Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Photo Essay: Hatchlings In the Marsh

I'd been meaning to visit Madrona Marsh in Torrance ever since I first saw it on the map. But what finally drew me there was the promise of baby birds.



I knew that there had been some recent hatchlings spotted at the 43-acre preserve in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, but I didn't realize what a good birding spot it would be in general.



Right by the entrance, I spotted several low-lying lesser goldfinches, though they certainly weren't the only songbirds I heard.



It helps that there's plenty of vegetation for them to perch onto and hide in, like the dune lupine (a.k.a. bush lupine, or Lupinus chamissonis)...



...and clarkia...



...and, of course, poppies.



Although wildflowers in the vernal marsh (so named because the temporary freshwater pools are only wet in the spring, thanks to rainwater runoff) are already past peak bloom...



...I still spotted some nice yellow sweet-clover (Melilotus officinalis) and garland daisies.



And while the butterflies were out in full force, so were the bloom-loving bugs.



But I had come to this rare, undeveloped parcel of land (part of which was formerly an oil and gas recovery site) in a highly commercial area of the City of Torrance for birds...



...and, in my quest, I got sightings of house finches...



...female red-winged blackbirds (somewhat a misnomer, given their brown and white color pattern)...



...and, perhaps most spectacularly, male red-winged blackbirds.



I found them singing in thickets of reeds...



...and perching on black willows.



Madrona Marsh is literally across the street from Del Amo Fashion Center Mall, so it's prime real estate for developers. Over 90 percent of California's wetlands have been lost to development.



But environmentalists fought—as far back as 1972—to preserve and restore the marshland for native species that would make it their home as well as for non-natives that would use it as a stopover on their migratory paths along the Pacific Flyway.



In 1989, the open space was cleaned up, with over 200 tons of junk being trucked out. But it didn't officially open to the public—accompanied by a nature center—until 2001.



And now, coots are having babies. Mallards are having babies.



And breaking up the symphony of songbirds with their own unique cacophony are a flock of Canadian geese also starting their families...



...feeding and protecting their young.



These curious little darlings didn't seem disturbed by visitors to their cordoned-off area...



...and went about their business, exploring the marsh around them...



...having a bite to eat...



...and snuggling up tight.



But soon enough they were roused to move on...



...and take a little swim...



...and glide off into the sunset.



I suspect that I only saw a fraction of the bird, insect, and plant life that's at Madrona Marsh (not to mention the mammals and reptiles I never saw, and the amphibians I only heard).

This "island habitat" had been hit hard by the drought, but now it seems to have recovered.

At least for now, it's nice to know that its residents are safe, and visitors are welcome—just like in Los Angeles, and just like in California.

That can all change so quickly, though.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Birding Anza-Borrego During the Superbloom
Damage Control
Photo Essay: Invasive Plants, Parasitic Birds, and Giant Stinging Nettle at Prado Wetlands
Basking in the Gloom at Bolsa Chica Wetlands