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Friday, November 30, 2012

The storms hitting the Mendonoma Coast have brought huge waves

Rick and I live a half mile back from the Pacific Ocean yet the sound of the crashing waves can be heard - and felt - inside our house. The ocean is in full voice and there is no denying its presence. Rich Kuehn photographed waves hitting Gualala Point Island yesterday from his home at The Sea Ranch.

There is an amazing amount of power in this photo. I thank Rich for allowing me to share it with you here. To learn more about this special island, here's the link:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Edible wild mushrooms are putting smiles on mushroom foragers' faces

Jane Jarlsberg found these Oyster Mushrooms the day before Thanksgiving. She brought them to a friend's home to add to the celebratory feast. They are exceptionally frilly for Oysters but no less delicious.

Yesterday Rick and I found two beautiful King Boletes, Boletus edulis. You can see the sponge underneath the cap is still white, indicating it fruited recently. With age the sponge turns yellow.

And this morning, under threatening skies, we found a small Queen Boletus, Boletus aereus. The very dark top was nearly munched off, perhaps by a Deer. But the stem was sturdy and pristine. Fresh mushroom for the Jackson household tonight!

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Gualala River opened to the Pacific Ocean for the first time in months.

We've had early rains, enough to fill the Gualala River to the brim.You can see that the river is almost breaching the sandbar. This sandbar closes the river every year after the rains stop and creates a lagoon.  The photo below was taken on November 19th.

Another storm hit on the evening of the 20th and when Rick and I went to the Gualala Bluff Trail to take a look on the morning of the 21st, the river was open and draining out to the ocean. The lagoon is gone, replaced by an estuary.
The Gualala opened at the northernmost portion of the sandbar. Muddy water can be seen in the ocean. Any fish, including Steelhead, that were trapped in luxury during the months it was closed were swept into the Pacific Ocean to continue their journey.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A series of storms is set to hit the Mendonoma Coast. How about a final November sunset photo?

The weather warnings sound ominous, with many inches of rain forecast to fall in the days to come. Eight to fifteen inches of rain? It's hard to wrap one's head around it. Up until today we have had wonderful weather with many beautiful sunsets. Here's a recent one I took from our deck in Anchor Bay.

Last Friday the horizon was clear and there was a beautiful green flash at sunset. To see one of the photos of a green flash on this site, here's the link:

And to see a green flash that turned into blue and then violet, here's a very rare photo taken by Ron LeValley:

Monday, November 26, 2012

One last abalone dive story for you before the season closes November 30th

Two Days - five ten inch abalone!

Here is Jack's story.
"With the end of abalone season fast approaching, we finally got some good diving conditions. Roger Rude and I got into the water at one of our less usually dive-able spots on The Sea Ranch. There was a bit of NW swell and the tide was very low so the entry and exit over mussel and algae-covered rocks was a little hairy, but we managed to make it in and out without too much trouble. We had about fifteen feet of visibility underwater and a slight south breeze.

"Roger and I are in the process of making a 'How to' video on abalone diving and had a goal for this dive of filming the take of a ten-inch abalone underwater. Over the two day period, three hours each day in the water, we found five ten-inchers. A couple of them were too far back in cracks to film and with two of them we were so tired at the end of our dive that it was all we could do to get the abalone, let alone set up and film it at 25 feet deep. But we did manage to get some good video of a couple of the ten-inch abalones that we will be using in our upcoming film.

"Five ten-inchers might seem like a lot of large abalone for two people for two days, and it is, but it is rare that we can do this. I have made over 30 dives this season and only taken 19 abalone of my total quota of 24 in a season. There were many dives where I didn't take a single abalone. I see thousands of them because there is a healthy, thriving population along the Sea Ranch coast. They are well protected by the elements of nature and the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife laws that limit numbers, sizes, locations and equipment used for the take of abalone.

"According to a study by Marine Biologists at the Bodega Bay Marine lab, abalones are like humans with regard to reproduction. After they reach their prime - three to ten years old - they begin to decline in their reproductive capabilities. Abalones over ten inches are likely between ten and fifty years old and, depending on their environment, will begin to actually lose shell size.

