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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thunderclouds seen at Manchester State Beach

Bettye Winters photographed these thunderclouds from the storm of last week. The storm was a very cold one and for a brief moment it snowed at our house in Anchor Bay - a very rare occurrence!

And the sunset the next night, Feb. 20th, was beautiful too.
Thanks to Bettye for allowing me to share her photos with you here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rainbow over Alder Creek and Irish Beach

We have had little rain for the first two months of 2013. We are hoping and praying for more. We did have a very cold storm sweep through last week. It gave Nik Epanchin a change to get a beautiful rainbow photo.

Today feels like springtime here on the Coast. It's in the mid sixties and I have windows and doors open to the warm soft air. Does this sound like February to you?!

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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Coyote was spotted by Patricia McBratney

Once in a while a Coyote will wander into the Mendonoma Coast. Patty McBratney saw this Coyote on The Sea Ranch.

Canis latrans is its Latin name, which means barking dog. I wonder what caught this Coyote's eye. Patty was struck by the red highlights of this canine's coat. Coyotes are extremely intelligent and can live in the wild to about ten years.

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

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ice crystal art on a Sea Ranch windshield

Yes, we really have had some cold weather recently. George Bush photographed the windshield of the car of his wife, Sandy, early one recent morning. Ice crystals had formed a beautiful pattern.

It's a work of art by Mother Nature!

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

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The face of a Red-tailed Hawk as photographed by Allen Vinson

Allen Vinson got this closeup photo of a  majestic Red-tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis. Red-tails are our most common Hawk and they are here year round.

Seeing this big hawk soaring you can catch a flash of its red tail.
I love the raspy scream of a Red-tailed Hawk high above me. To hear it for yourself, here's a link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website:

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

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Big waves at Gualala Point Regional Park

The surf has been dramatic lately. Rick and I were at Gualala Point Regional Park last Thursday and the surf was big. It is mesmerizing to watch and hear the power of the sea. Paul Brewer recently photographed a beautiful  crashing wave.

You can almost hear this wave, can't you?!

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

Friday, February 22, 2013

A tiny yet exquisite mushroom as photographed by Ken Fischer

Ken Fischer noticed a tiny pink mushroom with white pleated gills growing out of his wood storage. Bev Vogt identified it as a Pleated Marasmius, Murasmius plicatulus.

If Walt Disney had seen this little beauty I wonder if he would have included it in Fantasia. That movie is where I saw Fly Amanitas for the first time and they were dancing!

Putting fanciful thoughts aside, I thank Ken for allowing me to share his photo with you here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A female Northern Harrier as photographed by Craig Tooley

Craig Tooley was out with his camera when he spotted this beautiful Northern Harrier, Circus cyaneus, just lifting off the ground. She's magnificent!

This Hawk is a year round resident here on the Mendonoma Coast. Northern Harriers use their ears as well as their sight to spot prey. They fly low over the ground looking for small mammals such as mice. They also eat frogs and small birds. To hear the call of this hawk, here's the link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Beautiful sunset last night with the lingering storm clouds

I love it when the sunbeams pierce through the clouds, creating spotlights on the ocean. The remnants of a cold storm gave us a beautiful sunset last night.

Bettye Winters got an even better photo of a sunset several weeks ago.
It seems like no two sunsets are exactly alike. It's a wonderful thing to see the sunsets from the Mendonoma Coast. Thanks to Bettye for allowing me to share her photo with you here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Western Trilliums have begun blooming in the forest and it just snowed - amazing!

The dark of the forest is brightened with the sightings of Western Trilliums, Trillium ovatum. As I learn more, I pay attention more. I had noticed the red stems earlier this month with the leaves closed like hands praying - that's if one had three hands. As the days went by the leaves slowly opened to reveal the exquisite white flower. Here's a photo from our place in Anchor Bay that shows three stages of development.

You should never pick these wildflowers as it seriously sets the plant back. The leaf-like bracts by the flower provide food for the next year. Just enjoy their loveliness in their natural habitat.

We are having a wild and cold storm today on the Mendonoma Coast. The rain is very welcome. With the storm cells marching across the Pacific Ocean, there might be some wonderful sunset photos to share with you tomorrow. And I almost can't believe my eyes when I just now looked out the window and saw it was snowing! That's an extremely rare occurrence here.

Monday, February 18, 2013

One of my favorite birds is the tiny, energetic Pygmy Nuthatch

Ron LeValley recently photographed a Pygmy Nuthatch characteristically moving head-first down the trunk of a Pine tree.

Ron says, "Creepers go up the trees and Nuthatches go down!" I asked him what the Nuthatch does when it reaches the bottom. Ron replied, "It flies up to the top and heads down again." They are, of course, looking for insects and seeds on the tree.

