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Thursday, June 30, 2011

California Honeysuckle has begun blooming - such a delicate, climbing beauty!

Yesterday on our afternoon walk Rick pointed out the first blooms of California Honeysuckle, Lonicera hispidula, on our property in Anchor Bay. It's also known as Pink Honeysuckle. I love this climbing shrub. So do Hummingbirds, as they visit the pink blossoms for their nectar. Sometimes I see a vine climbing a tree and the leaves and blossoms are many feet above my head. This particular vine was growing in a huckleberry bush.

 Later in the summer the blooms will become brilliant orange/red berries, which are very bitter. Only the hungriest birds will eat them so they usually remain on the vine to be enjoyed by anyone passing by. The stems of this plant are hollow and they were used by Pomo Indians as smoking pipes.

It is a dazzlingly beautiful day on the Mendonoma Coast today. My best to you! Jeanne Jackson

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bobcat paid a visit to the Gualala Ridge

A beautiful Bobcat, Lynx rufus, paid a visit to Emily Nelson's place on the Gualala Ridge and Emily captured several great photographs. I've read that Bobcats prefer to eat Rabbits and Hares but they will eat anything from insects all the way up to Deer. Here on the Mendonoma Coast we mostly see them hunting Gophers.

Once in a while someone will mistake a Bobcat for a Mountain Lion, which is pretty ridiculous. Bobcats are about twice the size of a domestic cat and have a bobbed tail. Mountain Lions are three to five feet long and have a long tail. They weigh well in excess of a hundred pounds. Emily's Bobcat visitor doesn't weigh more than 30 pounds. I thank her for allowing me to share her photo here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Loving Lichen - it's very misunderstood.

Lichens grow where there is little or no air pollution so it's no wonder many different kinds of lichen can be found growing on the Mendonoma Coast. Many people think lichen is detrimental to trees, like mistletoe, but they are mistaken. Lichen is actually beneficial. A fun place to learn about lichen can be found via this link: You will learn lichen is not just one organism but two and in some cases three. Amazing!

This photo is of fruticose lichen, which fell out of a tree on Kathy DiMaio's property on the Gualala ridge. Isn't it a thing of beauty?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beautiful clouds over The Sea Ranch and a storm headed our way? It's summer, isn't it?

You wouldn't know it right now but a winter-like storm is due to hit the Mendonoma Coast tomorrow. It's very unusual for us to get a storm from the Gulf of Alaska in the summer. But every good photographer knows that a storm brings a chance for good cloud photography. Carolyn André sent me several dramatic photographs she took of clouds over The Sea Ranch and I'm happy to be able to share one of them with you here.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I finally know what this lovely little plant is - Sweet Bedstraw, Galium triflorum.

I have long admired the delicate foliage of this lovely little plant blooming on the forest floor on our property in Anchor Bay but until this past week I didn't know the name of it. I sent a photo to Peter Baye and he let me know I had found an uncommon annual herb native to California - Sweet Bedstraw or Galium triflorum. It's another native plant that has medicinal qualities. An infusion of the plant has been used in the treatment of gallstones and kidney complaints. It's aromatic as it dries and is used as stuffing material in mattresses though it would take so many of these little plants that I don't see how that would be possible! It has tiny white flowers that are so small they are difficult to see. Sweet Bedstraw - another forest dweller for me to appreciate on my daily walks with Rick and Huckleberry.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Nesting Pelagic Cormorants - you won't believe how beautiful they are!

Once again Craig Tooley has the magic. He recently photographed a pair of Pelagic Cormorants on their cliff-side nest. I thought these birds were black with a white patch on their flank when breeding but Craig's photo shows a multitude of colors.

Do you wonder how they get their nest to stay on that precarious spot? I wondered too. They use their own guano to help cement it to the ledge. Amazing! The nest always faces the sea. Pelagics, also called Baird's Cormorants, feed on fish. They dive from the surface and chase their prey underwater. Another example of some of the wonderful creatures sharing our beautiful Mendonoma Coast.

To see more of Craig's photos, here's his link:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Self Heal - a very interesting wildflower with medicinal qualities and even a hidden alien face.

Self Heal, Prunella vulgaris, is blooming in sunny spots on the Mendonoma Coast. There are several of these interesting wildflowers growing on our property in Anchor Bay. Last year Frank Drouillard took a very close up photo of one and was startled to see what looks like an alien face. It startled me too!

Self Heal has amazing qualities. First, its leaves are edible. They are mildly bitter greens. But its medicinal qualities set it apart from other wildflowers who might be considered "just pretty faces." It is an antiseptic and has an antibacterial effect. It's believed to be effective in cases of food poisoning. Native peoples used it to treat cuts and inflammation. It's a wonder plant!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Harbor Seals in the surf - can they hold on or will they be swept off the rock?

Sometimes a big wave will hit a group of Harbor Seals and it's fun to watch them try and hold onto their places. Betty Bailey took a photo right when a wave hit and was kind enough to allow me to share it here.

Harbor Seals are year-round residents of the nearshore waters of the Mendonoma Coast. They are curious animals and often lift their heads out of the water to look around. If Harbor Seals thrive it's an indication that their entire ecosystem is doing well as they feed at the top of the food chain. We are lucky to have pristine waters off our beautiful coast.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

First day of summer brings a heatwave to the Mendonoma Coast!

The first day of summer was preceded by one of hottest days I can remember. The Pacific Ocean usually works as our air conditioner but Mother Nature had something else in mind. Huckleberry, our Golden Retriever, headed for one of the deepest ponds on the creek that cuts through our property. He knows how to cool off! Happy first day of summer to those in the Northern Hemisphere!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Another hidden waterfall, this one on The Sea Ranch!

Maureen Simons sent in a photo she took on June 4th of a beautiful waterfall on the Salal Trail on The Sea Ranch. Her daughter calls this special place the "Lord of the Rings place" and you can see why when you look at Maureen's photo. It's magical! With the late rains we had, the creek is running high and strong.

The Salal Trail is on the north end of TSR. Maureen advises, "If you park on Grey Whale, just off of Leeward, then head north on Leeward about a block, you'll see an opening for the trail on the left. The trail runs all the way to the bluff trail." This is private property though so you need a parking pass to park there. But if you are staying at TSR or own property here, you can find this magic place for yourself.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Brown Pelicans are flying by the Mendonoma Coast - always a welcome sight!

Brown Pelicans, one of my favorite birds, continue to be seen flying north along the bluffs and over the rocky islands of the Mendonoma Coast. So graceful in the air, they are always exciting to spot. Rozann Grunig recently caught a great photograph of Brown Pelicans and  has graciously allowed me to share her photo here.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Delicate purple wildflower blooming in the forest - meet the Redwood Pea!

So small and delicate you might overlook it, the Redwood Pea is blooming now on the Mendonoma Coast. Its Latin name is Lathyrus torreyi and it is a California native. It's a perennial herb and it is blooming in the forest on our property in Anchor Bay and also in several sunnier spots. Peter Baye tells me they are not too common these days and he encourages his wherever he finds them. Now this native wildflower is even more precious to me.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Beautiful sunrise this June morning!

With a nearly full moon and the soft pastels of an early sunrise, the Mendonoma Coast was beautiful indeed this morning. Rick and I have just returned from one week vacation. While we enjoyed it, the best part is driving up Highway One and returning home. We live in beauty here on the coast. I never want to take it for granted.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A hidden waterfall on the Stornetta Public Lands in Mendocino County

It is a bit of a walk but, oh, is it worth it! There is a beautiful waterfall on the Stornetta Public Lands. The best way to find it is to drive down Lighthouse Road. That's the way to the Point Arena Lighthouse, another great outing. Access the Stornetta Lands off of this road and walk south. Enjoy the beautiful scenery but take a jacket as it is often windy as you will see by the photo of me. Walk for perhaps 30 minutes. You will come to a stream, walk down, cross the stream, walk up and then look back. There you will see the waterfall to your right and in the distance the gleaming white Lighthouse. What a beautiful sight - a hidden treasure for you to find on the Mendocino Coast!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rosy Russula found in June on the Mendonoma Coast

Several large Rosey Russulas - Russula rosacea - were found by Rozann and  George Grunig on The Sea Ranch this past week. This is not the time of year for these mushrooms to fruit but the late rains must have confused them. They aren't edible. If you tasted a little bit of the cap, it would be hot and you would have to quickly spit it out. But they are beautiful to look at and to photograph. And look! Rozann photographed them on top of the Independent Coast Observer. That's where my Mendonoma Sightings column can be found each and every week.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Siegfried Matull photographing Western Bluebirds on The Sea Ranch

Siegfried Matull manages to get some of the most fantastic photographs of Western Bluebirds on the Mendonoma Coast. How does he do it? I've learned his camera is set on a tri-pod and pre-focused on the birdhouse currently occupied by two Western Bluebirds. With his camera that can take nine shots per second, he sits next to his camera with a remote control cable in one hand and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon in the other. That's taking pictures, Mendonoma Coast style!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Western Labrador Tea blooming in profusion

My neighbor has a spring box and there is always water on the ground. That's where a large group of Western Labrador Tea is now blooming in profusion. The leaves have an unusual fragrance to them. Reny Parker in her Wildflower of Norther California's Wine Country & North Coast Ranges describes it as "between turpentine and strawberries." I find it leans more towards the turpentine than the strawberry. This plant has medicinal qualities. Native peoples used it to treat the common cold, headaches and the aches and pains of arthritis.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Royalty has arrived on the Mendonoma Coast - The Prince, Agaricus augustus, a delicious mushroom

The late rains have coaxed The Prince to bloom. Agaricus augustus is a delicious, meaty wild mushroom with a wonderful almond odor. I found one lone Prince on our road this past week but Jacquelynn Baas of The Sea Ranch hit the big time and sent me a photo to prove it. In fact she has found so many Prince mushrooms that - get this - she is tired of eating them fresh and is going to dry this batch. I can only shake my head in admiration.

Jacquelynn is an accomplished writer and you can find out more about her books at this link:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Male California Quail on guard duty above our Goldfinch feeder - quite a sight!

A beautiful male California Quail decided that the view from on top of our Goldfinch feeder would make a good vantage point to watch for danger. He didn't bother the American Goldfinches as they continued to feed. Is there another bird as beautiful as a male Quail?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bobcat caught in mid-air by Drew Fagan in Gualala

Drew Fagan has an art studio at his place in Gualala. It affords him some might fine wildlife viewing. Recently he watched an encounter between a Bobcat and a Gray Fox. The Bobcat apparently got too close to the Fox's kits. The Fox chased the Bobcat off but before that happened, Drew caught the beautiful Bobcat hunting something in the grass - possibly a small rodent - and snapped this photo. A big thank you to Drew for allowing me to share it here.

If you'd like to see Drew's art, here's his web site:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Foxglove is blooming on the Mendonoma Coast

While Foxglove isn't a native plant - it is native to Europe - it seems at home on the Mendonoma Coast. It blooms at the same time as our native Wild Rhododendrons and Azaleas and is a member of the Figwort family. It's Latin name is Digitalis, which means finger-like. Its blossoms are the perfect size for putting one's finger inside. It has a well-known medicinal use, which strengthens and regulates the beating of the heart. The plant itself is poisonous so don't eat it, just enjoy looking at its beauty!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A beautiful day dawns on the Mendonoma Coast yet here's a photo of storm waves from Carolyn André

The sun has finally decided to make an appearance and a welcome one it is. Our rain total at our Anchor Bay home has topped 70 inches for the season with this last storm. It's time for some good weather! A Swainson's Thrush is singing his beautiful song and the fragrant smell of wisteria and from our incredible banana bush are wafting in through the open sliding glass door. This is more like it! But to remind us that winter was just a few days ago, Carolyn André recently photographed storm waves off The Sea Ranch and is kindly allowing me to share it here. The Pacific Ocean - I never get tired of looking at it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

This is the year of the Wild Rhododendron - they are magnificent!

The Wild Rhododendrons - and the Wild Azaleas too - are just magnificent this spring on the Mendonoma Coast. Rick and I have never seen so many blossoms as we have been seeing this year. They are obviously loving all the late rains we been having. Their loveliness is our reward for having such a damp spring. Splashes of pink adorn the edges of the forest. Life is good.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

California Sea Lions photographed on the rocks off the Mendonoma Coast

On calm days the Sea Lions on the colony at Fish Rocks just off of the hamlet of Anchor Bay can be heard noisely barking. They are giving birth to pups now on the rocky islands off the coast. Craig Tooley captured a photo of a mom and her newborn pup and has kindly allowed me to share it here. Another of Craig's photos shows a group of Sea Lions on Fish Rocks. They are known for their intelligence and playfulness - this mammal is often the trained "seal" found in zoos. I prefer to view - and listen - to them in the wild!

To see more of Craig's photos, go to:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Big storm hit the Mendonoma Coast today but in advance of the storm - an unusual cloud formation

You'd think it was winter on the Mendonoma Coast today. Wind and rain lashed the coast bringing some minor flooding. Seasonal creeks have come back to life, an amazing sight in June. But before this big storm hit, there was an unusual cloud formation. I thought it looked like a rocket ship in the sky.

One of the joys of living on the edge is we get to see weather systems approach. And the ocean will tell us in advance that a storm is on the way. The surface water will "change direction." The winds  cause the ocean to appear as if it is flowing from south to north, rather than the normal north to south.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Goldwire in full bloom now on the Mendonoma Coast

A beautiful bright yellow wildflower is blooming in sunny, dry places on the Mendonoma Coast now. It's name is Goldwire or Hypericum concinnum. Rick and I have several nice clumps of this perennial herb on our property in Anchor Bay. Peter Baye recently identified it for me. There are many subtlety different yellow wildflowers blooming now. But Goldwire is unique enough to stand out and say, "Look at me!" Its stems are very wirey. It's a member of the St. John's-wort family and is only found in California. It's a California native just like me!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gray Fox Kits are being born now on the beautiful Mendonoma Coast

One of the cutest critters on the Mendonoma Coast is a  Gray Fox Kit. They are being born now in hidden away dens or, in the case of one lucky woman, underneath a deck. Kathryn Hile discovered a litter of four Fox Kits under her deck in her enclosed courtyard in The Sea Ranch. What fun Kathryn will have in the days to come, photographing these enchanting creatures. A photo of one of the Kits was published today in the Independent Coast Observer with my column Mendonoma Sightings. To see that photo go to, click on on-line features and then color photos. Kathryn has kindly given me permission to share two other photos here. The first one is of the male adult Gray Fox, aka "Daddy." The second one is of one of the Kits interacting with "Daddy."
             My best to you today, Jeanne Jackson, Gualala

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A beautiful Coast Lily bloomed on our road yesterday

A Coast Lily - Lilium maritimum - one of the most beautiful of our spring wildflowers has just bloomed on our road near the hamlet of Anchor Bay. It's a perennial herb and now only grows on the North Coast, particularly in Mendocino County. It grows nowhere else in the world. It grows on a tall stalk over a foot tall, sometimes reaching as high as three feet. It is pollinated by Anna's and Allen's Hummingbirds and by Bumblebees. Our weather may be saying "Winter!" but this Coast Lily is saying "Spring!"