Now to Part III of our challenge to readers to join the City Nature Challenge this weekend, Friday April 26 through Monday April 29. You may be asking “But… where do I look for these critters and plants?”
The first place to start is your own backyard or on your street. Stop and take a moment, and really look (with your phone camera ready). Take note of the trees and bushes in your yard, shoot a closeup of a leaf on one of them. See if you can find a bird. Look deep into that bush. Lift a rock and see if some crawly insect is underneath. What is the name of that blooming flower? Shoot a photo, upload it to the iNaturalist App, tap on “View suggestions” and you’ll be able to determine what it is. Press share and voila, you’re a Citizen Scientist helping document our urban wildlife!
One goal of the challenge is to have participants open their eyes and engage more with the nature in our cities. Knowing what species exist in our city helps scientists, land managers and the community protect and understand how our environment is evolving. But an added side benefit for you, the individual, is to learn the names and needs of the flora and fauna, and keep it all in a handy list on your phone to refer to later. Your friends will be impressed, and your list of observations can go well beyond this weekend challenge.
Want to explore further than your backyard? Here are a few places to venture alone or with friends and family, to get more observations loaded into your iNaturalist app. The first few are close by, the remaining not too far.
Bronson Canyon/Bronson Caves: Drive north to the top of Canyon Drive above Franklin Ave (3200 Canyon Drive) and park in the free lot on the east side of the road, a quarter mile past the playground. As you walk up the road toward the hills, take the first sharp right and you’ll be on your way to Bronson Caves where it is said some of the original Batman television series was filmed. On this trail and off it to the left in the canyons there are an abundance of blooming native and non-native plants, and you may even see some wildlife. Continue on to the caves, or retrace your steps and head up the hill on the wide fire trail that provides lots of views of wildlife, and also nice views of the Hollywood sign.
Harold Henry Park: A hidden jewel in Windsor Village at Lucerne Bl and 9th St, this park has a variety of plant and tree material. You may not see much wildlife, other than squirrels, birds and the kids enjoying the playground equipment (but they don’t count in the iNaturalist app).
Nature Gardens at the Natural History Museum: This fantastic set of gardens just four miles south of the Larchmont area include a pollinator garden that is in full bloom and teaming with butterflies, hummingbirds and bees this time of year, so a good place to snap something fluttering before you. Also a fantastic representation of native plants should you want to get ideas for your own garden that use less water and provide habitat for wildlife. 900 Exposition Blvd, Admission is $14/adult, $11/kids.
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area: 4100 S. La Cienega Blvd. Located in the Baldwin Hills Mountains (on the way to LAX from our area) the nature trail right now is in full bloom, and the higher hills walk promises lots to look at in the ground, plus grand views of the city. Parking is free during the week, but costs $6 on weekends.
Ballona Wetlands: The Freshwater and Saltwater Marshes in the restored Ballona Wetlands are a real treat for observation of migratory and resident birds and native plants that thrive in the marsh ecosystem. The perimeter wood-chipped trail is free and open to the public from dawn to dusk, park on the southwest side of Jefferson Blvd along the road. Between Lincoln and Jefferson Boulevards in Playa del Rey.