Tag Archives: Torrance

Winter Birds of Madrona Marsh

I went hiking at the marsh preserve this weekend and was astonished at just how many different types of birds I saw. Five species of ducks alone (it is winter, after all) — not just the more common mallards, but shovelers, teals, wigeons, and one I hadn’t heard of before called redheads (for obvious reasons). The usual coots, egrets and Canada geese. Red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, a heron that was standing so still I started to wonder if it was a statue, and a very patient hawk that sat in a tree completely ignoring me and my camera until I was finished and it flew off to another tree.

I also heard frogs all over the place, but couldn’t actually see any of them. I asked about them at the visitor center and apparently the pacific tree frog can be very small, about the size of a quarter, but they can still be very loud when singing in a chorus. Next time I’m there, if the frogs are still in season, I need to at least record the audio.

New paint: They made this pattern look *interesting*!

Buildings with vertical lines between the windows, but instead of painting all the way up, they're staggered like static.

They’re in the process of adding another building to this office complex in Torrance. Meanwhile, they’ve cleaned up the existing buildings a bit, replacing the traditional stripe pattern of windows and narrow strips of wall with this broken-line pattern that actually looks interesting.

Originally posted on Instagram. When I imported it here, I decided to use the wider crop and description from Flickr.

Free Shavocado!

The Del Taco sign actually says Free Shavocado (ask inside)

This sign used to say FRESH AVOCADO. But for several years, it’s said something more like FRE SH AVOCA DO. I’m not 100% certain, but I think they may have actually moved the SH further from FRE and toward AVOCADO a few times…and now they’ve finally just added another E.

After I posted it to Instagram, a friend on Tumblr pointed out that the #Free Shavocado tag already exists. I found a short video of the sign in its “FRE SH AVOCA DO” state, narrated by someone giggling and saying, “Come to Del Taco! They have free sha-VA-ca-doo!” Even funnier: The restaurant updated the corporate sign between then and now without correcting the spacing.

Or maybe that’s when they decided to “fix” the spelling instead!

Seasons of Madrona Marsh

Last weekend I returned to the Madrona Marsh Preserve to see what our late summer/autumn heat wave had done to the place. The fields of sunflowers I saw in August have gone to seed and dried up, and the pools have continued to retreat. I managed to get a third shot in the same grove as before, where trees grew out of a pool in spring, towered over low ground cover in summer, and now stand alone, waiting for winter rains to flood the grounds again.

The image above is a combination of spring, summer and fall (specifically May, August, and October) views at the same spot.

The higher parts of the preserve are covered with dry scrub, though volunteers have cleared a lot of it out. The broken tree limb I had to walk around in August has been cleared away as well. Deep into the wooded area we did find mud flats teeming with reeds, smaller plants, dragonflies, songbirds and insects. I don’t know if any standing water remains, since we turned back at that point. (Kids have boundless energy, but limited stamina.)

Over on Flickr I have about a dozen photos of the hike, showing the preserve’s current range from dry scrub to muddy grass.

Seasonal Wetlands: Before and After the Summer

Spring: trees growing out of a pond. Summer: trees with a lot more branches growing out of dry ground with lots of grass.

Finally put together a before-and-after shot!

On the right: May in Madrona Marsh, after winter and spring rains filled up the low-lying areas of the preserve.

On the left: Late August in the same spot, after summer had dried up the pools. Despite the drought, and helped along by a couple of freak summer storms, the ground is still holding onto enough moisture that the floor of the vernal pool is covered with low greenery instead of dry grass.

I know, it’s always better to put “before” on the left, and I tried it with that layout, but it ended up looking better this way.