Friday, December 11, 2020

Ocean View School Oak Ambassador Natalie teaching on Vamonos Trail


What is that mossy stuff hanging from the oaks? Natalie shares the story of lace lichen with her cousin while hiking in Vamonos Canyon at the Pismo Preserve. Did you know that California has a State Lichen? Yep! This mossy stuff isn't moss and it is honored as the State Lichen of California. Pretty interesting that it is not one but two organisms (up to three for lichens in general) living symbiotically

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Nature close to home

 Thanks to volunteer Bill K. for sharing these photos from his Arroyo Grande critter camera.

A fawn asking, "Where's mom?" 

A deer checking out the camera up close

A finch showing off for the camera

Monday, November 2, 2020

Who left that scat?


Pismo Preserve Ranger CJ found this scat on a trail at the Pismo Preserve. Notice that it is not at all hidden. Maybe this animal wanted to make a statement? What else do you notice? Tapered ends, twisted tubular shape, presence of hair and size. Any guesses? Maybe a coyote?

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Ladybugs know when it's time to snuggle


Vineyard School Oak Ambassador alumnus Tristan discovered these ladybugs snuggling up for the winter ahead. Even though our winters are mild, ladybugs still know when it's time to snuggle. As the supply of their favorite foods, like aphids, drops off in the fall, it's time to rest. Warming days will awaken them and signal that it's time to mate, eat and produce more ladybugs. See

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Red-winged blackbird choir sings good night

LATO docent ~ nature photographer Mike Klatt shared these observations and photos: 

"The last couple of evenings a bit after sunset, large numbers of red-winged blackbirds have been flying to roost for the night in the Italian cypresses in our backyard.  We're not sure where they are coming from, but we do see them in a large valley oak tree that's about 50 yards away from the Italian cypresses before they fly to the cypresses.  The sound is truly beautiful.  It's like a choir of red-winged blackbirds all singing good night to each other.  There must be at least 100 or more of them."

Friday, September 4, 2020

Happy new homes for Santa Margarita Ranch LATO trail songbirds

September 4, 2020

Young Santa Margarita Elementary School nature photographer Emily and her Oak Ambassador sister were on hand this morning with their mom Jen to help Morro Coast Audubon Society volunteers Freddy and Cheryl install eight new songbird nest boxes along the Santa Margarita Ranch Learning Among the Oaks (LATO) Trail. Emily shared these photos and videos!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The velvet has done its job for this buck

Mike Klatt watched this buck rubbing the velvet off of its antlers. It took about an hour of hard rubbing. Velvet is a type of skin, richly supplied with blood vessels to provide nutrients for growing antlers. Once the antlers have finished growing, the velvet has done its job. It is rubbed off or dries~falls off in late summer, early fall. Read more about this fascinating process:

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Oh, deer - one-sided antler

This buck has been hanging around our yard.  Sometimes in the fall we see bucks that have broken antlers which is probably a result of butting heads with another buck over a doe or two.  I don't recall seeing one in the spring. I wonder why this fellow ended up this way.   --- Michael Klatt, Atascadero

Monday, June 15, 2020

Western bluebird parents at work

On June 3, 2020, LATO nature photographer Michael Klatt shared these beautiful photos of Western bluebirds nesting in the Klatt's Atascadero backyard. The bluebird family vacated the nest - baby birds successfully fledged - a few days later.

Male Western bluebird returning to the nest box with a meal for the chicks. 

Both the male and the female Western bluebird at the nest box. 

The female Western bluebird leaving the box.

Male leaving the box with droppings from the chicks. We parents work hard to keep the nest clean.

Male leaving the box to find more food.

Now the female leaves the nest to find food.

One of the nestlings looking out into the world. I'll soon be ready to fly!

Friday, June 12, 2020

Cooper's Hawk looking at you

What does this Cooper's Hawk see? Click on the name to find out more about this skillful flier. It is easily confused with the Sharp-shinned Hawk, another small hawk found in woodlands, suburban areas and even backyards. Photo by Michael Klatt.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Inspiration for Bambi

Nature photographer Michael Klatt shared these beautiful photos of an Atascadero doe and her fawns. Micheal shared,
Even after living here for nearly 40 years, we never get tired of watching the deer.  Recently a mother and her twins have been spending a lot of time in our backyard.  Today they are laying on the grass trying to keep cool.  It's pretty easy to see how the inspiration for Bambi came to be.  I started to go outside to get a photo, but I didn't want them to have to venture out into the heat to escape my lens.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Ocean View Oak Ambassador report from the woods

Enjoy this video report from Ocean View School Oak Ambassador Alex who shows us how the woodlands outside of Redding, CA, near the town of Igo, are recovering from wildfires.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Secret house finch nest discovery

April 30, 2020
Ocean View School Oak Ambassador Natalie T. was surprised to discover this nest with eggs hidden behind a light fixture at her house on April 30, 2020.

Morro Coast Audubon Society friends helped us identify this as a house finch nest. The house finch is known for using a variety of interesting nesting spots.

Look below to see what Natalie found in the nest on May 12!

Update: See Natalie's May 27 photo of the almost ready to fledge baby finches!

May 12, 2020

May 27, 2020

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day

We asked the Oak Ambassadors what the word stewardship means and we got a lot of amazing responses. These kids really care about our shared Earth. Here's a sample from Ocean View Oak Ambassador Penny:
Stewardship means to just be a good person and help out as much as you can. This can apply to nature and land because if you are keeping Earth clean, and respecting nature, then you are showing stewardship towards nature and land. You can be a good steward of nature by respecting every plant and animal's boundaries and not being invasive in their habitats.
On a more light-hearted note, Ocean View Oak Ambassador Jackson made special Earth Day cookies!


Thursday, May 7, 2020

Mayfly discovery!

Vineyard School Oak Ambassador alumnus Tristan and his mom (and Learning Among the Oaks volunteer docent) Nancy discovered this fresh new mayfly adult, ready to leave the shed skin of aquatic nymph behind. When it's time for the adult to emerge, the nymph leaves the water. Thanks to LATO friend and entomologist Dennis Sheridan for helping with identification. Mayflies are members of the Order Ephemeroptera, derived from the Greek word emphemeros, meaning "day." It's a fitting name because the adult mayfly has a very short life span - from a few hours to no more than a few days. Learn more about the mayfly life cycle -- super interesting!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Spotted tussock moth building a cocoon!

Building a Cocoon the Spotted Tussock Moth from Bob Armstrong on Vimeo.

This was shared by Vineyard School Oak Ambassador Rosie!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Badger at work!

LATO friend Nicole (Sharp) Thompson shared these amazing photos of an American Badger, Taxidea taxus, at work in Santa Margarita. Powerful muscles and long, sharp claws make the American Badger an excellent digger and a fierce predator. Ground squirrels and gophers are popular prey. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

A bright splash of yellow in the oak canopy

Look for the splash of yellow among the spring oak leaves! 

Docent Mike Klatt spotted this yellow-rumped warbler in the oak canopy.
The tiny dangling male flowers (catkins) on this oak tell us it's springtime!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Pismo Preserve nature watch

I was beyond excited to see
red tail hawk visit me 
at the Vamonos trail, 
since it'd been awhile.

Similar to each of you,
this gifted creature is 
watcher, keeper, & protector, 
of Pismo Preserve.

Thank you for keeping this 
a special place -
for all creatures.

Alison Watt Jackson
Pismo Preserve Volunteer Ranger
The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County