Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 29, 2015

Do Whales Get the Bends?

National Geographic reports

Whales may be able to get the same decompression sickness that scuba divers do when they surface too quickly from a dive, despite their adaptations to a life in the ocean.

Read full story at National Geographic Do Whales Get the Bends?

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 28, 2015

California State Nature Symbols

Below is a list of California State Emblems relating to Natural History:

  •  The golden poppy (Eschscholtzia) is the official State Flower. April 6 of each year is hereby designated California Poppy Day.
  •  The California redwood (Sequoia sempervirens, Sequoia gigantea) is the official state tree.
  • The California desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) is the official state reptile.
  • The Pacific leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is the official state marine reptile.
  • The California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) is the official state amphibian.
  • The California valley quail (Lophortyx californica) is the official bird and avifaunal emblem of the State.
  • The California dog-face butterfly (Zerene eurydice) is the official State Insect.
  • The state animal is the California Grizzly Bear (Ursus Californicus). extinct in California today.
  • Native gold is the official State Mineral and mineralogic emblem.
  • Serpentine is the official State Rock and lithologic emblem.
  • Benitoite is the official state gemstone.
  • The California gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) is the official State Marine Mammal.
  • The garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) is the official state marine fish.
  •  The saber-toothed cat (Smilodon californicus) is the official State Fossil.
  • The Chipped Stone Bear (bear-shaped eccentric) is the official state prehistoric artifact.
  • Purple needlegrass, or Nassella pulchra, is the official State Grass.

See list of all state symbols at  http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=GOV&division=2.&title=1.&part=&chapter=2.&article=

 

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 27, 2015

Mt. Rainier National Park Wildflowers 8/27/15

Mt. Rainier National Park reports currently blooming  on August 27, 2017

Currently Blooming – August 27, 2015
A few individuals of certain wildflower species are hanging in there, such as this sole Cascade penstemon (Penstemon serrulatus) spotted still blooming along the Wonderland Trail in Stevens Canyon. Most wildflowers have gone to seed or berry, and fall colors are starting to come in. There are over a half dozen of penstemon species in the park, with Cascade penstemon being one of the more common. Cascade penstemon has taller unbranched stems (6-24 in/15-60 cm) topped with a cluster of blue-purple tube-shaped flowers. Along the stem are pairs of toothed, lance- to oval-shaped leaves, about 4 inches (10 cm) long. It is found along streams and wetter areas, up to 6,000 feet (1,800m).

Wildflower Reports

  • Stevens Canyon: (8/22) late: Cascade penstemon, corn lily, pearly everlasting, fireweed, oceanspray; other: Sitka mountain ash berries, false Solomon’s seal berries
  • Paradise: (8/19) sitka mountain ash berries, pearly everlasting, late: cascade aster, corn lily;
  • High Lakes Trail/Reflection Lakes: (8/12) mountain bog gentian, pearly everlasting, sitka mountain ash berries; late: fireweed, cascade aster, corn lily; other: huckleberries in fruit, leaves turning color
  • Sunrise: (8/6) pearly everlasting, yarrow, few paintbrush, pasqueflower seedheads, cascade asters (late), mountain bog gentians
  • SR410/SR123 (8/6): pearly everlasting, fireweed (late), common st. johnswort

See photos at Mt. Rainier National Park.

 

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 27, 2015

Gray Wolf Pack Confirmed In N. Calif.

Gray Wolves Love California!
Department of Fish and Wildlife confirms new pack in northern CA

SACRAMENTO – Today the California Department of Fish and Wildlife released photographic evidence of a new pack of gray wolves established in Siskiyou County in northern California. The pack has been named the “Shasta Pack” and consists of two adults and five pups, all captured on camera. The pups are approximately three to four months old and all appear to be healthy. This news comes just weeks after officials announced sightings of a suspected wolf caught on Siskiyou trail cameras in May and July. The presence of a whole pack in California affirms that wolves know there is suitable habitat in the state and are ready to use it.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 26, 2015

Early Eastern Sierra Fall Color Report 8/26/15

California Fall Color posted its first fall leaf report of the season. Below is the summary. See full report at Eastern Sierra Shows Early Color.

  • 0 – 10% – Bishop – Fremont Cottonwood that populate Bishop are deep green and healthy.
  • 10 – 50% – Lake Sabrina, Middle Fork Bishop Creek – On the lower end of this scale, color is beginning to paint slopes from 9,200′ up to 10,000′.  Aspen below the dam are speckled with gold.
  • 10 – 50% – South Fork Bishop Creek – A hillside of aspen have turned yellow between Table Mountain and Willow campgrounds.  Most of the aspen are deep green and will turn on schedule from late Sept. to mid Oct.
  • 0 – 10% – June Lake Loop – A few aspen are showing spots of color.
  • 0 – 10% – Walker River, Walker, Coleville – Fremont cottonwood look healthy and deeply green.
  • 10 – 50% – Monitor Pass –  The aspen atop the pass are suffering, partly because this is a windswept area with poor nutrients and due to a fungus that has spotted leaves.  Several trees have lost leaves and appear to be struggling.
  • 0 – 10% – Carson Pass – The aspen throughout most of the Hope Valley look healthy and full of green leaves, though a few stands near Sorensen’s Resort have lost half their leaves due to the same fungus afflicting those on Monitor Pass.
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 26, 2015

Updated Collins Bird Guide App

Birdwatch magazine reported on the release of the updated Collins Bird Guide app released. They wrote

This definitive guide has now been expertly reimagined to create the ultimate interactive guide for passionate birders and casual birdwatchers alike. … the app for iPad and iPhone provides everything needed to identify a species quickly and correctly in its version 1.3, out today 20 August 2015, andn priced at £13.49.

it combines world-class illustrations, comprehensive information about all the species encountered in Britain and Europe, videos plus 800 songs and calls, many recorded by Lars Svensson himself, for the most complete, hands-on field guide.

Key features of the upgrade are:

  • More than 100 new calls added;
  • An improved listing tool – now birders can use the app to record sightings and add the location and date to their lists;
  • An innovative layout of confusable species – this is the only bird guide app that allows you to quickly view similar species based on expertly curated lists;
  • A powerful filtering and localisation tool – search by user location, time of year and species;
  • Unique and intuitive browsing navigation to quickly and easily swipe through family, species and different plumages;
  • The most comprehensive location mapping of any bird guide app, thanks to exclusive use of the British Trust for Ornithology’s Bird Atlas 2007-11 mapping data;
  • Video Library footage of all 794 species featured;

Read full article at  http://www.birdwatch.co.uk/channel/newsitem.asp?c=11&cate=__16048

 

 

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 25, 2015

Drought’s Impact On California’s Native Fish

The LA Times reports on the drought’s impact on California’s Native Fish

The drought’s toll on California has been measured mostly in terms of idled cropland, dried up domestic wells and brown lawns. Less visible but more devastating has been damage to native fish that struggle for survival in the best of times.

Four years of drought — and the accompanying relaxation of environmental standards by state regulators — have compounded the harm of dams and diversions that long ago thwarted fish migration and destroyed habitat.

Read full story at The drought’s hidden victim: California’s native fish – LA Times.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 24, 2015

Birding Emeryville Shoreline 8-24-15

Today we went birding along the Emeryville Shoreline. We walked just under two miles along the shoreline, park and Marina.  It was high tide, however it was a rather low high tide of just 4.23 feet. The habitat is rocky shoreline, landfill park area, and marina.

Marbled Godwits and Willets were along the rocky shoreline next to walking path. Numbers were small compared to what will probably be seen with higher tides and later in the season. Two Short-billed Dowitchers and one Whimbrel were the only other shorebirds in riprap. Numbers are probably very conservative as I usually only counted the most seen at one time. There were a number of Swallows but only had good identifications on one of each species. Best sightings were watching the Belted Kingfisher fly across, the distant “V” formation of the Pelicans, and Forster’s Tern fishing. Double-crested Cormorants and Gulls were only birds seen in the Bay.

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Click read more to see bird list

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 24, 2015

25 Million Mediterranean Birds Illegally Killed Annually

New scientific report reveals: “25 million birds illegally slaughtered in the Mediterranean every year”

Unlawfully shot, trapped or glued: tens of millions of birds are being killed illegally each year across the Mediterranean, according to the first scientific review of its kind to be carried out in the region by BirdLife International.
BirdLife and Partners have uncovered the shocking extent to which a number of birds are being illegally killed, putting together a list of the ten countries with the highest estimated annual death toll.
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 23, 2015

Call For Three New California Desert Nat. Monuments

News Release Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Biological Diversity Statement on Senator Feinstein’s Call to  Designate New California Desert National Monuments

LOS ANGELES— The Center for Biological Diversity today applauded Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s call to designate three national monuments in the Southern California desert. Feinstein wrote a letter to President Obama earlier this month urging him to use the Antiquities Act to designate the Mojave Trails National Monument, the Sand to Snow National Monument and the Castle Mountains National Monument. National monument designations will mean that these special places will be forever protected and accessible to the public.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 22, 2015

S.F. Botanical Garden Flowers, Birds & Photos

Photos and bird list from yesterday’s visit to San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California.

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Bird List

Mallard  3
Snowy Egret  1
Anna’s Hummingbird  X     numerous especially near entrance
Downy Woodpecker  1
Black Phoebe  2
Steller’s Jay  X     numerous throughout garden
Common Raven  1
American Robin  X     many birds on lawn including juveniles
Yellow Warbler  1
Dark-eyed Junco  4
California Towhee  1
Lesser Goldfinch  4

 

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 22, 2015

How Adult Birds Learn Their Songs

ScienceDaily reports on research on the learning mechanism in adult songbirds

A neurological mechanism has been discovered that could explain how songbirds’ neural creativity-generator lets them refine and alter their songs as adults.

Read story at How the finch changes its tune: Researchers discover mechanism for learning in adult songbirds — ScienceDaily.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 21, 2015

Recovery Plans For Two Bay Area Endangered Plants

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced recovery plans today for the endangered Pallid Manzanita/Arctostaphylos pallida and Baker’s larkspur/Delphinium bakeri.

According to Wikipedia the Pallid Manzanita/Arctostaphylos pallida is a fire-adapted shrub has  13 populations that are in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The two largest populations are found in Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties and at Sobrante Ridge Regional Park in Contra Costa County.

Baker’s larkspur/Delphinium bakeri has only one small remaining population, in western Marin County.Baker’s larkspur grows on decomposed shale within coastal scrub plant community. Its range historically included the Point Reyes Peninsula and areas between Camp Meeker and Petaluma, California.

Wikipedia reports:

 In July 2002, county-hired road crews mowing weeds in the critical habitat area cut down 30 to 50 Baker’s larkspurs. Scientists initially believed the action may have caused the species’ extinction.

In October 2004, the plant was nearly made extinct in earnest by road workers using heavy machinery to unclog a roadside drain. The last remaining population of about 100 plants was reduced to five individuals.

I have posted photos from the Regional Parks Botanic Garden of both plants below.

Read press release at Center for Biological Diversity Endangered Species Act Recovery Plan Set for Two Unique Bay Area Plants.

Alameda Manzanita/Arctostaphylus pallida

Alameda Manzanita/Arctostaphylus pallida

Baker's Larkspur/ Delphinium bakeri (rare and endangered)

Baker’s Larkspur/ Delphinium bakeri (rare and endangered)

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 21, 2015

US National Parks Are Free August 25

U.S. National Parks are free August 25 National Park Service Birthday

Fee waiver includes: entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.

via U.S. National Park Service Free Entrance Days in the National Parks.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 21, 2015

World’s First Flower?

ScienceDaily reports

Paleobotanists in Europe have identified a 125 million- to 130 million-year-old freshwater plant as one of earliest flowering plants on Earth.

Read article at Paleobotanist identifies what could be the mythical ‘first flower’: New analysis represents major change in the presumed nature of the planet’s earliest angiosperms — ScienceDaily.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 20, 2015

Mt. Rainier National Park Wildflowers 8/20/15

Mt. Rainier National Park reports currently blooming  on August 20, 2015:

Sitka Mountain Ash (Sorbus sitchensis) has lovely white blooms, but is probably better known for its bunches of bright red berries. These berries can look almost too-red-to-be-real, popping out of the surrounding foliage. The berries, which last well into winter, are an essential food source for birds and animals in the park. This year appears to be a particularly abundant one for Sitka Mountain Ash berries. This large shrub is found throughout the subalpine regions of the park.

Wildflower Reports

  • Paradise: (8/19) sitka mountain ash berries, pearly everlasting, late: cascade aster, corn lily;
  • High Lakes Trail/Reflection Lakes: (8/12) mountain bog gentian, pearly everlasting, sitka mountain ash berries; late: fireweed, cascade aster, corn lily; other: huckleberries in fruit, leaves turning color
  • Sunrise: (8/6) pearly everlasting, yarrow, few paintbrush, pasqueflower seedheads, cascade asters (late), mountain bog gentians
  • SR410/SR123 (8/6): pearly everlasting, fireweed (late), common st. johnswort

See photos at Mt. Rainier National Park.

