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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Great Blue Heron as photographed by Allen Vinson

One of the most photographed birds on the Mendonoma Coast is the Great Blue Heron. Allen Vinson recently spotted one. They have a stateliness to them but they can move FAST when they spot prey.

Allen photographed a different Great Blue Heron a while back. This photo is entitled, "And we have liftoff!"

To hear the calls of a Great Blue Heron, here's the link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Last Friday's sunset was exceptional

And Robert Scarola captured it with his camera.

A bit of loveliness for you today. Thanks to Robert for allowing me to share his photo with you here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Brown Pelican, as photographed by Shirley Arora

Brown Pelicans are headed south and some of the males are in breeding plumage. Shirley Arora photographed one such Brown Pelican down by the Point Arena Pier.

To hear the call of this bird, here's the link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

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

Monday, January 28, 2013

Are you scared of spiders?

Well, these aren't exactly spiders. They are arachnids called Harvestmen. They are also called Daddy Longlegs. Craig Tooley photographed a group of them, which is called a snarl.

 I wonder just how many Harvestment are in this snarl. Dozens, yes. Hundreds, perhaps!

Here's what Craig Tooley wrote, “My neighbors, John Holloway and Elaine Reed, asked me to come over and take a few pictures of this interesting collection of arachnids or Harvestmen. When I asked John what he knew about them, he said, ‘There are many species of them around the world, with fossils of them going back 400 million years. They are called Daddy Longlegs, though they are not a true spider.’”

These arachnids are very beneficial, eating many other insects including termites. They only have two eyes, as compared to spiders that have six or eight. They are entirely harmless to humans. John and Elaine’s visitors have formed this snarl for the same reason Sea Lions raft together – for protection against predators, and perhaps for warmth.

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

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bettye Winters photographed a beautiful sunset

On Jan. 19th Bettye Winters photographed the sunset from Irish Beach. Yes, there was a green flash. Bettye's photographs show you what to look for when hoping for a green flash.

 The horizon is clear and the sun appears to separate.
 When you see this separation you know you will see a green flash.
It's small but it's there. The tiny green dot. Thanks to Bettye for allowing me to share her photos with you here. To see a close up view of the green flash, here's the link:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Monday brought us a sighting of Killer Whales

On Monday a pod of perhaps twenty Killer Whales was spotted off Point Arena. Emails and telephone calls ensued as we tried to photograph the pod. They were several miles out, however, and moving FAST. Dean Schuler got this photograph from The Sea Ranch.

 It was fun following them down the coast. Unfortunately for Dean, a fishing boat saw this pod and headed towards them. The pod then dove and disappeared from view.

Though this photo was not taken off the Mendonoma Coast, I thought you'd enjoy seeing this close up that Tom Eckles took from a 12 person inflatable boat in the San Juan Islands. It looks like a male with the very tall dorsal fin and a female with the smaller, curved dorsal fin.
Thanks to Dean and Tom for allowing me to share their photos with you here. To see more of Tom's photography, here's his website:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Frozen river fog - strange but beautiful

Our temperatures have moderated but we've had some very cold temps here on the supposedly temperate Mendonoma Coast. In the upper reaches of the Gualala River, Peter Baye photographed Rime deposits, frozen river fog.

Works of art, brought to you by Mother Nature...and Peter Baye!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Burrowing Owl, as photographed by Ron LeValley

Burrowing Owls are a rare sighting on the Mendonoma Coast. Ron LeValley recently photographed one at MacKerricher State Park. Here's what Ron had to say about his sighting: "My gallery partner Ken called and told me about this Burrowing Owl hanging out near the old Haul Road just south of Ward Avenue in the state park. These birds mostly live in the Central Valley but a few winter on the north coast each year. These are only about 8 inches tall, but they stand taller!"

 Tim Moulton photographed a young one at The Sea Ranch several years ago.

To hear the call of this special Owl, here's the link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

To see much more of Ron's wildlife photography, here's the link to his website:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

This Bobcat caught its lunch!

Jim Garlock was traveling north when he spotted this Bobcat with what looks like a gopher in its mouth.

Bobcats are Mother Nature's rodent hunters. Thanks to Jim for allowing me to share his photo with you here.

To see a very popular Bobcat photo on my blog, here's the link:

It's raining hard this afternoon, welcome news after the dry weather we've been having.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A beautiful double rainbow, as photographed by C'Anna Bergman-Hill

C'Anna Bergman-Hill was visiting relatives on January 9th. She and her husband, David, observed this beautiful double rainbow in between Point Arena and Anchor Bay.

