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Friday, September 30, 2011

Great Blue Heron photographed just as it takes flight - a lovely photograph by Marianne Rittenhouse

Great Blue Herons are one of most photographed birds on the Mendonoma Coast. They are seen often in the meadows at The Sea Ranch hunting for rodents. Marianne Rittenhouse captured a photo of one just as it was taking flight.

Great Blue Herons are wading birds, eating small fish and other goodies in the shallow waters. They also feed on rodents, which TSR meadows have in abundance.

Their nests are made of big, bulky sticks. There are several nests in trees across the Russian River by Duncan's Mills. Adult Herons have few predators as they are so big. The only creatures that can take an adult Heron are Bald Eagles, Great Horned Owls and, very occasionally a Red-tailed Hawk.

I thank Marianne for allowing me to share her beautiful photo with you.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The common name for this beautiful wildflower gives away its secret weapon - Vinegar-weed!

On a recent walk of the banks of the Gualala River I spotted a small, purple wildflower growing in the gravel bed. Its tiny blooms were orchid-like. Not knowing its name, I sent the photo to Peter Baye. I could almost hear his chortle when he wrote back with the identification. Vinegar-weed, he wrote, aka Turpentine weed. "Too bad you didn't smell it," he said, "the aroma of the leaves can give you whiplash, kind of like smelling salts." Well, I'm very glad I didn't smell it!  I think I'll just admire it from a distance.

It's a California native and its Latin name is Trichostema lanceolatum. Like many other CA native plants it has medicinal qualities. Native American peoples used it as a cold and fever remedy, for pain relief and...wait for it!...a flea repellent.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bodega Bay - always picturesque.

Bodega Bay is a small town on the Sonoma Coast with a big bay. Fishing is a way of life here. It's also a tourist destination with restaurants and several inns and lodges.

Allen Vinson recently took several photographs that will give you a bit of a feel for what this area is like.

                 A fishing boat heading out of the bay through the fog.
           Two American White Pelicans visiting the waters of Bodega Bay.
Thanks to Allen for allowing me to share his photos with you here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rainbow colors in misty fog - a beautiful photo from coastal photographer Craig Tooley

It doesn't seem to matter what subject Craig Tooley photographs, he always captures beauty. In this photo Craig has caught the fog droplets refracting sunlight, creating a dance of rainbow colors - a gift of beauty for you today from the Mendonoma Coast.

Thanks to Craig for allowing me to share his photo. You can see much more of Craig's work at:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Exploring the Gualala River via Gualala Point Regional Park

Recently Rick and I and our Golden Retriever, Huckleberry, explored the east side of Gualala Point Regional Park. There is a small but beautiful campground there, nestled up against the Gualala River. Using our annual day pass, we parked near the campground and headed east on a narrow trail. Just a few steps into the forest felt like we had entered another world.

Here is a photo of a Douglas-fir that grew over a Redwood stump. I've never seen the roots of a Douglas-fir growing above ground before.
And we found this old, knobby California Bay tree. Elves could live here!
We then came to the Gualala River and in went Huckleberry.

Life is good when you are a Golden Retriever getting wet!
Here's a link to a beautiful sunset taken at the park.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bobcat recently photographed on The Sea Ranch by Jan de Vries

A beautiful Bobcat was spotted by Jan de Vries hunting in the meadow outside his Sea Ranch home. The Bobcat stayed long enough for Jan to take a series of photos. One photo was published in the Independent Coast Observer this week and can be seen at Jan has kindly allowed me to share several more photos here.

Such a healthy, beautiful Bobcat, it was probably hunting for Gophers in Jan's meadow.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

ooo! Look what we found fruiting in a Sonoma Park this morning - Oyster Mushrooms.

Rick and I, along with our friends Nan Brichetto and Frank Drouillard, went on a hike this morning with our two Golden Retrievers. We were shocked and amazed to come across this large group of Oyster Mushrooms, Pleurotus ostreatus. They normally are found later in the fall and winter but I guess our weather has been so cool that they decided to make an early appearance. They are, of course, edible and delicious!

They were fruiting on a downed Tanoak, a hardwood that grows on the Mendonoma Coast. In this next picture they look like gardenias!

