Connect. Explore. Preserve. Happy Winter Exploring!
Connect. Explore. Preserve. Happy Winter Exploring!

Welcome to Nature News

Through this quarterly newsletter we hope to encourage you to CONNECT with us through our many programs, EXPLORE the wonders of Nature, and help us PRESERVE Orange County wildlands. Enjoy! 

Winter's Renewal

Welcome to 2024’s first edition of Nature News! If this is your first time reading our quarterly newsletter, we hope you’ll find it fun and informative. This quarterly publication allows us to keep you updated throughout the year on current and upcoming happenings on The Nature Reserve. 
In this new year, I encourage you to find time to connect, or perhaps reconnect, with Nature. As the days grow longer, take advantage of light offered by the sun to explore a new trail, to learn a new outdoor skill, or simply to sit quietly and listen to birds. To be on The Nature Reserve in winter is to watch a transformation take place. In many places of the world, winter is a time for hibernation and slowing down. On The Nature Reserve, winter is a time for renewal and growth.
Mule Deer, buck with antlers
Least Bell's Vireo

Winter 2023-24

Hello all! First Laura’s Line of 2024, can you believe it? Time flies when you’re out monitoring species and managing the land. Overall, 2023 was a good year for the Nature Reserve. We had rain which, as I noted in Summer, is vitally important to the health of the Nature Reserve and the species that live in it. This rain helped produce the highest counts of all four of the sensitive plants that we monitor. We also had good breeding numbers of aquatic dependent species like fairy shrimp, arroyo and western spadefoot toads. 

Tricolored Blackbird

The Tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor) is a sensitive bird species found on The Nature Reserve. A member of the passerine family, these small black birds could once be seen in the wetlands and marshes that once made up much of California. With an estimated loss of 95% of these wetlands, populations of Tricolored blackbirds have declined due to this and other habitat loss.
Tricolored blackbirds forage on the ground as well as trees and shrubs. They primarily eat insects and seeds. When insects are more available in the summer months they will feed on caterpillars, beetles, and grasshoppers. In Fall and Winter they forage for seeds.

Creating Community to Care for the Land

No matter where you live, it can be important to know your neighbors. They can just be the person you say hello to as you both leave for work in the morning. They can be the person you can ask to help you with a project. And if you are lucky, you’ll have a neighbor who becomes a good friend, somebody you can count on. Somebody to help care for the neighborhood. 
Volunteer Corner
Community Stewardship Day at The Nature Reserve
Kick off Presidents’ Day weekend with a morning of stewardship. High school students may earn service hours on this day. 
Friday, February 16
9:00 - 11:30am
Join The Nature Reserve staff and fellow volunteers as we beautify the grounds of our headquarters and gardens. This free community event is open to volunteers ages 8 and up. 
Volunteer Orientation and Training 
Looking for other volunteer opportunities? Learn all about The Nature Reserve volunteer program at the Volunteer Orientation and Training. Meet other volunteers and learn how you can make a difference in your community.
Wednesday, February 21
7:00 - 8:30pm 

Meet Sydnie Parry
Sydnie Parry is our newest Field Naturalist at The Nature Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo. Sydnie primarily supports the School Programs leading local K-5th grade students on science and social-science field trips at The Nature Reserve. 
Sydnie is currently a student at Arizona State University working on a bachelors degree in conservation biology and ecology. She enjoys volunteering with scouts BSA and teaching youth the importance of being conservation minded. She loves all things outdoors, especially hiking, camping, and kayaking with her husband and dog.
Outdoor Explorers 
Take time this winter to wander and wonder. Look for evergreen trees holding onto their leaves, watch wintering birds preparing for cooler temperatures, or read a bedtime story under the early night sky. Use your binoculars to get a closer look at the moon!
Bundle up, go outside, and explore these fun downloadable Winter Wonders activities.
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