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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Two photos of Gray Fox Kits by coastal photographer Craig Tooley!

Is there anything cuter than a Gray Fox Kit? I don't think so. Here are two photos from Craig Tooley that make my case. Thanks to Craig for allowing me to share them here.

Enjoy! Jeanne Jackson, Gualala

                                          Two Gray Fox Kits
                                          Fox Kit with parent
You can see more of Craig's Gray Fox photos at this link:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

California Huckleberries are ripe and ready to pick on the Mendonoma Coast

If you love wild blueberries, California Huckleberry bushes - Vaccinium ovatum - are loaded with berries and they are ready to pick. I call the berries "Mother Nature's antioxidant pills."

Rick came up with the ideal container for picking huckleberries. It's a box with a belt looped through it. I hook it around my waist and then I have both hands for some serious picking!

To forage for one's own food is a joy. We particularly enjoy these berries in sourdough pancakes. Brunch, anyone?

Monday, August 29, 2011

An amusing photo from Carolyn André for you this Monday - a Wild Turkey posing as a ballerina

Carolyn André caught a Wild Turkey en pointe - up on its toes. It looks like it's doing an impersonation of a ballerina. Carolyn had another thought for a title - "Dressed for Thanksgiving, high heels and all!" The two other Tom Turkeys don't seem to be at all impressed.

I hope this photo will bring a smile to you today!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ken Bailey dove for Abalone off the Mendonoma Coast and came home with a hubcap-size beauty

Just look at this huge Abalone! Ken, Jack Likins and Randy Jackson (no relation, darn it) were diving ten days ago in an area most divers avoid because it is "dirty," according to Jack. The secret place, off the Mendonoma Coast, doesn't have many Abalones but what is does have are big Abalones. Randy got his limit of 9+ inchers, Jack got his limit of 10+ inchers - yes, three trophy abs, and Ken got the bragging rights with this huge 10+ incher.

All of these men live on the Mendonoma Coast. They are strong and smart. Trophy Abalones are no strangers to these men in their quest for red treasure. Thanks to Jack for allowing me to share his photo. Jack and Ken, along with Richard Lewis, produced a DVD on what it's like to dive for abalone. It's entitled The Hunt for Red Treasure and can be found at my favorite bookstore, The Four-Eyed Frog.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dyer's Polypore, a wild mushroom, continues to evolve, continues to fascinate

On August 18th I posted several pictures of this mushroom, a Dyer's Polypore - Phaeolus schweinitzii - one taken on the first morning it appeared. It continues to grow and to evolve. Here are several photos I took yesterday afternoon. It is growing into a true beauty!

And here with Rick's boot for perspective

Here's a link to my first posting of this sighting where you can learn more about this mushroom:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New lateral trail north of Elk with fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean

On a trip to Fort Bragg this week Rick and I noticed a new sign - The Peg and John Frankel Public Trail. It's just north Elk. We pulled over to explore. The views of the Pacific Ocean are spectacular there and I'm happy to share a photo here.

The trail just opened last month under the auspices of the Mendocino Land Trust, Coastal Conservancy and the CA Coastal Commission. It's only .3 mile long but it is a new portion of the CA Coastal Trail. It's called a lateral trail, which is west of Highway One, giving non-motorized traffic a safe buffer from the highway.

Piece by piece we are building the CA Coastal Trail. Here's a link to the Mendocino Land Trust to see what else they are accomplishing:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A photo of Harbor Seals crowned with kelp by Siegfried Matull

Siegfried Matull captured a photo of two Harbor Seals that surfaced under a mat of kelp. The photo looks as if they had been crowned by the kelp. Many thanks to Siegfried for allowing me to share his photo.

