Photo Essay | By Cindy Hardin, Director of Outdoor Education | Photos by Leslie Davidson | Western Tanager Vol. 84 No. 1, Sept/Oct 2017

The wonderful volunteer docents and interns of Los Angeles Audubon had another busy year educating our future naturalists about local wildlife and habitats found at the Ballona Wetlands and Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. Between the two programs, over 3500 school children participated in field trips to these sites during 2016-2017. An added bonus for our group is the amazing things that we see as we go about our work with the children, and during enrichment days that take us to various locations in Southern California. Here are some of the highlights



We take several docent field trips every year, and one of the most popular is to Crystal Cove State Park. This spot is a great reminder of what all of coastal southern California looked like, not too long ago.

Crystal Cove Roadrunner

And can you believe a Roadrunner? This is one of a pair that we saw within moments of our arrival to Crystal Cove.

Crystal Cove tide pool Sea Anemone

We finished off the day poking around the tide pools at the park. This Sea Anemone was a show stopper!
The wonderful rain that we experienced this season compelled us to check out Serrano Canyon at Point Mugu State Park. Water, wildflowers, butterflies and birds made for a very special day.

The wonderful rain that we experienced this season compelled us to check out Serrano Canyon at Point Mugu State Park. Water, wildflowers, butterflies and birds made for a very special day.

Joe Zell crossing stream

Intrepid docent, Joe Zell, tackles one of the many stream crossings we made during the hike. Normally dry creek beds were full of water and cascades.

Mariposa Lily

Mariposa Lilies were found all along the stream.

Indian Paintbrush

Indian Paintbrush added lots of brilliant red color to the scenery.

Callippe Fritillary

And the flowers brought out the butterflies, like this Callippe Fritillary.

Western Bluebird

And some color up above, courtesy of this Western Bluebird.

Of course, we see plenty of amazing sights when the school children visit Ballona and Kenneth Hahn. This is especially terrific, as it gives us a chance to show the students the wildlife that is present within the city limits. Kenneth Hahn Park is a real oasis of habitat, and we see some great birds there.

9KHSP Black headedGrosbeak crop

This Black-headed Grosbeak is resplendent in his breeding plumage

10KHSP SongSparrow Toyon crop

And this Song Sparrow was showing off amongst the abundantly blooming Toyon-fantastic bloom of various native plants were present in the park all spring.

Ballona is always a reliable spot to see amazing nature, both during the student field trips and our monthly Open Wetlands.  Once again, abundant rains made the wetlands truly wet, and brought out even more natural beauty than usual.

11Ballona Earth Star crop

Can you believe that this Earth Star is a fungus? The spores explode out of the puffy center when it is ripe. Many of these popped up in the dunes this spring, and eagle-eyed volunteer Lorraine Cohen was the first to spot one.

Ballona Black Crowned Nigh tHerons

This pair of juvenile Black-Crowned Night-Herons was not camera shy!

13Ballona GreatBlueHeronStilt crop

An electrifying moment for the Great Blue Heron during an unexpected encounter with the Black-necked Stilt.

These are just a few of the things that we have seen throughout the year, as we do our work educating the students (and ourselves!) of Los Angeles.  We are always looking for volunteers to join us in these very worthwhile endeavors.  Training for both programs will commence soon.  We start our classes for volunteers at Ballona on Thursday, September 14th, and for Kenneth Hahn on Friday, September 29th.  No experience is necessary; just a love of the outdoors and a willingness to work with children.  If you are interested, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (310) 301-0050.