A little later this was the sunset they witnessed. Just beautiful!
Clouds are filling the sky as the first storm in several weeks is approaching. We can use the rain. Seasonal creeks are running low and wild mushrooms have mostly been missing in action. It's time for some wet stuff!

Thanks to C'Anna for allowing me to share her photos with you here.

Monday, January 21, 2013, huge...waves off the Mendonoma Coast

The sound and fury of the Pacific Ocean can't be ignored. A big storm off Japan sent huge waves our way. Yesterday was a great day for watching the ocean in her finest. Paul Brewer did just that.

This is extremely high surf for the beach at Gualala Point Regional Park. In the lower photo you can see two Gulls "riding" the wave.

Today is just as exciting, though the surf isn't as dramatic. We have spotted a large pod of Killer Whales headed south. They passed Fish Rocks, which is off Anchor Bay, a little before 3 pm. They are several miles out but great fun to watch through binoculars or a spotting scope. Long lens photographers are on alert and I hope they get some photos that I will be able to share here.

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

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Point Arena Lighthouse, one of the highlights of the Mendonoma Coast

Visitors from around the world visit the Point Arena Lighthouse. It's one of the jewels of the Coast. Recently Rick and I revisited the Lighthouse and visitor center. Oh boy, did we have a beautiful day for our visit.

In the visitor center/museum you can learn about the history of the Lighthouse and the magnificent Fresnel lens. Here Bill Brown, aka Lighthouse Willie, shows us the lens that used to be at the top of the Lighthouse.
The display gives more information on the custom lens. Every Lighthouse had a different light so captains could tell which Lighthouse they were passing.
 The stairs up to the top of the lighthouse are steep and winding but there are several platforms to catch your breath.
And you will need your breath for the views!  Below Ron LeValley photographed the crater known as Devil's Punch Bowl.
To learn more about the Point Arena Lighthouse, here's the link:

Thanks to Ron for allowing me to share his photo of Devil's Punch Bowl. To see much more of Ron's photography, here is the link:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A rainbow over the Point Arena Pintos, as photographed by David Bergman-Hill

David and C'Anna Bergman-Hill were visiting relatives recently. They noticed a beautiful, vibrant rainbow just over the Point Arena Pintos.

 C'Anna took the photo below. The cliffs reflect the setting sun.
Jacqueline McAbery has taken on the endeavor of caring for the Pintos. A calendar is available showcasing these beautiful horses.

You can purchase this calendar at The Four-Eyed Frog Bookstore in Gualala or from Jacqueline's blog at:

Thanks to C'Anna and David for allowing me to share their photos with you here. It's a magnificent day on the coast. Large swells are creating white water and it's the first day in a long while when it has warmed up. As I type this my sliding glass door is open and the temp is 65 degrees! We're singing a happy tune today on the Mendonoma Coast.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Black Trumpets are peeking up from the forest floor

On a recent mushroom forage with Rozann Grunig, Karen Tracy and Rick, we discovered Black Trumpets just emerging.

They are hard to spot, aren't they? They look like black holes on the forest floor. This delicious edible mushroom is also called Horn of Plenty, Black Chanterelle and Trumpet of Death. Their Latin name makes me laugh, as it sounds like a spell Harry Potter might use - Craterellus cornucopioides.

We left these mushrooms to grow more. We did find many Candy Caps and Hedgehog mushrooms and one beautiful Matsutke to fill our baskets. Thanks to Rozann for allowing me to share her photo with you here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bowling Ball Beach, as photographed by Joni Goshorn

Joni Goshorn was at the pullout at Schooner Gulch when she took this photograph of Bowling Ball Beach.

At low tide this is one of the best places to look for shells and other treasures of the sea.

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Monday gave us a green flash and Craig Tooley captured it with his camera

Conditions were perfect for a green flash at sunset Monday, Jan. 14th. Craig Tooley set up his camera and look what he got.

Beautiful! The sunsets the past several nights have been shades of orange. And when you can add the elusive green flash, you have to say that life is good.

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

To see another photo of the green flash, here's the link:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A sunrise and a vertical rainbow, as photographed by Peggy Berryhill

Peggy Berryhill recently experienced a beautiful sunrise.

Several minutes later this vertical rainbow appeared. I haven't seen anything quite like it. Perhaps you know what this phenomenon is?

