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Friday, August 31, 2012

Young Western Scrub Jay all puffed up...just what is going on here?

Siegfried Matull photographed a juvenile Western Scrub Jay all "puffed up." He caught the bird molting - growing in its new feathers. For instance, the gray feathers on its head are being replaced with blue ones.

Jays completely molt once a year, an activity that takes place in times of low stress - after nesting and before migration. Other birds that have a complete molt are Chickadees, Flycatchers, Hawks, Hummingbirds, Owls, Swallows, Thrushes, Vireos and Woodpeckers. It's an amazing phenomenon, don't you think? To completely replace each and every feather, that is a lot of energy expended.

To learn more about molting and much, much more about birds, here's a link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: cornell lab of ornithology

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

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A young Raccoon, as photographed by Craig Tooley

Young Raccoons are fun to photograph. They are inquisitive, active and photogenic. That's all Craig Tooley needs to get a great photo.

With the dark facial markings across its eyes, you can see why Raccoons are nicknamed "Masked Bandits." Raccoons are very intelligent and they are quite dexterous with their front paws. Recently a Raccoon got in a cat door of a friend. It proceeded to open each canister on her counter until it found the canister containing brown sugar. Yep, that Raccoon had a real sweet tooth and ate all the brown sugar.

Thanks to Craig for allowing me to share his cute photo. To see more of Craig's nature photography, here's his web site:

To see a charming photo of a Raccoon family, here is the link:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pacific Giant Salamander, an unusual creature that is found on the Mendonoma Coast

Sue Tara was cleaning up her land in Gualala last week when this big guy crawled out from under her deck.

These big Salamanders - they can be more than a foot long - can actually vocalize. If disturbed they give a throaty call that sounds a lot like a dog bark. They start out life in the water and need unpolluted waterways to thrive. Logging is their other threat. What a unique and wonderfully bizarre creature we see once in a great while on the Mendonoma Coast!

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cliff Swallows. as photographed by Jonathan Raymond

Jonathan Raymond captured a group of Cliff Swallow fledglings on a roof. They were calling their parents to come feed them...NOW!

 And Jonathan got lucky with this photo - one of the parents feeding junior with a sibling protesting nearby.
Thanks to Jonathan for allowing me to share his photos with you here. And here's to the hardworking parents of newly fledged babies everywhere. They are amazing in their dedication.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Can you see the woman in the wave?

Ron LeValley photographed a beautiful wave from the Little River Headlands in Mendocino County. When he looked at his photo he saw a woman in the wave with magnificent hair. Can you see her?

To see more of Ron's beautiful photography, here's his website:

And to see Ron's photo of a "perfect wave," here's the link:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A walk at Gualala Point Regional Park, always wonderful

Rick and I always purchase a Sonoma County Parks annual pass. The place we use the pass the most is by far Gualala Point Regional Park. Recently we hit a perfect day with no wind.

 Here is our golden retriever, Huckleberry, and Rick at the start of the trail.
 We walked out to the bluffs and were rewarded with views like this one. Gualala Point Island is on the right.
And we returned an hour later to where we parked my car, a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL. It's a great car for curvy Highway One but it's a tight fit for Huckleberry behind the seats.
To see a sunset photographed at this park, here's the link:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Two Sea Stars, one on a Sea Urchin shell, photographed by Craig Tooley

Tide pooling is a Coast tradition. The Independent Coast Observer prints a weekly tide table, which I always cut out and put on my refrigerator. At low tide, locals and visitors alike head to the beach. Craig Tooley recently photographed two different Sea Stars, which are sometimes call Star Fish. One Sea Star is on top of a Sea Urchin shell.

Thanks to Craig for allowing me to share his photo with you here. To see more of Craig's wonderful photography, here's the link to his website:

To see a photo of a huge Sea Star, the Sunflower, here's the link:

Friday, August 24, 2012

We share the Mendonoma Coast with Bobcats

Thom Matson recently spotted a big, beautiful Bobcat outside his house on The Sea Ranch. It appeared to be hunting for a gopher or some other rodent.

