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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 17, 2014

Lassen Wildflower Update 8/17/14

Lassen Volcanic National Park  reports Lupine is in full bloom at Bumpass Hell

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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 17, 2014

New California Fall Color Map

California Fall Color has a new interactive map that  provides a quick way to see where the color is changing in California and at what stage. This will be a most helpful tool in following California fall color this year.

Link to map California Fall Color Map


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 16, 2014

Birding Tilden Park: Volmer Peak & Seaview Trail

Today I went birding in the Volmer Peak area in Tilden Park in Berkeley.  It was different from the last two times I was up here as they were both on cold winter days (see related articles below). It started with the usual morning fog which burned off and turned into a sunny day that had most people in shirt sleeve by the end of the walk. We identified 34 species by sight and sound. We had about twenty-five people including two Golden Gate Audubon Instructors in addition to the trip leader.

A highlight was finding five warblers including Orange-crowned Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler and Hermit Warbler. Also seen was a Lesser Goldfinch feeding a young bird.

We saw what was probably a female Pale Swallowtail but could have been a very light Western Tiger Swallowtail. Flowers were mostly dried up. There were good views of Mt. Tam and Mt. Diablo.

To see today’s bird list go to: Volmer Peak Bird List 8/16/14.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 16, 2014

High Number Migratory Birds Predicted In California

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is predicting a high number of migratory birds this fall  due to good habitat conditions in northern breeding grounds. BUT will we have enough water for them. Read news release below.

News Release California Department of Fish and Wildlife

State and Federal Wildlife Managers Preparing Habitat for Migrating Birds

Each year millions of birds migrate along the Pacific Flyway relying on a diverse string of habitats that stretch from Alaska and Canada to Central and South America. While the wetlands of the Central Valley provide less than 5 percent of the habitat historically available, they are critical as a feeding area during the migration and wintering of these birds. In following its mission, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has responsibility to provide habitat for these migrating birds.

Because habitat conditions on the northern breeding grounds have been good, a higher number of migratory birds have been reported across the Pacific Flyway. The fall migration into California is anticipated to result in numbers like those seen in the 1970s, when record numbers of birds made their way to the state’s wetlands areas. As California endures one of the worst droughts in recorded history, managers of state, federal and privately owned wildlife areas have been coordinating operational planning and the potential impacts of drought on the coming waves of migratory birds that depend on California habitats. To support these birds during their long migration, these efforts will greatly improve our ability to maximize habitat and food resources over the fall and winter with reduced water supplies.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 15, 2014

Large Habitat Protection Proposed For Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Press Release Center for Biological Diversity

546,335 Acres in 9 Western States Proposed as Protected Critical Habitat for Yellow-billed Cuckoos

Protection Will Benefit Rare Songbird and Health of Rivers in
Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to protect more than a half-million acres of critical habitat across the West for the yellow-billed cuckoo, a songbird that lives along rivers and streams. The bird was proposed for Endangered Species Act protection in October 2013 as part of a 2011 agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity to speed protection decisions for 757 imperiled species nationwide. Today’s proposal would protect 546,335 acres of streamside habitat in nine western states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

Yellow-billed cuckoo
Photo courtesy Flickr Commons/Seabamirum. This photo is available for media use.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 15, 2014

Fall Color Locations, Reports and Photo Tips

This is an increase in activity in the Natural History Wanderings Fall Foliage section in the last week.  In preparation for fall color I have reviewed the fall foliage section on Natural History Wanderings and removed bad links and add a few new ones. The fall color section includes, fall color reports, where to go to see fall color and tips on photographing fall color.

I did leave some national forest links on that are not now active as they usually start to have reports as the fall color season progresses. The Fall Color Section has the following subsections:

Nationwide Fall Foliage - Links to Reports and Locations
California Fall Foliage – Links to Reports and Locations
Colorado Fall Foliage – Links to Reports, Locations and Drives
Canadian Fall Foliage - Links to Reports and Drives
Fall Foliage Articles – Articles and webcams on U.S. Locations and Drives
Photo Tips for Fall Foliage – Articles on Photographing Fall Foliage

If you are aware of any additions or bad links please send a comment and let me know.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 14, 2014

Arizona Wildflower Report 8/14/14

Wild in Arizona has a new wildflower update

Wildflowers on the North Rim are OK in De Montte Park now. Good monsoon blooms along the Wahalla Plateau. But the best color now is in ” The Basin” 4 miles in on the Point Sublime road. Good color around the San Francisco Peaks and Mormon Lake.

