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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Birth of a Harbor Seal, as photographed by Jeannie Claypoole

Three weeks ago Jeannie Claypoole was observing Tidepool Rookery on The Sea Ranch. She saw a Harbor Seal that seemed very antsy. Sure enough, she was about to give birth. Below you will see the baby just appearing, looking like a round ball.

I find this photo quite wonderful as it shows another Harbor Seal taking interest in the birth. The Gull is waiting to perform its job - it will consume the afterbirth.
 And below the pup is out and the mother is taking her first look at her young one.
 There is a final photo in this series and it's posted on the Independent Coast Observer's web site under On-Line Features, Sightings photos. It shows the pup and mother  bonding - a very sweet sight.
Here's the link to the ICO:

Thanks to Jeannie for allowing me to share her wonderful photos with you here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Beautiful wildflowers blooming in the forest

On a hike in the forest with friends, we enjoyed seeing some beautiful wildflowers. The first is Pacific Starflower, which was growing on a bank in dappled sun. The blossoms are very small but exquisite

 In a darkly shaded part of the forest we found this lone Pussy Ears. Yes, the inside of this flower is very soft to the touch. Look at the long slender leaf of this wildflower - it is what you first look for.
 And on the forest floor we found a late blooming Douglas Iris amidst the the tiny, white "shooting star" flowers of Alumroot. You can see the maple-like leaves of the Alumroot.
 And growing alongside a seasonal creek in a sunny spot was this California Wild Rose. Native peoples made a tea out of the rose hips for medicinal purposes.
 It's a beautiful day today on the Mendonoma Coast. The air is so soft and warm you can almost drape around your shoulders. My best to you today, Jeanne Jackson

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The eclipse of 5/20/12, reflected off of Redwood trees in Gualala, as photographed by Gail Hamilton

Gail Hamilton's husband, Dave, was watching the eclipse reflected through a pin-hole in a sheet of paper, as recommended. After looking at it for a while, Gail wandered to the back of her house where she found a kaleidoscope of eclipses dancing on their deck and garage. The eclipse was reflected off their Redwood trees and created quite a show for Gail.

Below is  Gail and Dave's back deck. What an amazing photo!

And below the eclipse as seen off the side of the Hamiltons' garage.
Gail said, "It was unimaginably beautiful. I was transfixed by this amazing whirling multiplicity of images."
Thanks to Gail for allowing me to share her photos with you here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Another precious newborn Fawn photo I wanted to share with you

I know you've been enjoying Ron LeValley's photos of the newborn fawn sleeping on his front doormat. A friend reminded me of a similar situation from a few years ago. A Doe left her newborn on the side of a street on The Sea Ranch! The little one was fast asleep. You will see that security put up two cones to help keep the fawn safe. David McFarland sent in this sweet photo and I thank him for sharing it with us.

We've also had several white fawns born on the Coast but none so far this year. I'll be posting photos soon.

There is always something beautiful to see on the Mendonoma Coast!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Purdy's Iris - a beautiful inland cousin to Douglas Iris

Purdy's Iris, Iris purdyi, is found in Northern California coastal ranges. Emily Nelson found a beautiful blossom growing amidst poison oak on Mountain View Road.

 These California natives are found from Sonoma county north to Trinity county. What a treat to see these beauties. Thanks to Emily for allowing me to share her photos with you here.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A tiny Fawn was sleeping right outside Ron LeValley's front door!

A Doe will leave her fawn in a safe place while she forages for food. Imagine Ron LeValley's surprise when he opened his front door and found tiny fawn curled up asleep on his doormat.

When I saw these photos I wrote Ron that I thought he was blessed by Mother Nature with this visit. He wrote back, "I've been blessed by Mother Nature most of my life!" Sometime during the day the Doe collected her precious fawn and the doormat was unoccupied when Ron returned home.

Thanks to Ron for allowing me to share his photos with you here. To see more of Ron's photography, here is the link to his web site:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sunday's eclipse as seen at the Gualala Arts Center

Sus Susalla and Liz Redfield photographed the eclipse as it was seen reflected off of several different surfaces at the Gualala Arts Center. This first photo is of a sculpture by Robert Holmes that resides in the gardens of the Art Center. The eclipse is reflected on the legs of the sculpture.

