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Monday, April 29, 2013

A photo of a lifetime - a Ceanothus Silkmoth lays her eggs

Jerry Rudy had a Ceanothus Silkmoth pay a visit to his Timber Cove home. And she was pregnant. Here's what Jerry wrote,  “This mother moth showed up on our doorstep last week. We set her on a native azalea and she promptly laid about 50 eggs. I believe they hatch in about 10 days and I am considering moving them onto our local Ceanothus.”

You can see the eggs on the azalea stalk. Amazing photo!

And here is a photo Wendy Bailey took a few weeks ago of this beautiful, big moth.

Thanks to Jerry and Wendy for allowing me to share their photos with you here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Baby Blue Eyes are blooming on the Mendonoma Coast

Baby Blue Eyes, Nemophila menziesii, are blooming in sunny spots on the Coast. A great place to see them is in the meadows at the Stornetta Public Lands. Ron LeValley recently photographed a lovely group of them near Fort Bragg at MacKerricher State Park, obviously another great place to see them.

 And here is a close-up of this wildflower. In Reny Parker's book, Wildflowers of Northern California's Wine Country & North Coast Ranges, she writes, "Baby Blue Eyes...the spring sky smiling up at itself."
Thanks to Ron for allowing me to share his photos with you here. To see much more of Ron's beautiful photography, here is the link to his website:

Oh, what a beautiful day!

The air is soft and warm here on the Mendonoma Coast today and a string of good-weather days is in our immediate future. This would be a great time to visit the Coast.

Carolyn André was delivering Meals-On-Wheels to her clients recently. She took a break to photograph the coastline. Can you hear the murmur of the Pacific Ocean?

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

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Two unique insects photographed by Harmony Susalla

Harmony Susalla found this moth on a flower pot near her home. I have to admit I have never seen one of these so Will Erickson to the rescue. He identified it as a Owlet Moth, Noctuidae.

Isn't it beautifully marked? These moths are preyed upon by bats, as they fly at night. But many of these moths have an organ in their ear that can sense a bat's call. The wing muscles then go into spasms, causing it to fly erratically. Mother Nature sure gave this moth an interesting escape mechanism!

The other insect Harmony photographed was seen at Gualala Point Regional Park. According to Will, it's a Scarab Beetle, Dichelonyx.

Thanks to Harmony for allowing me to share her photos and thanks to Will for identifying these beauties. To see Harmony's beautiful organic textiles, here's the link to her website:

Friday, April 26, 2013

There is a very special spot on The Sea Ranch where Pelagic Cormorants are nesting

Last week Richard Kuehn took Rick and me to a very special spot on The Sea Ranch. We were told to be quiet as we made our way out to a point where we could observe the nesting Pelagic Cormorants on the protected bluff face. Below is a female sitting on eggs with her mate next to her.

 And a resettling of the female allowed Rich to get a photo of her eggs. It looks like four eggs are in the nest.

There were perhaps a dozen or so nests and the males were coming and going, bringing food to the nesting females. It was magical to observe them and not disturb them in any way.

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

Thanks to Rich for allowing me to share his photos and for showing Rick and me this spot. I will share a few more photos of this place soon.

Bonus sighting - the first Wild Rhododendrons have begun their bloom. Rick and I saw the first bloom yesterday, Thursday, April 25.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Green Bridge as photographed by Kay Martin

The iconic "Green Bridge" is also called the North Fork Bridge or the Gualala Road Bridge. It spans a portion of the Gualala River. Kay Martin recently photographed it and researched its history.

Kay kindly wrote up the history of this beautiful bridge for our recent Gualala River Sightings event with Friends of the Gualala River. This is what she learned:

North Fork Bridge:   A Brief History

The North Fork Bridge (aka Gualala Road Bridge, "Green" Bridge) was built in 1880 by the Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenix, PA.  It is referred to as an Iron Pratt Through Truss Bridge, made with cast iron tubes for its compression members and straps for its tension members.  It is 130 feet in length and noteworthy for its major decorative detail and patented Phoenix column.  Designed initially for railroad use, bridges of this type were made disassembled and shipped all over the world for assembly.  This design feature allowed them to be moved from one site to another through time.