"We, as abalone divers, are very concerned about the health of abalone along our coast and want our sport to be available for our grandkids. For that reason we do whatever we can to understand and protect the species. The greatest threats to this irreplaceable resource are the reintroduction of Sea Otters and that order.

"At TSR we are particularly lucky to have so many people who understand and want to protect the marine environment. I encourage all who watch the ocean to know and understand the laws about abalone diving so that when you see someone poaching, you can report them. It happens, even at TSR, more often than most people realize. Report poachers at 1-888-DFG-CALTIP."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fog Bow at the Point Arena Lighthouse

Pamela Fitzgerald recently photographed a rare fog bow over one of the buildings at the Point Arena Lighthouse.

The Lighthouse bluffs and the Lighthouse tower are some of the best places on the Mendonoma Coast for whale watching and observing seabird migration. There are several rental units there. You can learn more at:

One of my favorite photos of the Lighthouse was taken at night by Sus Susalla. Here is the link:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A beautiful Bobcat visited Mark Simkins in Manchester

Mark Simkins was working in his office when he picked up on something moving outside. There was a beautiful Bobcat, just looking at him.

That is one healthy-looking, contented Bobcat. Mark said the cat stretched out and lounged for about fifteen minutes while Mark's camera was put to good use. Thanks to Mark for allowing me to share his photo with you here.

You can see Mark's other photo of this Bobcat on the Independent Coast Observer's web site at: Click on "Mendonoma Sightings."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fly Amanitas, Amanita muscaria, are beginning to appear

The beautiful red-topped mushroom with the white spots, Fly Amanita, has begun to fruit on the Mendonoma Coast. Bob Schwein recently photographed a newly sprouted one being sampled by a Banana Slug.

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

To see a beautiful holiday wreath made out of mature Fly Amanitas, here's the link:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wild Turkeys, as photographed by Coastal photographer Siegfried Matull

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. It is traditional to serve turkey on Thanksgiving. President Obama pardons a turkey this time of year and the turkey lives the rest of its life in luxury on a farm. Here on the Mendonoma Coast, we have wild Turkeys. There is some debate whether they are native or introduced. Either way, they are here and they add color to our surroundings. Siegfried Matull photographs them at his Sea Ranch home.

Below you will see a group of Tom Turkeys displaying. There has to be some lovely Peahens close by.

 And here you will see a close up of a Tom Turkey.
 Siegfried tells me this Tom Turkey was attacking him! Siegfried lived to photograph another day.
Thanks to Siegfried for allowing me to share his photos with you here. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
To see another photo of Siegfried's, this one showing a Turkey flying out of a hedgerow, here's the link:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

River Otters grooming each other, as photographed by Bob Rutemoeller

Bob Rutemoeller was walking on the Gualala Bluff Trail this past week when he saw two River Otters swimming in the river. They came up onto the banks of the river and gave Bob a chance to photograph them.

These creatures are comfortable in the water and on land. They can only thrive where the water is unpolluted. They eat fish, octopus, amphibians and even small mammals and birds. One was seen swimming under an unsuspecting Gull and grabbing it for a meal. Sometimes life on the Gualala River can be dangerous.

Thanks to Bob for allowing me to share his photo with you. Before this photo I did not know they groomed each other. I love learning new information about our wildlife. To see a River Otter and her pup, here's the link:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Watchful Buck, as photographed by Robert Scarola

Robert and Nancy Scarola came across this Buck recently. Robert said it was the most beautiful one he's ever seen. And he was tempted to try and kiss its nose! Reason prevailed and Robert wrote, "He just stood and watched us. We stood and contemplated the meaning of it all with him for a while."

To see a photo of a five point Buck, here's the link:

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

Monday, November 19, 2012

Kelp is washing up on the beaches of the Mendonoma Coast

When the storms come, they rip the Bull Kelp from its holdfasts in the ocean and toss much of it on the beach. It provides food and shelter for various critters that live on the beach. Patty Stornetta Woodruff recently photographed Kelp on the beach by the Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg.