And below you will see the eclipse multiplied on the surface of one of the parking areas of GAC.
 And below is when Sus held his camera up towards the sun, something he knows he shouldn't have done, but look at the beautiful photo he captured.

Thanks to Sus and Liz for allowing me to share their unique eclipse photos with you here. To learn more about the Gualala Arts Center, the heart of our town, here's the link:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

An aerial view of Cook's Beach, as photographed by Craig Tooley

You don't often get to see a photo of one of our beaches taken from an airplane. Craig Tooley was up taking photographs for a seabird survey and he took the time to photograph Cook's Beach for us. Thanks, Craig!

To learn how to find this beautiful pocket beach, brought to us by the fine folks of the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy and other partners, here's the link:

And to see more of Craig Tooley's coastal photos, here's the link to his website:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Brown Pelicans continue to stream by - always a wonderful sight!

Brown Pelicans are migrating north, flying in formation just off coastal bluffs. Paul Brewer recently photographed a beautiful Pelican and has kindly shared his photo with us.

There is something about Brown Pelicans that makes your heart sing. Is it their recovery from the disastrous effects of DDT? Is it their grace in the air? Is it the way they use air currents to skim the bluffs? Their big beak? Perhaps it is all of the above. I can tell you one thing - we love the Brown Pelicans that grace us with their presence this time of year!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sunday's Eclipse, as seen through a colander and photographed by Bob Silva

The weather was perfect for watching the eclipse on Sunday afternoon. One of the most creative ways to view it was dreamed up by Deborah and Bob Silva. As you will see by Bob's photo, they put a sheet of white paper on the side of their house and held up a colander. The shadows of the eclipse created a unique and beautiful collage, a true work of art by the Silvas, the Moon and the Sun. That's quite a collaboration!

Thanks to Deborah and Bob for allowing me to share this photo with you here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A rare wildflower - meet the Giant White Trillium, as photographed by Massomeh Roberts

This wildflower is so rare and precious that the location is kept secret - even from me! I do know it is growing on private property in northern Sonoma County. But we are lucky that Massomeh Roberts photographed it so we can enjoy looking at it here.

 Last year Craig Tooley photographed the group of these Trilliums a little earlier in their development, showing the younger white blossoms.
Thanks to Craig and Massomeh for allowing me to share their photos with you here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A beautiful Gray Fox, as photographed by Hal Fogel

Hal Fogel entitled this photo, "Don't feed the Gray Fox." It's a good idea not to feed wildlife, thus keeping them wild. Photographing them is just fine though. Thanks to Hal for allowing me to share his photo with you here.

Hal Fogel, a talented painter, was recently awarded second prize in the prestigious May Show, which is now showing at the Gualala Arts Center. Stop by the Arts Center and see Hal's work!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Royalty has been spotted on the Mendonoma Coast - yes, The Prince, Agaricus augustus has appeared

Rick and I saw the first one a few days ago in the same spot alongside our road where we found them last year. Yesterday afternoon the first button was joined by a second one. And this morning a third one was just peeking up through the redwood duff. The Prince, an edible mushroom, has made its first appearance of the year.

We'll let these mushrooms grow a bit before picking them for our dinner. Agaricus augustus grows in many parts of the world and is known for its almond aroma.

May is a beautiful time for coastal gardens. Hybrid rhododendrons and azaleas thrive here. Here is a peek at a portion of my garden in bloom. The bees are loving the blossoms and so am I!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A rare sighting by Craig Tooley - a baby American Badger

This is the first photo of an American Badger sent in to Mendonoma Sightings in the six plus years I've been doing the column, so you can see how rare it is to see an American Badger. This juvenile Badger had apparently fallen down a cliff and was unable to climb back up. Craig Tooley and Rita Peck, trained in wildlife rescue, were called after members of our ambulance service had seen it alongside Highway One in Sonoma County.

Craig said the little fellow - or gal, we don't know for sure - was VERY feisty. An man employed by the Park Service happened by and helped Craig and Rita get the Badger in a box. They climbed the steep cliff and let the Badger go in the grassy meadow - a successful wildlife rescue!

Below is a photo of a Badger mound that was seen on The Sea Ranch in 2007 and photographed by Dibby Tyler. The Badger was never seen.