The travels of the North Fork Bridge are documented.  It appears to have been initially shipped to Smith River, CA (about 30 miles north of Crescent City), where it served as a lumber mill railroad bridge.  In 1909 it was moved to a lumber mill in Northwood, CA (between Monte Rio and Guerneville), and served as a railroad bridge spanning the Russian River.  Finally, in 1941, it was moved to its current location on the Gualala River and converted to automobile use as a replacement for earlier bridges that had washed away.

The North Fork Bridge has two "sister" bridges in Sonoma County of identical design that were also made in 1880 by the Phoenix Bridge Company.  One spans Big Sur Creek (at Geysers Road), and the other Haupt Creek (on Skagg Springs Road).  The two sister railroad bridges were apparently also moved to Sonoma County from the Smith River site in 1909, although their interim relocation sites are not noted.  According to CalTrans, the Haupt Creek bridge was erected at its current location and converted to automobile use in 1937.
Susan M. Clark, Sonoma County Bridges:  Thematic District, Historical Resources Survey, CA Department of Parks & Recreation, 1993.
Independent Coast Observer, The Picture Page, Issue Two, January 1972.
George Bush, personal communication.

Thanks to Kay for allowing me to share her photos and her history of this beautiful green bridge.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Harbor Seals are being born off the Mendonoma Coast and a look at a Lanugo Pup

There are several secluded beaches where Harbor Seal moms give birth. One of them is Tide Pool Beach on The Sea Ranch. Craig Tooley photographed the first Harbor Seal to be born this year swimming with its mom. It's wonderful to watch as the pup bonds with its mother. Harbor Seals only have one pup at a time.

Here's an unusual sighting. This is a lanugo pup. It was born premature and still has its lanugo coat. You can see it is quite hairy. This coat is usually lost before birth but in this little pup's case it is still wearing it. The pup will shed it in the days to come.
You might see a pup on the beach and think it is abandoned. It is not! The mother leaves it there while she heads back into the ocean to feed. If you think a marine mammal is in distress, do not take matters into your own hands. Call the Marine Mammal Center at 415) 289-7350 and they will send a trained volunteer out to assess the situation.

Over twenty pups have been born off The Sea Ranch so far with many more to come. It's a privilege to share the Coast with them.

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Point Cabrillo Light Station, as photographed by Dennis Latona

The Point Cabrillo Light Station is fully restored and open to the public. Dennis Latona recently visited it and the surrounding state park. It is located just north of the town of Mendocino. You can learn much more about this special place at this link:

Dennis also shared this photo of Noyo Harbor at night. Located at Fort Bragg, this is an active harbor for commercial and sport fishing. There are several great seafood restaurants at the harbor too.
And here are several Does with their yearlings. We are waiting for the first fawn of the spring to be born. Any day!
Thanks to Dennis for allowing me to share his photos with you here. To see more of Dennis' nature photography, here is his website:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Two Tall Ships have recently sailed up the Mendonoma Coast

It's always a treat to see the Tall Ships sail by. The Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain had come to Bodega Bay recently. John Sperry photographed them at anchor.

There were tours and the chance to sail with the crew. Since their home base is in the state of Washington, we are treated to the sight of these two ships sailing by several times a year. Diane Hichwa caught the Lady Washington on April 17 sailing north.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Pacific Wren, as photographed by Richard Kuehn

Pacific Wrens used to be called Winter Wrens but their name was changed by the powers that be a while back. They are year round residents of the Mendonoma Coast. Richard Kuehn had one pose for him recently.

This bird resides in forests and eats insects. We have several that live on our property. In the spring, the male's call is magnificent to hear. It seems to go on - well - nearly forever.

To hear a male singing in the spring, here's the link to the Macaulay Library:  But the one Rick and I heard singing last week outdid the one on this recording!

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

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A beautiful Tide Pool off The Sea Ranch

Robert Scarola recently photographed this beautiful tide pool.

Here's what Robert had to say:

"It's been so windy lately that Nancy and I are only going out for short walks on the shore -- stunningly beautiful. We found a quiet, calm spot out of the wind on The Sea Ranch Bluff Trail near where the Salal Trail joins it, and spent some time just contemplating the rock formations and the sheltered tide pools. You can feel all the small life here living in this green-edged pool home, waiting for the next surge of sea and nutrients. The sun made the water look like it was filled with diamonds. And actually it is rich beyond measure."

