Santa Ynez Valley Natural History Society

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Charlie Stauffer

Board of Directors:
Jack Andren
Michael Delgado
Laura Baldwin
Marjorie Erickson
Dennis Nord
Darwin Richardson
John Evarts
Liz Gaspar

Margie Popper








































































































































































2014 Winter/Spring  PROGRAMS:

Magpies, jays, crows and other local corvids to be featured in program at Solvang Library

The father and daughter team of Dennis and Jessica Beebe will give a multimedia presentation about crows, jays, magpies and other corvids titled "Birds in Black & Blue: Corvids of the Santa Ynez Valley", on Wednesday, May 21, 6:00 p.m. at the Solvang Library, located at 1745 Mission Drive.

This free program, appropriate for ages 6 and up, is sponsored by the Solvang Library and Santa Ynez Valley Natural History Society (SYVNHS).
Highly intelligent, intensely social, and often described as clever, cunning, fun-loving, and mischievous, the corvids have long been a source of fascination to humans. Clergyman and social reformer Henry Ward Beecher (1813 - 1887) famously said, "If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows." Ravens are the world's largest song bird and can fly upside down. Scrub jays are the premier "planter" of oak trees, since a single bird can bury thousands of acorns per year -- and fail to retrieve them all. Magpies can apparently recognize themselves in mirrors.The behavior of these and other corvids have been the source of myths, legends, books, and documentary films.
The Santa Ynez Valley is home to five species of corvids: American crow, common raven, western scrub jay, Steller's jay, and yellow-billed magpie. The Beebe's will introduce each of these species and delve into some of the many reasons these birds are so interesting and beloved. Their presentation will include slides, videos, and bird study skins.
Local residents, the Beebes serve as docents at UC Sedgwick Reserve in Santa Ynez and for the non-profit educational organization NatureTrack based in Los Olivos. They also volunteer at the UC Coal Oil Point Reserve adjacent to the UCSB campus. After completing a career in the United States Air Force and later as a consultant to the aerospace industry, Dennis has devoted himself to his love of the outdoors and nature education; he is a past president of the SYVNHS. Jessica’s consuming passion is birds and birding. She reads bird guides as a pastime, and has travelled to birding hot spots throughout the United States and the world. Dennis stated that in preparing for this talk, he has "relied on Jessica for both her birding knowledge, research tenacity, and computer expertise."


Annual Members Meeting

Thursday, February 27, 6:45 p.m.
Solvang Library, 1745 Mission Drive

Our annual meeting will include the election of board members, a brief report from board President Charles Stauffer, and a financial update from Treasurer Marjorie Popper. This short meeting will be held just before the 7:00 p.m. lecture by Paul Collins..

Wildlife of the Channel Islands
The Galapagos of North America

Free lecture with Paul Collins

Thursday, February 27, Lecture at 7:00 pm
(View museum specimens from 6:00 - 6:45 pm)

Solvang Library, 1745 Mission Drive

In recent decades, the Channel Islands have been the focus of intensive conservation efforts and research about their flora and fauna, including interactions between native and nonnative animals and the complex role of humans in managing island ecosystems. One of the scientists who has studied the fauna of the Channel Islands for most of his career is long-time Society member Paul Collins, who first visited the islands in 1975. The public is invited to join Paul as he presents an illustrated lecture about the fascinating vertebrate fauna of the islands. His talk will include a summary of their diversity, the changes unleashed by the introduction of nonnative species, and the dramatic transition now underway as the island's native fauna and flora rebound with the help of new conservation strategies.
One hour prior to his lecture, Paul will be present to share a selection of museum specimens (not live) of a variety of the animals endemic to the Channel Islands.

Paul Collins is the Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. He has written and published extensively about the Channel Islands. He has also given popular lectures for the SYVNHS in the past on subjects such as the bats of Santa Barbara County and the relationship between eagles and the island fox. .

Exploring Santa Barbara's Coastal Wetlands:
Carpinteria Salt Marsh, Dunes and Creek

Field trip with Andrea Adams-Morden

Saturday, March 15, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Advance registration required at or 693-5683
Participation is limited to 15
Members free/ nonmembers $20

We will start at the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park where plants and animals of five different plant communities come together. We will then walk to Carpinteria Beach State Park to explore the sand dunes and have lunch in their dune picnic area. Following lunch, a representative from South Coast Habitat Restoration will join us at the Carpinteria Creek Lagoon to describe restoration efforts to increase the habitat of the steelhead trout. We will
then visit Tar Pits Park to view the tar pits, village site, and riparian area, ending with a visit to the nearby Carpinteria Seal Rookery. The field trip will be approximately two and a half miles round trip on level terrain.
Spring weather dictates the need to bring layers for changeable weather. Also hat, sun protection, water, sack lunch, and don't forget your binoculars.

