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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Candy Cap mushrooms have made an appearance in forests on the Mendonoma Coast and a look at what the rain does to Coccoras

It's a small wild mushroom but it packs a punch. It's the Candy Cap, Lactarius fragilis. On Monday Rick and I found the first of these delicious mushrooms blooming under Tanoak and Bishop Pine. This mushroom is only found on the Pacific Coast and the Southeast so other parts of the world will have to imagine the heady aroma it has. When dried Candy Caps smell like maple syrup.

 When the gills are brushed they ooze or bleed a white milk, letting you know you've found Candy Caps. Yellow bleeding Milk Caps are to be avoided, according to David Arora.
And as promised, here's a look at what happens to a Coccora after some rain. It looks like a science project!
Here's a link to see what the Coccoras looked like before the rain caused this mold:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A vertical rainbow in the sky - a photo of a recent Sun Dog by Cathleen Crosby

Recently Cathleen Crosby captured a photo of a Sun Dog, which is also called a Parhelion. This Sun Dog was seen out over the Pacific Ocean. It looks like several Ravens were flying by.

A Sun Dog is a rainbow in the sky but there are no rain clouds. It is formed when light rays pass through high cirrus clouds. The ice crystals in the clouds act as prisms and, if conditions are right, you get this rare phenomenon. Thanks to Cathleen for allowing me to share it with you here!

To see another rare cloud with a rainbow phenomenon, click here to see a cloud falling out of a cloud. It's amazing!

Monday, November 28, 2011

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

Jacqueline McAbery cares for a herd of wild Pintos south of Point Arena. They are beautiful animals and it's a treat to see them on the east side of Highway One. Polka Dot, the mom, was expected to give birth in the summer but she surprised everyone by giving birth in November. Thunder is the proud father. Here's a photo of Polka Dot with her filly, Chie.

To see more photos of the Point Arena Pintos, here's a link to Jacqueline's blog:
And to see a photo of another filly that was born in May, click here and meet Little Lady:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

There was a beautiful sunrise this morning and a Queen Bolete was found!

I wasn't the only one to photograph this morning's beautiful sunrise. Allen Vinson sent along a photo he took on The Sea Ranch. You can compare it with the one I took from our home in Anchor Bay, which is about seven miles north of Allen's home. First is Allen's photo.

And as if the lovely sunrise wasn't enough of a gift from Mother Nature, Rick and I found this Queen Bolete, Boletus aereus, near a path on our property. It is one of our favorite edible wild mushrooms.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving day brought sightings of Gray Whales

On Thursday Gray Whales were seen off the Mendonoma Coast. A few were seen headed north, but most were headed south. It is the time of the southward migration, when the mother whales head down to Mexico's Baja California to give birth in protected lagoons.

Here is a picture of a Gray Whale's tail taken by Rozann Grunig near the Point Arena Lighthouse. Noting the shape of the tail can tell you what kind of whale you are seeing.

Fun fact: The Gray Whales have the longest migration than any other migratory mammal on Earth. They travel 5000 to 6000 miles, twice a year!

Here's a fun web site to learn more about these magnificent creatures:

Thanks to Rozann for allowing me to share her photo here with you.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Young Bobcat photographed by coastal photographer Craig Tooley

Craig Tooley saw this young Bobcat in a stand-off with a Buck. The Bobcat seemed to be calling the Buck's bluff and that's the moment Craig captured this photograph. But the Bobcat's bravado was in vain. All it took was one step forward by the Buck and the Bobcat thought better of the situation. It quickly disappeared into the brush. Sometimes retreat is the best option!

Craig has five other photos posted of this Bobcat on his web site. Here is the link:

And to see Drew Fagan's photo of a leaping Bobcat, click here:

And to see a Bobcat walking a labyrinth photographed by Emily Nelson, click here:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Shrimp Russula has appeared on the edge of our forest in Anchor Bay

On a mushroom forage with David Arora several weeks ago, he introduced us to the Shrimp Russula, Russula xerampelina. When David visited us the next day he immediately spotted a nice big one growing on the edge of our forest.

The first thing to look for is the dark red cap. This is substantial mushroom, unlike some of the inedible russulas. Next look for a rosy blush on the stem. Then scratch the stem and see if it turns yellow. For a final test you can do what Bev Vogt taught me. Take a tiny bite, chew and then spit it out. If its peppery it is NOT the Shrimp Russula.

Arora writes in Mushrooms Demystified, "(they are) edible and unforgettable - one of the least appreciated of our edible fungi."

I have a new edible mushroom to add to all the others I have learned to love.

To see more of the Arora mushroom forage, click here:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Photo of storm arriving on the Mendonoma Coast by Robert Scarola

The Mendonoma Coast has been hit by several cold storms in the past couple of days. Robert Scarola took a dramatic photo of the approaching storm.

The rains have reactivated our wild mushrooms. I will be sharing a few photos of them in the days to come. Thanks to Robert for allowing me to share his photo here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

We share the Mendonoma Coast with North American River Otters

River Otters, Lontra canadensis, can be seen near the mouths of the Mendonoma Coast's rivers and creeks. There is a family of River Otters living in dens on the banks of the Gualala River. They are members of the Weasel family. 

Siegfried Matull photographed a River Otter with a fish, which is their favorite food, and has kindly allowed me to share it with you.

We don't have Sea Otters this far north, for which abalone divers give thanks. River Otters can move on land and sea, whereas Sea Otters never leave the water.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A cold storm is hitting the Mendonoma Coast but Thursday's sunset was beautiful

A cold storm is hitting the Mendonoma Coast this afternoon. We have our wood stove cranked up. Before the storm arrived, the ocean looked like corduroy. The sunset Thursday night was quite beautiful with the sun painting a stairway of gold across the Pacific Ocean.

To see a beautiful sunset at Gualala Point Regional Park, here is the link:  And here's another spectacular sunset, this time at the Point Arena Lighthouse -

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Green Flash was seen Wedneday night and photographed by Cathleen Crosby!

Some days it just pays to watch the sunset with your camera at the ready. This Wednesday Cathleen Crosby was watching the sunset thinking maybe, just maybe, there might be a green flash. The horizon was clear with a thin layer of clouds above it. Sure enough, Cathleen saw a green flash and snapped a picture at the perfect moment in time.

Below is the uncropped photo:

Thanks to Cathleen for letting me share her photos with you here. To see another photo of the green flash, click here:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A mushroom forage with author David Arora

On Sunday Rick and I joined in a mushroom forage led by David Arora in Mendocino County. It was a treat to learn from the person who wrote the definitive books on mushroom hunting in the United States and Canada.

As we've had little rain - until today - the mushrooms were rather sparse. But we did find edible White Chanterelles, Queen Boletes, Shrimp Russula, Coccoras, Laccarias, The Prince and Milk Caps.

Here David is showing some of the foragers the Shrimp Russula.
Rozann Grunig found Laccarias during the mushroom forage.
 After the forage, we went to his house where he showed us the Death Cap.

 Rick and I had brought a beautiful Red-capped Butter Bolete to give to David. We invited him to come to our property the following day to photograph the remaining ones. He also photographed this group of Coccoras at our place.
Here's a link to see the Red-capped Butter Boletes that David photographed:

David Arora's two must-have books are "Mushrooms Demystified" and "All That the Rain Promises and More." You can get them at my favorite bookstore, The Four-eyed Frog.

And to learn more about David Arora and planned forage events, here's his web site:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Two Brown Pelicans and a Gull - an interesting photo by Robert Scarola

Brown Pelicans are streaming by the Mendonoma Coast now, headed to points south. Robert Scarola recently caught a photo of a Gull flying with two Brown Pelicans - something you don't usually see. Did the Gull have delusions of grandeur? Or was it using the stronger birds' wing beats as a lift to its flying? Whatever the answer, it made for a very interesting photo. Thanks to Robert for allowing me to share it with you here.

I love watching Brown Pelicans land in the Gualala River. Late in the afternoon is the best time to see them. They are so graceful in the air but their landings can often be awkward, leaving me laughing out loud.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Full moon rising over ridge near the Jenner Grade

On a trip back up Highway One last week, the moon, in all its autumnal glory, was just making an appearance over the ridge near the Jenner Grade in Sonoma County. It was dusk when Rick pulled over so I could take this photo. Yes, the rest of our drive home was in the dark but the beautiful moon was a silent companion.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Red-capped Butter Boletes found near Quinliven Creek in Mendocino County

Close to the banks of Quinliven Creek on our Anchor Bay property, a group of colorful wild mushrooms caught our eye. They turned out to be the edible Red-capped Butter Boletes, Boletus regius. Another wonderful gift in the forest. Thank you, Mother Nature!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Anchor Bay waves - a beautiful photo by David Wayne Floyd

On Thursday the Pacific Ocean was putting on a show. Just look at the photo David Wayne Floyd took at Anchor Bay Beach.

Anchor Bay Beach is found at Anchor Bay Campground. Here's a link to learn more about the campground and beach:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Great Blue Heron riding out the high surf of the Pacific Ocean

Rozann Grunig captured this dramatic photo of a Great Blue Heron perched on a rock during the wild surf. Storms to our north can cause high surf on the Mendonoma Coast in November.  The heron sure looks like it is hunkered down!

To see a lovely photo by Marianne Rittenhouse of a Great Blue Heron at the moment it takes wing, and to learn more about Great Blue Herons, click on this link:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Song Sparrow brightens our days with its musical calls

Craig Tooley recently photographed a lovely Song Sparrow. They are found across the United States but those in the Pacific Northwest look a bit different from their Eastern counterparts. It fills the air with its lilting song.

