:26 PM PDT

Description

Woodlawn

Photos / Sounds

What

Swinhoe's White-Eye (Zosterops simplex)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

August 8, 2021 12:09 PM PDT

Description

Woodlawn

Photos / Sounds

What

Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)

Observer

naturephotosuze

Date

August 8, 2021 11:36 AM PDT

Description

Woodlawn
A youngster

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