See photo and older reports at Wild in Arizona.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 14, 2014

Conservation Groups Sue To Protect Wolverines

A follow-up to yesterday’s article

Press Release WildEarth Guardians

Broad Alliance of Conservationists to Sue Feds Over Wolverine

Withdrawal of Proposed Endangered Species Listing Smacks of Political Interference

MISSOULA, MONT. — Bowing to political pressure, today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) formally withdrew its proposal to list wolverines under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), despite the species’ small population and serious threats to its continued existence. Only 250 to 300 wolverines call the contiguous U.S. home, living in small populations scattered across the West. Scientists unanimously acknowledge the greatest threat to the species’ survival in the U.S. is habitat loss resulting from climate change.

Following the Service’s announcement, the Western Environmental Law Center, on behalf of a coalition of thirteen conservation organizations, formally notified the Service they will sue to challenge the flawed wolverine listing decision.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 14, 2014

Lawsuit To Reinstate Sperm Whale Protections

Press Release Center for Biological Diversity

Lawsuit Launched to Reinstate Protections for Endangered Sperm Whales
Threatened by California Drift Gillnet Fishery

SAN FRANCISCO— Conservation groups today announced plans to file a lawsuit to reinstate rules designed to protect endangered sperm whales from deadly, mile-long drift gillnets in ocean waters off California. The National Marine Fisheries Service let temporary regulations expire on Aug. 6 without issuing permanent conservation measures to protect sperm whales. Those temporary regulations required a federally certified observer to be on board vessels that would be fishing in waters deeper than 2,000 meters — offshore areas that are most likely to have sperm whales. The rules also required the closure of the fishery if one sperm whale was seriously injured or killed. Without these protections, the National Marine Fisheries Service is letting the fishery operate in clear violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 13, 2014

Rock Creek Wildflower Update 8/13/14

Where to photograph in California – Yahoo Groups reports

Rock Creek there are still some good wildflowers to be seen at this late date.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 13, 2014

Feds Refuse Wolverine Protection

Press Release Wildearth Guardians

Fish and Wildlife Service Plays Politics With Wolverine Survival

Conservation Groups Decry Withdrawal of Proposed Endangered Species Act Listing 

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 12, 2014

Great Smoky Mts. Wildflower Updates 8/11/14

Great Smoky Mts. Association has a new wildflower report for August 11

Metcalf Bottoms Trail B-E – Tick Trefoil, Heal All and Flowering Spurge.

Walker Sisters Cabin Trail  B-E – Tick Trefoil, Cardinal Flower just started blooming, Coreopsis, Dark Jewelweed, Heal All, Thimbleweed, Southern Harebell, Red Clover, Rattlesnake Plantain and Flowering Spurge.Little Brier Gap Trail B-E – Heal All, Reclining Saint Andrews Cross, Tick Trefoil and Yellow Fringed Orchid.

Little Greenbrier Trail B-E – Tick Trefoil, Coreopsis, Reclining Saint Andrews Cross, Wood Nettle, Basil Bee Balm, Smooth Phlox, Rosebay Rhododendron 1, Pale Jewelweed, False Fox Glove, Turk Cap Lily 1, Partridge Pea, Southern Harebell, Curtiss Milkwort, Star Grass, Erect Golden Rod Just starting to bloom, Sweet Golden Rod just staring to bloom and Yellow Fringed Orchid 11.

Wear Gap Road Boundary to Little River – Heal All, Wild Potato Vine, Tick Trefoil, Mountain Mint, Cardinal Flower just starting to bloom, Black Eyed Susan outstanding blooms – at peak, Dark Jewelweed, Smooth Phlox, Red Clover, Flowering Spurge, Joe Pie Weed, Partridge Pea, Horse Nettle, Asiatic Dayflower, Yellow Wood Sorrell, Wild Sensitive Plant, Thimbleweed and Hairy Milk Pea.

