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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Break in storm clouds, as photographed by Rozann Grunig

It was nice to hear the rain overnight. It was enough to freshen our creeks and rivers. Today storm clouds fill the sky, bringing brief downpours. Rozann Grunig photographed a similar day and has kindly allowed me to share it with you here.

One more storm for tomorrow and then the weekend looks dry. If you are thinking of visiting the Mendonoma Coast, this weekend could be ideal. Gray Whales were seen headed north before the storm closed the viewing window. The earliest wildflowers are blooming. I saw the first Bracken Ferns. They appeared as if by magic this morning. You can feel the thrum of life!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Storm approaching, a photo by Allen Vinson

Allen Vinson captured this spectacular photo of a storm approaching and the sunset. And we have a storm approaching today, which is good news! May the month of March be a rainy one so we can get back on track rain-wise.

Thanks to Allen for allowing me to share his beautiful photo with you here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Crab boats have been working the waters off the Mendocino Coast as photographed by Bettye Winters

Crab season was delayed from the Gualala River north because the Dungeness Crab samples weren't big enough. Since the waters off the Mendocino Coast have been opened to commercial fishing, crab boats have been plying our waters. Bettye Winters photographed a boat off of Irish Beach. She said the boat's light lit up her room.

 The boats work day and night.

The fog is about to catch up to the crab boat. Lovely photo. Thanks to Bettye for allowing me to share her photos with you here.

To see a photo of Crabs arriving at Point Arena Pier, here's the link:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Harbor Seal perched on a rock as photographed by Robert Scarola

Robert Scarola couldn't believe what he was seeing - a Harbor Seal precariously perched on a rock, apparently asleep. Those must be sweet dreams as the Harbor Seal looks so happy.

Thanks to Robert for allowing me to share this smile-inducing photo with you here.

Harbor Seals will be giving birth to pups in April. Here's a link to see a mom and her pup by Craig Tooley :

And to see a spectacular photo of Harbor Seals crowned by kelp, here's the link to Siegfried Matull's photo:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pacific Tree Frog with an attitude as photographed by Cathleen Crosby

This past week Cathleen Crosby and her granddaughter, Tali, came across a small Pacific Tree Frog on The Sea Ranch. The way it's looking at Cathleen's camera makes me think this frog has an attitude! This would be a fun photo to have a caption contest.

This is the only frog who's call is "ribbitt, ribbitt." It is usually green but can change color to help camouflage itself. These frogs are found on the West Coast all the way up to British Columbia. To see another photo Cathleen took of a Pacific Tree Frog on a spa, here's the link:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Trilliums - a splash of beauty in the forest!

Trilliums, Trillium ovatum, have been blooming for several weeks. When they are young the bloom is white. But when they age a bit the bloom begins to turns pink. I noticed a few pale pink blooms the other day.

 And Redwood Violets have begun to bloom in sunny spots on the forest's edge.
Violet is the flower, not the color, which is obviously bright yellow!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Edible, wild mushrooms continue to make a welcome appearance on the Mendonoma Coast

On a recent mushroom forage with my husband, Rick, we found Black Trumpets, Chanterelles and Hedgehogs. There is a veritable feast in the forest if you know what to look for!

Rick spotted this golden Chanterelle hiding under Huckleberry bushes.

 And I had luck spotting the hard-to-see Black Trumpets, which are also more properly called Horn of Plenty.
And this is what we did with the Hedgehogs we found - a wonderful omelet this morning.

That's homemade huckleberry jam on the english muffins. Life is good!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spring has arrived early on the Mendonoma Coast

It's no secret we've had a fairly dry winter - at least so far! Last night we had a beautiful sunset, which was accented by a very short green flash. Here's a photo just before the sun set, taken from our deck in Anchor Bay.

Today we are enjoying spring-like weather. Wildflowers are beginning to bloom in the forest. Redwood Sorrel, Oxalis oregana, has just begun to bloom. The leaves are purple underneath and they close if the sun hits them. Yes, they love the shady forest where they reside

In the top of this photo you can see the distinctive, splotchy leaves of a Fetid Adder's Tongue.

And I'm happy to report that the northward migration of Gray Whales has begun. On Sunday five Grays were seen, two of which were Calves. Hooray for our Gray Whales!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Acorn Woodpecker photographed by Jim Garlock

One of my favorite birds on the Mendonoma Coast is the Acorn Woodpecker. We have a pair that is in residence year 'round but others will be migrating into our area soon. A friend described them as "secret agents" because they bob their heads this way and that, while hanging on our feeder. Jim Garlock recently captured a nice photo of an Acorn Woodpecker in flight, headed straight for Jim's feeder!

To see another photo of these brightly colored birds, here's the link:

Monday, February 20, 2012

High surf on the Mendonoma Coast, photographed by John Sperry

This past week we've had high surf on the Coast. John Sperry photographed the Pacific Ocean in full boil mode in the Timber Cove area of Sonoma County. You can see the mist the ocean is throwing into the air. Just beautiful.