And we aren't the only creatures that covet these fungi. Check out the Banana Slugs feasting on these mushrooms on the picture below.
A gift in the forest - thank you Mother Nature!
To see another early fruiting mushroom, a Dyer's Polypore, click on this link:
      My best to you today, Jeanne Jackson

Friday, September 23, 2011

Honeysuckle Berries are ripening in the warm weather on the Mendonoma Coast

I so enjoy California Honeysuckle - Lonicera hispidula. In the spring lovely pink blossoms appear. And now, on this first day of autumn, the berries that formed after the blossoms have begun to ripen. They are round and a brilliant orange-red. They are edible but very bitter. Some birds will eat them if they can't find other food. With all the Huckleberry bushes we have on our property in Anchor Bay providing a multitude of sweet berries, the fruits of the Honeysuckle usually adorn the vines well into winter.

To see their pink blossoms, click on this link and imagine you are smelling their delicate fragrance:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Two charming photos of Gray Foxes with kits by Kathryn Hile

Kathryn Hile was very lucky to have a Gray Fox family take up residence in the courtyard of her Sea Ranch home. It sure gave her numerous chances to make photographic magic. She has shared two charming photos with us.

The first photo is of the Mother Fox with her kits in Kathryn's driveway.

And the photo below is the Dad. He was on Kathryn's porch railing the night the parents let the kits out of the courtyard for the first time. Kathryn said, "He was guarding the front door to make sure I didn't go outside to disturb them."

Thanks to Kathryn for allowing me to share her cute photos! Here's a link to several other of Kathryn's photos of this Gray Fox family:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

There has been a green flash at sunset the past two nights

It's easy to watch the sunset when you are on the Mendonoma Coast - all it takes is a view of the ocean. With the warm weather the horizon has been clear the past several nights and, sure enough, there were green flashes on Monday and Tuesday. I tried to photograph Monday's green flash but wasn't successful. But at least my photos will show you what to look for. I will also put a link to a beautiful photo of a green flash that was shared here.

                      The sunset begins - rather a strange shape to the sun!
The sun is disappearing and you can see the separation you should look for.
                    And this is where you would see the green flash. Do you see a hint of green in the blazing yellow? This whole top turns emerald green for a second or two just before it disappears.
To see that photo of Frank Vaskelis' green flash, click on this link:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Charming photo of California Quail by Paul Batchelder

California Quail are fun to watch and to photograph. The strikingly beautiful male Quail is often seen guarding his family from a high point. Paul Batchelder captured a whimsical moment where a covey of Quail met their metal brother. Thanks to Paul for allowing me to share his photo with you!

To see a male CA Quail on guard duty, click on this link for another photo on this site:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Owl calls and a very startled Golden Retriever!

Last night - and a balmy one it was - Rick and I heard a Western Screech Owl calling just outside our courtyard. These owls don't screech! They have a very melodic, soothing call. We know we have Screech Owls in our area in Anchor Bay because last year we found two juveniles in a dark canyon. Here's the link to see them on this blog:

I decided I'd like to learn more about owl calls. I found a great web site, forgetting that I had turned the volume on my iPad all the way up. Huckleberry was sleeping behind Rick and me. It was very tranquil and quiet. Quiet, that is, until I clicked on the very loud "hoo, hoo, hooooo" sounds of a Great Horned Owl. The calls boomed out into our house, echoing off the walls. Huckleberry reared up in great alarm, looked everywhere in the living room and then began barking.

Here's a photo of a Great Horned Owl taken by Steve Wilcox. I thank him for allowing me to share his photo here.

And if you'd like to hear their call, here's a link: But learn from my lesson and keep the sound down so you don't scare your furry friends!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sea Urchins and a Chiton washed up at Shell Beach - is the Red Tide the culprit?

On Sept. 3rd, Rozann Grunig found a shocking sight at Shell Beach on The Sea Ranch. The beach was littered with dead Sea Urchins. She also saw a Chiton, a type of sea mollusk, just barely alive. The Chiton was put back into the Pacific Ocean in the hopes it might survive.

Abalones have been found upside down off the Sonoma Coast - there has been much coverage of this event. A Red Tide plus a quiet ocean caused a loss of oxygen in these critters habitat. It is believed by local ocean watchers that this is a natural occurrence. It has happened before and will happen again. Tests are being done to see if something else is happening here. Divers and fishermen tell me while they have seen some dead abalones, there are thousands upon thousands out there and doing fine. The Mendocino Coast looks like it avoided this phenomenon.

I thank Rozann for allowing me to share her photos here.

To see Craig Tooley's photo of the Red Tide, you can see it on this link here on Mendonoma Sightings:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A rare photo of a Fog Bow by coastal photographer Siegfried Matull

Recently Siegfried and Gretel Matull returned to their Sea Ranch home via Cazadero. That put them at the top of Fort Ross Road. They were above the fog, looking down. And to their wondering eyes they saw what Siegfried called, "a miracle fog bank" with blue sky above it.