And here is a description of what it's like to dive in kelp, from diver Jack Likins:

"When I dive under the kelp it is like being under a very thick redwood forest canopy. The sunlight filters through the matted kelp on the surface and down the stalks with schools of small fish glistening as they swim through the sunbeams.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bull Kelp is abundant off the Mendonoma Coast

Bull Kelp, Nereocystis leutkeana, grows as forests in the Pacific Ocean off the Mendocino and Sonoma Coast. Right now the waters close to shore are showing healthy forests. Bull Kelp is an annual and its growth rate is phenomenal. Winter storms will rip the holdfasts from the ocean floor and waves will fling many onto beaches. Once Rick and I went to Bowling Ball Beach after a big storm. There in the mounds of kelp were many beautiful abalone shells - a gift from Mother Nature!

Kelp needs nutrient rich waters to grow. The upwelling that occurs here is necessary for the Kelp's growth. Many creatures depend on this plant. Small fish hide in the kelp from bigger ones. Seabirds have been seen to rest on the surface mats. It's believed CA Sea Lions and Harbor Seals feed on it. And it's known that Sea Urchins feed on it.

Tomorrow I will show you a cute photo of Harbor Seals draped in kelp and you will read about what is it like to dive amongst kelp.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Townsend's Chipmunks and a Steller's Jay - an amusing photo by Hal Fogel

On Mondays I like to post a fun picture, one that might make you smile. Hal Fogel recently sent me a photo that made me smile. Two Townsend's Chipmunks appear to be in a race, with the Steller's Jay watching from the sidelines. Hal titled his photo "at the races!"

The fog drew back today and that yellow thing in the sky - the sun! - appeared for the first time in days. This would be a good week to visit the Mendonoma Coast.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A lovely walk on the furthest north portion of the Sonoma Coast

Last week Rick and I, with our Golden Retriever Huckleberry on leash, headed for Gualala Point Regional Park. It's a gem of a park and I've written about it here before. This day we wanted to see what was going on at Gualala Point Island, an important rookery for Seabirds.

It was a beautiful day; the fog had pulled way offshore. We headed down the trail towards the west and then entered The Sea Ranch public trail and headed south. What a wonderful walk this is right along the bluffs. It's the perfect solution for whatever might be troubling you. I have posted here several photos from that day.

                                            Here is the trail we took at the park, heading west.

Walking along the bluffs of TSR
                                               Gualala Point Island with nesting Seabirds

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Northern Pygmy Owl paid us a visit in Anchor Bay earlier this week

Rick noticed it first - a strange-looking bird sitting on the railing of our deck at 11:00 a.m. Just a foot or so away was a Steller's Jay. I ran for my camera and Rick grabbed his binoculars. Rick said, "It's a tiny Owl!" I took these photo through a window. You can see the "eyes" on the back of its head - a key identifier of a Pygmy. We were thrilled with this Owl's visit.

Below is the back of its head with false eye spots

Friday, August 19, 2011

River Otters seen in the Gualala River!

Allen Vinson was walking the Gualala Bluff Trail this week and he saw a mother North American River Otter and her pup in the Gualala River. Lucky for us he had his camera with him!

River Otters are comfortable in water and on land. I've had sightings of them climbing up bluffs. There is at least one den of these critters near the mouth of the Gualala River. They primarily eat fish but they've been seen sneaking up on an unsuspecting Gull now and then.

They are adversely impacted by environmental pollution. The fact that they are thriving on the Mendonoma Coast is a testament to our pristine waters.

                                                                This is the pup.
                                                 And here is the mom with her pup.
Thanks to Allen for allowing me to share these photos. My best to you today, Jeanne

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A young Dyer's Polypore mushroom appeared as if by magic overnight at our property in Anchor Bay

Rick and I walk every day, in fact twice a day, as demanded by our Golden Retriever, Huckleberry. On a path that leads to the forest floor a Dyer's Polypore, Phaeolus schweinitzii, appeared overnight. We were amazed! What life force mushrooms have to grow so fast.

This mushroom isn't good to eat but it has so much pigment that people use it to dye fabric. Depending on the age of the Polypore the color is yellow, gold, brown or orange. It has a part to play in nature as it breaks down dead wood into nutrients. There are several dead trees - snags - where this mushroom grows.