Andrea Adams-Morden is a California Naturalist and Master Gardener. She is the steward, volunteer coordinator and docent for the Carpinteria Nature Preserves. Andrea also organizes trips and lectures for the California Native Plant Society.

Rancho San Carlos de Jonata - Gregersen Ranch
Field Trip with Larry Ballard

Saturday, April 5, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Advance registration required at or 693-5683
Participation is limited to 20
Members free/ nonmembers $20

Rancho San Carlos de Jonata was a Mexican land grant purchased by members of the Buell family in 1867. A portion of the land was later sold to the Rev. Jens Gregersen and two other Danes seeking to establish a Danish community and school, leading to the subsequent founding of the city of Solvang in 1911. The trip will visit dune scrub, oak woodland and chaparral on land that remains in the Gregersen family, much of it undisturbed over the past 100 years.
Much of the area is Careaga sand, the remnant of a shallow marine embayment that once covered most of the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria Valleys. Several rare plants adapted to sandy soils nearer the coast reach their inland limits on the property. We'll see Palmer Oak, a relictual scrub oak known in the county from only a few scattered populations between Solvang and Buellton. The trip will consist of short hikes at three different stops, with lunch under large Valley Oaks. The ranch is located in the Ballard Canyon area of the Santa Ynez Valley.

Larry Ballard has an interest in all aspects of the region’s natural history, and has led many trips for our organization as well as for UC Sedgwick Reserve, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Western Field Ornithologists, and the Wildling Museum06).

Water and the California Dream
Free Lecture with David Carle

Friday, April 25, 7:00 p.m.
Tipton Meeting House
UC Sedgwick Reserve

The Society is pleased to host this illustrated lecture with David Carle, titled "Water and the California Dream." David Carle is an author, naturalist, and retired State Park Ranger who became intrigued with the subject of water in California long before our most current crisis. This talk will explore the water choices that have shaped California's history and development. He will examine how our compromised natural environment and reduced quality of life can be improved if Californians step away from the historic pattern and embrace limited water supplies as a fact of life. Following the lecture, David's books will be available for purchase and signing. Seating is limited and we suggest you arrive early.

David Carle is the author of 13 books, including Water and the California Dream, Introduction to Water in California, and his most recent, co-authored with his wife Janet, Traveling the 38th Parallel: A Water Line Around the World. He is also the author of Fire in California and Soil in California, both from UC Press. He was a ranger with California State Parks for 27 years, including 18 years at the Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve, where he participated in the long effort to protect that Eastern Sierra inland sea from the effects of stream diversions to Los Angeles. He taught biology and natural history courses at Cerro Coso Community College in Mammoth Lakes.

Aliso Loop Trail Hike, Post-Burn
Field Trip with Liz Gaspar

Sunday, April 27, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Advance registration required at or 693-5683
Participation is limited to 20
Members free/ nonmembers $20

We will walk the 3.5 mile Aliso Loop Trail nearly one year after the entire trail burned in the White fire of May 2013, which burned about 1900 acres. As of January 2014, the area is a gray slate cleaned of vegetation, except for blackened oak trees, shrub stumps, and exposed Monterey shale. With essentially no rain, some shrub recovery has already begun with sprouting toyon, chamise, holly-leafed cherry, and yerba santa. Gopher or vole tailings, funnel spider webs, and painted lady butterflies are sparsely present, as are Hairy and Nuttall’s woodpeckers and Bewick’s wrens. This area burned in 2002, and by 2005 nearly 300 plant species were present. On this post-burn hike, we’ll look for fire-following annuals seen there previously—whispering bells, common eucrypta, mariposa lilies, climbing snapdragon. Even if drought continues in our county, this trail offers us the chance to learn what kind of initial recovery will occur after having burned twice in 11 years.
Bring a hat, sun protection, water, sack lunch, and good sturdy shoes, such as hiking boots. Hiking poles recommended as some sections of the trail are moderately steep. Trail is 3.5 mile loop with elevation gain of 1400 feet.

Liz Gaspar has worked for many years as a park naturalist at Cachuma Lake. She earned her master’s degree from UCSB, where she studied native grasses.