Archive | October, 2016

Membership Event at Tippi Hedren’s Shambala Preserve

For the 5th year, our foundation supports Tippi Hedren’s The Roar Foundation. We decided to attend the annual membership event held at Lake Shambala.

One of the big cats on the Preserve

One of the big cats on the Preserve. Photo Credit: Sandor Havasi

The Shambala Preserve is located in Acton, California. This year a devastating and dangerous fire encroached on part of the preserve. As we drove along the winding road, we could see that the fire reached the land and surrounding areas of Lake Shambala. Of course, due to drought conditions, there is very little water in the lake.

Many members were on hand and using color-coded stickers, we were divided into three groups. First, we were served a vegetarian boxed lunch with beverage of our choice. We sat with some interesting members and enjoyed getting to know them. Among them actor, Larry Laverty, who had worked on a large number of films and television shows (

The Shambala Preserve is such an incredible location.

The Shambala Preserve is such an incredible location. Photo credit: Sandor Havasi

There were many volunteers helping at the reception desk, raffle ticket displays, silent auction tables, Shambala gift shop, and membership booth.

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Sticking to the Mountains: Nature’s Tiny Actors

Hiking back, a bit breathless and winded from the crisp mountain air and altitude, my eyes were drawn to a light tan stick on our window. We had just hiked through mountain trials and there was plenty of sticks and leaf litter everywhere but there was something about this particular twig . . .

This little guy was on our window

This little guy was on our window

For one thing it was vertical on the window screen and the oddness of it made me stop to take a closer look. Quickly looking around for a source plant, I noticed that there weren’t any trees nearby that would match that type of thin light tan stick. The closest trees where more evergreen and oak-like than this reedy looking tan twig. As I drew closer, I grinned. I had fallen for the illusion–it was not a dead twig as I had originally thought. It was not even from a plant. It was a living moving and incredibly fragile stick insect!

This wild “stick bug” was almost as long as my hand and was just hanging out on our screen. We had walked through forests and trees for hours earlier and had only heard some bird calls from a distance. I had been a bit disappointed that we hadn’t seen much of anything interesting or unusual on our hike. But now here I was right back at our cabin and here was an animal I had never seen in the wild. And it had never even crossed my mind to think that stick insects were native to Running Springs, California. Did you know that stick insects can live in most of the world? They are found (in different shapes, sizes, and colors) from North America to Southeast Asia, the tropics to the subtropical regions of our world.

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Along Came a Spider


A large spider clung tightly to her web

The morning was bright and cheerful and very few people were out when I went for a nature walk this morning. The green grass and the blue sky were inviting and the shimmering shaking of the golden aspen leaves were delightful. Everything was peaceful. It couldn’t be better. Nothing could go wrong in this kind of beauty.

And that was when I saw it. Out of the corner of my eye a slight flash of light. A warning. It instantly triggered hundreds of similar warning messages and memories. . . SPIDER. It was the white of the early October sunlight reflecting on a thin strand of web. But it was too late!

I already had broken the thread and shuddering I stepped back. Hesitating, I looked up wondering where the rest of the web was. Above my head and to the left wobbled a loosely hanging web, it wobbled and swayed as a bulbous red brown body clung for dear life in the center. Only a few moments had passed but the damage was done. The beautiful web had been destroyed by my carelessness and a large orb weaver’s world was rocked. Continue Reading →

Concert for the Cats with Marilyn Fordney

California State Senator Fran Pavley chatting with Jeff Sikich with his arms folded.

California State Senator Fran Pavley chatting with Jeff Sikich with his arms folded.

On Saturday, September 24, 2016, the director and assistant director of this nonprofit participated in a fund raising event. Julie and Michael Newsome, a lovely couple, opened their Westlake Village home giving everyone a warm welcome. This event was held to benefit both local mountain lion research and wildlife crossing project. The plan is a huge undertaking in that it is a wildlife bridge that will act as a corridor erected over the 101 Freeway at Liberty Canyon. It is desperately needed because every year many animals (rabbits, coyotes, mountain lions) die trying to cross the freeway. Such corridors constructed in other parts of the world have proven to be successful. This diminishes inbreeding that can develop into many other problems that humans eventually have to solve. It may take an estimated $17 to $50 million dollars and will be the largest wildlife corridor in the world when completed. When the north and south wilderness areas are connected animal breeding can improve and plants can receive pollination and grow undisturbed.

The event was well attended. This indicates that residents and politicians alike care about wildlife and wilderness conservation. Some political attendees were California State Senator, Fran Pavley, who is a pioneer of this project and Al Adam who is on the Thousand Oaks City Council. They are always ready to protect, preserve, improve, and make a better life for the people of the Conejo Valley. Continue Reading →