Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Crayfish Hunting

Our group has recently learned that crayfish have been introduced to our region and are causing problems in the ecosystem.  The light grey parts on the map below indicate the areas where crayfish occur naturally.  The dark grey states are places where crayfish have been introduced by humans and are a problem for the habitat.

In the Topanga area, crayfish have been brought in by people hoping to have them reproduce so they can be used as bait in fishing.  The population has gotten out of control and the crayfish are eating the frogs and other wildlife.  Scientists are experimenting with removing all the crayfish from a small location in a stream in Topanga and will see if this allows the other wildlife to replenish itself.  If this works, they will begin removing crayfish from the rest of the stream as well.

Crayfish love hotdogs!  We wrapped a bunch of hot dog pieces to string.  The crayfish would start to nibble on the hot dog and then we would scoop them up with a net.  The crayfish are then sent to a local wildlife rescue to feed bobcats and other injured and recovering wildlife that eat crayfish. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Headed out for an autumn walk

Art Class

Last month Nora Lee attended a free art class at the library.  It was such a fulfilling experience for her that she asked to take art classes where she could really learn how to make forms look realistic.  I found an incredible art studio near our house that teaches students fine art skills.  

They begin by learning to draw and use colored pencils, then move on to pastels, water colors, acrylic paints and then oils.  She gets to go at her own pace and is surrounded by youngsters just learning, like herself, as well as teens doing masterpieces.  She is loving this experience!  I can envision her working at this studio for years to come.

The pictures below were completely blank pieces of paper.  Nora Lee drew the images and used colored pencil to fill them in.  The art class provides her with the images she is replicating (she gets to choose from a pile) and they help her break down each shape - the eyes, the head, the ears, etc.  

This process has allowed her to create really beautiful pieces.  She has had three classes now and this is her work below.

This is from the last two classes

From the first class

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Visiting the Gibbons

Today we went on a field trip to The Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita, about half an hour north from our house.  This center houses the rarest group of apes in the Western Hemisphere and has successfully reproduced 7 gibbon species (out of 17 that exist).

One species of gibbon has only 20 animals left in the wild and will soon become extinct.  This species is too small to be taken into captivity and bred because the genetics are not diverse enough to continue the blood line in a healthy way.

The goal of the Gibbon Conservation Center is to work with other centers throughout the world to help gibbons reproduce and to treat them in a way that would allow them to thrive if ever put back into the wild again.

Corporations that are clearing forests around the world are destroying gibbon's natural habitats and are largely responsible (if not completely) for them becoming endangered.

The center's oldest gibbon at 40 years

This mama had her baby 2 weeks ago

She would swing all over the enclosure with her baby hanging onto her belly.

Camping in Joshua Tree

Snuggled in the van playing games

Lena and Leo

Dario falls asleep in the sun

Our dance party that killed my car battery!  Luckily the ranger came to my rescue the next morning and was a total delight.