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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Abalone season opens tomorrow and we're also on Harbor Seal pup alert

After a long winter off Abalone season finally opens tomorrow. Whether conditions allow for safe diving is another matter.

April 1st also is the start of watching for the first Harbor Seal pups born on beaches of the Mendonoma Coast. They are very vulnerable, especially to unleashed dogs and well-meaning people who think the pups need to rescued when they don't see the mother. The pups are fine. The mother has gone to feed. If you truly think a pup is in distress, call the Marine Mammal Center at 415) 289-7350. They will send a trained local volunteer to assess the situation.

Mark Hancock recently photographed some of the year round residents off Tide Pool Beach on The Sea Ranch and I thank him for allowing me to share his photo with you here.

To see a sweet photo of a Harbor Seal pup with its mom, here is the link:

And to whet your appetite for abalone season, here's a link to a successful abalone hunt:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Purple Sea Urchin underwater meadow, as photographed by Peter Baye

The Stornetta Public Lands bring us many wonders and here's another one - a Purple Sea Urchin "meadow." Peter Baye was exploring the tide pools of the Stornetta Lands at low tide recently when he photographed these underwater beauties.

These Sea Urchins have excavated pits in sedimentary rocks and live in a big community. They grow to about four inches across and can live up to 70 years. Their Latin name is a tongue twister - Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. They are found off the eastern edge of the Pacific Ocean, from Ensenada, Mexico to British Columbia, Canada.

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

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Common Raven stares down a Gray Fox as photographed by Tim Gonzalez

This a Raven with an attitude. Tim Gonzalez and his wife, Susan, were visiting their friends, Peggy and Mike Mee, at The Sea Ranch. They noticed this big black bird staring at something in the meadow. There stood a Gray Fox, seemingly intimidated by the stern Raven.

You can just imagine what the Raven might say to the Fox. Thanks to Tim for allowing me to share his photo with you here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Big storm hits the Mendonoma Coast, bringing wind, rain and flooding

In less than 24 hours we had 4.9 inches of rain at our house in Anchor Bay. That's enough to cause flooding and, indeed, the Garcia River has flooded Highway One this morning. The seasonal creek the crosses our property was doing its best imitation of a mighty river and was running dangerously fast and very muddy. We were afraid that our golden retriever, Huckleberry, might get too close to the stream so we leashed him up.

I took these photos late yesterday afternoon after 4.2 inches had fallen. Here's Rick and Huck next to the spot on the creek where we usually can jump across - not yesterday and still not today!

 In the upper left is the path we usually take to get down to the forest floor. It was a river too!
Here Quinliven Creek rushes underneath the bridge Rick built with his son, Ron, so we could get across in times like these. This is about as close to the bridge as we've seen the creek. It was a little scary going across the bridge!
 And below you can see the creek as it looks this morning. It's lower and not so muddy but still running strong.
 And amidst all this winter-like weather, a wonderful sign of spring - a Red Clintonia emerges.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sunflower Seastar found at the Stornetta Public Lands

Will Ericson was exploring the tide pools at the Stornetta Public Lands at low tide. He ducked into a cave and discovered this Sunflower Seastar, Pycnopodia helianthoides.

This Sea Star is the largest sea star in the world, growing to more than three feet across. Will said this one was more than a foot across. They eat clams and snails but prefer sea urchins. A lovely "meadow" of sea urchins was nearby. They usually have between 16 and 24 limbs. It *looks* like this one has 21.

I thank Will for allowing me to share his unusual sighting with you here.

To see more photos of the Stornetta Lands at low tide, here's a link to a previous post:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Stengel Beach Public Access Trail - another beautiful trail on The Sea Ranch

Like the Salal Trail, the Stengel Beach Public Access Trail is a little hard to find. To access the Stengel Beach Trail you turn off of Highway One onto Wild Iris at mile marker 53.96. You will then see the pay station and parking on the right. This is a very short trail with a big pay-off with enough rain - a waterfall!

 Below is the sign that you will be looking for at the entrance.
 And here is a portion of the easy trail out to the bluffs.
 Looking down over the waterfall and over Stengel Beach. Bring a coat! It can be very cold on the bluffs.
To learn about the beautiful Salal Trail, here's the link:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

An approaching storm brings a chance for another beautiful sunset

Storms have been hitting the Mendonoma Coast, with three more to go. Last night's sunset was spectacular and I photographed it so you could see it too.

Tomorrow I will be sharing photos of the Stengel Beach Public Access Trail and Waterfall on The Sea Ranch. Rick and I walked it on Thursday, one of the few clear days this week. I'll give you a hint - it's beautiful!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

An Anna's Hummingbird and an Allen's Hummingbird sharing a feeder for a brief moment

Beth Petit caught it with her camera otherwise I'm not sure I would have believed it! Our year 'round Anna's Hummingbirds have been fighting off the migrant Allen's and Rufous Hummingbirds that have been coming through the Mendonoma Coast recently. But Beth caught an Allen's and an Anna's sharing a feeder.
 But it looks like in this second photo that the Anna's just might have noticed there was an intruder at "his" feeder. Watch out, little Allen's Hummer!
Thanks to Beth for allowing me to share her photos with you here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Horsetails date back to the time of the dinosaurs and they are popping up in stream beds now

Yes, Horsetails are ancient plants. In the time of the dinosaurs, they grew as trees more than a hundred feet tall. They have evolved to survive in modern times when the dinosaurs obviously did not. They now grow one, two or even three feet tall. The first signs of Horsetails have appeared in and on the banks of Quinliven Creek at our property in Anchor Bay.

Horsetails are also called Scouring Rush and were used for scrubbing pots. Equisetum is their Latin name and they have medicinal qualities. Native American peoples used these plants to stop bleeding.

We have a big storm coming in late tonight. Last night's sunset showed the first clouds of the storm. Batten down the hatches!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The setting sun look like a golden tornado!

Last month Mark Hancock was driving along Highway One when the sun was about to set. He pulled over and took a series of photos. This one looks just like a golden tornado, don't you agree?

I mentioned to Mark that these are the conditions to look for to see the green flash. He said there was a green flash that night but he missed getting the photograph. I can relate.

To see a green flash that occurred earlier this month, here's the link to Tom Eckle's photo:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wildflowers of the forest, tiny jewels awaiting you

The rains of this week have brought several wildflowers into bloom. One is the delicate Windflower, Anemone oregana. It is also called Western Wood Anemone or Oregon Anemone. It is a California native, though it is also found in a few other western states, including Oregon. It's a perennial herb. The juice from Windflowers can cause skin rashes. Who knew such a lovely little wildflower had a bite?

The petals are so delicate that if you touch them they might fall away. So now we know to look but don't touch. These wildflowers just bloomed on our property in Anchor Bay. They are quite small, perhaps two inches tall, and are on the forest floor near Quinliven Creek.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A lovely Cedar Waxwing photographed by Robert Scarola

Robert Scarola photographed a Cedar Waxwing recently. This bird loves to eat berries and, when berries aren't available, it can be seen hunting insects, especially over water.

They leave our area and head north for the summer, north to Humboldt County and Canada, if they are breeding. To hear their call, here's a link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

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

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday was a rainbow day on the Mendonoma Coast

Mother Nature was a drama queen yesterday. Rain, hail, wind, crashing surf, brilliant sunshine and rainbows. Yes, Sunday had it all, weather-wise. But any day you see rainbows is a good day.

Peggy Berryhill was out walking her dogs at Gualala Point Regional Park mid-morning when she was gifted with this rainbow. Lucky for us, she photographed it and has allowed me to share it with you here.

That's a peek of the Gualala River to the right. Further to the right is the town of Gualala, all embraced by a lovely rainbow.

Peggy is the General Manager of Gualala's newest radio station, KGUA, 88.3 FM. You can hear me on Peggy's Place every third Thursday of the month at 9:08 am.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What a sunset last night!

One storm after another has hit the Mendonoma Coast. And it turned very cold over the weekend. The barometric pressure was extremely low, 29.37 inches, and cell after cell of unstable air roiled over the ocean and coast. It sure made for a beautiful sunset last night.

I dedicate this photo to my sister-in-law, Gail Jackson, who loves the sunset pictures posted here the most.

To see one of the many beautiful sunset photos on this site, here's the link to a sunset from Cook's Beach:

Today has been a day full of rainbows. I will share one with you tomorrow - something, perhaps, to brighten your Monday.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A very wet Western Scrub Jay as photographed by Jim Garlock

Jim Garlock recently put in a birdbath and it has already attracted several species of birds. Jim photographed this Western Scrub Jay during and just after its bath. These photos brought a smile to my face and I hope they do to yours as well.

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

Friday, March 16, 2012

Wight's Paintbrush, a beautiful early bloomer

Debra Mundt was enjoying hiking at Hearn Gulch when she came across an early blooming wildflower. Wight's Paintbrush, Castilleja wightii, is a perennial herb. It is a California native and is only found in California. I thank Debra for allowing me to share her photo with you here.

To see a photo of the rare Mendocino Coast Indian Paintbrush, here's the link:

The Mendonoma Coast is experiencing a very wet storm today. The creek that runs through our property is doing its best imitation of a mighty river. After this series of storms is over wildflowers will burst into bloom on coastal bluffs. Hearn Gulch is a spot I'm definitely going to visit in the weeks to come.

To learn more about Hearn Gulch, here's a link to a previous post on this site:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

We usually see an airplane's contrail in the sunset

Bettye Winters recently photographed a golden sunset with a contrail lit by the setting sun. Many commercial airlines travel just off the Coast, over the Pacific Ocean. This sunset must have been beautiful to see from that airplane!

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gumboot Chiton seen in tide pools by the Stornetta Public Lands

Peter Baye explored some of the tide pools at low tide at the Stornetta Public Lands. He found many wonders. One of them was a Gumboot Chiton, Cryptochiton stelleri, also called a Giant Pacific Chiton.

 And here is the underside of this large Chiton.
Gumboot Chitons eat algae, moving along rocks. They also eat sea lettuce and giant kelp. They can live up to forty years. It seems they have no predators to worry about. They are edible but apparently so unpalatable that one would have to be starving to eat it. "Rubbery" is how they are described.

To read about the wonderful Stornetta Public Lands, here's the link to a previous post:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Point Arena's most famous visitor: Al, the Laysan Albatross

Every winter for the past 17 years a wayward Laysan Albatross has over-wintered in the waters off the Point Arena Pier. Birders from all over the world come to the tiny city in hope of adding this bird to their life list. This year Al hasn't spent much time in the cove and we're not sure why. He, or she - we don't really know, is always absent when it is stormy, and today is very stormy here on the Mendonoma Coast!

Al has an affinity for surfers, often paddling over to "talk." Ken Holmes caught a photo of Al and a surfer and he's kindly allowed me to share it with you here.

There have been reports from fishermen that Al has been seen further north and several miles out. People in the Irish Beach/Elk areas should be on the look-out for this famous bird.

We know he/she is not a breeder as winter is when these large birds give birth. Ron LeValley was on Sand Island in the Midway Atoll, Hawaii on Feb. 7th. He photographed this Laysan Albatross mother as her egg hatched and has allowed me to share it with you here. So wonderful!
To see more of Ron's nature photography, here is his web site:
Last year Al left on March 28th so we know he'll be leaving us soon, hopefully to return again in late November or early December.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Red-tailed Hawk, as photographed by Mark Hancock

Mark Hancock caught a beautiful photo of a Red-tailed Hawk resting in a tree with the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.

This is our most common Hawk. I love their call. You can hear it for yourself at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology web site using this link:

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

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Gray Whales passing by on their journey northward, always a thrilling sight

Gray Whales, mostly mothers with their calves, have been spotted every day this week. On Thursday Rick and I saw spouts from Highway One.

This is what you look for - two spouts seen on the calm ocean.
 As we drove into Gualala we saw more spouts just off the mouth of the Gualala River. Here is a big spout (behind the rock) of the mother and a little spout of the calf.
 Below the calf has spouted again and you can see the back of the mother Gray Whale
 And here is the tail of the calf.
Clouds may obscure our view for a while as several storms are headed towards the Mendonoma Coast. But we know the whales continue on their long journey, the longest migration of any creature on Earth.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Full Moon rising at the B. Bryan Preserve

Judy Mello photographed the full moon rising on March 7th at the B. Bryan Preserve in Point Arena. The Grevy's Zebras aren't paying any attention though, getting a little more dinner before darkness fell.

 And I took this photo early the next morning of the moon setting over the Pacific Ocean. A few wispy clouds decorated the moon. It was mesmerizing!
There have been lots of Gray Whale sightings this past week. I will share a few pictures with you tomorrow.

If you'd like to learn more about the fabulous B. Bryan Preserve in Point Arena, here's their link:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Meet Charlotte Moonface, an Orb Weaver Spider

Tina Doughty noticed this rather scary-looking spider weaving a web near her front door in Gualala. After learning that this spider is harmless - really a good guy in the spider world - she let it be. Her friend, Megan Wilson, photographed the spider, which they named Charlotte Moonface. They became so enchanted with this spider that they brought flies for it to eat.

The Orb Weaver Spider family has more than 10,000 different species and they make up about 25% of the entire spider population. They are among the most colorful spiders and, as you might guess from their name, their beautiful webs are oval.

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

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Green Flash, as photographed by Tom Eckles

Last Friday and Saturday the Mendonoma Coast experienced offshore breezes and there was a green flash each night at sunset. Tom Eckles manged to photograph Saturday's Green Flash. I am quite jealous as I have tried and failed to capture this phenomenon. I console myself with the fact Tom is a professional photographer. Thanks, Tom, for allowing me to share your photo here. Yes, the Green Flash is NOT a myth!

To see more of Tom's photography, here is the link to his website:

To see a photo of the Green Flash by Richard Kuehn, here is the link:

And one more Green Flash photo on this site, this one by Frank Vaskelis:

And perhaps you'd like to learn how to make a green flash cocktail! Here's the link:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Full Moon and a Hawk, as photographed by Joni Goshorn

Last night's nearly full moon shone like a beacon in the cold, clear night sky on the Mendonoma Coast. The full moon tonight should be just as bright as there isn't a cloud in the sky today. Exactly one month ago Joni Goshorn got a lovely photo of  February's full moon with a raptor in a tree.

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

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A pastel sunset

Last night's sunset was lovely with layers of pastel colors. The sun was setting into a fog bank and it's rather unusual to see such color with fog.

A bit of loveliness from me to you today from the Mendonoma Coast!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Such a unique creature - a Praying Mantis. And Gray Whales are passing by, moms with their calves.

Emily Nelson photographed a Mantid, or Praying Mantis as we call them. It's such a unique insect and always a treat to see.

It's no fun for the male who mates with a female. Yes, with most Mantis species, she eats him after the deed is done! This is to provide her and her developing young nutrients. Other than mating males, this insect eats other insects and very small mammals. It is able to camouflage itself by changing its color to the surroundings.

Here's a link to two other photos of this unusual critter:

The weather over the weekend was calm and Gray Whale sightings poured in. Saturday and Sunday there were numerous sightings of mother Gray Whales and their Calves headed north. One person saw ten whales in a short period from Point Arena. On Sunday I saw a mom with a calf, always a heartwarming site - big spout, little spout. Today fog obscures much of the ocean and the portion that can be seen has white caps. Gray Whale sightings will have to wait another day!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A golden sunset, as photographed by Carolyn André

Winter sunsets are the best! Carolyn André recently photographed a beautiful, golden sunset from The Sea Ranch.

Thanks to Carolyn for allowing me to share her photo with you here!

There are many beautiful sunset pictures posted on this blog. Here's a link to one at Gualala Point Regional Park:

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Jim Garlock photographed a Bobcat recently. He entitled it "You looking at me?"

We are lucky to have these fascinating creatures living wild on the Mendonoma Coast. They are great rodent hunters so those plagued with Gophers are always happy to see one pay them a visit.

To see a dramatic photo of a Bobcat leaping, here's the link:

And to see a Bobcat walking a labyrinth on the Gualala Ridge, here's that link:

Being on the Coast today is like being in a dream. A high pressure system is pushing a big storm up into Oregon and Washington (sorry, Steve!), leaving us with a lovely spring-like day.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sunset with Starlings, as photographed by Robert Scarola

Robert Scarola recently photographed the sunset. A group of Starlings swooped into view as if celebrating the sunset along with Robert.

Thanks to Robert for allowing me to share his photo with you here!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wild Turkey flying out of a hedgerow and photographed by Siegfried Matull

You wouldn't know just how colorful the Coast's Wild Turkeys are until you see Siegfried Matull's photograph. This is a male, a Tom, flying out of a hedgerow.

Wild Turkeys, Meleagris gallopavo, will eat just about anything. They forage on the ground but can also climb on shrubs and small trees. And they are pretty good fliers considering their heft! Thanks to Siegfried for allowing me to share his photo with you here.