Photos tell the story of two visions of Orange County’s natural landscape

Nonnative yellow mustard growing at the Audubon Starr Ranch Sanctuary in Orange County. Photo: Sandy DeSimone.

Sandy DeSimone, the director of research and education at the Audubon Starr Ranch in Orange County, sent us these two contrasting photos of hillside fauna on the property. In the top photo, you see nonnative yellow mustard seven feet tall and driving away native birds and insects. Just a little further up the hill in the bottom photo is a mature coastal sage scrub restoration site, where she heard Lazuli Buntings singing. As her research has shown, native rodents and rabbits keep the site weed free by consuming weeds and their seeds. The animals come in after the shrubs have enough cover and height to provide them with shelter for predator avoidance, foraging, and breeding.

Restored native coastal sage scrub at the Audubon Starr Ranch Sanctuary in orange County. Photo: Sandy DeSimone

How you can help, right now