Birds of Big Oak Canyon

On December 19, 2011, a group of Earthroots mentors noticed an owl kill site with evidence of two owls. There were feathers from an owlnot often seen in our region, the Long Eared Owl. Nearby, a pellet from a Great Horned Owl was found. One of the Long Eared Owl’s talon was found inside a Great Horned Owl pellet.

This story excites birders.

Evan recently shared this story with Stephen Shunk (Author, Peterson’s Guide to Woodpeckers) and Gillian Martin (Southern California Bluebird Club) who were on a tour of Big Oak Canyon with focused interest on cavities as bird habitat. Cavities are holes in dead standing trees, also known as snags or wildlife trees. Big Oak has many wildlife trees with cavities in use by birds, reptiles, mammals and insects.

One gift that came out of our walk was learning the importance of cavities as habitat. The second gift was making progress on Big Oak Canyon’s Bird List. Third gift was their suggestion to have volunteer birders come once a month to contribute to our bird list by having regular Bird Counts. This documentation will be used to help Earthroots monitor the birds and their important habitat at Big Oak Canyon. There were many other gifts!

This is what Stephen heard or saw during our walk October 14, 2012.

Vaux’s Swift
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall’s Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Hutton’s Vireo
Western Scrub-Jay
Common Raven
Wrentit
Bushtit
Oak Titmouse
Tree Swallow
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow-rumped Warbler
California Thrasher
California Towhee
Spotted Towhee
Dark-eyed Junco
Lesser Goldfinch

And from the photos, we can now add:
Long Eared Owl
Great Horned Owl

Previously recorded birds include:
Red Shoulder Hawk
Red Tail Hawk
Western Screech Owl

Interested birders are welcome to sign up for a monthly bird count starting Spring 2013!

Stories from the Kalahari Part 4: Fashion & Function

Part 1: Stories from the Kalahari
Part 2: Language
Part 3: Living Locally
Part 5:Springhare for Breakfast

On a walk through the Kalahari. We were joined by men, women elders, teens and children.

I really like the outfits the women wear in the Kalahari.Reallylike them. I asked one of the women there 3 times if she would trade clothes with me.I wanted to bring home her leather skirt with ostrich egg shell beads.Each day I wore a different, increasingly special shirt that I brought from home or pair of pants to up the anti, showing her what I was willing to trade on the spot.

Her response every day was translated by Neeltjie the same way, “I like the colors, but the fabric is too thin and will tear”. My cotton shirts & pants would not hold up walking through the sharp branches and thorns of the Kalahari for very long. After going to visit the village, one women’s outfit was given to our group to pass along to a friend of hers living where we were headed next. I was holding it, I couldn’t resist. I tried it on. It fit perfectly! It felt amazing. The heavy leather was protective yet soft. It had a unique smell that fit with the place we were, and immediately made me feel like I blended into the landscape of the Kalahari. I felt the courage of the antelope who wore the skin before, running through the desert, hoofs on sand. I imagined the taste of dry aromatic leaves it ate, I thought about the hunt, the tanning process, and the elements that went into making this time tested functional fashion. I thought about the ostrich egg being shaped into beads, the fiber used to string each one onto the skirt and the hands that created the pattern. Everything came from walking distance of this very spot I was standing in.

Jodi Levine wearing functional fashion in the Kalahari Desert.

I am determined to get a skirt like that one day even if I have to make it myself, from start to finish. The sage scrub of our local wilderness would be a perfect trial grounds for a leather skirt of this style. The skirt was two “apron-like” panels that tied around the waist. One tied in front, covering the back, the other tied in back, covering the front. The top tied around the neck and back, like a string bikini. Some of the women also wore cape-like pieces that they used to shade their upper bodies and some women carried babies on their backs with pieces of hide as well. The top had been mended several times, patched tears and extensions added to the leather ties. I wonder how many women had worn this, and for how many years?

Don’t be surprised if next time you see me, I’m wearing something like this.

Coming soon: Part 5

8th Grader to install Rainwater Garden at School!

Earthroots is honored to be providing on campus ecological education at the Journey School in Aliso Viejo as one of their Green Partners.

OC Register Article
Aliso Viejo Patch Article
CBS 2 News Clip

8th Grade Student, Cyriene Adams inspired to design and install

Rainwater harvesting demonstration Site
at Journey School a Public Charter Elementary School in Aliso Viejo, CA
Installation date: March 26th and 27th

Journey Parents and community Volunteers are invited to help . . .

Inspired byBrad Lancaster’s, (Author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond) presentation last year, one 8th Grade Journey Student, Cyriene Adams, has decided to create a rainwater harvesting installation on herelementaryschool campus. She’scurrently receiving weekly one-on-one support with her Rainwater Harvesting project by Jodi Levine, director of Earthroots.
Cyriene measured and calculated how much rainwaterfalls on the school’soffice that is currently being ineffectively washed down the drain. The goal of her project is to get as much water as possible absorbed into the soil to hydrate local native plants which will beautify the school entrance while offering habitat and food to local bees, butterflies, lizards and other creatures.

The installation of Cyriene’s design will be March 26 & 27 by5th gradeJourney School students,parent and community volunteers to include SOKA internsand Earthroots staff. The group will dig amulch basin to accommodate overflow rainwater from two roofs at the front of the school.

“This project is changing lives and improving the environment around campus,”
says Jodi Levine. Hundreds of people each day walk through this area of campus. It has not been effectively irrigated for years and needs more water. Instead of bringing in water from the city – one brilliant student, with support fromMichelleSpieker, her8th gradeteacher Mr. Martin and Journey School administration & her mentor, Jodi Levine -Cyrieneis demonstrating how we can all live in better balance with natural water flow.Sheis an incredible inspiration to her peers and elders alike
.

Parents and Community Volunteers welcome. Please go towww.journeyschool.netfor more information.