See older reports at:  Wildflower Updates | Great Smoky Mountains Association.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 12, 2014

Hurricanes Threaten Migrating Birds

 Media Release American Bird Conservancy

Hurricanes Present Another Threat to Birds Before and During Fall Migration

(Washington, D.C., August 8, 2014) Hurricanes Iselle, Julio, and Arthur are the first of what likely will be more powerful late summer and early fall severe storms that billions of birds may face as they wind up their breeding seasons and prepare for perilous migrations that can involve travelling thousands of miles to wintering grounds south of the U.S.

“While human safety is always the primary concern, with hurricanes, the impact such storms bring can be deadly for birds as well. Depending on circumstances, whole colonies of young birds may be wiped out — a whole breeding season gone. Parents tending young may stay with a nest and perish rather than abandon it for safer grounds. Nature can be brutal,” says Dr. George Wallace, Vice President for the Oceans and Islands Division at American Bird Conservancy (ABC), one of the nation’s leading bird conservation groups.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 11, 2014

Photos From UC-Berkeley Botanical Garden

I spent a couple of hours photographing in the UC-Berkeley Botanical Garden today. There are still flowers in bloom. There are also birds, butterflies, lizards and dragonflies and damselflies to be seen.

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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 11, 2014

More On Development Threats To Grand Canyon

The NY Times has and opinion piece on two threats to the Grand Canyon. There proposals to build 2,200 homes and three million square feet of commercial space that will include shops and hotels, a spa and a dude ranch Tusayan, which is less than two miles from the Park’s entrance and a proposed 1.4-mile tramway that would go down 3,200 feet directly into the canyon along with elevated walkway, a restaurant and an amphitheater.( I wrote about this last month Grand Canyon Threatened With Destructive Development | Natural History Wanderings.) Besides totally changing the character of the visitor experience and making the area more of a theme park it the development would need  new wells would deplete the aquifer that drives many of the springs deep inside the canyon. Water is already in short supply in the area. Read article at Two Development Projects Threaten the Grand Canyon – NYTimes.com.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 10, 2014

Birds, Butterflies and Flowers of the Bay Trail 8/10/14


Fennel/ Foeniculum vulgare

Foeniculum vulgare

Today we walked the Richmond Bay Trail between Pt. Isabel and Shimada Friendship Park.We started just after high tide and the birds were scarce at first. This is the slow time of the year for birds. It did pick up as the day went on and we had twenty-two species. The highlight was seeing a Western Kingbird. Our first sighting ever on this trail. I have now have a lifetime total of 99 species on this trail. Other highlights were two Black Oystercatchers, Caspian Tern, and my first summer sighting of a Spotted Sandpiper in the Bay Area. Today’s bird list: Bird list for Richmond Bay Trail 8/10/14

Butterflies seen were Anise Swallowtail,Common Checkered Skipper and Cabbage White. The most abundant plant in flower was Fennel/Foeniculum vulgare, an alien plant that naturalizes in disturbed areas and provides habitat for the native Anise Butterfly. There are many plantings of native and noon-native plants along the trail. Natives in bloom were Gumplant, California Poppy, Seaside Daisy, Yarrow, California Fuchsia (Zaushneria), and Matilija. Poppy.



Common Checkered Skipper (male)

Common Checkered Skipper (male)

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 10, 2014

Are Grizzlies Coming To California?

The LA Times reported on the possibility Grizzly Bears could be reintroduced to California. Although the Grizzly Bear is now extinct in California there is serious consideration about bringing them back. The Times wrote

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is weighing an environmental groups request to set aside 110,000 square miles for grizzly bears in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.If the agency decides to consider reintroducing grizzlies, the next step will be a lengthy process that includes scientific reviews and public hearings that could take years.

Read full story about the issues and pros and cons of bringing back Grizzly Bears to California at  LA Times – California: The next grizzly habitat? Some want to see it happen.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 9, 2014

Super Full Moon Tomorrow Night August 10

August 10 is the second super full moon of 2014. There is also one on September 9.  Wikipedia defines the super full moon as

A supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 8, 2014

Clapper Rails Are Now Ridgway’s Rail

The American Ornithologists’ Union, “check-list supplement” that came out at the end of July recognized the former Clapper Rails of the west as a new species, the Ridgway’s Rail. Previously our local rails were considered a subspecies of the Clapper Rail, but now are a unique species.