The first picture is the first day it appeared. The second is four days later.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Western Skink is not singing the blues!

Will Ericson photographed a Western Skink on the Mendocino Coast. This lizard isn't singing the blues, it's wearing blue scales. Just look at the lovely blue on its lower half!

This lizard is active during the day, eating bugs and basking in the sun. The Latin name for this critter was changed in 2008 - it's now known as Plestiodon skiltonianus. Thanks to Will for allowing me to show you this striking Western Skink.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Yes, it's Monday so here's a humorous photo of two Harbor Seals by Craig Tooley

Craig  suggested the caption, "Bad breath?" It sure fits. Take a look at his photo of two Harbor Seals taken at The Sea Ranch. I hope it will make you smile!

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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Two Acorn Woodpeckers at my feeder - one seems to be saying, "Are you done yet???"

A pair of Acorn Woodpeckers showed up at our feeder in Anchor Bay with three fledglings. Rick and I have been enjoying hearing and watching them. For the past two weeks the parents have been practicing tough love, pecking at the young ones and flying away when they begged for food. It looks like the tough love has paid off as the young Acorns were at our feeder this weekend.

My best to you this lovely day! Jeanne Jackson

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Colorful life existing in the Pacific Ocean - Nudibranchs photographed by Ken Bailey

   Nudibranchs are very colorful Sea Slugs. You won't believe your eyes when you see Ken's photographs! They look like alien beings. Living on the Mendonoma Coast, I look out over the ocean. I never dreamed these creatures were hidden beneath the water. Thanks to underwater photographer Ken Bailey for allowing me to share his photos here. Also thanks to writer David Behrens for the ID of these beautiful Nudibranchs.
                                                     Clown Dorid - Triopha catalinae

Spanish Shawl - Flabellina iodinea

Porter's Chromodorid - Chromodoris porterae
David says this last one is rare and isn't seen north of Monterey. Ken told me he may have photographed it down there or "maybe he's a good swimmer."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Another California Native - meet Bombus vosnesenskii or the Yellow-faced Bumblebee!

There's something about Bumblebees that makes me smile. It could be the unlikely fact that they can actually fly, or the sounds they make as they travel from blossom to blossom, or the fact they are important pollinators.

The Yellow-faced Bumblebee is a slow moving creature. It's known as the summer bee. It is a California native but it is also found in Oregon and Washington, the two states to our north. They need untilled land for their nests and native plants on which to feed. In turn they will pollinate food crops such as cherry tomatoes, watermelons and sunflowers.

Here you will see one feeding on a hydrangea blossom in my garden. You go, mighty Bumblebee!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mother Western Bluebird and her young one - "Where's the bug?"

Tom Reynolds photographed this female Western Bluebird with her fledgling. The baby looks like it is asking where is the food. Bluebirds tirelessly bring insects to their young. Perhaps it's time for junior to hunt for his or her own tasty morsels.

Have you ever thought how important insects are as a food source? They are extremely important!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A visit to the Stornetta Public Lands just north of Point Arena

C'Anna Bergman-Hill recently visited the Stornetta Lands with her camera in tow. There is much to explore on this 1132 acre paradise, with 2 miles of oceanfront. I've previously posted a photo of the lovely waterfall that can be found there. C'Anna's photos will show you more of this beautiful spot on the Mendocino Coast.

                                              Here is an offshore rock with a tunnel.

A sink hole along the trail.
Gulls taking a bath at the top of the waterfall.
Thank to C'Anna for allowing me to share her photos!
And here's the link to the Stornetta Lands Waterfall on this blog:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Red Tide seen off of The Sea Ranch

A noticeable Red Tide occurred last Wednesday, 8/3/11, and was seen from Bodega Bay all the way up to The Sea Ranch. This was caused by an algal bloom. Craig Tooley photographed it and has allowed me to post two photos here.

