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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

River Otters make their home at the mouth of the Gualala River...and other rivers and creeks on the Mendonoma Coast.

North American River Otters, Lontra canadensis, can only survive in unpolluted waters, a testament to the clean waters of the Mendonoma Coast. On our recent kayak trip, Rozann Grunig photographed a River Otter that had just climbed out of the Gualala River and onto the riverbank of the lagoon.

And below is a photo Siegfried Matull took of a River Otter with a fish in its mouth. 

Along with their favorite food, fish, River Otters have been seen cooperatively taking a Gull, or even a Brown Pelican, found resting on the river, unknowing there was danger.

River Otters have been seen playing - sliding down riverbanks or along kelp beds. They are part of the fabric that is the Mendonoma Coast.

Thanks to Rozann and Siegfried for allowing me to share their photos.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

At low tide many treasures of the sea are revealed.

I always save the Independent Coast Observer's tide table and put it on my refrigerator door so I know when the low tides are. Peggy Berryhill keeps her eye on the low tides too. She went out recently and here's what she discovered - beautiful Sea Stars nestled in with mussels.

Sea Stars, often called Starfish, are in the class Asteroidea. There are over 2,000 species of Sea Stars living in the world's oceans. They are closely related to Sea Urchins and Sand Dollars. One strange fact about Sea Stars is that they have no brains and no blood; they use filtered sea water in place of blood.

And when the tide is low, their loveliness is revealed to all.

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

Monday, July 29, 2013

Water Striders mating, a magical photo by Ron LeValley

Ron LeValley photographed a pair of Water Striders mating on a pond. Look closely at the surface tension of the water - trees are reflected.

Water Striders are bugs that can literally walk on water. They eat insects on the surface of the water.

Beauty surrounds us if we but pause to notice. Lucky for us that Ron has allowed me to share his photo here. To see much more of  Ron's photography, here is his website:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pileated Woodpecker - the biggest woodpecker on the Mendonoma Coast.

I often hear the unique call of a Pileated Woodpecker as they travel through the forest. Yesterday two of these distinctive birds landed on a tree in front of our house. Darla Buechner had one land just off her deck and she got some great photos.

Pileated Woodpeckers eat ants and other insects, drilling away in dead wood. They make rectangular holes, which is unique to them.
You can see pieces of wood to the right of the photo above. This is indicative of a Pileated hard at work.
In the photo above the Pileated is on a granary tree, a snag that Acorn Woodpeckers are using to store acorns in the round holes. Darla thought the Pileated might be stealing the acorns and I guess that could be true. But I think it more likely this bird was snacking on bugs attracted to the acorns.

Thanks to Darla for allowing me to share her photos with you here. To hear the sounds of a Pileated Woodpecker, here is the link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

And to see a cavity nest with two juvenile Pileateds taken by Nan Brichetto, here is the link:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Salmon fishing off the Mendonoma Coast has been epic!

Salmon fishing hasn't been this good in well over thirty years. Salmon - big ones - seem to be there for the taking. Commercial fishers and recreational fishers are having the best luck lately. It's heartening to know these fish are back in such abundance.

Jack Likins went out from Point Arena with two friends. Here's what he had to say: 

"Ken Bailey, Pat Killen and I went out salmon fishing yesterday.  We arrived at the Point Arena Pier at 7 am and were 8th in line for launching our boat.  By the time we got our boat in the water at 8 am there were already people returning with their limits of salmon.  We had our limit (2 fish per person) by about noon.  It seemed like almost all the returning boats were limiting out with big fish."

Here's a photo of Pat holding a 22 pound Salmon. What a beauty!

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

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The white fawn is doing well on The Sea Ranch

Richard Kuehn recently photographed the white fawn with its normal colored sibling. Despite its lack of camouflage, it has survived and grown bigger. You can see it is coloring up just a bit.