To hear the Song Sparrow's call, here's a link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

Thanks to Craig for allowing me to show his photo here. To see more of Craig's work, here's a link to his web site:

Thursday, November 10, 2011


White Matsutakes are beginning to pop. Rick and I found several recently on a neighbor's property in Anchor Bay in Mendocino County. Lucky for us they have given us permission to mushroom there! Here's a photo of Rick picking a perfect Matsutake.

And this is what they look like when allowed to open.

Here is a link to see what the Matsutakes looked like at this spot several weeks ago:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Grevy's Zebra photographed at the B. Bryan Preserve in Point Arena

Judy Mello headed out with her camera to try and get a photo of the Kingfisher visiting a pond at the B. Bryan Preserve. Then she noticed one of the Preserve's Grevy's Zebras eating her roses! No picture of the Kingfisher but Judy got this nice one entitled, "Stop and eat the roses."

Here's a link to a newborn Grevy's Zebra at the Preserve that was startled to see a Gopher for the first time:
And to see what is going on at this fascinating place, here is the web site for the B. Bryan Preserve:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ferruginous Hawk photographed by Steve Wilcox

Ferruginous Hawks are migrating into the Mendonoma Coast where they will overwinter. They are our largest hawk. One of the best places to see hawks hunting is between Manchester and Elk in Mendocino County. Steve Wilcox enjoys "hunting" hawks with his camera. I thank him for allowing me to share his beautiful photo with you here.

The favorite food of Ferruginous Hawks is Rabbits and Ground Squirrels. If you'd like to hear their piercing call, here's a link to Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beautiful Coccoras and last night's sunset

Coccoras, Amanita calyptroderma, are delighting our senses with their beauty in the forest. Their nickname is Creamy Tops. Here is a photo I took this morning at our property in Anchor Bay.

To see some Coccora eggs that appeared a few weeks ago, click on this link:

Last night's sunset shows a few remaining storm clouds. I love the way the sunlight is etched on the clouds.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Queen Boletes made their royal appearance this week to my delight

Queen Boletes, Boletus aereus, fruited in profusion on Friday. A friend, Rick and I found five perfect mushrooms. They are delicious! The ones on our property in Anchor Bay are growing near Tanoaks and mixed conifers. David Arora writes in "Mushrooms Demystified" that they are found in mixed woods and under hardwoods.

Many people confuse these with King Boletes, Boletus edulis, and it really doesn't matter - they are both choice edible mushrooms. They are gifts in the forest. Here's a link to a photo of the biggest King Bolete I've ever seen:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Northern Wheater paid a visit to Mendocino County - for the first time in recorded history!

There was great excitement in the birding world when a Northern Wheatear was spotted in the southern part of Mendocino County recently. Richard Kuehn was one of the lucky few to see the bird, which was on private property. Luckily Rich had his camera and took this picture, which he graciously has allowed me to share here with you.

What was this Northern Wheatear doing on the Mendocino Coast? There has never been a recorded sighting of one here...until now. They are seen in Alaska and over-winter in sub-Saharan Africa. Not much is known about Northern Wheatears as they nest where there are no disturbances from people. Its visit is a sweet mystery.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Five-point Buck photographed by Drew Fagan

Big Bucks are still being seen as the rut is winding down. The big boys move onto the coast in October looking for the most comely Doe. Drew Fagan recently photographed this five-point Black-tailed Deer. Isn't he magnificent?!

To see a picture of Does and Fawns, click on this link: And to see Drew's artwork, here is his web site:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Coccoras are up in all their autumn finery on the Mendocino Coast

Over the past several days the Coccora eggs have blossomed into one of the most beautiful mushrooms on the coast. A dozen or so dot the forest at Rick's and my Anchor Bay home and many more are to come. Coccora, or Amanita calyptroderma, is an edible but only for the most experienced foragers. But you don't have to be experienced to enjoy its beauty.

Coccoras are found near red-barked Madrone, with which they have a mycorrihizal relationship - a relationship made in fungi heaven! To see the Coccora eggs, click on this link:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The sunsets have been lovely in October on the Mendonoma Coast

A week ago I took these two photos of the sunset from Rick's and my Anchor Bay home. I thought the streaks in the sky were particularly interesting, especially in the second photo.

To see several other recent sunsets, here are the links: and

Our lovely, warm autumn weather is about to end with a coldfront due to arrive tomorrow. The good news is the rain will certainly re-start the mushroom season. There is always a silver lining!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The first Matsutakes are peeking up from the duff in Mendocino County

Matsutakes, Tricholoma magnivelare, are just beginning to appear. They come up in the same place, year after year, near our property in Anchor Bay. The first three made an appearance a few days ago. They are growing in sandy soil underneath a mixed conifer forest with manzanita and huckleberry bushes nearby.

The Matsutakes found in our area, the Pacific Northwest, are also called White Matsutakes. They have a wonderful cinnamon. There is no other mushroom like it. Yes, another wonderful gift in the forest from Mother Nature.