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Monday, October 31, 2011

California Sister Butterfly photographed on the Mendonoma Coast

A California Sister Butterfly, Adelpha californica, was photographed recently by Robert Scarola. It is seen around Oak trees, which is where they lay their eggs. It gets its name from the supposed resemblance to the black and white of a Nun's habit. It is only found in California and occasionally in Oregon and Washington. Many thanks to Robert for allowing me to share his photo here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sandhill Crane seen in Mendocino County

On Friday a Sandhill Crane was seen by Mel Smith just off Highway One by the Garcia River flats. Last year about this time two Sandhill Cranes danced in the air in front of my Anchor Bay home. I don't think people would have believed me, as I'm not the most experienced birder, except I got several pictures. Sandhill Cranes are rare visitors to the coast.

I felt very fortunate to see and hear them - a wonderful gift from Mother Nature!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Two photos of a Gray Fox from coastal photographer Hal Fogel

We share the Mendonoma Coast with the beautiful Gray Fox, Urocyon cinereoargenteus. They are often photographed hunting in the open meadows of The Sea Ranch. And that is where Hal Fogel photographed this Gray Fox. Thanks to Hal for kindly allowing me to share his photos with you.

Something caught this Gray Fox's attention!

Fun fact: Gray Foxes are monogamous. Their kits are some of the cutest critters you could hope to see. Here's a link to see Craig Tooley's photo of two Fox kits.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Two photos of Sunday's magnificent Sunset by Gary Klein

Sunday's sunset, Oct. 23rd, was so beautiful that nearly everyone on the coast has been talking about it. Gary Klein took these pictures from Irish Beach and has kindly allowed me to share them here.

Oh, beautiful, for spacious skies...

You can see another photo of that sunset, which was taken by Ron LeValley a little further north, by clicking on this link:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Unusual Beetle seen in Anchor Bay - a Monochamus

I was sitting on our deck reading when a fairly large bug flew into the side of my face. It flew down to the brick deck and rested in the mortar between two bricks. Rick and I had never seen anything like it before. The antennae are longer than the bug's body.

I sent my photo to bug expert Will Ericson. He wrote back, "Oh, that's cool. I haven't seen these in Mendocino before, always a pleasant surprise. This is a Monochamus sp. in the family Cerambycidae." Will told me they are wood-boring beetles and act as essential decomposers of dead trees. They are also known as Sawyer Beetles.

I thought the photo below was interesting with the shadow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Coccora mushrooms just peeking up through the duff on the forest floor in Anchor Bay

Coccora mushrooms, Amanita calyptroderma, are just poking up through the forest duff on our Anchor Bay property. They appear in the same place, year after year. A mushroom expert friend, Bev Vogt, identified them for Rick and me some years ago. She declared this part of our property, "Coccora heaven!"

In the days to come, the white you see below will adorn a golden-colored cap. These are edible, indeed considered choice by some. But with the creamy white top removed they can be confused with the Death Cap, Amanita phalloides. As the name implies, it is deadly poisonous.

I wouldn't eat a Coccora unless I had picked it myself. They are quite beautiful to look at. I will post a photograph here when they are in "full flower."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Yellow-rumped Warblers are moving into the Mendonoma Coast and photographed by coastal photographer Craig Tooley

Yellow-rumped Warblers are arriving on the Mendonoma coast to spend the winter here. Their song can be heard from trees. I learned on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website that they are the only warbler that can digest the wax of the berries of Wax Myrtle and Bayberries.

Here's a link to their site where you can hear their sweet call.

Craig Tooley has photographed this small songbird several times and has kindly allowed me to share them with you here.

To see more of Craig's work, here is a link to his website:

Monday, October 24, 2011

A spectacular sunset photo by coastal photographer Ron LeValley

Last night's sunset was epic. I call this kind of sunset a Biblical sunset. It evolved for nearly a half hour - just magnificent. Ron LeValley captured the sunset at its peak loveliness and has kindly allowed me to share it here. The light comes from the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, which resides in the Point Cabrillo Light Station Historic State Park in Mendocino County .