You can see the fog hanging over the Pacific Ocean. Yes, we've been having very foggy mornings this week.  The dark masses on the ocean are some patches of the abundant summer-time kelp just offshore.

Below is one of my favorite photos of a close-up of a Bobcat, taken by Siegfried Matull.

Thanks to Thom and Siegfried for allowing me to share their photos with you here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Ring-tailed Cat was seen this week - a rare sighting on the Mendonoma Coast

Charlie Ivor called to tell me he had seen a Ring-tailed Cat at dusk this past week. It was eating an apple that Charlie had tossed over the fence for the Deer. I have only had three or four sightings of a Ringtail, Bassariscus astutus, in the past seven years, so you can see it is a rare sighting.

Amy Borge has had a family of Ringtails living in her wood box. Amy sent in several photos and one is of a baby as you will see below.

Below is an adult in Amy's wood box.
And here's a Ringtail that got caught in a Have-a-Heart trap and photographed by Frank Aszklar. It was then let go.
Ringtails are shy creatures. They are good mousers and it's said they can be tamed. They are related to Raccoons. Below is a map that shows where in the world you can hope to see one of these exotic-looking creatures.

Thanks to Amy and Fran for sharing their photos with us here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Paper Wasp nest in my birdhouse was suddenly destroyed

Rick and I were shocked when we noticed the Paper Wasp nest in our birdhouse had been attacked and destroyed. The nest that they attached to the inside ceiling is gone and no wasps are coming and going.

Skunks are predators of Wasps, so we are pretty sure one was the culprit.

To see what the outside of the birdhouse looked like before the Skunk ripped it apart, here's the link:

And here's a photo of the wasps coming and going:

It was a beautiful work of art before the Skunk had its way. I've read to prevent this from happening again, you should tack up aluminum foil on the inside ceiling of the birdhouse. Then the wasps wouldn't be able to attach their nest. Looks like I'll be doing that this winter. I would prefer birds in our birdhouse!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Nocturnal view of the Point Arena Lighthouse, as photographed by Sus Susalla

Sus Susalla is the Executive Director of the Gualala Arts Center. A few months ago the Art Center had a class called, "Introduction to Night Photography." Sus took the class and just look at the results.

What a spectacular photo! The Point Arena Lighthouse shines in the night sky. Thanks to Sus for allowing me to share his photo with you here.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Surfing is a way of life for some on the Mendonoma Coast

Ken Hofer enjoys surfing up Point Arena way. There are several nice surfing spots on the coast. Here's a photo of Ken and his surfboard, with Ken's wife, Carol, very much enjoying the sunny day.

Thanks to the Hofers for allowing me to share their photo with you here.
To see some of our areas surfing spots, here are a few links:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Prince mushrooms continue to fruit on the Mendonoma Coast

Agaricus augustus, The Prince, continues to make its royal appearance. Rick and I saw a new group of this edible mushroom growing just off our road in Anchor Bay. They are having a long fruiting season this year. Irma Brandt photographed these on the last day in May. She called them soldiers on Memorial Day.

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

Update: The paper wasp nest that took over one of our birdhouses has been wiped out, probably by a skunk. I'll post a photo tomorrow.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Five point Buck photographed by Sharon Albert

Sharon Albert came across a beautiful five-point Buck, a very healthy-looking one. She wrote, “I disturbed this guy’s meal as I drove by. He was on Timber Ridge, near Annapolis Road. I’ve often seen groups of Bucks in that area, four or five at a time. This one was particularly impressive.” 

Yes, come the fall, this magnificent Buck will surely impress the ladies.

Thanks to Sharon for allowing me to share her photo with you here. To see another five-point Buck, here's the link:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Star Lily, as photographed by Richard Hansen

Star Lilies bloom in late spring and early summer on the Mendonoma Coast. Their Latin name has recently been changed from Zigadenus fremontii to Toxicoscordion fremontii. All parts of this plant are deadly, hence its other name, Death Camas. Richard Hansen recently photographed one.

This California native often grows alongside roads. It's a perennial herb. Knowing of its toxicity, we just admire this plant from a distance.

