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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dyer's Polypore appears!

Dyer's Polypore, Phaeolus schweinitzii, a fungus that helps decompose wood, has emerged in the same place we spotted it last year. This year it fruited a month later than in 2011.

It's only two inches across now but it will grow in the days to come. Here's a link to how it looked last year after it grew for several weeks:  This fascinating mushroom can be used to dye fabric. Depending on the age of the mushroom, the color will be orange, yellow, golden or brown.

It is a harbinger of autumn, just a little late this year!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

This morning some surprises were seen alongside the Gualala River

The fog was heavy and cold this morning but as we walked alongside the Gualala River we left the fog behind. The river is low, waiting for the rains to come. The water is crystal clear.

 Of course we took our golden retriever, Huckleberry, along. He LOVES the Gualala River.
And taking a gravel bath afterwards. Life is very good indeed when you are a golden.
 Walking back Rick saw this little Chorus Frog jump. Its new name is Sierran Tree Frog.
Entering the forest we were surprised to see fresh Oyster Mushrooms growing on downed tree. A Banana Slug is enjoying a nice meal, provided courtesy of Mother Nature. The fog has been so heavy and dense, there was enough moisture for this edible mushroom to fruit.
 Autumn on the Mendonoma Coast - it's magic!

Friday, September 28, 2012

A house cat stalking a Mountain Lion? Strange but true.

Lynne  Barnard saw a young Mountain Lion outside her Sea Ranch home. She couldn't believe her eyes when she saw the neighbor's cat, "Truffles," stalk the cougar.

Truffles, a black house cat, is on the left. The young Mountain Lion is on the right, looking at the too-brave cat. The story is in this week's Independent Coast Observer. But I will tell you Truffles survived.

Thanks to Lynne for sharing her great sighting and photo.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The fall migration of shorebirds is taking place on the Mendonoma Coast

One of the shorebirds we see during the fall migration is the Red-necked Phalarope. Several were seen off of the Point Arena Pier. Craig Tooley photographed one off of Sonoma County recently.

It looks like it is talking back to Craig. This endearing bird spins in circles on top the water like a wind-up toy. This is how they feed. They create an upwelling that brings food particles up to them.

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A rare wildflower found at Manchester State Park

On a recent visit to the northern portion of Manchester State Park, Rick and I found quite a few Yellow Sand Verbenas blooming. But near a lagoon we found a small colony of Pink Sand Verbenas, a rare plant. Its Latin name is Abronia umbellata, subspecies breviflora.

Peter Baye identified this sand-loving plant for me. He also took the close-up photo above.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How big was it? A really BIG Abalone!

As promised, here are a few more photos of the 10 13/16th inch Abalone Ken Bailey found while diving off of The Sea Ranch. It is uncommonly large for an area that sees abalone divers often during the season. It's an all-time record for Ken.

These photos were taken by Ken's diving buddy, Jack Likins. They are in the process of filming a sequel to their DVD "Hunt for Red Treasure" and caught this find on film. 

Thanks to both of these awesome abalone hunters.

To see another photo of these two with their trophy abalones and a lingcod, here's the link:

Monday, September 24, 2012

A hike at Gualala Point Regional Park brought a sighting of a Praying Mantis

Last Thursday morning, Rick and I, along with our golden retriever, Huckleberry, took a hike at Gualala Point Regional Park. It was a breezy day and the fog had pulled back leaving us in sunshine.

This is the view from one of the trails. On the middle right is the Gualala River lagoon. On the bluffs is the town of Gualala. The rocky islands in the middle are Fish Rocks, where a large colony of Sea Lions live.

Something moved in the grasses that caught my eye. When I looked at my photograph, I found I had photographed a Praying Mantis!

Paying attention to things both big and small brings unexpected surprises!

To see one of the most popular photos on this blog, here's the link to Siegfried Matull's photo of a Praying Mantis with its wings extended:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Love in the morning - two Fawns as photographed by Adrian Bennett

Adrian Bennett entitled this photo "Love in the morning." I think you will see why.

Two Fawns with their necks entwined with the mother in the grass behind them. You can see a wave just about to break in the Pacific Ocean. A peaceful scene at Adrian's home on The Sea Ranch. I thank her for allowing me to share it with you here.