To see much more of Ron's photos, here's a link to his website:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A beautiful flower photographed at Alder Creek by Peter Baye

Peter Baye found this beauty in Mendocino County, specifically at the back of the beach at Alder Creek. It's Orobanche californica and its rather awful common name is California Broomrape. The color of the flower Peter found is unusual. Because of its extreme environment - salt spray from the Pacific Ocean and marshy sand - it has this lovely purple coloring.

Yes, it's a California native. And if you are a regular reader here you might not be surprised to learn it has medicinal qualities. A decoction of it can be used to treat colds and pneumonia.

 Thanks to Peter for allowing me to share this photo here.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I found my first Boletus edulis - the King of all mushrooms - today! And I have a photo of last night's lovely sunset.

They are like finding a jewel in the forest - Mother Nature's treasure hunt. Rick and I were driving down our driveway early this morning when I saw it, a beautiful King Bolete or Boletus edulis. We had walked down the same driveway yesterday but it wasn't up then. The life force in wild mushrooms must be very strong indeed!

Warm weather is blessing the Mendonoma Coast this weekend and last night the horizon was clear, perfect conditions for the green flash. And there was a small one but once again I missed the shot. I promise to keep trying. Here's how the sunset looked. Beautiful!

Here is a link to a photo of the green flash by Frank Vaskelis:

Friday, October 21, 2011

A tiny frog with a big voice - meet the Pacific Tree Frog

Cathleen Crosby recently photographed a Pacific Tree Frog, Pseudacris regilla, sitting on her spa. This frog can change colors to match their environment but they can't change to match a blue spa. Usually they are green but I've seen them turn brown and rusty-red. They eat insects, occasionally almost as big as they are. They have the ability to expand their body, something that would be helpful for humans at Thanksgiving!

This small frog is found on the west coast of the United States. Males are slightly smaller than the females and they have a black patch on their throats. This patch is actually their vocal sac. I can attest to the loudness of a male calling for a mate. Here Peter Baye photographed one in "full throat." Fun fact - this is the only frog who's call is "ribbitt."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

More lovely wild mushrooms found, this time by Jacquelynn Baas

Jacquelynn Baas recently foraged for edible, wild mushrooms on the Mendonoma Coast. Our early rains have brought an early mushroom season. Golden Chanterelles and Boletus edulis were the treasures she found in the forest - true gifts from Mother Nature.

Jacquelynn is a writer who lives on The Sea Ranch. Here is a link to her author page on Amazon:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A California Red-sided Garter Snake photographed by Peter Baye

I know not everyone likes snakes but we share the Mendonoma Coast with several species. Peter Baye recently photographed this CA red-sided Garter Snake on the Mendocino Coast. Its Latin name sounds like a Harry Potter spell - Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis.

This snake is a good swimmer as you will see in C'Anna Bergman-Hill's photo below. It has the ability to eat Pacific Newts, which are poisonous to most other predators. It has toxin in its saliva that it uses to capture its prey, but this snake is considered harmless to humans.
Thanks to Peter and C'Anna for allowing me to share their photos here!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gualala River is still closed to the Pacific Ocean

On Saturday we again sauntered down the beautiful Gualala Bluff Trail. Yes, it was foggy but we could see under it. It looks like it will take more rain to open the river. Stay tuned!

In the foreground of this photo is the river, then the sand bar with Gulls flying overhead. Beyond is the Pacific Ocean. You can see some fanciful structures made out of driftwood on the beach at Gualala Regional Park.
As we walked on the GBT we heard flapping and splashing. Gulls were bathing in the Gualala River. At the top of the photo you can see where the river has expanded into the floodplains.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The biggest King Bolete I've ever seen was found in the Manchester area a few days ago

Irma Brandt was the lucky one who came home with this Boletus edulis, a choice edible mushroom. She brought it over and Rick weighed it. It was a mighty four pounds. When Irma sliced it for drying she found no bugs at all. That's a lot of porcini mushrooms for the months to come!

