Monday, July 29, 2013

More Nature in the City: Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve

Date: March 5, 2013
Place: Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve, Van Nuys, California
Coordinates: 34.1725, -118.4692
Difficulty: easy.

The morning that followed our hike in Solstice Canyon we planned to have an early stroll at the wildlife refuge closest to our host's house: the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve. Another friend had joined us and so, armed with our cameras, we left for the Reserve.
Double-crested Cormorant

What was supposed to be a quick stroll to find some hummingbirds had, in fact, filled up our entire morning. That's because there was plenty to see there beside hummingbirds :-)
Red-winged Blackbird, male, tricolored.
The main entrance to the reserve is from its north end. We parked at Burbank Boulevard on the south end and entered the reserve via a thin trail created by people who entered the reserve from this way before.
Other bird-watchers across the lake. Notice all the nests in the trees above.
The proper trail encircles the lake in a two-mile loop, the east part away from the lake and the west part along the shore. We stuck to the lake shores throughout the walk and appreciated the aquatic birds.
Great Egret
And not just the aquatic.
Song Sparrow
And not just the birds.
A crayfish the chikas found on the shore. They cared to return it to the water after the photograph was taken. 
Eventually we got to the north part of the trail, where our hosts took us into the bushes to look for the promised hummingbirds. We spent a good time looking at these magnificent birds and Papa Quail was in sheer heaven. I had a difficult time choosing from all the wonderful pictures Papa Quail took that day. I selected two of them.
This species was new to us:
Allen's Hummingbird, male.
And this one amazed us with aerobatics that only a hummingbird can do:
Anna's hummingbird performing aerobatics. 
Hummingbirds are magnificent flyers, but bigger birds are also graceful in the air.
Great Blue Heron
And no less graceful in the water.
American White Pelican

In the bushes Papa Quail spotted a bird species new to him: the Common Yellowthroat. They were very quick to fly but Papa Quail managed a quick shot of them.
Here's the male:
Common Yellowthroat, male
And the female:
Common Yellowthroat, female. 
Turning the corner brought us to the West side of the lake where the trail becomes wide and paved. It also brought us closer to the waterfowl.
A Mallard and a Hooded-Merganser. Both male. 

This pair of ducks were particularly interesting.  The male is a Wood Duck, wearing his magnificent breeding colors. The female behind him is a Mallard. And yes, they are a couple, all right. We watched them for a long time. They were resting together, swimming together and the male kept chasing away another male mallard who appeared interested in his female (although he was considerable smaller than the mallard). It was a great example of an inter-species love :-)
Wood Duck, male, and Mallard, female. 
We were enjoying the sight, but my older chika was particularly fascinated by it and composed an entire love story to go with this couple, with illustrations.
We slowly completed the loop around the lake.
White-crowned Sparrow
The birds were not the only wildlife we appreciated that day.
All and all, we walked about 1 mile in over two hours. Not much of a workout, but totally satisfying wildlife viewing. 
Western Tiger Swallowtail
 We had a wonderful, and way too short, time in Los Angeles and with our friends. We would have loved to stay more but we had to return home that night. Less than two days after, my friend and I would embark on our long planned great desert trip to see the desert bloom.

Many thanks to our friends, Ofer Dub and Green Thumb for taking us to this wonderful place!

An update from August 22, 2014, The Sepulveda Basin is up in flames. A brush wildfire that started near the Van Nuys Airport. It just breaks my heart to know that all this beauty has now turned to ashes.


  1. סופסוף רואים את התמונות היפות.
    כאמור, הגיע הזמן לביקור נוסף :-)

    1. Quite soon, Ofer! And I'll bring with me a cd with the complete photo record (including your portraits taken by the little chika :-) )

  2. it was a beautiful hike, and we had a lovely time together :-)
    and you forgot to put the Osprey's picture - he was beautiful as well!

    the black butterfly is called Duskywings, and the swallowtail is Western Tiger Swallowtail.

    hugs to everybody! (all 3 families!)

    1. Many thanks! I added the information to the photos.

  3. great pictures - this seems to be a lovely place for birds watching

    1. It's a perfect place for bird watching! And if you are a bird - it's the perfect place for people watching :-)