To see two of my favorite newborn fawn photos, here are the links:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Monarch Butterfly graces my garden

Earlier this week a Monarch Butterfly visited my garden. A butterfly bush paid dividends when this beauty came to feed on it.

Monarch Butterflies are Mother Nature's stained glass creation - a vision of loveliness to brighten our day.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A huge Abalone was found off The Sea Ranch by Ken Bailey

Ken Bailey and his diving buddy, Jack Likins, were amazed at the huge Abalone Ken found while diving last Saturday.

That is an eleven inch gauge. Ken's abalone measured 10 13/16 inches. As his wife, Wendy, put it, "It was a BEAST!!!"  It weighed 9.6 pounds in the shell and 6.3 pounds out of the shell. That's a lot of good eating.

Ken and Jack were filming that day and caught this catch on film. They are in the process of creating their next abalone diving movie. It will be titled, "The Secrets of Successful Abalone Diving." Yes, they sure do know how to successfully dive for abalone!

Thanks to Ken for allowing me to share his photo with you here. In a few days I will show you a photo of Ken with this beast of an abalone.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fringed Corn Lilies are blooming on the Mendonoma Coast

Fringed Corn Lilies are only found in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. They are rare and special. Growing near water, their huge leaves amaze us in the spring. By the time the flower stalk with white flowers appears, the leaves have been munched on by insects. But the lovely flower rises above the mangy leaves and is a beautiful sight.

John Sperry recently photographed one blooming near Timber Cove.

Actually, the leaves in John's photo don't look very eaten. If you'd like to see some of these endemic flowers,
there are several growing along the pathway to Cooks Beach just north of Gualala.

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

Here's a link to see the leaves in the springtime:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Young Bobcat spotted at The Sea Ranch

Jan de Vries spotted a young Bobcat near his home of The Sea Ranch. It sure looks to be a young one.

This Bobcat hasn't really filled out yet but he's already out hunting rodents. Have I mentioned The Sea Ranch has plenty of gophers? Bobcats can be seen hunting gophers in grassy meadows during the daytime.

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

To see a Bobcat walking a labyrinth on the Gualala Ridge, here's the link:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Molting - it's what birds do!

Craig Tooley recently photographed a juvenile Acorn Woodpecker growing in new feathers.

I love these clown-faced Woodpeckers. They fly in, with their swooping motion, and land on Bishop Pine trees near our bird feeder. Once on the feeder, the bird acts like a secret agent, looking here and there while bobbing its head.

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

Monday, September 17, 2012

A few more views from our day at Manchester State Park, including possible tsunami debris

As I showed you yesterday, there is a lovely little lagoon on the northern portion of Manchester State Beach. There I saw two birds wading in the water. The one on the left was about half the size of the other one. Ron LeValley identified it as a Pectoral Sandpiper. The bird on the right is a Short-billed Dowitcher.

Below there is a portion of a boat, with the metal piece that held the anchor, that recently washed up on the beach. Someone has already incorporated it into a driftwood "building."
And below Mel Smith and Linda Bostwick are standing next to a small refrigerator. It's very heavy. This and the portion of the boat might be precursors of the tsunami debris head our way from the Japanese disaster.
We were lucky and had a sighting of an Elegant Sheepmoth for our own!
And as we picked up debris, a flock of Canada Geese passed by, their wingbeats were audible in the calm morning air.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Coastal Clean-up at Manchester State Beach

Yesterday, Saturday, was Coastal Clean-up day so Rick and I met Linda Bostwick and Mel Smith at the northern end of Manchester State Beach. The fog was just off the coast and the air was cool, perfect for scouring the beach and lagoon for trash.

Here's the path from Highway One. The woods contain walk-in campsites.