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bald Eagle photographed in Jenner by Coastal photographer Siegfried Matull

Siegfried and Gretel Matull were parked at Jenner, overlooking the mouth of the Russian River. They were watching the Harbor Seals lounging alongside the river bank when a large bird flew by. Gretel thought it was an Osprey but it turned out to be a Bald Eagle.

What a thrilling sight to see this beautiful bird, which is an adult. We continue to hope that a pair will soon nest on the Mendonoma Coast.

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

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Such an unusual insect - a California Walking Stick

Sus Susulla noticed a very strange bug on the screen door of his Gualala home. It turned out to be a California Walking Stick.

They are in the family Timenas. Not much is known of the unique insect but we do know they eat plants.

Cathleen Crosby also spotted one and her photo gives us a different perspective on this weird-looking insect. Isn't Mother Nature creative?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Raccoons love Huckleberries too!

Craig Tooley has a old Redwood stump near his property. Inside grows a nice, big Huckleberry bush. He spotted these two juvenile Raccoons planning on how to get them.

Yes, we aren't the only creatures who crave the Mendonoma Coast's wild blueberries! Thanks to Craig for allowing me to share his photo with you here.

If you like to see more of Craig's wildlife photography, here's his website:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Buck at sunset plus some bonus Doe and Fawn photos, all by Nancy Padgett

Nancy Padgett enjoys the wildlife that comes to the meadows near her home on The Sea Ranch. Her two cats, Oscar and Emily, often let her know when something of interest is outside. Emily noticed this Buck on the bluffs at dusk.

 Here is Oscar on guard duty. You will see a family of Deer under the tree.
 Here's a Doe with her two Fawns. Nancy titled this photo, "Are you lookin' at me?!"
 And Nancy thinks the Doe was saying, "Don't come any closer."
Thanks to Nancy, Emily and Oscar for sharing their photos/sightings with us here.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A photo of a young Brown Pelican with an attitude, as photographed by Ron Bolander

The streams of Brown Pelicans headed north has diminished. The young ones that had to be rescued were successfully released last week. A juvenile landed in the garden area of the Point Arena Lighthouse several weeks ago and had itself a nice rest before flying off. Ron Bolander photographed the youngster. Does't it look like it's a bird with an attitude?

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

We love the Brown Pelicans that fly just off the bluffs as they migrate north and then back south later this year. They continue to recover from the devastating effects of the pesticide DDT, which was banned in the early 1970's. Brown Pelicans are no longer on the endangered species list, which is great news for all whose hearts beat a little faster when they see a group in graceful formation.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A green flash that turned into something more, as photographed by Coastal photographer Ron LeValley

August 7th was the day Ron LeValley caught magic with his camera. He photographed the setting sun in the hopes of capturing a green flash from the Little River Headlands in Mendocino County. To see a green flash is special enough but this one turned blue and then violet on each side.

What an incredible photo! Rick and I have purchase a copy so we can have it in our home. Here's the link to Ron's web site if you'd like to own a copy too:

I have several photos of the green flash on this site. Here's a link to one of them:

Thanks to Ron for allowing me to share this unique photo with you here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Salmon fishing has been great off the Mendonoma Coast

After two years of closures and last year's sub par year, it's a joy to report that the fishing for King Salmon has been great off our coast. Jack Likins and Charles Zinser fished out of Arena Cove in Point Arena and look at the big one that didn't get away - 27.5 pounds of beautiful Salmon.

You will see that the two men went out in a Zodiac. And that's sure a happy smile on Charles' face.

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gray Foxes, as photographed by Jan de Vries

It is always a treat to see Gray Foxes. The open meadows of The Sea Ranch are a great place to catch a sighting. Jan de Vries photographed a family of Gray Foxes recently near his Sea Ranch home.

Here the parents are enjoying the sun. Living lightly on the land is the motto of TSR and these Foxes have joined right in.

 Below Mom is feeding a rambunctious Kit.
 And here I think she looks a little worried - perhaps her Kit is nursing a little to enthusiastically.
 And Dad keeps a careful eye on his family.
Thanks to Jan de Vries for allowing me to share his charming photos with you here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fake Owl doesn't scare this bird!