Thanks to John for allowing me to share his photo with you here. To see another dramatic photo of the Pacific Ocean that Carolyn André took from The Sea Ranch last month, here's the link:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A fracture in the rock has "broken" the waterfall at the Stornetta Public Lands

If you walked far enough to the south, to nearly the southern end of the Stornetta Public Lands, you would be rewarded in the winter and spring with a beautiful waterfall. But recently a fracture in the rock has caused the waterfall to come down inside the rock. I was standing where last year the water would have been flowing over and cascading down the bluff face.

If you look carefully you can see the fracture in the rock. You can see just a peek of the water and just down from it on the right is the fracture. One day this part of the rock will fall away and the waterfall will be revealed in all its glory. Tomorrow or fifty years from now?

Some of the beautiful offshore rocks seen while walking the bluff.

 And here is the sign posted along Highway One. See yesterday's post for the best way to enter the southern part of these most beautiful lands.
To see a photo of the waterfall before it "broke," here's the link:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Low Tide at the Stornetta Public Lands in Point Arena - breathtaking!

Rick and I, plus our golden retriever Huckleberry, took a hike at the Stornetta Public Lands this Thursday. You can see that it was a lovely day. A very low tide occurred while we were there.

 Sea Lion Rocks are only accessible at low tide. The photo below shows this rocky staircase. As this is a Marine Sanctuary, it would be better to stay off these rocks. And you wouldn't want to be caught when the tide changes!
 We kept Huckleberry on a short leash because of sinkholes like this one and the dangerously steep bluff-faces.
 The main access is off of Lighthouse Road, which is north of Point Arena. Before you see the Lighthouse pay station and parking, look on the left. You will see a portable toilet, parking and these rather uninformative signs. Notice that this one still has a picture of a fish, indicating that fishing is allowed. But it's not!
Here's the sign BLM added when this area was closed to fishing, including abalone diving, in 2010.
Tomorrow I will show you that there's been a BIG change in the Stornetta waterfall.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Northern Elephant Seal lounging on Anchor Bay Beach and photographed by Wendy Bailey

Once in a great while, a Northern Elephant Seal will decide to haul out at Anchor Bay Beach. Wendy Bailey nearly walked by without noticing him because you can see he blends so well with the sand and rocks. And it is definitely a "he" - the big proboscis proves it. Juveniles and females do not have this big nose.

This Elephant Seal looks very relaxed, doesn't he, just barely gazing at Wendy? He stayed for several days before heading to points unknown. Thanks to Wendy for allowing me to share her photo with you here.

To find Anchor Bay Beach, you enter through Anchor Bay Campground. There is a nominal entrance fee. To learn more about this beautiful, privately-owned campground, here's their website:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Calf caught a bird? A strange but true story from coastal photographer Carolyn André

 Carolyn André entitles her sighting as, "A cow, a bird, and a damn near miracle." Here's her story.

"Okay, these aren't the best pictures I've ever taken. But I thought this was amazing. Today I was out near the Pt. Arena Reservation and I stopped on the road because I saw a calf chasing swarms of birds. He was running around, tail up and moving. It was adorable. Reminded me of a cat. He was so playing and clearly having a good time."

"More birds flew around and he chased them still."
"But then he caught a bird!*?* Have you ever heard of a cow catching a bird? A calf at that? I'm sure no one has heard of a calf or cow catching a bird! It was amazing."
Carolyn told me the surprised calf quickly let the bird go. The bird flew off unscathed but surely bewildered as to what had just happened to it. Now that's something you don't see every day! Thanks to Carolyn for allowing me to share her story and photos with you here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

We share the Mendonoma Coast with California Sea Lions. Alan Reinke photographed a group rafting.

Before recent storms roiled the Pacific Ocean, conditions were calm and people were able to observe California Sea Lions rafting up and down the Mendonoma Coast. Sea Lions join together in a raft for protection as they sleep. Alan Reinke photographed a large raft recently.

They extend a flipper out of the water to warm it. The warmth is then sent to their internal organs, helping to regulate their body temperature. In hot weather they will do this to cool themselves down.

Thanks to Alan for allowing me to share his photo with you here! If you'd like to see a close-up photo of a Sea Lion with her pup, here is the link:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Celebrating Valentine's Day - Mendonoma Coast style

How do you say Happy Valentine's Day to the ones you love? Craig Tooley and Rita Peck created a heart made of driftwood on the beach at The Sea Ranch.
Happy Valentine's Day from me to you! And thank to Craig and Rita for this wonderful Valentine.

To see other creative uses for driftwood, here is a link to a driftwood microwave handle and a piece of driftwood that looks just like a whale: And here's a link to see a chair made out of driftwood:

Monday, February 13, 2012

White-crowned Sparrow singing, caught in the act by coastal photographer Craig Tooley

Even though it's winter, we've been hearing birdsong on the Mendonoma Coast. Craig Tooley photographed this White-crowned Sparrow and is kindly allowing me to share his photo with you here. This Sparrow looks like he's quite a singer!