Below Linda Bostwick with her poodle, Devi, stand in one of the campsites.
As we walked further into the park we saw beautiful grasses and sedges. A group of Cattails waved in the breezes. The Point Arena Lighthouse stands to the far left.
Below is a beautiful, small lagoon. Tomorrow I will show you two Sandpipers who were fishing in it.
And here is the result of our labors. Rick, Mel and Linda with the debris we picked up. Two items were left on the beach because they were too heavy - a small refrigerator and a small but heavy tire. These could be precursors of the tsunami debris that will  hitting our coast in the months to come.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A beauty of a moth - meet the Elegant Sheep Moth

Karen Tracy and a friend were walking on the bluffs recently when they came across this beautiful Elegant Sheep Moth, Hemileuca eglanterina. It is a Silk Moth and a California native. This moth only appears in the summer and is a rare sighting.

With its pink wings highlighted in black and its yellow body, this is one beautiful moth. No surprise, this California native feeds on native plants, which include Ceanothus and California Coffee-Berry.

Thanks to Karen for allowing me to share her photo with you here. To see another photo of this moth showing two mating, here is the link:

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Gray Whale and her Calf have been spending quality time off the Mendonoma Coast

An adult Gray Whale and her juvenile - a calf born earlier this year - have been seen for a week now. It is thought that these whales did not migrate to the Arctic Circle. This is an exciting development for the Grays. They are considered  part of the new Pacific Aggregate Coastal Gray Whales.

Jim Garlock took the photo above. You can see a blow drifting above the Gray Whale. These whales are actually "rock picking," sucking up anthropods and other tasty treats from the rocks, rather than moving mud around as they do in the Arctic.

These two whales have been seen very close to shore, as Robert Scarola's photo will attest. It's very exciting to have them here during summer. Perhaps this will become a regular occurrence.

Thanks to Jim and Robert for allowing me to share their photos with you here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Twisted old growth Redwood Tree over two thousand years old

This old-growth Redwood grew in a twisted fashion. That's what save it from the logging activity that went on here on the Mendonoma Coast in the 1800's. Thank goodness! It stands like a forest god, over two thousand years old. It is on a neighbor's property but we are able to hike down to visit it.

Craig Tooley recently photographed this magnificent tree. You will see that Rick, Huckleberry and I are dwarfed by it. The first time I saw it my heart raced. What a treasure to find in the forest.

To see more of Craig's Coast photography, here's the link to his web site:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An old growth Redwood Tree along the banks of the Gualala River

Named the McCabe Tree, this old growth Redwood is difficult to find. It sits on private land so perhaps you should just enjoy Rob Elder's photo. Rob and Jackie Baas recently made the trek to find this beautiful tree.

Here you will see Jackie in front of this tree. They can live for several thousands of year and they are to be cherished. Tomorrow I will show you a photo of one near our property that was sparred the loggers' axes because it grew twisted.

Thanks to Rob for sharing his photo with us here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Young Brown Pelican pays a brief visit to the Point Arena Lighthouse

Lighthouse Willie, aka Bill Brown, works at the Point Arena Lighthouse. He is privileged to see a great deal of wildlife. A climb to the top of the lighthouse affords wonderful views and should be on your list of things to do when you are on the Mendonoma Coast.

During the migration northward of juvenile Brown Pelicans, one landed in front of the Lighthouse and rested for a while before taking off.

Here's hoping this young Brown Pelican found plenty of fish on its journey north and that we will see it pass by on its way southward.

Thanks to Willie Brown for sharing his photo with us here.

To see a photo of a Brown Pelican plunge diving for fish, here's the link:

Monday, September 10, 2012

The sheep herd on The Sea Ranch

The Sea Ranch Ranch keeps the grasses down by employing a herd of Sheep and Goats. They have become an attraction for tourists and locals.

Every once in a while the herd escapes their movable enclosure and are on the lam. Rich Edwards photographed the escaping herd which had headed for the bluffs. As this land used to be a sheep ranch, it tickles people to see them on the bluffs once again.

The fellow who owns the flock is then called and, along with his hardworking dog, he herds the flock back into their enclosure.

Thanks to Rich for sharing his photo with us here.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Spotted Towhee, a beautiful bird that I see often underneath our bird feeder

Spotted Towhees are large Sparrows found in the West. Previously called Rufous-sided Towhees, they can be seen hopping in leaves, looking for seeds or other food. They make a double scratching motion in their search for food, which includes insects. They are a striking bird, as Robert Scarola's photo will show.