Thanks to Robert for his photo and his words!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Bobcat paid a visit to Patricia McBratney's property on The Sea Ranch

Sometimes a Bobcat will settle down and just enjoy enjoy the soft grasses. That's what happened outside Patty McBratney's house.

 And Patty caught this Bobcat in a big yawn. Now that's a unique photo for you today!

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

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Baby Anna's Hummingbird as photographed by Beth Petit

Beth and Jeff Petit had a juvenile Anna's Hummingbird show up at their feeder recently. While I'm still seeing male Anna's displaying for his ladylove and have seen signs of nest building, this youngster's parents obviously got an early start.

Richard Kuehn took a look at the photo for me and he wrote, "It is indeed a downy juvenile. There are multiple downy feathers on this young Anna's hummingbird likely hatched in early to mid-March, I'd guess."

And here's a fun photo from a while ago where an adult Anna's landed on Beth's head!

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

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

One of the most exotic wildflowers is the Calypso Orchid

So tiny yet so exquisite, Calypso Orchids are blooming in undisturbed forests on the Mendonoma Coast. Jinx McCombs is lucky to have a patch of them on her property near Point Arena. She took this close-up so you can see its lovely blossom.

This wildflower needs a fungus in the soil to thrive so you should never try to transplant one. If you are fortunate enough to come across one, just appreciate it its natural habitat.

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

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Here's an oddity - a nearly white American Robin

Susan Gonzalez sent in this photo to see if she could get an identification. Ron LeValley identified it as a partially leucistic American Robin.

You can see it's not a true albino as its eyes are normal color. Still it is a very unusual bird.

Thanks to Susan for allowing me to share this photo with you here. To see two other partially leucistic birds, here's the link:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

With last week's rain, the Gualala River opened to the ocean and Peter Baye was there to record the event.

The Gualala River had been closed to the Pacific Ocean by a huge sandbar. We wondered if it was closed for the spring/summer or if it would open again. Then a storm brought over two inches of rain in the watershed and the river opened. This time Peter Baye was fortunate to witness the whole event, which occurred last Saturday, April 6.

The first two dramatic photos shows the before and after. Here the lagoon is full.

 And after the river opened, the river quickly drained down. It took about two hours.
 Below is a photo of the beginning of the breach.
 And then the opening widened and the river was in full breach.
Here's what Peter had to say about his experience:

"I finally got a chance to view and photograph the Gualala lagoon breach cycle in full—from pre-breach to spill, initial cut, through full breach and stable inlet phases!  I stayed around in the morning long before it was close, to assess how fast it was creeping up – and decided it was worth a wait.

"Four hours later, after drawing a small crowd of breach-vigil onlookers, it got close to over-topping, when heavy fog patches came in waves around 2:30. I ran (literally) down to the beach and got fog-privatized “standing room only” photo perspectives and short videos as my camera batteries waned. They lasted until full breach. I returned to my car and got fresh batteries, and got one more set after the lagoon drawdown, and the tide began to rise and transform the outlet channel to a tidal inlet.

"It was an ecstatic and illuminating experience to watch the whole cycle. I’ve only caught them too early or too late (after breach), often without camera before."

Peter also took some video which will be posted on the Friends of the Gualala River website at this link:

Many thanks to Peter for allowing me to share his photos with you here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

This weekend could be magical for wildflower enthusiasts

Warm weather has followed the rains and wildflowers are already putting on quite a show. A walk on a coastal bluff could bring visions of exquisite beauty.

And forests have their share of wildflowers too. False Solomon Seal just began blooming. It's a member of the Lily family.

And here is an emerging Andrew's Clintonia, Clintonia andrewsiana, also called a Red Clintonia, It too is a member of the Lily family and, if the flower isn't eaten by a Deer, the beautiful blossoms will bloom the first of May.