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

Monday, August 8, 2011

Heermann's Gulls trying to steal a Brown Pelican's fish off the Mendonoma Coast

Yesterday I showed you the first three of the five pictures Allen Vinson took of this encounter. Here are the last two.

Two Heermann's Gulls ganging up on a Brown Pelican, trying to steal its catch.

But it looks like this time the Gulls did not prevail. Find your own fish, Heermann's Gulls!
Many thanks to Allen for allowing me to share this interesting story!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Brown Pelican plunge diving, then defending its catch from two Heermann's Gulls

Allen Vinson was in the right place at the right time...and had his camera! Allen photographed a Brown Pelican plunge diving off of The Sea Ranch this week.

 First the dive.
Next the catch.

Then two Heermann's Gulls want their share.

Tomorrow I'll show you the outcome!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Red Clintonia berries - a cobalt-blue treat for the eyes on the Mendonoma Coast

A beautiful member of the Lily family, the Red Clintonia, Clintonia andrewsiana ,usually is in full bloom around Mother's Day here in the United States, which is the first part of May. If the flower doesn't get eaten by a Deer, the flowers will turn into striking cobalt-blue berries.

Rozann Grunig photographed one this past week at The Sea Ranch and has allowed me to share it here. You will also see below a photo by Frank Drouillard showing the red bloom.

I love finding this shade-loving wildflower in the forest. You probably won't be surprised to learn that another name for this plant is Blue Bead Lily.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Pine White Butterfly visits my garden on the Mendocino Coast

A lovely white butterfly with black/dark brown markings was feeding on the blossoms of a succulent. I found the ID on Art Shapiro's Butterfly Site - - a wonderful place to look at all the many butterflies that grace us with their presence.

The butterfly in my garden was a Pine White, Neophasia menapia. As their name implies, these beauties visit Pine trees, laying their eggs on pine needles. Welcome to my garden, Pine White!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Snowy Egret photographed on the Mendonoma Coast by Craig Tooley

The Snowy Egret is a small white Heron with black legs and yellow feet. They are found near ponds and by the ocean's shores.

To hear what they sound like, here's a link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

What I like about Craig's photo is the Snowy Egret's head plumes. Reminds me of a bad hair day or perhaps static electricity!

If you'd like to see more of Craig'd work, go to:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

California Huckleberries ripening on the Mendonoma Coast!

California Huckleberry - Vaccinium ovatum - bushes are full of berries after the wet winter and spring we had. The first berry to ripen is the biggest and seems to be the sweetest. On a walk yesterday I saw many berries ready to pick. Hooray! The berries are very high in antioxidants - Mother Nature's vitamin pill. They are found on the Pacific Coast and coastal British Columbia.

Many creatures feed on these berries - birds, foxes, deer and me, to name a few. I freeze big bags and put them in sourdough pancakes all year long. Delish!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A young Grevy's Zebra at the B. Byran Preserve in Point Arena

Judy and Frank Mello have a wonderful preserve for endangered African animals right in Point Arena called the B. Bryan Preserve. You can see the exotic critters grazing in the fields as you drive up Riverside Drive.

Judy sent me a great photo if a young Grevy's Zebra, which is very startled by the appearance of a Gopher. I imagine the zebra saying, "Mom! What the heck???" It made me laugh and I hope you enjoy it too.

This would be a fantastic place to stay when visiting the Mendonoma Coast. Afternoon tours are also offered by appointment. Here's their web site to learn more.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Beautiful Sunset at Gualala Point Regional Park

Gail Spencer photographed a beautiful sunset at Gualala Point Regional Park. This park is one of my favorites for a walk on the bluffs or a visit to the beach. It's the perfect place to watch the sunset too.

Rick and I had a memorable day there when a Gray Whale and her calf were rolling in the surf. Two visitors from New York were on the beach too and were they ever thrilled. Here's a link to find out more about this park.

It's also a wonderful place to walk your dog on leash. Huckleberry, our golden retriever, gives it two paws up! Thanks to Gail for allowing me to share her photo.