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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pileated Woodpecker feeding two babies - a fantastic photo taken over the weekend

Frank Drouillard and Nan Brichetto were hiking in Sonoma County when they heard the racket. They looked up and saw two heads poked out of a hole of a tree. Nan usually gets the shot, but she handed the camera to Frank and he got the fantastic photo of an adult Pileated Woodpecker at the opening of the nest cavity with the two babies' heads awaiting food. Thanks much to Frank for sharing his photograph here with us.

Pileated Woodpeckers are our largest woodpeckers here on the Mendonoma Coast. They have a prehistoric look to them, don't you agree? Their territory is quite large - 200 acres or more. Their call is unique. Once heard it will never be forgotten.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Male Osprey checks on the female Osprey nesting in Anchor Bay

This pair has survived several attacks by Ravens and some very high winds but they are still thriving. The nest overlooking the Pacific Ocean is a little tattered but still intact. The female Osprey has been sitting on the nest for several weeks now. Occasionally she stands up and appears to move the eggs around. Yesterday I photographed through our spotting scope a visit to the nest by the male Osprey. The rocky island on the left is Fish Rocks, which is just off of Anchor Bay.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A newborn Pinto joins the herd in Point Arena - meet Little Lady!

Jacqueline McAbrey joyfully announces that the Point Arena Pintos have a new foal. Mama gave birth to a perfect filly on Tuesday the 24th, Jacqueline believes. You can see from the photo that she is brown and white. She has been named "Little Lady" after Lady who passed away in March.

These wild horses are a thrill to see as we drive north on Highway One. You can read more about them on Jacqueline's blog. There are many more photos and stories about these beautiful creatures. Thanks to Jacqueline for letting me share these two photos.

Friday, May 27, 2011

American Goldfinches are like living jewels on top of our tree

American Goldfinches have arrived in great numbers to the Mendonoma Coast. Many of the males are in bright yellow breeding plumage to attract females. It's as if rays of sunshine were sitting on top of our Douglas fir tree. Rick and I put a thistle feeder out this spring, as we have the last several years, and we've been rewarded by the sight and sound of these little birds. The males sing a lovely song. We have also put out yarn for the females to use in making their nests. I guess you could call us "enablers."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Old Growth Redwood Tree that survived the loggers because it grew in a twisted shape

Soon after Rick and I moved to the Mendocino Coast we found this magnificent old growth Sequoia Sempervirens or Coast Redwood. We were nearly overcome with awe and delight when we first saw it and even now, after 15 years, we still get a thrill every time we hike down to see it. It is on a neighboring property. Our area was logged in the 1880's. This giant wasn't taken because it wasn't straight; it grew in a twisty fashion. Rick is in the first picture to give you some idea of how big this beautiful tree is. About halfway up a limb grows as big as a second growth tree. It's perfectly straight. The top was blown off in a storm many years ago. Who knows how old this tree is? Many hundreds of years and perhaps even a thousand years old. What stories it could tell...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Brandt's Cormorant in breeding plumage

Brandt's Cormorants are busy building nests on Gualala Point Island just off the Sonoma coast. Craig Tooley photographed one in breeding plumage. You can see the blue throat patch - a sign this bird is ready to mate. I'm also showing you a picture taken by Rich Kuehn of storm driven waves crashing over the island taken several months ago. Brandt's Cormorant nest rather late. They instinctively know not to build their nests too soon. These birds were scared off their nests in 2006 and 2007 when a group decided to shoot off fireworks in Gualala for the 4th of July. Some places just don't work for fireworks, at least in nesting season - some places are for the birds!

 To see more of Craig's photos:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sweet wildflower blooming alongside our road - a single Pussy Ears

The first Pussy Ears I've seen this year is blooming amidst a sea of pine needles on the edge of a dirt road here in Mendocino County. Such a delicate little flower with a single, slender green leaf. It is a treat to find this native California wildflower. It's a perennial herb and is a member of the Lily family. Want to impress family and friends with its Latin name? Be my guest! It is Calochortus tolmiei. Say it fast three times.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Gray Whale and her calf seen right off of Gualala

A mother Gray Whale and her calf were photographed by Richard Denniston from his vacation home, Serendipity, which overlooks the Gualala River and the Pacific Ocean. Rick has shared some fabulous photos of whales with Sightings over the past several years from this vantage spot. Looking for a special place to rent? This is it!

 There had been numerous Gray Whale sightings until the winds began several days ago. Hundreds of whales could be passing by and we'd never know because of the white caps. Last week though, a Minke Whale was spotted swimming with two female Gray Whales and two calves for protection. They were, of course, migrating north. Lots of krill reported in the waters off of Point Arena, which means good feeding for our beloved cetaceans.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wildflowers are spectacular now - here's proof at Salt Point State Park!