What they were seeing was most likely a partial fog bow, also called a cloud bow, a similar phenomena as a rainbow. A fog bow is usually seen from an airplane. The Matulls were in the right place, at the right time! Thanks to Siegfried for allowing me to share this unusual photo.

And to see a very unusual and extremely rare cloud formation, here's the link to A Cloud falling out of a Cloud on this blog:

Friday, September 16, 2011

A lovely photo of the Sonoma Coastline by Allen Vinson

Allen Vinson usually has his camera with him as he wanders the Mendonoma Coast. He recently took of photo of the Sonoma coastline on The Sea Ranch. You can see a beautiful tide pool on the right and a few people up on the top of the bluff with the backdrop of a turbulent Pacific Ocean. Thanks to Allen for allowing me to share his photo with you here.

We are coming into our most beautiful weather here on the coast. The light is golden now as autumn approaches. It's one of my favorite times of the year.

My best to you! Jeanne Jackson

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The last of the Leopard Lilies are blooming in my garden in Anchor Bay

Leopard Lilies, Lilium pardalinum, are just about done with blooming. I have a group in my garden that is safe from our coastal Deer so Rick and I have been able to enjoy their exotic beauty for weeks. The Leopard Lilies in our forest were all eaten by Deer this year - only one actually bloomed, but only for a few days before it was eaten. These beauties are also called Tiger Lilies or Panther Lilies. As I have written here before, their roots have medicinal qualities. We just enjoy the brilliant splash of orange loveliness.

My best to you today! Jeanne Jackson

And here's what the one Lily that bloomed in the forest looked like:

Gray Fox Kits are getting bigger - here's a photo by coastal photographer Siegfried Matull

Two young Gray Fox kits are growing up on the Sonoma Coast. Siegfried Matull captured a photo of the Foxes playing on a Redwood stump at his Sea Ranch home. You can see the beautiful orange-red highlights of the Foxes. In the right light they also have a blue cast to their fur - whoever named them "gray" must have been color-blind! Gray Foxes are also called Tree Foxes for their ability to climb most anything. They are fun to watch and to photograph. Thanks to Siegfried for allowing me to share his photo here.

Here's a link to an earlier photo by Craig Tooley of newborn Fox Kits on this site:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Marbled Godwits photographed on Manchester Beach by coastal photographer Craig Tooley

Last year in September Craig Tooley photographed two Marbled Godwits frolicking in the surf at Manchester State Beach. We're hoping these large shorebirds will make a repeat visit this year. Here's a link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology if you would like to hear what their call sounds like.

I thank Craig for allowing me to show you this charming photo. If you'd like to see more of Craig's photos, here's his web site link: You can also put Craig's name in the search box at the top of this blog to see more photos by Craig. He's one of the best!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fringed Corn Lilies are beginning to bloom on the Mendonoma Coast

Fringed Corn Lilies, Veratrum fimbriatum, are rare, growing in shaded, moist areas on the Sonoma and Mendocino Coasts. The plant's leaves are quite beautiful when they emerge in the spring. Fringed Corn Lilies are beginning to bloom as we head for the first day of autumn. The leaves now show wear and tear, but the beautiful blossom rises above it all.

I have two pictures of the blossom to share with you. First John Sperry's photo, showing the fresh blossom and the riddled leaves.

And next is Nan Brichetto's close-up photo of the blossom.

And if you'd like to see the leaves as they looked this spring, you can click on this link to an April posting here on Mendonoma Sightings!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Pacific Spiketail Dragonfly is seen and photographed in Anchor Bay

Just look at this beauty! When I researched this Dragonfly, I learned it is very difficult to get a picture of one as they are always on the move. And, if they are perched, they are difficult to spot as they blend in with their surroundings. Rick and I were lucky to see it flitting near our neighbor's spring box and then watch it land.  The Pacific Spiketail's Latin name is Cordulegaster dorsalis. The black near the bottom of the Dragonfly almost looks like duct tape, don't you think? And, my, what blue eyes it has! I feel fortunate to be able to share my photo with you here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

American Painted Lady Butterfly graces my garden with its presence

At first I thought I was seeing a Monarch Butterfly - I've seen several in recent days. But when I carefully stalked the orange butterfly with my camera, I found it was smaller.  Flitting amongst the small yellow wildflowers flowers in my garden in Anchor Bay, it landed long enough for me to photograph it.  Some loveliness for you today!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Agaricus augustus - The Prince - continues to fruit on the Mendonoma Coast

Ken Holmes recently found a beautiful wild mushroom, the edible Agaricus augustus, also known as The Prince. It grows in humus rich soils. Oddly enough it often appears at edges of roads. The mushroom has a strong almond odor and it is good to eat. I also admire it for its beauty.