The fawn can often be seen by the 8th and 9th holes of The Sea Ranch Golf Links. It does look like a magical being.

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

Monday, July 22, 2013

Kayaking on the Gualala River - it's bliss!

On Saturday Rick and I finally kayaked the Gualala River, courtesy of Adventure Rents. They donated this trip to a popular fundraiser for Gualala Arts, called Art off the Wall. Along with art, there are various adventures. I chose this for my prize. Gualala Supermarket donated four delicious box lunches.

I am in the double kayak, awaiting my adventure, excited but just a little nervous.

We went with George and Rozann Grunig; they are in the yellow kayak. We are exploring the lagoon before heading up river, as advised by Wayne Harris of Adventure Rents. In summer months this river is closed to the ocean by a big sandbar, making kayaking very safe.
We found this group of Common Mergansers sunning themselves on a log.
We saw two River Otters. Rozann got a great photo, which I'll share another day. Can you spot the River Otter looking at me on the muddy riverbank?
Any nervousness is now gone and Rick & I are enjoying our first kayak ride.
 Passing under the Gualala River Bridge unveiled over a hundred Swallow nests.
 George and Rozann, more experienced than us, led the way. In two places we did have to get out and walk, as the river is low in spots. We had a dry winter/spring, which accounts for the lower levels. Jan Harris, of Adventure Rents, said, "Embrace your inner child" on the portages. We did and had fun doing it.
 And here Rick and I are, four hours later, happy with our day on the beautiful Gualala River.

Thanks to Rozann for allowing me to share her photos with you here, along with several I took.

To learn more about the river, visit Friends of the Gualala River at:

To see many beautiful photos of the river and to learn about kayaking, here's the website for Adventure Rents:

Also, I highly recommend the box lunches Surf Super is putting together. You can order your own custom design at

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Yellow-cheeked Chipmunks as photographed by Peter Baye

Neotamias ochrogenys, Yellow-cheeked Chipmunks, are only found near the Coast in Northern California. Peter has recently been able to photograph them.

Peter says they are very elusive. Members of the squirrel family, they are associated with redwood trees. I have never seen one, but I will be looking for them now that I know what they look like.

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

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Osprey baby has fledged!

Paul Brewer has been photographing an Osprey nest with one chick. It's been wonderful to see the baby grow. Now it is big enough and strong enough to leave the nest. Paul was there with his camera. Just look at this healthy fledgling, with its beautiful feathers of many shades of black, brown and gray, along with the bright white ones.

The young Osprey will continue to return to the nest to rest and will still be fed by its parents...for a while!
 Here the juvenile Osprey landed in a nearby tree. Wow, has this bird's world just gotten bigger.

Thanks to Paul for taking us along for this experience. To see the first photo Paul took of the hatchling, here is the link: What a difference six+ weeks make!

To see much more of Paul's nature photography, here's his website:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Manzanita bark is peeling - quite a sight on the Mendonoma Coast!

Manzanita bushes are native to California. We have several different types on our property in Anchor Bay. This big specimen is peeling, something manzanitas do every year.

Once the manzanita has done shedding its outer bark, smooth and silky bark remains. It's almost impossible not to run your fingers along a red branch once the peeling is done. When the bark peels, it's difficult for insects and other organisms to stay attached to the bush. So it is partly a defensive mechanism.

Manzanita bushes, with their beautiful branches, add beauty to the Mendonoma Coast.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

You can help the birds by keeping your cat indoors - look at this fun photo by Mark Simkins

Mark and Kitty Simkins have a hummingbird feeder at their place in Manchester. Kai, their cat, fantasizes about getting a hummingbird but there is a pane of glass in the way.

It's nice to know this Anna's Hummingbird is safe from the Simkins' beautiful cat. Domestic cats kill an unbelievably high number of birds. Quail are particularly vulnerable now, as the chicks have just been born.
Thanks to Mark for allowing me to share his photo with you here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Porcini in July? On the Mendonoma Coast?? Paul Kozal has proof!

The storm that dumped three inches of rain on the Mendonoma Coast in late June has brought a mushroom bloom. You saw Irma Brandt's Shrimp Russulas. Now take a peek at the six Boletus edulis Paul Kozal found this past week.

These choice, edible mushrooms are usually found in the autumn, most years around Thanksgiving. I wonder what will happen this fall.

Paul has affinity for mushrooms and takes lovely photos of them, some of which are displayed at his gallery, Studio 391, in Gualala. To see more of Paul's photography, here is his website:

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

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Western Sandpipers seen at Cook's Beach by Tom Eckles

A small flock of Western Sandpipers was seen at Cook's Beach recently, running along the surf line. Tom Eckles photographed the scene, which shows kelp on the beach.

Several years ago Tom saw Sandpipers at the same place, as you will see in the photo below, looking for tasty insects in the surf and sand.
There's something quite endearing about these birds - they make me smile when I see them. If you'd like to listen to their calls, here's the link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

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

Monday, July 15, 2013

Winter mushrooms in July? Mother Nature is a little confused!

We had a big storm come through the end of June. And sure enough, it prompted a mushroom bloom. King Boletes, Porcini, have been found. A Sweet Tooth Hedgehog popped up. And a cache of Chanterelles, usually only found in winter, were spotted by Irma Brandt.

It takes a good eye to spot edible mushrooms. Can you see them in Irma's first photo? Her series of photos will show their unveiling.

Thanks to Irma for allowing me to share her photos with you here. Irma found the biggest King Bolete I've ever seen a few years ago. You can see it at this link:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Goose Barnacle, a filter-feeding Crustacean, as photographed by Peggy Berryhill

Goose Barnacles live on hard surfaces of rock, and even flotsam, in the intertidal zone of the ocean. Peggy Berryhill recently photographed a group of them at low tide off of Cook's Beach. You can also see a handful of mussels in Peggy's photo.

Such a strange-looking creature!  The Goose Barnacles look rather like claws. They are considered a delicacy in Portugal and Spain and go by the name Percebes. Native people on the Mendonoma Coast would roast them on a fire and then eat the stem. I'm content to admire them in their natural habitat, one of the many denizens of the ocean.

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

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A new Zebra was born at the B. Bryan Preserve in Point Arena - here's Daphne!

Meet Daphne, a newborn Hartmann's Mountain Zebra. She was born July 2 at the B. Bryan Preserve. Daphne looks like she is celebrating life!

And here's the little one with her mother, Debbie.

These zebras are endangered. According to Judy Mello, less than 6000 of them remain. Their primary habitat is the mountains of Namibia. Daphne can expect to live twenty years at her safe home in Point Arena.

Thanks to Judy for allowing me to share her photo with  you here. To learn about the B. Bryan Preserve - and they have guest cottages - here's their link:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Salmon fishing has been great off the Mendonoma Coast!

Big, beautiful King Salmon are being caught off the Mendonoma Coast. Ken Bailey went out recently and brought home the "bacon." Wendy Bailey took the photography with a certain pup named Lucky looking on.

 This photo is not very clear but you can still see the beautiful salmon caught by a group of Mendonomans who went out on a fishing charter from Bodega Bay. Paul Batchelder, Sharon Albert and  George Marshall are among this happy group.

It is such great news that salmon are in abundance this year! There is plenty of feed, as the ocean is full of krill right now. That also brings the chance of Humpback Whale sightings and even a Blue Whale or two.

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

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A green flash was seen last Saturday and Allen Vinson photographed it.

It looked like there would be no possibility of a green flash from the vantage point of Allen Vinson's home on The Sea Ranch last Saturday, July 7. Fog was the order of the day. But the fog lifted just before sunset and Allen caught magic - again - when he photographed the green flash.

You will see in this second photo - a close up - that Allen photographed a double green flash.
And here is what the weather looked like some minutes before - a fog shrouded day.

It's a Mendonoma Coast tradition to always try and watch the sunset. You might catch magic like Allen and witness the phenomenon known as the green flash. And it's real, not a myth!

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

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Bobcat checks out the bird feeders in Adrian Bennett's yard.

Adrian Bennett has several bird feeders and bird baths in her yard at The Sea Ranch and she attracts many different kinds of birds. Deer often wander through but seeing a Bobcat under a feeder was something unique. Here the Bobcat peers around a bird bath.

 And below the Bobcat sits under Adrian's thistle feeder, while an American Goldfinch waits for the cat with the tufted ears and bobbed tail to leave.
 Here the Bobcat checks out a soft ball hanging from a birdhouse. And beyond is the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean.

Thanks to Adrian for allowing me to share her photos with you here. The wildlife on the Mendonoma Coast is amazing!

Monday, July 8, 2013

More photos of the magnificent lightning storm off the Mendonoma Coast.

Late in the evening on July 3 and continuing through the early morning hours of July 4, the Mendonoma Coast witnessed a fantastical lightning show. Fortunately most of the event was over water, in our case the Pacific Ocean.

Mel Gerst, now an "official" storm chaser, got in his car and took three photos from three different spots. The first was taken from The Sea Ranch.

The second photo was taken looking over the Gualala River.
And the photo below was taken by Schooner Gulch.
What an event! We don't get many lightning storms like this on the Coast.

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

Sunday, July 7, 2013

One of my favorite birds is the Swainson's Thrush.

I rarely see these birds because they are hidden away in a tall tree, so you might ask why it is one of my favorites. The answer is its beautiful song. Swainson's are a medium-size thrush and they are found in forests. Richard Kuehn was lucky enough to capture one singing recently.

Swainson's Thrushes overwinter in Mexico and South America. Their arrival on the Mendonoma Coast signifies spring to me. When they pair up, you can hear them calling to each other during the day, keeping in touch with their beautiful song.

Here is a link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to hear their call: But you will have to imagine a series of these calls, with the thrill going upwards on the scale, sometimes almost too high to hear - at least by human ear.

Thanks to Rich for allowing me to share his photo with you here. To see a Swainson's Thrush nest, along with an American Goldfinch nest, here is the link:

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Osprey baby is testing his or her wings!

Paul Brewer continues to study an Osprey nest upriver from Jenner and he is kindly sharing some of his photos with us.

The first photo shows the baby on the left as Mom lands on the nest.

 And below the young one is exercising its wings.

And in the photo below the juvenile Osprey is taking its first "steps." It may not be too long before this Osprey fledges.

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

Thursday, July 4, 2013

There was spectacular lightning storm over the Pacific Ocean early this morning!

It wasn't in the forecast but tell that to Mother Nature. A spectacular lightning and thunderstorm made it impossible to sleep late last night and early this morning on the Mendonoma Coast. Fortunately most of the strikes were over the ocean. Paul Kozal set up his camera and caught this beautiful photo; it gave me goosebumps when I saw it.

Thanks to Paul for allowing me to show you this wonder of nature. To see more of Paul's photography, here's the link to his website: I particularly love his mushroom photographs.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A lovely sunrise was had this morning.

The heat wave we had been experiencing broke yesterday. Last Saturday we had the highest temperature we've ever had in 17 years of living here - 96 degrees. We weren't sad to see the heat go. This morning's early sunrise was reflected off some beautiful clouds with the calm ocean underneath, as seen from our deck.

The Pacific Ocean has no whitecaps today and fishing boats are out. Salmon fishing has been great lately. I'll share a photo showing a beautiful salmon soon.

Tomorrow we celebrate the 4th of July, commemorating the birth of America. Here on the Mendonoma Coast, we will celebrate on Saturday the 6th with fireworks in Point Arena and a parade on Sunday.