In the picture Irma is peeking out behind the big 'shroom. She is also holding a more normal-sized Bolete.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Elegant Sheepmoth - a beautiful and rare moth photographed by Patricia McBratney

Patricia McBratney recently noticed a colorful moth in her garden on The Sea Ranch. She sent me several photographs to see if I knew what is was. Will Ericson to the rescue! Will identified the moth as a Hemileuca eglanterina, subspecies shastaensis, which is commonly called an Elegant Sheepmoth. In one photo there are two moths. Will explained the female was higher on the blade of grass and had attracted a male to mate with her. This is a rare sighting in the Mendonoma Coast and I'm very happy Patricia allowed me to share these photos with you.

And the mating moths.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Last night's sunset and this morning's sunrise - oh, it is wonderful to be on the beautiful Mendonoma Coast!

Rick and I try and watch the sunset every night. We had hopes for a green flash last night but we were stuck with a lovely sunset instead. Let's face it - it always pays to watch a sunset!

And a few minutes after the sun has set.

And this morning's sunrise looked like a watercolor painting with the nearly full moon in the sky.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Monarch Butterflies, the essence of loveliness, are seen on their migration

Monarch Butterflies migrate in the fall. I have seen two or three over the past several weeks. I wish  could report that we were seeing many of these beauties but that isn't the case. This butterfly needs milkweed to feed on as a caterpillar. It would be a good idea to plant some in your garden to help this striking butterfly.

Wendy Bailey photographed a Monarch, the king of Butterflies, and has kindly allowed me to share it with you here.

To learn about Monarchs, here is a link to a great web site:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The first Boletus edulis just found by Rozann Grunig and the Gualala River is full to the brim

I thought this Saturday would be the first day of Boletus edulis, or King Boletes, but I just received this photo by Rozann Grunig of a beauty found this morning in Sonoma County. It's almost as big as the pineapple. Game on for bolete season!

We spent some time watching the beautiful Gualala River yesterday and again today. It is still closed to the Pacific Ocean but it could open any time. The river will break through the sandbar soon and I would dearly love to be there when it happens. I'm told the sound is amazing. Juvenile Steelhead are in the river's lagoon, waiting to go on their next journey. You can see the ocean waves washing over the sandbar in the photos below.

There are lots of wonderful things going on here on the Mendonoma Coast this week! My best to you, Jeanne Jackson

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wild mushrooms are appearing as if by magic now on the Mendonoma Coast!

With our early rains comes early mushrooms! On a walk in the forest yesterday Rick and I found Golden Chanterelles, Cantharellus cibarius, Oyster Mushrooms, Pleurotus ostreatus, and Turkey Tails, Trametes versicolor. Many tiny mushrooms appeared this morning and four round puffball mushrooms joined them. Boletus edulis, King Boletes, can't be far behind. Let the wild mushroom frenzy begin!

These Golden Chanterelles look almost white in this picture.
Growing on a Tan-Oak snag, these Oyster Mushrooms will get bigger in the warm days to come.
Perhaps you know the name of this mushroom? It's some type of puffball. Note the bite taken out of its side.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A surprise in the forest - a Fringed Corn Lily Blooming

On a walk along the Gualala River last Saturday with friends, we can across a rare wildflower blooming in the forest. It is the Fringed Corn Lily, Veratrum fimbriatum. It is only found in Sonoma and Mendocino counties so it is a treat to see. You will see in the photo that the lovely flower attracted a lot of interest from photographer Nan Brichetto and Karen Tracy!

