Encelia californica

Encelia californica is native to southern California and Baja California, where it’s a member of the coastal sage plant community. It’s a bushy, sprawling shrub reaching between one half and 1.5 meters in height. The solitary flower heads are daisy-like, and it blooms from February to June, attracting butterflies, bees, and other insects.

It’s often planted to start a native garden, and then replaced with longer-lived shrubs over time. It can help jumpstart an area to change the soil ecology to help mazanitas and ceanothus plants.

Our block is covered with bush sunflowers, and they’ve just begun to bloom. Yay! 🌻

Falco sparverius

The American kestrel (Falco sparverius), also called the sparrow hawk, is the smallest and most common falcon in North America. They usually hunt by perching and scanning the ground for prey to ambush – that’s what I saw this one doing –though they also hunt from the air. Diet typically consists of grasshoppers and other insects, lizards, mice, and small birds (e.g. sparrows). American kestrels occupy habitats ranging from deserts and grasslands to alpine meadows.

Happy to have spotted my first one today!

edible weeds

Two of the most successful weeds here at our place are mustard and mallow, which are quick to germinate after the first winter rains. There’s already a thick crop emerging on the sward, though unfortunately that area is used by the dog for relieving herself, so we won’t be harvesting any of those leaves for the soup pot.

Plegadis chihi

I was walking the dog in Legacy Park when I spotted the distinctive shape of an ibis! It’s the first time I’ve seen one in America (they are very common in Australia). The white-faced ibis Plegadis chihi is sighted so infrequently in these parts that my birding apps didn’t even offer it as a possibility. But I checked with my naturalist friend Suzanne, and she confirmed the ID. It was a pretty metallic bronze-green colour. Made my day!