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

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Brewer's Blackbird enjoys the rain, as photographed by Rob Diefenbach

Yes, rain is hitting the Mendonoma Coast, filling our seasonal creeks and adding precious water to our rivers and watersheds. A Brewer's Blackbird was seen taking a bath in a rain puddle and Rob Diefenbach caught the action with his camera. It seems to me the bird is glaring at Rob - this would be a great photo for a caption. Got one?

All creatures great and small appreciate the rain. Thanks to Rob for allowing me to share his photos with you here.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

An Anchor Bay Beach sunset, as photographed by Wendy Bailey

Before the rains closed the curtain to the view, the sunsets this past week have been amazing. One night the sunset colors lasted for at least a half hour. Wendy Bailey was down at Anchor Bay Beach, getting her "beach therapy." She photographed this beautiful sunset.

Just lovely. Thanks to Wendy for allowing me to share her photo with you here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

King Boletes, Boletus edulis, are beginning to appear

Thea Leonardi went mushroom foraging this week and found a dozen or so King Boletes. Her cat, Mendo, was quite interested in the aromatic mushroom.

 Thea calls Mendo "The Beast." Perhaps he's smiling in approval...
 It is tiring tromping around the woods looking for mushrooms. Time for a rest.

Thanks to Thea for allowing me to share her photos with you here. The rains headed our way should prompt a big bloom of Boletes very soon.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Fog Bow near Irish Beach, as photographed by Cathleen Crosby

Cathleen was driving in dense fog near Irish Beach in only fifty feet visibility last week. She came around a curve into brilliant sunshine. And there over the fog-shrouded water of the Pacific Ocean was a beautiful fog bow.

We are having spectacular weather here on the Mendonoma Coast in advance of a series of storms that are headed our way. I'm looking forward to having the seasonal creek that crosses our land come to life. That is always a happy day!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Giraffes in Point Arena? You betcha!

The B. Bryan Preserve has welcomed their first giraffes - two young male Rothschild Giraffes. They come from the San Diego Zoo. Several more arrived last Thursday.

Here is one of the first arrivals. He weighs over 1300 pounds. So beautiful and so unique. There are less than seven hundred of these giraffes left in the wild.

Thanks to Judy Mello for allowing me to share her photo with you here. To learn more about this fascinating preserve, here's the link: 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rainbow days - one of the gifts of the Mendonoma Coast

When a storm moves on it sometimes leaves unsettled weather behind it. That was the case recently when we had rainbows, even a hail storm and beautiful sunsets. Bettye Winters photographed one of the rainbows near Irish Beach.

 And below is the hail storm, which I photographed from our deck. It hit us some minutes later.
 And the few remaining clouds made for a dramatic sunset Friday night.
Thanks to Bettye for allowing me to share her rainbow photo.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Butterflies! American Lady and a Painted Lady feeding on Kay Martin's heather bush

Kay Martin's heather bush is in full bloom and, as she put it, butterflies are kissing the blossoms. She photographed a lovely American Lady Butterfly nectaring on the plant.

Then another butterfly arrived - this one was a Painted Lady.

Thanks to Kay for allowing me to share her photos and thanks to Ron LeValley for the identification of these beauties.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gray Whales and Boletus edulis - does it get much better than that?

Gray Whales have been seen most days this past week. It looks like the southward migration has already begun. On Thursday Rick and I took a hike at Gualala Point Regional Park and were rewarded with the sighting of a pod of perhaps six whales. They were just west of Gualala Point Island, the rocky island you can see in the left side of this photo. There are two spouts on the right side.

And then we found our first Boletus edulis, a King Bolete, yesterday.

One of the most delicious edible mushrooms on the Mendonoma Coast, they are always a treat to find.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Craig Tooley says to look out for a headless Hawk in the forest - yes, he's joking

Craig Tooley photographed this Red-shouldered Hawk. Craig named it "Ichabod Hawk" as it appears to have no head.

No, it's not Photoshopped. The Hawk was looking back and down when Craig took this photo. Below you will see the Red-shouldered Hawk in all its glory.
Thanks to Craig for allowing me to share his photos with you here. The first one gave me a laugh.
To see much more of Craig's wildlife photography, here's the link to his website:

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Pine Siskin lands on George Anderson's finger!

