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San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

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Sea & Sage Audubon
  In Celebration of TEN Years at the SJWS
updated Nov. 2, 2001

part 1: Ten Guides for Every Local Naturalist's Library
by Trude Hurd

"And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."
                                 T.S. Eliot

The need to EXPLORE flows in my blood.  It’s a genetic thing that began with my Opa (German for “grandfather”)  who sailed the world’s oceans as head chef on whatever ship was leaving dock.  He saw whales and dolphins, bioluminescence and red tides, immense storm waves and flat seas.

When I was growing up, I could sit for HOURS in our sycamore tree,  reading and watching birds.  From my vantage point, I became familiar with the Loggerhead Shrike, Burrowing Owl, Western Meadowlark, Northern Flicker, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and my favorite, the Red-tailed Hawk.

I  liked to lie on the lawn and watch the Western Fence Lizards sun themselves on the rock pile and do territorial push-ups. One was so huge and dark, I nicknamed him “Komodo” after the largest lizard on our planet, and he was a familiar backyard friend for many years.  If Mom needed canned goods for supper from our outdoor shed, I was quick to volunteer to retrieve them, just for the chance to spot a Western Toad on our lawn. Sometimes there were so many, I had to carry a flashlight for the long 30-foot journey to help me avoid stepping on them.

Years later, I am still reading and sitting and watching nature.  The library of knowledge inside my head has grown through the combination of outdoor experiences, interaction with outstanding teachers, participation in exciting classes, and reading wonderful books.  I explored and I began to know.

To help celebrate the anniversary of Sea & Sage Audubon’s presence at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary for 10 years, my Pond Ponderings articles this year will focus on the number "10". I will begin this month with a list of 10 nature guides that I find indispensable; these are the ones I grab first.  They have great illustrations, are easy to read, yet have enough "meat" to satisfy the scientist part of me.

I highly recommend these 10 guides for every  local naturalist’s library.  Although I agree with 19th-century naturalist Louis Agassiz’s exhortation to “Study  from Nature, not books!”  I still find books useful references and interpreters of what I have seen in the field.


1.  Seashore Life of Southern California  by Sam Hinton

2. Insects of the Los Angeles Basin  by Charles L. Hogue

3.  Butterflies of Greater Los Angeles by Rudi Mattoni

4.  Flowering Plants of the Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal &  Chaparral Regions of Southern California by Nancy Dale

5.  Peterson Field Guides: Western Reptiles and Amphibians by Robert C. Stebbins

6. California Mammals by E.W. Jameson, Jr. and Hans J. Peeters

7.  America’s Neighborhood Bats by Merlin D. Tuttle

8.  Tracking & the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks & Signs by Paul Rezendes

9.  Lives of North American Birds by Kenn Kaufman

10. The Birds of Orange County, California: Status and Distribution by Robert A. Hamilton and Douglas R. Willick.


Sea & Sage Audubon Society
PO Box 5447 • Irvine, CA 92616 • 949-261-7963