Best of October

The calendar for November is up.  Birders are busy and Theo Payne has classes galore.  The Raptor Center is having their open house this weekend as well.

Enough talk I have some awards to give out.

I wanted to find a bloom of the month that wasn’t an Aster family member, sorry they’re just not my faves.  Wandering the Ojai Meadow Preserve amongst ground pock-marked with gopher holes were some of these lush beauties.

Datura wrightii

Datura wrightii

Jimson Weed, Sacred Datura, sacred thorn apple or angel trumpet is a member of the potato (solanaceae) family.  It is a vigorous perennial herb which is only a foot tall but can grow into huge mats of 10 feet or more if the considerable tap root can find water.  The leaves are soft and fleshy year round and give off a noxious smell when touched.

Jimson fruits and seeds

Jimson fruits and seeds

The famous flowers are 5 pointed white with pink or purple highlights.  They die back with the onset of frost but rejuvenate quickly.  The entire plant is poisonous to humans and pets.  The Chumash called it “Momoy” and used it in numerous rites.  Read some Carlos Castaneda if you want to learn more, I’d steer clear.


They are quite easy to grow from seed and make a great groundcover.  The fragrant flowers bloom at night and close by mid morning.

Garden Bloom of the Month winner is of course me.  It’s always me.  Someone wrest this from my grasp sometime in 2014 please?  Anyway here she is:

Arctostaphylos refugioensis

Arctostaphylos refugioensis

Refugio manzanita is a notoriously early bloomer.  The October blooms are a valuable source of nectar for hummingbirds when there isn’t much else.  Twice I went to the top of my hill without a camera and spotted hummers feeding.  Then I lug up my camera and stand there alone for 30 minutes… of course.  These are only found in the wild in the Santa Ynez mountain range in Santa Barbara.  Extremely drought tolerant they will grow up to seven feet high.


October Bird of the Month is this handsome fellow who I spotted Monday morning on the Ventura River Preserve:


I’m terrible identifying hawks.  If it’s big I just guess red-tail hawk, if it’s smaller I guess Cooper’s hawk.  Well I definitely saw and heard them this week.  If you get a good look at the speckled brown and white chest you’ve got a Cooper’s.  Another tell-tale sign is the flap-flap-glide flight pattern.  They stay low in the treetops, hunting at forest edges.


Thanks for reading have a great weekend.

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