The Mendonoma Coast is experiencing higher numbers of Pine Siskins and Red-breasted Nuthatches. Ron LeValley informed us that cone-producing trees to the north have failed to produce enough feed for these birds so they have migrated into our area. I love the nasal call of the Red-breasted Nuthatches. They sound like tin horns in the forest. Rick and I hear their calls every day.

Pine Siskins aren't so raucous. One particular bird happened upon a get together of friends on The Sea Ranch recently. It first flew to the shoulder of Dick Balch and then proceeded to walk around his back to the other shoulder. Then it flew to George Anderson's finger where it stayed for a while. Kathy Anderson had retrieved her camera in time to get this photo.

What a gift of trust this little bird gave Dick and  George - a blessing dressed in feathers.
Thanks to Kathy for allowing me to share her photo with you here.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A close-up look at the White-tailed Kite Allen Vinson photographed

Several days ago I showed you a photo Allen Vinson took of a White-tailed Kite on top a tree, looking like an ornament. Here is a close-up photo of the Kite.

Allen photographed an adult White-tailed Kite - a beautiful and distinctive raptor that lives year round on the Mendonoma Coast. Thanks to Allen for allowing me to share his photo with you here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tis the Sunset Season

Bettye Winters photographed several different sunsets recently from the bluffs near Irish Beach. The Mendonoma Coast has had some early rainstorms and a cold storm is forecast for tomorrow, Thursday, and Friday. Storms to our north bring unsettled skies, which is what Bettye named this first photo.

And the photo below is an example of an autumn sunset. We are fortunate indeed to see the sun set "into" the Pacific Ocean.
 And the photo below could be a painting. Bettye calls this one stormy weather.
Thanks to Bettye for allowing me to share her beautiful photos with you here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Whimbrels rest on Mendonoma Beaches during their long migration

Annie Mills was enjoying Cook's Beach, which is just north of the town of Gualala. She found two Whimbrels enjoying the beach too.

Migrating Whimbrels breed far to our north and they travel several thousand miles, twice each year. They can occasionally be seen feeding and resting on local beaches. Whimbrels use their long beaks to probe in the sand for tasty treats - crabs being one of their favorite food source.

To hear the call of a Whimbrel, here's a link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

To see more about Cook's Beach and learn how to find it, here's the link:

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

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bobcat - as photographed by Jeff Watts

Bobcats are thriving on the Mendonoma Coast. Their favorite meal - gophers - are abundant in meadows. One particularly handsome Bobcat has been spotted in the Iversen Road area, which is north of Anchor Bay. Jeff and Pearl Watts have been fortunate to spot this Bobcat several times. In the photo below you can clearly see this cat's tufted ears.

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

Saturday, November 3, 2012

An ornament in a tree - a White-tailed Kite

Allen Vinson noticed this White-tailed Kite perched on top a tree on The Sea Ranch.  It almost looks like a hood ornament for a fancy car!

White-tailed Kites, Elanus leucurus, hunt for rodents in meadows and other open areas. They can been seen hovering in the air before they rush to the ground to snag their dinner. I have seen one hunting over the meadows of Gualala Point Regional Park.

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

Friday, November 2, 2012

One last October sunset, this one photographed by Robert Scarola

As we enter November, I wanted to share one last October sunset with you. Robert Scarola took these two photos of the same sunset. It is wonderful to watch a sunset evolve on the Mendonoma Coast.

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

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The green - or brown - frog with a big voice as photographed by Nan Brichetto

Nan Brichetto came across this little green frog on the gravel banks of the Gualala River. It's a Chorus Frog or Sierran Tree Frog. It used to be called  a Pacific Tree Frog but its name was changed recently.

These frogs have a big call which sounds like "ribbit, ribbit." They are able to change their color to match their surroundings. Below is a Tree Frog changing from green to rusty red. This was photographed by Clay Yale.

It must be nice to be able to camouflage oneself! Thanks to Nan and Clay for allowing me to share their photos with you here.