Walking at Kenneth Hahn SRA, Los Angeles - October 2012

I recently went to Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area for the first time. A friend and I needed a little fresh air and exploration not too far from home. I don't normally write on this blog about "city parks" (e.g. Runyon Canyon), but I was pleasantly surprised how nice it was. Here's where we were:

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I'd driven past the entrance many, many times on the way to the airport but never really knew this was there. Once you leave La Cienega and drive into the park it feels cooler and fresher right away. Kenneth Hahn is one of the few CA state parks that does not accept the Annual Day Use Pass so we paid the parking fee ($6 I believe) and parked near the pond (Gwen Moore Lake).

The website for this park doesn't have any park maps and there aren't many posted around the park so here's one for you to use:

(click photo to see larger)
I was surprised to see so many different types of waterfowl - American Coot, Mallards, American Wigeon, and Domestic Ducks.

American Wigeon (Anas americana)

Domestic Ducks

American Coot (Fulica americana)
We also saw a strange duck that was larger and blacker than a Mallard but had a green sheen to the head and purple under the wings (like male Mallards do). When I got home I found out it might be what some call a "Black Mallard" which is a cross between a Black Duck and a Mallard. Interesting!

Male American Black Duck
Photo of Black Duck from Flickr user milesizz

Photo of Mallard from iNaturalist user summermule
My photo of the "Black Mallard" we saw
Through trying to ID the large white duck I found out that it is probably the type that are raised on farms and kept in petting zoos - Domestic Ducks. They might have escaped and then just become naturalized in the area (meaning they can survive and breed).
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

"Many species of waterfowl form hybrids, and Mallards are particularly known for this, hybridizing with American Black Duck, Mottled Duck, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Cinnamon Teal, Green-winged Teal, and Canvasback, as well as Hawaiian Ducks, the Grey Duck of New Zealand, and the Pacific Black Duck of Australia."

Kevin J. McGowan explains it in more depth in his article Confusing Domestic Ducks.

We even saw some Red-eared Slider turtles sunning on a rock and hermit crabs (?) burrowing in the pond muck.

After spending some time by the pond we walked up to Janice's Green Valley which is a large meadow high up overlooking the city. What a nice place to come for a picnic or just to relax in the green grass! You're surrounded by oil derricks which is a bit surreal, but it's still a peaceful place.

We walked around the area a little and then headed down. Before we left the park we stopped by the Japanese Garden which had these strange otherworldly plants and large dragonflies hovering over the lily pads.

What a pleasant afternoon!