There are three  subspecies: our local California Ridgway’s rail; the light-footed Ridgway’s rail in Los Angeles and San Diego; and the Yuma Ridgway’s rail in Arizona, Nevada and eastern California. All are endangered.

Read more at:  There’s a New Bird Species in California, Sort Of | Science | KQED Public Media for Northern CA.

Clapper Rail

Ridgway’s Rail previously Clapper Rail photo by Sandy Steinman

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 8, 2014

N. Carolina Mountains Fall Leaf Color Forecast 2014

Romantic Asheville.com  has the following North Carolina Mountains Fall Leaf Color Forecast for 2014:

The number one question is: “When is the peak color?” No matter when you plan an autumn visit in October or early November, you can take a short drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway or other mountain roads to find the best color of fall leaves. Elevation and weather are the biggest factors in the color show. Leaves begin their color change on the highest peaks and gradually work down to the lowest elevations. An early frost speeds up the show and warm weather prolongs it. Below is our best guess of the progression of the color show:

October 4-12: Highest elevations north of Asheville above 5,000 feet show the most color, especially in the Mount Mitchell, Craggy Gardens, Grandfather Mountain, Beech Mountain, Rough Ridge and Graveyard Fields areas.

October 12-20: Color will increase in elevations greater than 4,000 feet, including the Mount Pisgah, Black Balsam, Devils Courthouse, Waterrock Knob, southwest of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It will also be peak color in the Highlands area, including Whiteside Mountain, with plenty of waterfalls to enjoy, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including hikes to Alum Cave and Chimney Tops.

October 18-26: Many of the surrounding mountains around Asheville show plenty of color, especially in the 3,000-4,000 foot elevation range. Take the Parkway north or south from Asheville. A great hike in Pisgah National Forest would be Looking Glass Rock or Cradle of Forestry. North of Asheville, head to Linville Gorge with hikes to the top of Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountain.

October 24-31: The city of Asheville 2,000 feet elevation shows the brightest colors, along with areas around Hendersonville and Brevard. This is the perfect time for a waterfall hike in DuPont State Forest or leisurely walk at the NC Arboretum. This is also the peak leaf color for Biltmore Estate.

October 27-November 5: The color show concludes in the Chimney Rock area elevation of 1,300 feet. Ride to the top of Chimney Rock or take a boat tour on Lake Lure. Also peak at Lake James and South Mountains State Parks.

for more information and links go to  Asheville NC Fall Foliage Color Leaf Report 2014.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 8, 2014

Summary of the 114th Christmas Bird Count, 2013-2014

Audubon has posted the results of  the Christmas Bird Count

Now, seasonal articles and regional summaries for the 114th Christmas Bird Count are available in online form through the links below. This approach keeps the CBC free and gives citizen scientists more timely access to summary information.

Photo Gallery for the 114th CBC

The Effects of Drought on Texas Bird Populations

Explore regional summaries on the CBC map  


Look at the full list of regional summaries online

See full article at Summary of the 114th Christmas Bird Count, 2013-2014 | National Audubon Society Birds.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 8, 2014

Thousands Spanish Endangered Raptors Poisoned

Birdwatch Magazine reported

Several thousand corpses of birds of prey, all declining or endangered species, were found poisoned in Spain in the first decade of this century, some by vulture-killing drug diclofenac.

Read story at Thousands of endangered raptors poisoned in Spain | News | Birdwatch Magazine.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 7, 2014

Oil Not Wildflowers

Press Release Center for Biological Diversity

Feds Withdraw Proposal to Protect Rare Utah and Colorado Wildflowers

94 Percent of Known Populations Vulnerable to Oil Shale, Tar Sands

SALT LAKE CITY— Conservation groups condemned a decision today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to withdraw a proposal to give Endangered Species Act protection to two imperiled wildflowers in Utah and Colorado. The Service proposed to protect the White River and Graham’s beardtongues and some of their most important habitat in August 2013 based on imminent threats from energy development, including oil shale. At the time, scientists estimated that 94 percent of the plants’ populations could be hurt or lost because of energy development. The agency justified today’s withdrawal based on a hastily drafted, strictly voluntary “conservation agreement” with the Bureau of Land Management and several state and county agencies.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 7, 2014

Blue Ridge Parkway Wildflower Update 8/6/14

Blue Ridge Parkway Blog has a new wildflower update for August 6

This time of year, visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway can expect to see many of the common summer varieties of our beautiful blooming flowers. This year, thanks to some wet weather and warm conditions, there is an abundance of species blooming along the trails and on the roadsides to make for a very colorful Parkway experience.