Adrian Bennett put up a fake Owl in the hopes that it would scare off some of the numerous Jays that come to her feeder as she prefers to feed the smaller birds. You will see how well this worked.

This Western Scrub Jay is probably thinking, "Thanks, Adrian, for the nice perch."

There is a true pecking order at the bird feeder Rick and I have up. First the Acorn Woodpeckers, then the Jays - Western Scrub and Steller. After these bigger birds, the smaller ones feed. Some appreciate the seeds that were knocked to the ground by the Jays, particularly the Spotted Towhees. The birds seem to get along and know their place in this pecking order.

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

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tiger Lilies, as photographed by Irma Brandt

The last of this year's Tiger Lilies are blooming on the Mendonoma Coast. Also called Leopard Lilies because of the spots they sport, they are a treat to find. Irma Brandt recently photographed several of these native wildflowers.

You should never pick this wildflower, as the spent flower forms a seed pod. Inside this pod will be tiny black seeds. When the pod dries up, the seeds are released. Hopefully a few will find a suitable spot to thrive.

Tiger Lilies are found near water. There are several small groups on our road in Anchor Bay that are growing near a neighbor's spring box. To see a Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly feeding on a Tiger Lily, here's the link:

Speaking of not picking wildflowers, it is illegal to pick any wildflowers on public land in the State of California. So look but don't cut!

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

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Long-tailed Weasel, a rare sighting, as photographed by Walt Rush

A Long-tailed juvenile Weasel, a member of the family Mustelid,  was seen earlier this week but no photo was taken. Walt Rush had one appear outside his studio at Irish Beach a while ago and he did get a photo.

And below is the Weasel's burrow.
I'll be telling the story of this week's sighting in my Mendonoma Sightings column in the Independent Coast Observer. It's now available in an on-line edition. There is a fee but it's worth it! Here's the link to the ICO:

Long-tailed Weasels are carnivores, eating gophers, mice and other rodents. Their long, slender bodies allow them to follow rodents right into their burrows. They can climb trees and are good swimmers too. Owls and Hawks are predators of this short-legged animal with the big ears.

Other members of the Weasel family here on the Mendonoma Coast include Fishers, Badgers and River Otters.

To see a photo of River Otters - a mother with her pup - here's the link:

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

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Brush Rabbit - one of the cuter critters on the Mendonoma Coast, as photographed by Coastal photographer, Craig Tooley

Rick and I occasionally see these cute Brush Rabbits, often affectionately called bunnies. They need bushes for protection so the native manzanitas and huckleberry bushes are important to them.

Brush Rabbits are a species of Cottontail Rabbits. They are vegetarians, nibbling on greens and bark. They do like berries too, so those nicely laden huckleberry bushes will be visited by these cute, little rabbits too. This species is only found on the West Coast from Oregon to Baja California.

Thanks to Craig for allowing me to share his photo with you. To see more of Craig's wonderful wildlife photography, here's his website:

Friday, August 3, 2012

Surfing off Arena Cove in Point Arena, as photographed by Michelle Schubert

Surfing is popular off of Arena Cove in Point Arena. Recently Michelle Schubert photographed someone enjoying the waves.

It's necessary to wear a wet suit as the water is always cold off the Mendonoma Coast.

Thanks to Michelle for sharing her photo with us here. To see a photo of surfing off of Black Point Beach on The Sea Ranch, here's the link:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Raccoon mother carries her youngster...upright, as photographed by Coastal photographer Siegfried Matull

I'll let Siegfried tell the story:

“Every year we look forward to the moment when the animals and birds show up for the first time with their babies. Earlier in July it finally happened – a Raccoon mother and her tiny two babies came to our property. All of a sudden one of the little ones quickly ran away, but the mother followed immediately. We could not believe our eyes when she picked up the baby with her front legs and her teeth, and then returned it to the other baby, walking upright on her hind legs. We have never seen that before! When she reached the other baby she dropped her or him down, right next to the other sibling.

Thanks to Siegfried for sharing his photo with us here. To see another of Siegfried's Raccoon photos, this one with a mom and four little masked bandits, here's the link: