Busy fall season planned at Gardena Willows

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There are lots going on at the Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve, Willows supporters say. New birds are arriving each day, as part of the annual fall migration. Many birds move from their nesting grounds in the north to their winter homes in the south each fall. They fly hundreds to thousands of miles, following the Pacific Flyway, a giant bird freeway in the sky.

There are lots going on at the Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve, Willows supporters say. New birds are arriving each day, as part of the annual fall migration. Many birds move from their nesting grounds in the north to their winter homes in the south each fall. They fly hundreds to thousands of miles, following the Pacific Flyway, a giant bird freeway in the sky.

“Along the way, migrating birds need places to rest and eat; that’s why our Preserve and local backyards are so important,” said Connie Vadheim, a professor at Cal State University, Dominguez Hills and member of the Friends of the Willows Wetland.

Places like the Gardena Willows serve as a “Howard Johnson for birds,” according to Bob Shanman of Wild Birds Unlimited in Torrance. Some birds stay for just a few days, then move on; others spend the winter right here in the Preserve. Either way, these birds are unusual, pretty and interesting to watch, he says.

To learn more, the community is invited to take a fall bird walk with Shanman Sunday, Oct. 11, as part of the Preserve’s Second Sunday Stroll. The Preserve will be open 1 to 4 p.m.

The Preserve entrance is in Arthur Johnson Park, 1200 West 170th Street, Gardena.  The walk will begin exactly at 1:30 p.m. Participants an expect to see unusual birds on the walk and learn how to attract them to their backyard. Guests are encouraged to bring binoculars. This walk is appropriate for families and is free (donations gratefully accepted).

Another type of activity is also going on at the Preserve. Unfortunately, some of the larger trees are infected with a particularly destructive pest, the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (beetle), Vadheim says. “This insect drills holes into the trunks of many tree species including Oaks, Liquidambar and Coral trees and Avocadoes. It brings with it a very serious fungus pest,Fusarium euwallacea, which is what kills the trees.”

Some tree species are not affected by the fungus. Unfortunately, many willows, cottonwoods and other trees growing at the Preserve are, Vadheim says.

“There is no effective treatment at this time, other than removing the trees and chipping the wood,” Vadheim says. “ A number of infected trees have recently been removed from the Preserve to slow the spread of disease. That’s why some parts of the Preserve look much more open than they did in the past.

Volunteers are needed to help the Friends of Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve to chip and remove the tree remains as part of a special workday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17.

“Lots of volunteers are needed anytime during these hours, and for whatever amount of time you can donate, helping with removing and disposing of every sick tree,” a Willows member says . “If we get the beetles now, we may be able to stop them from killing every tree in the Preserve.”

Be sure to wear old clothes (long pants) and closed toed shoes or boots.We’ll provide gloves, tools, water and lunch. This event is appropriate for those ages 13 and older.

The Preserve is located between Normandie and Vermont avenues, one block north of Artesia on 170th Street, behind Arthur Johnson Park. On the work day, follow the orange and green streamers to the check-in area.

For more information on these and other events at the Gardena Willows see the Preserve’s website (http://www.gardenawillows.org/) or call 310- 217-0681.

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