To see more of Craig's wonderful nature photos, here's the link to his web site:
And to hear the sound of this bird, here the link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cook's Beach - a beautiful pocket beach just north of Gualala

Cook's Beach is found north of Gualala. Drive up Highway One until you reach mile marker 3.14, then turn left at Route 526, which is the old Coast Highway. Just to your right is the entrance path to Cook's Beach. The trail is called Bonham Trail in honor of the Bonham family's easements, which made this access possible.

 Below is a view to the south from the overlook on top of the bluff.
 And here is a view to the north from the overlook. Since this is a pocket beach it is protected from wind.
It's a kid friendly beach, as well as dog friendly. And it's a perfect place to watch the sunset.

The Redwood Coast Land Conservancy brought us this wonderful access. To learn more about them, here's a link to their web site:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The first California Poppy bloomed on the Gualala Bluff Trail

Always a welcome sight, Rick and I spotted the first California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica, blooming along the beautiful Gualala Bluff Trail. It is, of course, the official California state flower. Its petals close at night or in cold and cloudy weather.

And, yes, it has medicinal qualities, which Native Americans understood. It is said to reduce anxiety, stop muscle spasm and relieve pain.

As for me, I just enjoy their sunny faces when I encounter them on the Mendonoma Coast.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Pacific Ocean is making itself heard today

Even inside my home in Anchor Bay, one-half mile away, I can hear the roar of the Pacific Ocean. Huge swells are hitting the Mendonoma Coast and the crashing waves create a salty mist that drifts across Highway One. The swells are also creating some great surfing conditions.

Yesterday morning I photographed a nearly full moon in the western sky at sunrise. You can see the swells, one after the other. One friend described this as the ocean looking like corduroy.

 As Craig Tooley likes to say, the edges of the day are a great time for photography. Below is the setting sun shining on the ocean. It's a golden staircase to the unknown.
And what it looked like last night as the sun set into clouds. Beautiful, don't you think? No sunset is alike!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Allen Vinson photographed a Gray Whale off the coast of The Sea Ranch

A lone Gray Whale was headed north when Allen Vinson photographed him recently. I'm assuming it's a male because he was traveling alone. You can see the whale was quite close to shore.
 And here's what we often see, the back of the whale slicing through the water with the spout trailing off behind.
To see a photo of the distinctive tail of a Gray Whale, here's a link to Rozann Grunig's photo:

Thanks to Allen for allowing me to share his photos with you here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lovely Milkmaids are beginning to bloom on the forest floor

Since Rick and I found Trilliums blooming recently it shouldn't be surprising to also find the first Milkmaids, Cardamine californica. They belong to the mustard family. Cardamine means "strengthen the heart" from its reputed medicinal qualities. The flowers are said to be edible, with a peppery taste. But why pick these delicate beauties when we can enjoy them for weeks in the forest? These wildflowers are California natives, just like me.

 Huckleberry, our golden retriever, must have been checking out this wildflower as his paw is in the photo below. This plant is unusual in that it has two types of leaves - the oval one, which appears first and then the flower stalk with the slender long leaves. The oval leaf is a short distance from the flower stalk. You can see this in the bottom right-hand corner of the photo below. The flowers are just about ready to open.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The green flash was photographed by Richard Kuehn!

On February 2nd there was a beautiful green flash and Rich Kuehn was fortunate enough - and good enough - to photograph it from his The Sea Ranch home. Frequent readers of this blog will know that I've been trying, and failing, to photograph a green flash. Lucky for us all, Rich is willing to share his photo with us here.

Rich wrote, "GREEN FLASH - as captured from my dining room. It's the result of the prism-like bending of the last rays of sunbeam through the correct mixture of atmosphere as our planet revolves about the sun. I'm a lucky guy."

Thank you, Rich!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Gualala River is "Steelhead green."

The Gualala River has the perfect color for fishing (catch and release) of Steelhead. Just look at the green color!
 Steelhead was caught earlier this week. However Saturday the river was closed to the Pacific Ocean.
 And there were thousand of Gulls and a few Brown Pelicans enjoying the sunny weather. Those in the river are washing off - you can almost hear the sounds of their flapping!
We have a storm coming in for today. It should reopen the river so the Steelhead can once again make their way into the river.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Trilliums have begun blooming on the forest floor

Yesterday Rick and I saw our first Trilliums of the year on our property in Anchor Bay. Western Trillium, Trillium ovatum, is always a treat to find. But never pick one! It can take years for the plant to recover.

 Below is a Trillium just unfolding.
The flowers are white when young and turn pink as they age. Ants distribute their seeds, as they do for many other plants. Everything is connected - we just need to learn of these connections and respect them. Mother Nature knows what she's doing!