 

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 20, 2015

Henry Coe Wildflower Update 8/20/15

Henry Coe State Park has a new wildflower bloom report  for August 20 at the Pine Ridge Association website with photos and a list of flowers now in bloom at: Henry W. Coe – Wildflower Guide.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 20, 2015

New Habitat Protections For Hawaiian Monk Seals

News Release Center for Biological Diversity

New Habitat Protections Will Help Hawaiian Monk Seals Avoid Extinction

HONOLULU— The National Marine Fisheries Service issued a final rule today protecting almost 7,000 square miles of critical habitat for Hawaiian monk seals, one of the world’s most endangered marine mammals. The ruling requires greater scrutiny of federally funded or permitted projects along coastal areas on the main Hawaiian islands to protect this native monk seal, whose population is down to around 1,100 and falling at 3 percent per year.

“Hawaiian monk seals have been in serious trouble for a long time, and these new habitat protections will give them a desperately needed chance at survival,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Monk seals are nearly extinct, so we need to make sure our coasts offer them a safe haven.”

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 20, 2015

Will California Protect Endangered Tricolored Blackbirds?

Press Release Center for Biological Diversity

California Given a Third Chance to Protect Endangered Tricolored Blackbirds

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity today petitioned to protect tricolored blackbirds under the California Endangered Species Act — its third attempt in the past decade to gain protection for a unique California bird species that is declining at a rate comparable to the extinction of the passenger pigeon.

“There’s no question that tricolored blackbirds require protection to avoid a continued slide toward extinction,” said the Center’s Jeff Miller. “The California Fish and Game Commission needs to stop playing roulette with our native species. We could lose tricoloreds entirely if protection for their vulnerable breeding colonies is delayed any longer.”

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 19, 2015

Asheville NC Fall Foliage Color Predictions 2015

See predictions for fall color for Blue Ridge Parkway and Mountains for 2015 at Asheville NC Fall Foliage Color Leaf Report 2015.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 19, 2015

Dakota Wind Turbines Impact Bird’s Breeding Patterns

Press Release USGS

Breeding Bird Distribution Affected by Wind Turbines in the Dakotas

New wind energy facilities placed in prime wildlife habitat in North and South Dakota can influence the distribution of several species of grassland birds for years after construction, including species whose populations are in serious decline. According to a U.S. Geological Survey report recently published in the journal Conservation Biology, seven of nine bird species studied from 2003-2012, including the significantly declining grasshopper sparrow and bobolink, were displaced from suitable breeding habitat in native mixed-grass prairies after wind turbine construction. Displacement typically started one year after construction and persisted for at least two to five years. Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 18, 2015

Global Warming Extinction Threat For UK Butterflies

The BBC reports

Global warming could drive drought sensitive butterfly species to extinction in the UK by 2050, according to new research. Scientists found that even the lowest expected levels of warming could decimate populations. However the researchers found that restoring connections between butterfly habitats could help modify the worst impacts.

Read full story at  Global warming threatens extinction for UK butterflies – BBC News.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 17, 2015

9 Top Santa Barbara County Coastal Hikes

KCET’s Socal Wanderer has a recent post on nine of Santa Barbara County’s best coastal hikes. Here is the list

  • Carpinteria Bluffs 3 miles, easy
  • Inspiration Point7 miles, moderate
  • Arroyo Burro Beach to Goleta  5 miles, easy
  • Lizard’s Mouth 1 mile, easy
  • Refugio to El Capitan 2.5 miles, easy
  • Bill Wallace Trail 12 miles, moderate to difficult
  • Gaviota Peak 6 miles, moderate
  • Gaviota Wind Caves 2.5 miles, easy
  • Jalama County Beach Park 10 miles, easy

Read full article with hike descriptions and photos at 9 of Santa Barbara County’s Best Coastal Hikes | Hiking | SoCal Wanderer | KCET.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 16, 2015

Birding Elsie Roemer 8/16/15

Today we went to Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary in Alameda, CA to see shorebirds. Most abundant were Double-crested Cormorant, Black-bellied Plover, Marble Godwit, Sanderling and Western Sandpiper. There were also a good number of Snowy Egret and Semi-palmated Plover. Also good looks at Caspian Terns. Also a possible first year Heerman’s Gull. (left off bird list as not confident on the ID)

Click Read More to see bird list

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 16, 2015

Killing Cormorants Won’t Help Columbia River Salmon

News release Center of Biological Diversity

Government Documents Reveal That Killing Cormorants Won’t Help Columbia River Salmon