Their call is quite distinctive and you can hear it on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website at this link:

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

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The cat with the tufted ears - a Bobcat as photographed by Ken Bailey

Ken Bailey was on The Sea Ranch when he spotted this young Bobcat. You can clearly see its tufted ears in Ken's photos. Lynx rufus is its Latin name. They can be seen in the daylight hunting rodents in grassy meadows.

I have it on good authority the The Sea Ranch has a plethora of Gophers and other rodents. That is why several healthy Bobcats are thriving there and living lightly on the land.
Thanks to Ken for allowing me to share his photos with you here. To see more of Ken's photography, here's the link to his website:  He has taken some fantastic underwater photos and you can see them via this link.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

View from Meyers Grade as photographed by Robert Scarola

Meyers Grade is an alternate route to Highway One found at the top of Jenner Grade. It adds a scant five or so minutes to any journey north. It's very lovely and has beautiful views as you can see from Robert's photo.

Rick and I will take this route as a change of pace, particularly if the coast is socked in with fog. This road changes name several times. When you reach Timber Cove Rd. turn left and return to Highway One. This was nicknamed the Million Dollar Bypass some years ago when Highway One was closed by a slide. It does bypass some of the scarier parts of the highway and we have friends who routinely take it when they visit us.

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

Friday, February 15, 2013

Gualala River in February is a mosaic of color

Harmony Susalla and her friend, Fred Adler, were hiking by the Gualala Point Regional Park campground. The small but exquisite campground is framed by the Gualala River. Harmony took a beautiful photo that shows the wonderful melange of colors in February.

It looks rather like a painting, don't you agree? Thanks to Harmony for allowing me to share her photo with you here. Harmony creates organic textiles. I wonder if the above scene will inspire her to create a new fabric. Here's her website:

To learn more about Gualala Point Regional Park, one of the jewels on the Coast, here's the link:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Al had been missing since Jan. 17th but the famous Laysan Albatross returned

Beth and Jeff Petit were down near the pier in Point Arena in the late afternoon on Feb. 10th. After a long absence Point Arena's most famous visitor soared in from the southwest and landed in his favorite spot on the north side of the pier. Beth got this photo of Al, the Laysan Albatross, coming in for his most welcomed return.

Beth said everybody down at the pier cheered Al's return. Below is a close-up photo, which was taken by John Batchelder. Al...or Alice, we don't really one handsome bird.
Thanks to Beth and John for allowing me to share their photos with you here.

Today we celebrate Valentine's Day and the Mendonoma Coast couldn't be any lovelier. It's warm and there is no wind. In between storms in the winter is one of the best times to be here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Spyhopping Gray Whale as photographed by Rick Denniston

We haven't seen any Gray Whales for the past several weeks. We hope to see the first mothers with calves soon. Rick Denniston photographed one spyhopping just off his vacation home, Serendipity, in Gualala.

Magnificent! Thanks to Rick for allowing me to share his photo with you here. Serendipity is available for vacation rental. I can attest to the wonderful view it has. Here's the link to learn more:

Monday, February 11, 2013

A tiny yet exquisite flower is blooming in the forest

This wildflower has a horrible name - Fetid Adder's Tongue. It refers to its ill-smelling flower. Scoliopus bigelovii is the Latin name for this orchid-like flower. It blooms in the winter and few are fortunate enough to see it. Craig Tooley recently photographed one. You can see the first bloom is over but the second one is up. The leaves will grow in the weeks and months to come, becoming nearly a foot long is some cases.

I love this first wildflower of the year. It's not more than two inches tall, if that. If you find the distinctive leaves but see no flowers, note the spot. Then next winter you can find the flower in January or February.

I noticed the first Trilliums up, along with Milkmaids - they are early signs that spring is not too far away.

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

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Beautiful sunset and the Gualala River is turning "Steelhead" green

Thursday's sunset was beautiful with the leftover clouds from a storm. This photo was taken from our deck in Anchor Bay.

Earlier that day, Rick and I - with our golden retriever, Huckleberry - walked along the Gualala Bluff Trail. The river was closed to the ocean by the sandbar. You can see the river has turned "Steelhead" green. When the river opens Steelhead will enter the river. Catch and release fishing will then be the order of the day.

To see a photo of a Steelhead in the Gualala River, here is the link:

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sunflower Seastar seen at the Stornetta Public Lands

The largest Sea Star in the world is the Sunflower Seastar, Pycnopodia helianthoides. Travis Winters was visiting relatives on the Mendonoma Coast and took his camera along when he hiked the Stornetta Public Lands. There he found this Sea Star.

I count twenty-one limbs on this big Sea Star. They can have between 16 and 24 limbs and they grow over three feet across. They eat Sea Urchins, Clams, Snails and other invertebrates.