Thanks to Ken for allowing me to share his photo with you. Here's a link to another photo of this mushroom on this blog:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Charming photo by coastal photographer Siegfried Matull of a Raccoon Family

Siegfried Matull has a stump on his Sea Ranch property that became the backdrop for a charming photo. A mother Raccoon and her four kits (also called cubs) were seen climbing on the stump. The baby Raccoon on the right froze on the stump and began crying. Siegfried captured the moment where the mother reached up to help her little one - a charming photo, indeed. Thanks to Siegfried for allowing me to share this photo with you!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dragonflies and Damselflies - so intricate, so beautiful! John Sperry photographed a Common Whitetail Dragonfly

I am fascinated by Dragonflies and Damselflies. When you view them up close you can see their intricate designs and sparkling colors - they are living jewels. These insects have six legs, like all other insects, but they can't walk well. But, boy, are they fast fliers! They are found near water and are beneficial in that they eat mosquitoes, flies and other small insects. How can you tell the male and female apart? The Dragonfly holds his wings out perpendicular to his body when at rest. The Damselfly holds her wings together just above her body. If you can get close enough, the males eyes touch, while the females eyes are apart.

John Sperry photographed a Common Whitetail Dragonfly and has kindly allowed me to share it with you.

And if you'd like to see a Flame Skimmer, click on the link below.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Three Alligator Lizards mating on the Gualala Ridge photographed by Emily Nelson

The male Alligator Lizard "holds" the female's head while they mate. It looks like he is biting her! But in Emily's photo there are two males "holding" her head. One of the males is a California Alligator Lizard and the other is a San Francisco Alligator Lizard, as is the female. Thanks to Gary Nafis for the identification of these critters. If you are interested in learning more about amphibians and reptiles, here's Gary's excellent web site.

Is it good to be a female San Francisco Alligator Lizard? She wasn't talking.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Jackrabbit running sprints on a trail in front of our house - an amusing Monday photo for you

Earlier this week Rick looked out the window to find a Jackrabbit running up and down a portion of a trail in front of our house in Anchor Bay. We couldn't fathom what was going on! The Jackrabbit continued for several minutes, long enough for me to get my camera. I quietly went out on the deck, hoping it would reappear for its close-up. Rick whispered, "Here he comes again." I snapped a picture and the Rabbit froze, looking up at me. I was about 40 yards away. The Rabbit stared for several minutes while I took a few more photos and then high-tailed it out of there. The photos were taken in heavy fog. Perhaps you could consider it mood lighting!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

An unusual photo by Ron Blubaugh of a Gray Fox with a Western Scrub Jay tempting fate

Ron Blubaugh photographed a Gray Fox lounging on a bench with a Western Scrub Jay perched nearby. Perhaps the Fox was full or just lazing the day away on the Mendonoma Coast!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Barn Owl spotted on The Sea Ranch in the middle of the day - a very unusual sighting!

Rich Kuehn's neighbor on The Sea Ranch called him to come over and see if this large Barn Owl was doing okay. When Rich got there it was perched on a fench and nodding off. Rich theorized she - yes, it's a female - was hunting for her young, which a nocturnal Owl such as this usually does at night. But if needs be, a mother will do what she has to do.

To see another photo of this beautiful Barn Owl, go to the ICO's web site, click on on-line features and then Sighting photos!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Beautiful sunset into the fog last night off the Mendocino Coast

The fog hugged the immediate coast late yesterday but when we came home just before sunset, we were above the fog. The way the fog swirled up the canyons made it look like we were living in a dream. Here are two photos of last night's sunset.

Today the fog has gone and sunshine abounds. We might be talking about a green flash tonight!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sugarstick - a very unique plant - was photographed by Nan Brichetto on the Mendonoma Coast

Sugarstick, also called Candystick, is a very unusual plant that grows on the West Coast. Its Latin name is Allotropa virgata. "Allotropa" means turned differently and refers to the flowers that turn outward or upward on this plant. It's unusual in that it doesn't have chlorophyll and is incapable of photosynthesis. So how does it survive? It obtains its food from fungi that are associated with host trees such as Douglas-Fir and Tan Oak.

It's a rare treat to find one. Nan Brichetto photographed this beauty and I thank her for allowing me to show it to you here.