I thank Peggy for allowing me to share her photos with you here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fly Amanitas, as photographed by Hannah Bonfils, plus Turkey Tails

Young Hannah Bonfils was hiking a trail at The Sea Ranch with her parents. She photographed several wild mushrooms. The first is the distinctive Fly Amanita, Amanita muscaria.

And the second photo, I believe, shows young Turkey Tails.

Here's what Hannah wrote: “I’m thirteen years old. My family and I were walking through a trail in Sea Ranch and noticed some magnificent-looking mushrooms. I took some great pictures of them.  After seeing these pictures, I think many people will be interested in looking at the mushrooms in their area.”

Thanks to Hannah for allowing me to share her photos with you here. She shows a lot of talent with a camera and I hope she will share more of her nature photos with us.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Killer Whales have been seen off the Mendonoma Coast

Jodi C. Smith is the Executive Director of Naked Whale Research. She has relocated to the Irish Beach area to study the endangered Southern Resident pods of Killer Whales - known as J, K and L pods. These Orcas are on the move. They have spent the summer months south of Vancouver Island and in Puget Sound. Now they are passing by the Mendonoma Coast. On Jan. 10th K pod was spotted a mile off of Little River. Jodi went out in a boat to get these photos. As you can probably tell, the seas were rough.

This last photo shows the very tall dorsal fin. According to Jodi these Orcas are specialized fish eaters, with Chinook salmon being their favorite.

Today the weather is clear  with few whitecaps on the ocean - perfect weather for spotting Gray Whales and hopefully K pod! Thanks to Jodi for allowing me to share her photos with you. To learn more about her work, here's her website: You can also follow her blog on this website.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hedgehog mushrooms are making an appearance on the Mendonoma Coast

The smaller Hedgehog, the Bellybutton Hedgehog, has begun to appear. Hydnum umbilicatum is a delicious, easy to identify mushroom. Rather than gills, or a sponge like boletes, it has tiny teeth. On our property it grows under Tan-oak trees. Rick and I were happy to find a nice bunch of them yesterday.

This morning I dry sauteed some of the hedgehogs to get the water out. Then I put them in scrambled eggs with a little cheddar cheese grated on top. Delicious!

There are lots more of these mushrooms to come. They don't seem to mind the very cold weather we've been having this past week.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Winter sunsets - they are the best!

The past several nights the sunsets on the Mendonoma Coast have been exquisite. Here are three different nights.

I love it when the sun shines like a spotlight through the clouds. It reminds me of the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Surfer encounters a young Gray Whale at the Point Arena Pier

One of the juvenile Gray Whales returned to the waters off the Point Arena Pier on Saturday, Jan. 5th. A surfer was just coming in when he saw the whale. Deborah Heatherstone was there once again and photographed the event.

A small pod of young Gray Whales has spent the summer, autumn, and now winter off the Mendonoma Coast. They are called subadults. It is a new phenomenon for us that Grays didn't migrate. The vast majority do migrate north in March and April and then south in December and January. But these whales decided to stay put. They have more white on them, I am told, because they swim slower and stay in less turbulent water. It must have been thrilling for that surfer to be so close to this whale.

Once again I thank Deborah for allowing me to share her photos. Another of her photos is featured in today's Independent Coast Observer. You can see Sightings photos on the ICO's website at There's an on-line subscription available if you'd like to read my weekly Mendonoma Sightings column and keep up to date on the goings of our beautiful Coast.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Two juvenile Gray Whales pay several visits to the Point Arena Pier

Really, the return of Al, the Laysan Albatross, to the waters off the Point Arena Pier was exciting enough. But the excitement levels rose when two juvenile Gray Whales swam in close to the pier on New Year's Day. Deborah Heatherstone was there to witness the event.

You can see a buoy in the second photo. This whale was very close in. Tomorrow I will share a photo of a surfer and one of these whales. And I will tell you more about this group of Gray Whales that didn't migrate. It's a fascinating new phenomenon.

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

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sunrise at Cook's Beach - it's magical!

Joel Crockett was enjoying Cook's Beach with his dog, Argish, early one morning recently. Lucky for us Joel had his camera and took this beautiful photo.

I thank Joel for allowing me to share his photo with you here. Joel is the owner of The Four-eyed Frog bookstore in Gualala. If you'd like to support this independent bookstore - one of the friendliest places in Gualala, perhaps the world - here's the website:

If you'd like to discover Cook's Beach for yourself, here's a link that gives directions:  Just make sure that when you park your tires are off the pavement to avoid a ticket. I want you to have only good memories of your visit to this special spot.