Thanks to Travis for sharing his photo with us here. To see other photos from the magnificent Stornetta Lands, here are a few links:  and

Friday, February 8, 2013

A visit to Hearn Gulch is always a treat

Last week Rick and I visited Hearn Gulch at mean tide. It was a beautiful clear day. We parked at mile marker 10 and headed towards the bluff. We could hear the wave action on the north end of the pocket beach. It sounds like this: "WHOMP!"

Below is a view of the pocket beach from the bluffs.
On the south end there is a sea tunnel. As we watched the tide began to come in, increasing the wave action.
 The staircase down is difficult. Some of the steps are quite tall and the stones are slippery. We needed to use the rope to get down and then get back up.
 The fine folks at the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy are to thank for bringing us this public access.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Turkey Tails really catch one's eyes in the forest

Turkey Tails, Trametes versicolor, are fruiting in the forest. They are quite beautiful as you can see by my photo. They are fruiting on a downed Tan-oak on our property in Anchor Bay.

Here I have cropped my photo so you can see the lovely patterns. These mushrooms are leathery to the touch. They are so beautiful people have used them for jewelry. They are found on hardwoods.
Turkey Tail mushrooms, found all over the world, have medicinal qualities. A soothing tea can release their polysaccharides. Studies are ongoing regarding their use as an immune system booster in breast cancer patients. There's a fascinating article about their medicinal qualities on Huffington Post at this link:  Could a mushroom growing in abundance in the forest be the answer to someone's prayer?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Two Sunset photos by Drew Fagan - which one is your favorite?

On Jan. 28th, Drew Fagan photographed this sunset from his art studio north of Gualala.

 The night before he captured this sunset over Sail Rock.

Each are lovely in their own way. Thanks to Drew for allowing me to share the beauty he sees from his place. To see Drew's art, here's the link:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bobcat at The Sea Ranch

Dave Bess looked out the window of his house and saw this young Bobcat hunting for rodents.

It looks like the Bobcat is close to finding its dinner. They are great gopher hunters and the meadows of The Sea Ranch have plenty of gophers.

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

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Coyote was spotted near Fort Ross by Deborah Heatherstone

The Coyote was on the west side of Highway One near Fort Ross State Historic Park. Deborah Heatherstone was there with her camera.

Can you see the Coyote in the photo below? The tall grasses make good camouflage for this Coyote. In the background you can see a few of the restored buildings from the Russian settlement at Fort Ross.

Thanks to Deborah for allowing me to share her photos with you here. To learn more at Fort Ross State Historic Park, here are several links:   and

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fog line by Bowling Ball Beach

Fog is part of living on the Mendonoma Coast. When it burns off, or pulls back to hover over the Pacific Ocean, the color of the trees and ocean seems even more vibrant. Cathleen Crosby photographed the fog line by Bowling Ball State Beach.

Bowling Ball Beach is one of the best places to beachcomb on the Coast. It has unique stones that look large huge bowling balls. They are uncovered with a low tide.

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

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Black Bear pays a visit to the Fort Bragg the daytime!

Jane Schuler-Repp and Ida Egil were in the right place at the right time to see something amazing. A young Black Bear came up to the double-paned window at the Fort Bragg Hospital and looked in.

It sure looks like this Bear is smiling at Jane. Here's what Jane and Ida had to say about the encounter: “On Tuesday morning, Jan. 15th, the daily routine at Fort Bragg Hospital was interrupted by a wandering Bear, looking for its way out of the complex. We just happened to be in the corridor where the Bear was clawing at the window and we got an up-close look at this magnificent but confused creature. We were thankful the double-paned window held up.”

Daytime visits of a bear are very unusual. Reports said the bear was four feet tall when it was standing on its four paws. It was seen headed towards the Noyo River where it disappeared from view.

Thanks to Jane and Ida for sharing their experience. And thanks to Jane for allowing me to share her photo with you here.

Friday, February 1, 2013

While out looking for wild mushrooms, a Mountain Lion print was found - a fresh one.

Rozann Grunig and Patty McBratney were out looking for edible mushrooms early this week on The Sea Ranch. They found a few Hedgehogs and Pigs Ears. We haven't had much rain lately. Rozann mentioned to Patty that is probably was a good idea to always have a buddy when in the forest. Just after that comment she saw this print.

Rozann put her mushroom knife, four inches long, in the photo for perspective. Mountain Lion tracts do not have claw marks, as their claws are recessed while walking.

What to do if you see a Mountain Lion? Make yourself as big as possible. I've always thought hiking in the forest with an umbrella, which could double as a walking stick, would be a good idea. On the extremely rare chance that you did come near a Cougar, you could raise the umbrella over you head and pop it open.

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