The late rains have given the Mendonoma Coast a fantastic wildflower season. Wild rhododendrons and azaleas continue to bloom in abundance though today's wind won't be kind to them. Salt Point State Park is in Sonoma County is one of my favorite parks. It spans many miles on both sides of Highway One. (Note to our elected leaders: To have this or any state park closed is a travesty.) John Sperry kindly allowed me to share his photo of the wildflowers now blooming on the bluffs.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hello Pacific Starflower!

A tiny wildflower is now blooming in the forest on the Mendonoma Coast. That would be the Pacific Starflower. It is growing on banks where False Solomon Seal and Fairy Bells bloomed earlier. It's a welcome addition to the spring wildflowers.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Surfing on the Mendonoma Coast

There are several good places to surf on the Mendonoma Coast. But did you know you could surf at Anchor Bay Beach? Eric Anderson sent in this picture that proves it's possible. It was taken several months ago and Eric titles it, "Surfer Dude riding high!"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A visit to The Sea Ranch - one of the treasures of the Sonoma Coast.

Yesterday Rick and I visited The Sea Ranch. While it was windy, the panoramic vistas never disappoint. We parked at the Lodge as we intended to have lunch there after our walk. With Huckleberry, our golden retriever on leash, we walked out onto the bluffs, admiring the wildflowers, the blue sky with puffy white clouds and the churning Pacific Ocean. The Sea Ranch is a treasure that I never tire of visiting.

This second photo is looking back at the Lodge.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sunrise with a full moon - look what I saw upon awakening this morning!

This morning's sunrise was particularly beautiful with the full moon slowly setting in the west. A few stray clouds leftover from yesterday's storm can be seen drifting in the sky. The oh-so-blue Pacific Ocean completes this portrait of a lovely Mendocino Coast morning.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Western Bluebirds are nesting on the Mendonoma Coast

Western Bluebirds are cavity nesters so people can entice them to nest by putting up a birdhouse in the right location. Siegfried and  Gretel Matull have done just that as the photo below will attest. Their numbers are declining so any help we can give them is all good. And don't rush to take down a dead tree - that snag can be a nice home to a cavity dwelling bird for many years.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Western Columbine is now blooming in shady spots along the Jenner Grade

Here's a beautiful wildflower for you today! Nan Brichetto photographed this lovely flower yesterday on the Jenner Grade in Sonoma County. It's a shade lover and has maple-like leaves. The greens are edible - Native Americans boiled the greens for vegetables. The flower heads contain nectar, which attracts hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. The striking Sphinx Moth is the pollinator for the Western Columbine.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Love is in the air - Western Gulls mating on Black Point Island off of The Sea Ranch

And X-rated sighting for you today! Craig Tooley took a lovely photo of a pair of Western Gulls mating on Black Point Island. This rocky island sits just offshore of the southern edge of The Sea Ranch. Western Gulls nest there. I will post a photo of the island in the days to come. You can see this tiny island for yourself by going on the Black Point Beach public access trail of The Sea Ranch. Once you reach the bluffs and see the beautiful beach, look for a trail that winds off to the left. That will lead to the island. Approach it quietly - it is a place of beauty and serenity.

Here is the link to Craig's web site to see more of his photos:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Look what the wind blew down - hope it was last year's nest.

Rick and I were taking a walk with our golden retriever, Huckleberry, looking for spring wildflowers when we came across this bird's nest. You can see it has quite a bid of mud in it. I sent the photo to Richard Kuehn. He's known as the Birdman of The Sea Ranch. He believes it is an American Robin nest. We saw no eggs so I hope it was last year's nest. I heard a Robin singing yesterday. Oh my, what a lovely song it was!

A view of the beautiful Sonoma Coast

On a drive down Highway One yesterday I took this photograph of just one of the many spectacular spots on the beautiful Sonoma Coast. We are expecting a storm later tonight but you wouldn't know it by this afternoon's sunshine.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Rare cloud phenomenon - a cloud falling out of a cloud

Frank Terlouw and his son are fishermen who fish off the Mendocino Coast. They were out in their boat on the Pacific Ocean when they saw this unbelievably strange and beautiful cloud formation overhead. Frank later found an explanation for the rare phenomenon in an article by Victoria Tang in Earth Science magazine. An airplane can punch a hole in a cloud and actually change the weather below, causing that part of the cloud to snow. Frank never saw an airplane but the photo in the article was nearly identical to the one he took. With Frank's kind permission I've posted his fantastic photo below. Notice that in his photo Frank also captured a rainbow. Enjoy, enjoy!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Abalone diving - or the hunt for red treasure!

With the early minus tides this past weekend, cars lined Highway One as abalone divers came to the Mendonoma Coast with abalone on their minds. Local diver, Jack Likins, has told me conditions so far this season have not been good due to the wind and strong currents. Jack has had some fabulous days hunting red treasure. He once got three ten inch abalones in one day. Many divers would give their left fin for one ten inch ab. Jack graciously has allowed me to share the photo commemorating his feat.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wild Azaleas - a picture of loveliness

Wild Azaleas are blooming on the Mendonoma Coast, joining the pink wild Rhododendrons. I took this photo on our neighbor's property. Thanks, Frank and Nan! They even have a delicate fragrance. Mother Nature is putting on quite a show right now.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Black Point Beach is one of the many treasures of The Sea Ranch

Yesterday was the annual Soroptimists Architectural House Tour. It's always held the Saturday before Mother's Day and a lovely day it was. Rick and I always enjoy touring the houses. One of the houses was at the end of Black Point Beach. We walked out on the bluff behind the house and I took these two pictures of the fabulous views and wildflowers. Wildflowers are peaking now - they are breathtaking!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Harbor Seals are having their pups on secluded beaches on the Mendonoma Coast

Harbor Seal moms haul out on secluded beaches to give birth at this time of year. One place where they come year after year is Tide Pool at The Sea Ranch. Professional photographer Craig Tooley took these two pictures this week and has given me permission to share them with you. You can see more of Craig's work at Harbor Seals are among the most photogenic of Mother Nature's creatures!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Two tiny wildflowers blooming side by side on the forest floor...and a laugh for you today

On this morning's walk Rick and I noticed these two wildflowers blooming in a shaft of sunlight. The yellow one is a Redwood Violet. It is also called an Evergreen Violet. The purple one is Redwood Sorrel. The Native Americans ate the leaves of this plant but sparingly because they contain oxalic acid, hence their Latin name - Oxalis oregana. Two lovely wildflowers - the very essence of spring!

And the promised laugh. There is a Brush Rabbit living in bushes off our driveway. I have been trying to get a picture of this small rabbit to show you. Yesterday there he/she was, sitting in the sun. I got the camera ready, focused and got a picture of Huckleberry's behind. The rabbit was long gone. There was nothing to fear from this Golden Retriever.

Happy Spring, everyone! Jeanne Jackson, Gualala

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gualala Point Island - a rocky island off the Sonoma Coast

Gualala Point Island is a beautiful rock island that sits off the far north end of The Sea Ranch. It is an important rookery for seabirds. Right now the island is bustling with renewed life. Brandt's and Pelagic Cormorants are building nests. Black Oystercatchers are mating. While watching the island, hundreds of Loons, mostly Pacific but some Common and a few Red-throated streamed by. You can see this island from Gualala Regional Park. Just head west to the ocean next to the Sea Ranch access trail and it will reveal itself as if by magic.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wild Rhododendrons in bloom - a splash of pink in the forest

Wild Rhododendrons are in bloom on the Mendonoma Coast now and what a delight it is to see their lovely blooms. They begin blooming in April and peak in early May. This is prime time to see them! I took this photo yesterday right along Highway One at Salt Point State Park. These plants are protected by law - it is illegal to sell them. The Pacific Northwest has ideal growing conditions for wild Rhododendrons and I feel so fortunate to have some growing on the land where we live in Anchor Bay.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Jackrabbits at The Sea Ranch

When Rick and I drove into The Sea Ranch yesterday for our birding outing, there in front of a house were these three Jackrabbits. They didn't run and hide when we stopped so I could take a picture. So, who was looking at whom?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Brown Pelicans have been seen off the Mendonoma Coast

One of my favorite birds, the majestic Brown Pelicans, have been seen in the past several days migrating north. While thousands of Loons are speedily flying by every day, the much slower and bigger Brown Pelicans seem to have gravitas. These birds were nearly made extinct by the pesticide DDT decades ago so their recovery is heartwarming. I took this photo this morning on the bluffs at Sea Ranch while bird watching with Rick and others. The early morning was windless and warm - just spectacular. This flock flew over our heads. May the Brown Pelicans live long and prosper!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Magnificent Sea Stacks off the Mendocino Coast.

Yesterday Carolyn AndrĂ© photographed these Sea Stacks near Elk off the Mendocino Coast. Sea Stacks used to be a part of the cliffs or headlands. Waves and wind erode the softer parts of the rock leaving the harder, more resistant rock behind. You can say they are created by Mother Nature - and she does such beautiful work! I thank Carolyn for this lovely photo and I post it here in honor of her friend, Daphne.