In Virginia at the north end of the Parkway, Flowering Spurge, Evening Primrose, Small-Headed Sunflower, Joe-Pye Weed, Columbine, Wild Bergamot, Black Cohosh, Jewelweed, Bladder Campion, Yarrow, Smooth Sumac, Poke Milkweed, Common St. John’s Wort, Common Fleabane, Wild Basil, Thimbleweed, and Grey Beardtongue are all blooming.

Read More…

Update with more photos, id’s and Flickr slideshow link

I was at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park in Berkeley, CA  today.  It is between seasons now. Flowers are still in bloom, Manzanitas are in fruit and Maples and Dogwoods are starting to change colors.  Late season flowers in bloom include Clarkias, Buckwheats, Zauschneria and Goldenrods. Birds in the garden included Robins, Scrub Jays, Lesser Goldfinches, Spotted Towhees and Juncos.

You can see larger photos in a Flickr slideshow at:https://www.flickr.com/photos/sandysteinman/sets/72157646189035094/show

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 6, 2014

Tricolored Blackbird May Get California Protection

Press Release Audubon California

California Fish and Game Commission considers emergency listing of Tricolored Blackbird

Audubon California supports effort to protect rare bird, which has  declined 44 percent since 2011

Responding to an alarming drop in the rare bird’s numbers, the California Fish and Game Commission this week is considering an emergency listing of the Tricolored Blackbird under the California Endangered Species Act. Representatives of Audubon California say they support the action by the Commission, which comes on the heels of a statewide survey completed this summer showing a 44 percent decline in Tricolored Blackbirds since 2011.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 6, 2014

2014 Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks August 10 to 13

The 2014 Perseid meteor shower peaks between August 10 and August 13. A waning Gibbous Moon (the Moon’s phase after a full moon) may make it harder for observers to see the shower. Despite this, astronomers suggest watching Perseids before dawn on August 11, 12 and 13. Learn more at: 2014 Perseid meteor shower.


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 5, 2014

Point Reyes Wildflowers & Elephant Seals 8/5/14

John Wall has started a new blog: Point Reyes Blog. He has recent posts on elephant seals and late season wildflowers. He found Pearly Everlasting, Coyote  Brush, Paintbrush and Sea Lettuce in bloom at Chimney Rock.  Check out his photos and posts at Point Reyes Blog.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 5, 2014

Great Smoky Mountains Wildflower Report 8/4/14

Great Smoky Mountains Association has a new wildflower report for August 4 for Grapeyard Ridge

August 4 – Grapeyard Ridge B-E – Yellow Fringed Orchid 70 – First time seeing these flowers so abundantly & beautiful display, False Fox Glove, Heal All, Wood Nettle, Star Grass, Tall Bellflower, Tick Trefoil, Hawkweed, Pinesap one group, Southern Harebell, Pale Jewelweed, Cardinal Flower 1, Turk Cap Lily 2, Coreopsis, Rattlesnake Plantain, Crimson Bee Balm and Smooth Phlox.

See more reports at Wildflower Updates | Great Smoky Mountains Association.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 5, 2014

Backyard Bee Count

Many of us are aware of bird counts and may have participated in backyard bird counts. Did you know this is also a backyard bee count. The Backyard Bee Count is the world’s largest citizen science project focused on pollinator conservation.

People all over the country are collecting data on bee pollination in their yards, gardens, schools and parks. You take 15-minute counts of the number and types of bee visiting your garden. Information has been gathered on pollinator service since 2008, and now there is the  largest single body of information about bee pollinator service in North America. Thanks to our thousands of observers, it can be determined where pollinator service is strong or weak compared to averages.

Over the past few years, scientific studies have suggested that both honey bee and native bee populations are in trouble. What is not known is how this is affecting pollination of our gardens, crops and wild lands. In 2008, this project started as a way to gather information about our urban, suburban and rural bee populations and to give you the tools to learn about what is happening with the pollinators in your yard.

You can participate by taking 15 minutes out of your day to count the bees that visit your garden.

To take part and learn more go to Backyard Bee Count.


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