July 2012

Change on our MMPC Web Site
Note: As far as MMPC is aware, the sale of More Mesa to a Saudi developer in late 2012 seems to have marked an end to the attempts of the Hawk team to develop More Mesa.  Therefore all material related to this potential development has been removed from the MMPC web site.

Cooper's HawkWTK
Young raptors (Cooper’s Hawk, White-tailed Kite) seen on More Mesa, July 1, 2012

June 2012

Babies, Babies, Babies

In spite of the very high, and continuous, winds we have been experiencing over the past weeks and months, More Mesa’s eastern kite pair have already hatched, and fledged, three chicks!  A sightings report, filed through our web site, has confirmed that there are, indeed, three juveniles …  already out of the nest and “perching, begging, and practicing both flying and landing”. And, with an early fledging such as this one, there is a good possibility for a second clutch this summer.

This is really great news, as we are fairly sure that there were no young at the east nest site in 2011; the first time this had occurred in decades. (The lack of chicks at east could have been attributed to the abundant rainfall and high winds that we experienced last spring.)

And … the Audubon Kite Watch Team, a group that has been monitoring kites throughout the Goleta Valley, reported that there are chicks at the west nest as well!!

Two of the three fledglings on the east side of More Mesa.

May 2012

A New Treasure
This month, MMPC celebrates its twelfth anniversary. Often, in the course of those twelve years, we have made reference to the many “treasures” on More Mesa – birds, animals, plants, habitats, views etc. And now, just in time to celebrate our anniversary, we are delighted to report that yet another treasure has been found!

The discoverer is Richard Figueroa, a restoration ecologist with UCSB’s Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CCBER). Richard was out on More Mesa looking for seeds. Why seeds? Because More Mesa is a valuable seed bank for plants used in the restoration of coastal areas on, or around, the University. Therefore, Richard and his colleagues visit More Mesa on a regular basis. On one of these visits, Richard found Juncus balticus, or Baltic Rush, in the area of the historical eastern kite nesting territory (G4, H4 on our sighting map).

Baltic Rush or Wire Rush is native to California, and found elsewhere in North America and beyond. It is a perennial wetland plant that grows in wet depressions, swales, moist meadows, sloughs, and around springs. It is most often found in areas that are flooded in spring and dry in fall. Moreover, Baltic Rush fixes atmospheric nitrogen, which makes it important in the nutrient dynamics of wetland plant communities.

Although Baltic Rush is often widespread, there is only limited anecdotal evidence for its occurrence in our area.  Specifically, this species has never appeared on any More Mesa plant list, including that of the recent Updated Biological Resources study (2008-2009).  Furthermore, there are no specimens, nor on-line e-records, for this species from Carpinteria to Point Conception on the mainland.  (There are specimens from the Channel Islands). All of the above make this a very exciting find!

Currently, Richard is collaborating with Dieter Wilkin of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden to gather the necessary specimens and data for inclusion of Juncus balticus in the herbarium at UCSB/CCBER. He has also provided a gallery of photos for our records, a few of which are shown below.

Thank you Richard … for your photos … and most especially for this new More Mesa treasure! .

Baltic Rush, Juncus balticus, on More Mesa
rush 1
rush 2
rush 3

April 2012


We reported in our February News, that the OAK Group will feature More Mesa in their month-long exhibition at the Faulkner Gallery, this coming October.

As a prelude to this well-known gallery showing, the neighbors of the More Mesa Shorescommunity have joined together to host an all-day fund raising event on May 20th.  Most appropriately, it will be held in the backyards of several families living on the west side of More Mesa.  The “Preserve More Mesa 2012” event will feature art and science exhibits by students of local schools, clubs, organizations and local artists, both individuals and groups, all contributing their talents to support community grass roots efforts to preserve More Mesa.

The exhibits and art work featured at the May 20th event will be the result of another ongoing endeavor of the More Mesa Shores neighborhood; one aimed at engaging students, clubs and other youth organizations in the preservation of More Mesa.  Various groups participating have been provided with ideas for science and art projects, as well as information about visiting More Mesa County Open Space.  The topics suggested have been structured to help youngsters understand, and appreciate, all the natural resources; habitats, plants, wildlife etc. that exist in this wonderful open space.

More Mesa County Open Space Activities
students horse
Student tour in the Mitigation Riparian area Horse training adjacent to Atascadero Creek

March 2012

Despite the lack of rain, signs of spring are beginning to appear on More Mesa. This Sunday, two butterfly species and two flowering plants were photographed.

More Mesa Native Plants – March, 2012
Lacy Phacelia Chaparral Clematis
clematis phacelia

Lacy Phacelia is a native annual, found in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The common name is inspired by the lacy leaves, that consist of many deeply lobed leaflets. It is grows in a wide variety of habitat types, and tolerates dry conditions well. The nectar-rich flowers, opening sequentially along the coiled heads, provide a long flowering time for the many pollinators the flower attracts. Included in this group are honeybees, and hoverflies; the latter valuable because they eat aphids and other pests.

Chapparal (or Pipestem) Clematis is a deciduous vine, growing to 20 feet over other plants on slopes, chaparral, and woodland. It is found along the coast from San Francisco to Baja California, and inland to the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada at elevations less than 2000 meters. It prefers its roots to be in shady areas, and flowers in sunshine. It should not be confused with the other California native clematis, Creek Clematis, which as its names suggests, grows along the sides of creeks and in other moist areas.

More Mesa Native Butterflies – March, 2012
Bramble Green Hairstreak Marine Blue
clematis phacelia

The Bramble (or Coastal) Green Hairstreak is found along coastal California, rarely inland. The range is small and thus population sites should be protected. On More Mesa, it has been seen perched on Deer Weed, which grows in great number in the sandy soils of the southwestern corner of More Mesa. Adults fly in spring from March to May/June. Caterpillar host plants include Deer Weed and Buckwheats. Cliff Buckwheat grows in the same area in abundance. Another butterfly, Acmon Blue, also uses these hosts, and is also found in this area.

Marine (or Striped) Blue butterflies are found in the southwest deserts, and on the south and central coast of California. In the north, they fly from April to September, and in the south for most of the year. Flowers and seedpods of host plants are eaten by caterpillars, after eggs have been laid singly on flower buds. Host plants include many legumes, of which Deer Weed and non-native Vetch (Vicia) species can be found on More Mesa. An imported plant, Plumbago, is a frequent host. It is a globally secure species, with few sparse populations in its range.