Except when the male is singing in the spring to attract a mate, these birds are mostly quiet. Their hopping/scratching motion is what attracts my attention when they are under our bird feeder scoring seeds knocked out by the various Jays.

Thanks to Robert for allowing me to share his photo with you here. To hear the songs and calls of a Spotted Towhee, here's a link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Harbor Seal pup is washed off a rock

It is amazing how easily Harbor Seals can perch on a rock. Sometimes a wave comes along and sweeps one or two into the Pacific Ocean. Siegfried Matull captured a group of Harbor Seals, one of which just got swept off and is climbing back up. Yes, it is a young one, a pup.

You can see how the other two Harbor Seals lift their tails and heads as they balance on the slippery kelp-covered rock. Great photo from Coastal Photographer Siegfried Matull and I thank him for allowing me to share it with you here.

To see another of Siegfried's Harbor Seal photos, this one of two of them crowned with kelp:

Friday, September 7, 2012

Gray Fox Kits are growing bigger, as photographed by Robert Scarola

You can see the Gray Fox Kits in Robert Scarola's photo are growing up. These two  youngsters were enjoying the nice, warm rock to laze away the afternoon.

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

To see a photo of very young Fox Kits, here's the link:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fog drifts up Fish Rock Canyon, as photographed by Karen Tracy

The Mendonoma Coast has been enveloped in fog the past two days. It quiets down the sound of the barking Sea Lions on Fish Rocks. Karen Tracy photographed the early morning fog drifting up below her home in Anchor Bay.

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

To see a photo of another beautiful sunrise, here's the link:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Two strangely colored Jays

Two photos of strangely colored Jays came in. One, photographed by Hal Fogel in The Sea Ranch, is of a Western Scrub Jay. The second is a Steller's Jay that Fred Leif photographed in Timber Cove. It is thought these two are partially leucistic, a birding term for albinism.

Both birds were shunned and even chased away by others of its kind. I think there is great value in being "one of a kind."

Thanks to Hal and Fred for allowing me to share their photos with you here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Gray Fox in Rozann Grunig's front yard

A Gray Fox paid a visit to Rozann Grunig's The Sea Ranch home. It turned and posed so Rozann could get this photo. These Foxes are great rodent hunters. TSR seems to have a great abundance of Gophers so this small hunter is a welcome sight.

Thanks to Rozann for allowing me to share her photo with you here. To see a photo of Fox Kits, here's the link:

Monday, September 3, 2012

Great Blue Heron eating a Praying Mantis

Jean Brown recently photographed this Great Blue Heron. It was eating a Praying Mantis.

Great Blue  Herons eat a wide variety of food. They have been seen fishing for fish, frogs and salamanders. They also eat small mammals, insects like this hapless Praying Mantis and even greens.

Thanks to Jean for allowing me to share her photo with you here. To see a Praying Mantis in happier times, here's the link:

And to see the graceful Heron in flight, here is one of my favorite photos taken by Allen Vinson:

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Aerial view of Gualala by Coastal photographer, Craig Tooley

Nothing beats a bird's eye view! Craig Tooley took to the air to photograph the nesting seabirds on Gualala Point Island and Fish Rocks. He also photographed the town of Gualala, which you can see in the bottom half of the photo. You can also see the Gualala River, which is currently closed to the Pacific Ocean by its summertime sandbar.

The Gualala River is the dividing line between Mendocino County and Sonoma County. The Sea Ranch stretches along the northern Sonoma Coast at the top of Craig's photo. It's a beautiful part of the world, don't you agree?

Thanks to Craig for allowing me to share his photo with you here. To see Craig's wildlife and aerial photography, here is the link to his web site:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Adult Steelhead photographed by Peter Baye in one of the reaches of the Gualala River

Peter Baye was visiting friends whose deck overlooks a tributary of Fuller Creek. There he saw several large, adult Steelhead.

Steelhead are Rainbow Trout, an ocean-going fish. They are compelled to spawn in fresh water, including the reaches of the Gualala River. Native to the tributaries of the Pacific Ocean, this fish has been introduced in many other parts of the world, sometimes to negative effects. Here on the Mendonoma Coast we celebrate their appearance.