To see more of Craig Tooley's wildlife photos, here's the link to his website:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Northern Pygmy Owl visited Peter Baye this past week

Our smallest Owl, it's always a treat to see a Northern Pygmy Owl. Peter Baye reports that he's been hearing them call at his place on Fuller Mountain in Annapolis recently. And one paid him a visit, allowing Peter to get this photograph.

Last year Rick and I had one perch on a deck railing close to a bird feeder. Here's the link to see the two photos I took. I got a photo of the BACK of the owl, showing the false eye spots. They are very realistic!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's easy to fall in love with Harbor Seals and Siegfried Matull photographed one giving birth

The expression on the faces of Harbor Seals is so endearing it is easy to fall in love with them. Siegfried and Gretel Matull have been studying and photographing Harbor Seals at The Sea Ranch for some years now. Recently Siegfried photographed two very relaxed seals. It seems all was peaceful in the rookery.

 And then the Matulls got very lucky. A Harbor Seal gave birth right on the beach and Siegfried got the shot!

And here is the pup with its mom. Siegfried says Harbor Seal mothers are wonderful in taking care of their newborn pups. You can see they have a close, loving bond.

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

Monday, May 14, 2012

Black Oystercatcher and a Sea Star, as photographed by Bettye Winters

Bettye Winters heard and then saw a very noisy Black Oystercatcher on the rocks at the north end of Manchester State Beach. As she watched a wave washed over the rocks and the Oystercatcher disappeared. It then reappeared a short distance away on another rock. I wonder if this bird was surprised to be washed off the rocks like that. He/she needs to heed the warning we humans are taught - never turn your back on the ocean!

If you look closely you can see an orange Sea Star, aka Starfish, on the rocks to the left.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

With the very low tides early in the week, the Gualala was low too!

Thursday was such a lovely day on the Mendonoma Coast. Rick and I, with Huckleberry, our Golden Retriever, walked the Gualala Bluff Trail. We were amazed to see the level of the river had dropped so low. It was, however, still open to the Pacific Ocean. And the river was so clear that Rick saw a Steelhead swimming towards the river opening.

 A couple was sitting on the sandbar when this squadron of Brown Pelicans approached.
 And "Debbie" is obviously loved! This is river bottom, usually covered with water.
 Some of the flowers currently blooming along the beautiful Gualala Bluff Trail.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bobcat, as photographed by Gary Humfeld

It's pretty wonderful to share the Mendonoma Coast with Bobcats. Mother Nature's rodent hunters, they can be seen hunting gophers and other rodents in meadows. One has been spotted in the Iversen Lane area, north of Gualala. Gary Humfeld recently spotted it and captured several photographs. One is posted on the Independent Coast Observer's web site under "On-line features, Mendonoma Sightings" at this link: The other photo I am happy to share with you here.

You can see the Bobcat's unique tufted ears. Thanks to Gary for allowing me to share his photo with  you here.

To see a dramatic photo of a Bobcat caught in a mid-air leap, here's the link:

The fog rolled in overnight, cooling us off. With the low tides and calm ocean this morning, abalone divers descended upon the Coast in great numbers. Vehicles were parked at many key access points up an down the Coast. Hope they had a good dive!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wild Lilac, Ceanothus, is attracting a spectacular moth

There are splashes of purple on the Mendonoma Coast now as Wild Lilac, or Ceanothus, is blooming.

This plant is a host plant for the spectacular Ceanothus Silkmoth, Hyalophora euryalus. This particular moth was photographed by Megan Wilson and was on the small side, about half the size of her hand. Still, these moths are so large and striking, they are a treat to see. Do those white markings remind you of Nike's swoosh logo?
Thanks to Megan for allowing me to share her photo with you here.

It is spectacular on the Coast right now. This weekend would be a great time for a visit!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Newborn Fawn, as photographed by Robert Scarola

Just in time for Mother's Day, the first Fawns have appeared on the Mendonoma Coast. Robert and Nancy Scarola had a Doe give birth in a wooded area near their home last year. So this year they were watching and waiting.  Robert estimates this fawn is two days old and he or she has a twin brother or sister. What fun the Scarolas will have watching this little family.

This precious Fawn is a reason to drive slowly on the Coast. If you see a Doe cross the highway, wait a moment to see if a fawn or two - or even three - might be following behind.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wild Rhododendrons have begun to bloom on the Mendonoma Coast

A splash of pink caught my eye as Rick and I drove down Highway One along Salt Point State Park. It's always exciting to see the first Wild Rhododendrons begin to bloom. Pacific Coast Rhododendron, Rhododendron macrophyllum, is their proper name. We have some bushes on our property in Anchor Bay and consider ourselves fortunate.

Wild Rhodies are found from British Columbia down to Monterey County in California. They are the state flower of Washington State. May is when they bloom so they are right on time this year.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sunday morning's Super Moon in the early dawn

The full moon of May 5/May6 was the closest to the earth it will be in 2012. This is called perigee, a once a year cosmic event. I arose before the dawn on Sunday to take a few photos of the Supermoon. I was hoping to get a photo of it sinking into the horizon but there were clouds that obscured that view. But what I saw was lovely nonetheless.

 A view of the Supermoon through Bishop Pines Trees off of front deck
The weather has turned warm on the beautiful Mendonoma Coast. As I sat outside on our deck in Anchor Bay, watching the moon set, I heard the first calls of a Swainson's Thrush. The beauty of its seemingly ever-ascending trills was in counterpoint to the murmurings of the Pacific Ocean. The occasional bark of a Sea Lion from Fish Rocks added to the moment. I was happy the Supermoon got me out of bed and into the softness of the dawn.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Horse Head Rock at Fort Ross, as photographed by Emmy Plischke

Emmy Plischke recently photographed this rock that looks a lot like the head of a horse at Fort Ross. Thanks to Emmy for allowing me to share her photo with you here.

This year is the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Russian settlement at Fort Ross. The buildings have been beautifully restored and it is now a California State Park. I will be posting photos of this historic site soon. There are many exciting activities commemorating the 200th anniversary.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Newborn Sable Antelopes at the B. Bryan Preserve in Point Arena

The wildlife preserve in Point Arena is once again welcoming new life. Two newborn Sable Antelopes have joined the herd.

Judy Mello, one of the owners of the Preserve, reports they are healthy and running all over the place. Did you know there are guest quarters at the preserve? Talk about a different vacation - helping endangered species and getting a serious dose of cuteness all at the same time.

To learn more about the B. Bryan Preserve, here are several links:

And one of my favorite photos, Tula, the Golden Retriever, visiting her friends, the Grevy's Zebras:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Whimbrel spotted on The Sea Ranch by Rozann Grunig

A Whimbrel, a large shorebird, recently stopped by on its migration to its breeding grounds far to our north. Rozann Grunig was there with her camera to record the event.

Just look at that beak, perfect for eating crabs. Thanks to Rozann for allowing me to share her photo with you here.

There is an extremely interesting article in Audubon's March-April magazine about a Whimbrel named Hope. Google it if you'd like to learn more. The story of her migration is absolutely amazing!

Friday, May 4, 2012

We found something very unusual growing in the forest on our neighbors' property

On a hike with Peter Baye and Will Ericson last Sunday - two of my Sightings experts - Rick and I showed them the ancient, twisted Redwood tree on a neighboring property. Peter declared it a forest god and said it was perhaps 2000 years old. I will give you the link below to see photos I have previously posted of this glorious tree.

We then visited our neighbors Frank and Nan Drouillard who showed us the most unusual growths on the forest floor.

I thought they were a type parasitic mushroom but after some research Peter believes the first photo is California Groundcones, Boschniakia strobilacea, a parasitic plant. Both plants are members of the broomrape family  and live off the roots of Manzanita and Madrone, both of which are found on Frank and Nan's land. More study is needed to determine exactly what the white plants are.

Rick and I will hike down to this spot and monitor the progress in the weeks to come. And I will, of course, share the photos with you here.

Here is the link to see the "forest god" old-growth redwood tree:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tidy Tips, a small wildflower blooming on the bluffs

I love the name of this little wildflower - Tidy Tips. Of course its Latin name is a more serious - Layia platyglossa. This yellow wildflower with white tips is blooming now on Coastal bluffs. This flower is a California native, just like me.

 Tidy Tip seeds are often found in wildflower mixes and you can see why. They are charming indeed.