Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Restaurant, An Endangered Blue Butterfly and a Life Bird

The conversation went something like this, "Where do you want to go today?"  It was my son's day off and we were in his home town, Los Angeles, CA.  I had given it no thought, but my instant reaction was to check a local birding website to see what hot spots for birding were recommended.  There, I read about a field trip that had taken place the day before at Rockweiler Beach where Snowy Plovers had been seen.   

I asked my son if he knew where this beach was located.  "Its under the LAX runway."  I had to consider this.  A beach under the runway?  
The next thing I knew we were headed for El Segundo, a small community adjacent to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport).  But first we stopped in a local coffee shop called the Blue Butterfly Coffee Company. We all like coffee!  It was while visiting this shop that our butterfly discussion began.  My son explained that the restaurant was named after the endangered El Segundo Blue butterfly.

El Segundo is both a community in Los Angeles, and the name of the coastal dunes that border the Santa Monica Bay.  It is on these dunes that the native Seacliff Buckwheat grows, the host plant for the El Segundo Blue butterfly during every stage of its life-cycle.
When very astute observers discovered that this butterfly was disappearing, it became one of the first species to be listed as endangered in the 70's.  The reason for it's decline?  It is a specialist species that relies solely on one plant throughout its entire life cycle.  And that one plant was disappearing, crowded out by an exotic ice plant species.  The butterfly itself only appears from late June to July, nectars on the Seacliff Buckwheat, and mates and lays its eggs on the plant's blossoms.  Its larvae feed on the flowers, burrow at the base of the plant to form pupae, and re-emerge as butterflies the next season to start the cycle all over again.
Our next stop was nearby Rockweiller Beach and it actually is located in the flight path of airplanes coming and going on the LAX runway system, flying low over your head as you walk the beach.  

The shorebirds don't seem to mind and neither did I once I spotted them.  Marbled Godwits, a life bird for me, and Willets were foraging in the tide.  The godwits were probing in the wet sand, the willets chasing the ebbing tide and running back to higher ground ahead of the next wave to eat their prize, sand fleas.  I couldn't have asked for a better wildlife morning.
Marbled Godwit

To learn more about the amazing El Segundo Blue Butterfly, visit:  El Segundo Blue Butterfly--A Story of Survival at Vickie Henderson Art.  There you'll find two video clips that describe this butterfly's fascinating survival story, as well as, its unique relationship with other species.  For more sketches about my California visit, click here.

For birding information in the LA area, visit the Los Angeles Audubon website

And for artists interested in the sketchbook used, the above sketches are created in a Moleskin sketchbook with pencil, ink and watercolor.  The paper is designated for all-media but does not work well with watercolor because of its delicate nature and a surface that tends to cause beading.  Even though the result can be satisfactory, the process of working on the paper is not enjoyable for me.  The fun of watercolor is its movement and fun is one of my requirements for sketching!  However, the book has a smooth surface that works well with ink, graphite, color pencils, etc. and of course journaling.

3 comments:

  1. This is great. I lvoe the sketch book! Wunnnnaful Willet, too

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love your sketches Vickie. The restaurant one is ace. Good photography and great lttle stories too. Thanks for visiting my blog, I will certainly visit yours again. Phil

    ReplyDelete
  3. I will never forget seeing a godwit sticking that big long bill into sand that felt like concrete to me while walking on it and coming up with something to eat. Amazing birds. Love your sketches.

    ReplyDelete

Welcome! I am glad to hear your comments, questions and feedback! Vickie

Ocean Trail at Rancho Palos Verdes Preserve, California--2015

Ocean Trail at Rancho Palos Verdes Preserve, California--2015

Joshua Tree National Forest, California, with son Chad and daughter Thuan--2015

Joshua Tree National Forest, California, with son Chad and daughter Thuan--2015
Photo credit: Thuan Tram

Bird banding with Mark Armstrong at Seven Islands State Birding Park - 2014

Bird banding with Mark Armstrong at Seven Islands State Birding Park - 2014
Photo courtesy of Jody Stone

Birds Close-up

Birds Close-up
Photo courtesy of Karen Wilkenson

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill, Manitoba

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill, Manitoba
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Expeditions

A dog sled experience with Blue Sky Expeditions, Churchill, MB--2014

A dog sled experience with Blue Sky Expeditions, Churchill, MB--2014
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Expeditions

Churchill, Manitoba--2014

Churchill, Manitoba--2014
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky

2014 Hummingbird Festival

2014 Hummingbird Festival
Photo courtesy of Jody Stone

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane art banners and son, John--2014

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane art banners and son, John--2014

Muir Woods on the Dipsea Trail at Stinson Beach, California--2014

Muir Woods on the Dipsea Trail at Stinson Beach, California--2014
Photo courtesy of Wendy Pitts Reeves

Checking out the gulls at Stinson Beach--2014

Checking out the gulls at Stinson Beach--2014
Photo courtesy of Wendy Pitts Reeves

Discovery Hike in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska--2012

Discovery Hike in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska--2012
Photo courtesy of Ruth Carter
Related Posts with Thumbnails