Despite Findings, Federal Agency Authorized Killing More Than 10,000 Cormorants

PORTLAND, Ore.— Conservation groups today called for an investigation after agency documents, released last week under court order, showed that killing double-crested cormorants will not benefit salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s own biologists found that fish not eaten by cormorants would be eaten by other predators, but nevertheless authorized the killing of more than 10,000 double-crested cormorants and destruction of more than 26,000 cormorant nests on East Sand Island near the mouth of the Columbia.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 15, 2015

Drought’s lasting impact on forests

ScienceDaily reports on drought’s lasting impact on forests

Forests across the planet take years to rebound from drought, storing far less carbon dioxide than widely assumed in climate models

In a global study of drought impacts, forest trees took an average of two to four years to resume normal growth rates, a revelation indicating that Earth’s forests are capable of storing less carbon than climate models have assumed.

Read full story at Drought’s lasting impact on forests: Forests across the planet take years to rebound from drought, storing far less carbon dioxide than widely assumed in climate models — ScienceDaily.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 14, 2015

Birding Pt. Isabel 8/14/15

Today I went on an Audubon Birding Field Trip to Pt. Isabel. It was a sunny day  in the sixties. The tide was coming in.The habitat was coastal shoreline and mudflats and coast scrub. The dominant plant in flower was Anise. Also in bloom were California Poppy, California Fuschia, Lizard Tail and Gumplant.

Observers: 46 participants in Golden Gate Audubon and Meet-up Field Trip led by Alan Kaplan. Walked out and about a mile each way.

Shorebirds continue to come in. Most abundant  were Willets and Dowitchers. Most interesting observation was each bridge area had a Great Blue Heron, Great Egret and Snowy Egret that were observed fishing and catching fish. Also see were Anise Swallowtail and Cabbage White butterflies. I saw 24 different bird species.

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Click Read more for Bird List

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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 14, 2015

Dark Sky Festival September 11-13,2015

Second Annual Dark Sky Festival September 11 to 13, 2015 at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

The night sky in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is nationally recognized. Our darkness not only adds to the aesthetic qualities of the wilderness, but is important to the health of our wildlife. The Dark Sky Festival aims to educate visitors about the importance of this park resource and inspire them to take action in their own community. We hope you join us in the summer of 2015 for the second annual Dark Sky Festival and share your passion for the night sky and astronomy during this fun weekend.

The weekend will include:

  • constellation tours
  • telescope viewings
  • solar observations
  • astronaut speakers
  • kids’ activities
  • speakers on robotic mars missions
  • model rocket building
  • National Park Service programs
  • special Crystal Cave tours
  • nature walks
  • audio visual presentations
  • photography presentations
  • musical performances

For more information go to: Dark Sky Festival – EXPLORE SEQUOIA & KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 13, 2015

Mt. Rainier National Park Wildflowers 8/13/15

Mt. Rainier National Park reports currently blooming  on August 13, 2015:

Huckleberry and corn lily leaves are already starting to turn to fall colors, and most wildflower species have gone to seed. One common shrub called Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor) has dense, white plumes of flowers that fade to reddish-brown in fall and remain on the plant well into winter. Oceanspray is sometimes called “ironwood” due to its hard, strong wood. Before the use of nails, oceanspray pegs were used in construction, while native groups used the wood for digging sticks, spear shafts, bows, and arrows. The brownish fruits were also used in medicine.

Wildflower Reports

  • High Lakes Trail/Reflection Lakes: (8/12) mountain bog gentian, pearly everlasting, sitka mountain ash berries; late: fireweed, cascade aster, corn lily; other: huckleberries in fruit, leaves turning color
  • Sunrise: (8/6) pearly everlasting, yarrow, few paintbrush, pasqueflower seedheads, cascade asters (late), mountain bog gentians
  • SR410/SR123 (8/6): pearly everlasting, fireweed (late), common st. johnswort
  • Paradise: (7/29) fireweed, pearly everlasting, corn lily/false hellebore, cascade aster, yarrow, paintbrush, sitka mountain ash berries

See photos at Mt. Rainier National Park.

 

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 13, 2015

Joshua Tree Has An August Wildflower Bloom

NBC4 Southern California reports there is an August Wildflower bloom in Joshua Tree National Park due to the July rains. They report wildflower carpets of flowers near the White Tank Campground. See photos and article at Surprise Showing: Joshua Tree August Wildflowers | NBC Southern California.

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