It is absolutely lovely here today on the Mendonoma Coast.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Recreational salmon season and abalone season have begun off the Mendonoma Coast

Abalone season opened as did the recreational salmon season. There are happy smiles on the faces of those who venture out onto or into the ocean to get a tasty dinner. Carolyn André photographed a recent sunset with a fishing boat in the foreground.

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

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The storms have the Pacific Ocean roaring!

With calm, dry weather forecast the Pacific Ocean will settle down. But with the several storms that hit late last week the ocean was in full voice. Robert Scarola photographed some big waves recently at Gualala Point Regional Park. The couple in the photo had to run from the big surf.

 The couple below is on the sandbar, a dangerous place to be when the Gualala River is running so fast.
Thanks to Robert for allowing me to share his photos with you.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Several more photos of the fantastic rainbow just as the sun was setting on March 23

These photos are so beautiful. On March 23 we had such an unusual cloud show in the west and a magnificent rainbow formed inland. Paul Brewer photographed the rainbow over Gualala. It looks like a magical land.

And George Bush photographed it just as the sun was setting from The Sea Ranch.
 You can see the setting sun reflected on the houses below. Quite a beautiful event!
Thanks to George and Paul for allowing me to share their photos with you here. You can much more of Paul's nature photography at:

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Western Trillium heaven as photographed by Kay Martin

Trilliums have been blooming on the Mendonoma Coast. Kay Martin came across what she calls Nature's planter - an old section of a Redwood Tree.

Peter Baye told me this is called a "nursery log." Below is a close-up of the Trilliums. You can tell they are newly bloomed as the blossoms are white. With age they will turn pink and then purple.
Never pick these wildflowers - it might take four or five years for the plant to recover and bloom again. Just enjoy them as Mother Nature has placed them.

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

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Juvenile Elephant Seal paid a visit to Anchor Bay Beach

Annie Mills couldn't believe her eyes when she and her friend came across this juvenile Elephant Seal.

They quickly leashed their dogs and left the little one in peace. They were worried it might be ill but it was gone the next day so apparently it was just resting up on the beach. It looks mighty comfortable, doesn't it?

It's good to remember that you should never "rescue" a pup. Call the Marine Mammal Center at 415)289-SEAL (-7325). They will call a local volunteer to come out and assess the situation.

News flash! The first Harbor Seal pup was born this week in a protected cove on The Sea Ranch. There are many pregnant moms waiting to give birth in the days to come.

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

Friday, April 5, 2013

North Coast Photographers Group has their opening at the Dolphin Gallery tomorrow afternoon, April 6 at 5 p.m.

Craig Tooley, a frequent contributor to this blog, is curating the exhibit of the North Coast Photographers Group. The grand opening is tomorrow at 5 pm at the Dolphin Gallery in Gualala. Craig says, "The exhibit photos consist primarily of nature photographs taken along the majestic Northern California coast. Don't miss it!"

Here are a few of Craig's photos. I don't know if any of these will be in the exhibit but I thought you'd enjoy seeing them here. Below is a Northern Flicker.
 And here is a very young Fox Kit.
 And here is a House Finch giving you a wave.

Good luck to Craig and the rest of the photography group. They sure have some awesome material to work with here on the Mendonoma Coast.

To see much more of Craig's photography, here's the link:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Rainbows just before sunset - a Mendonoma Treat!

Last week a storm system gave us rainbows just before sunset, rather an unusual occurrence. Robert Scarola photographed the event in Gualala.

The first photo shows the rainbow beginning.

And the rainbow grows.
This was the sunset to the west.
 The rainbow then arched across the sky.
 And finally the right side of the rainbow formed a double.
Here's what Robert had to say about this event: "It was still lightly raining and misting on the hills behind our house, and as I watched a rainbow began to form next to a large tree opposite our back deck. It then grew, formed a double, arched at the top, started down to the left, and completed into a full arch. It was so close I could almost touch it, and I did not have a lens that was wide angle enough to capture the whole incredible sight. So I took this series with the lens I have. (I am now in the market for a wide angle lens!). Maybe people can get a feel for how this incredible magical event formed in front of my eyes as I watched. It was like Buddha decided to have some fun and do a sand painting in the sky for all of us still hanging out down here. As it faded away, I went to the other side of the house and took the photo of the sunset clouds to the west. Wow, is about all I can say."

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