The leaves are quite handsome but are long gone in the autumn. Here's a link to see what the leaves looked like in spring.
We had a lot of rain from yesterday's storm, three inches recorded at our house. I don't think it will be long before the Gualala River opens to the Pacific Ocean. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A rainbow photographed by coastal photographer Carolyn André

The early rains continue as yet another storm hits the Mendonoma Coast. But a storm's aftermath gives us a chance for rainbows out on the Pacific Ocean. Carolyn André recently photographed one at The Sea Ranch and has kindly allowed me to share it with you here.
Wild mushrooms should be making an early appearance this year!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Gualala River - a beautiful, wild river on the border of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties

With the recent rains, the Gualala River is full. Since the river is still closed to the Pacific Ocean, the lagoon has expanded into the floodplains. It's a lovely sight to see. On a walk yesterday I took several photos of this wild river. When we receive enough rain, the river will break through the sandbar. And waiting for the river to open are Steelhead!

To see an albino Steelhead spotted in the Gualala River in July, click on this link:

And to learn more about this beautiful river, the web site of Friends of the Gualala River has it all.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The elusive Western Spotted Skunk on the Gualala Ridge - a photo by John Bower

In the six years of writing Mendonoma Sightings in the Independent Coast Observer, I've only received one photo of a Western Spotted Skunk, Spilogale gracilis, and it was taken through a window. Until now, that is! John Bower found this little Skunk in a trash bin on the Gualala Ridge. After its close-up, John tipped the bin over so it could get out.

 A few old-timers erroneously call this Skunk a Civet Cat. It does move like a cat and is about the size of a house cat but it is indeed a Skunk. If it starts stomping its front paws, back away - fast! It can spray just as well as its bigger brother, the Striped Skunk.

In the winter they eat rodents, adding vegetation and insects to their diet in the summer. Fruit and berries in the autumn are also eaten by this Skunk. Thanks to John Bower for allowing me to share his photo with you here!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Two photos of a Praying Mantis from coastal photographer Siegfried Matull

Praying Mantis is the colloquial name for Mantodea. It's a beneficial insect to have around your garden as it eats flies and mosquitoes, among other insects. It has the ability to change color to camouflage itself.

This picture shows off its lovely wings, wings to make a fairy jealous!

And here is one camouflaged as a stick.
Thanks to Siegfried for allowing me to share his photos here with you!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A wild storm hit the Mendonoma Coast but the Red Tide still persists

Thunderstorms followed the storm. Early this morning lightning lit up the sky. As the thunder rumbled overhead, hail bounced off our skylights. Then a downpour, nearly an inch in less than a half hour, left us with a flooded garage. The sky was beautiful at sunset yesterday evening, with showers marching down the Pacific Ocean.
Yesterday the Department of Fish and Game closed the abalone fishing season off the Sonoma Coast. The Red Tide isn't to blame for the abalone die-off. The theory is a lack of oxygen caused it but studies are on-going. On a trip down and then back up the coast today the Red Tide was still evident, as the photo below shows.

To see another photo of the Red Tide taken by Craig Tooley, click on this link:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

And after the third storm this month, a rainbow morning.

One of the joys of living on the Mendonoma Coast is watching storms approach. And then when they depart, leaving showers behind, we have rainbow days, especially in the early morning. That was the case today, to my delight. Any day you see rainbows is a good day!

My best to you! Jeanne Jackson

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Beautiful sunrise before the storm and golden Chanterelles appear!

It's unusual for the Mendonoma Coast to be hit by winter-like storms in early October but that is what is happening. Yesterday we got nearly two inches of rain at our home in Anchor Bay. Another even bigger storm is due in tonight. Batten down the hatches! But this morning's sunrise was lovely.

Several friends have told me they have found Chanterelles, Cantharellus cibarius, in the past couple of days. This morning, in our forest, Rick and I saw golden Chanterelles just appearing. Notice the Banana Slug approaching them too.

Chanterelles are among the most delicious of the coast's wild mushrooms. Thank you, Mother Nature!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gentian Blue - a rare wildflower by coastal photographer Craig Tooley

An oh-so-lovely blue wildflower was recently photographed by Craig Tooley. Its name is Gentiana affinis var. ovata. Due to its rarity, Craig is keeping the exact location secret. But I can safely say it was photographed on the Sonoma Coast. It is a California native; a perennial herb. I thank Craig for allowing me to show it to you, in all its glory, here!

To see more of Craig's work, here's a link to his web site: