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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 18, 2014

Lawsuit To Protect Tejon Ranch Condor Habitat

Press Release Center for Biological Diversity

Lawsuit Launched to Halt Destruction of 14,000 Acres of Condor Habitat at Tejon Ranch

SAN FRANCISCO— Condor advocates, conservationists and American Indians this week notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service they intend to sue over the agency’s approval of a “habitat conservation plan” that will destroy 14,000 acres of designated critical habitat for the California condor, one of the world’s most endangered birds. The habitat is entirely located on Tejon Ranch, north of Los Angeles, and will be destroyed by the development of the proposed Tejon Mountain Village resort project. Tejon Ranch encompasses some of the most important and essential foraging habitat for condors, much of it protected since 1977.

Read More…

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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 18, 2014

Counting Polar Bears From Space

USGS Press Release

Observing Polar Bears from Space

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Monitoring wildlife in the Arctic is difficult. Study areas are cold, barren and often inaccessible. For decades scientists have struggled to study animals, like polar bears, which live in these remote areas. Now researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey have begun testing a new, yet counterintuitive solution – rather then get close to the animals, monitor them from afar. Scientists have started using satellites to observe, count and track polar bears. USGS scientists and their Canadian collaborators have begun analyzing high-resolution satellite images from a part of the Canadian High Arctic to determine the feasibility of using satellites to study polar bear populations.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 18, 2014

The UK Big Butterfly Count

The UK big butterfly count  is a nationwide survey that helps assess the health of the environment. It will take place from Saturday 19 July – Sunday 10 August 2014.

Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses.The count aids  in identifying trends in species that will help plan how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understand the effect of climate change on wildlife.

To take part simply count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright preferably sunny weather during the big butterfly count. For more information and to learn how to take part go to  big butterfly count.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 18, 2014

Colorado Wildflowers: Mayflower Gulch & Shrine Pass 7/17/14

Rocky Mountain Nature Photographers has a new wildflower report for Mayflower Gulch and Shrine Pass, Colorado:

Hiked Mayflower Gulch today and afterward drove Shrine Pass. Both are great right now…Mayflower especially past the cabins above treeline, and Shrine is hot with all colors of paintbrush, with many more about to bloom any day now.

See more reports at:  Photo Critique Forums.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 17, 2014

Tahoe Rim Trail Wildflowers 7/17/14

The blackoaknaturalist has photos of and reports of wildflowers blooming along the Tahoe Rim Tail near Barker Pass. Flowers in bloom include Mule’s Ears, Leichtlin’s Mariposa Lily, Scarlet Gilia, Onions, Pussypaws, Wallflowers, Spotted Coral Root, Larkspur, Onion and Forget-me-nots. See posts and photos at blackoaknaturalist.


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 17, 2014

Yosemite Rim Fire Wildflowers 7/17/14

The Yosemite Facebook page has photos of wildflowers blooming in the Rim Fire area at Rim Fire Wildflowers.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 17, 2014

Photos From England

I  have created a flickr album of thirteen photos from several days in England in late May 2014. Mainly from Hidcote Garden, but also a few photos from Latkill Dale in the Peak District and Sutton Bonington Spinney & Meadows Nature Reserve. To see the slideshow go to: Hidcote Garden Plus
Best viewed in full screen by clicking the icon in the bottom left of the slideshow screen.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 17, 2014

Lassen Dark Sky Festival Aug. 1-3, 2014

Lassen Dark Sky Festival
Friday, August 1 through Sunday, August 3, 2014
Join park rangers, astronomers, and planetary geologists in celebrating all that is out of this world during Lassen’s Dark Sky Festival. Special programs, presentations, hikes, and Junior Ranger Night Explorer activities will be offered during the festival. View photos from the 2013 Dark Sky Festival on Flickr or a video about the festival on YouTube.

New! The 2014 Dark Sky Festival Brochure/Schedule is now available:

Highlights Include:

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 16, 2014

Oregon Wildflowers Coffin Mt. 7/12/14

Oregon Wildflowers has a new report for Coffin Mt. for 7/12/14

A profusion of bear grass! Visit http://www.portlandhikers.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=19500 for photos.

See more reports at  Oregon Wildflowers Reports

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 16, 2014

Grand Canyon Threatened With Destructive Development

The LA Times recently wrote about development near the Grand Canyon that would greatly alter views, dramatically change the visitor experience and threaten the limited water supplies.  Proposed developments include restaurants, hotels, homes, commercial space and even a gondola to the bottom of the canyon in areas near the national park.  Read more at National Park Service calls development plans a threat to Grand Canyon – LA Times.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 15, 2014

Reintroduction of Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frog

The Amphibian Survival Alliance blog reported on the work of conservationists from the San Francisco Zoo, Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory and San Francisco State University to reintroduce the Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frog. The blog post pointed out

Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs were once the most common animal along the shores of the hundreds of lakes in the Sierra Nevada range.  The Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog lives in California’s mountain lakes and wet meadows between just below 4000 feet and over 12,000 feet in elevation.  In order to persist, the species requires permanent water, that doesn’t freeze completely in the winter.  They also need their mountain homes to be free of introduced predators, like trout.  Unfortunately, for the frog, trout were stocked in a large portion of the lakes in the high Sierra and as a result, many frog populations were eliminated.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the species is also highly susceptible to the amphibian chytrid fungus.  This disease has wreaked havoc with amphibian populations around the world, driving many to extinction.   The double blow was too much for the frogs to survive and the species has dwindled to less than 5 percent of its former distribution.  It is believed that by the late 1970s, mountain yellow legged frogs were gone from much of the Tahoe Basin.  Last week’s release means that a major player in the Sierra ecosystem has returned, after a decades long absence.

Read story at Against All Odds: The Reintroduction of the Sierra Nevada Yellow- Legged Frog » Amphibians.org.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 14, 2014

Colorado Wildflower Update 7/14/14

The Colorado Nature Photographers Wildflower Thread has a new wildflower update:

Stony Pass near Silverton. Lots of big dense patches of paintbrush, some with purple and yellow flowers and columbines mixed in. Looking really good up there, everything’s green too and the snow’s almost all gone. If you hike up higher, you’ll find tundra sunflowers and more columbines in the rocks. It’s on!!!!!

See more reports at:  Photo Critique Forums.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 14, 2014

Great Smoky Mountains Wildflowers 7/14/14

Great Smoky Mountains Association has the following new wildflower report

July 14 – Turkey Pen B-E – Rosebay Rhododendron, Tick Trefoil, Star Grass, Basil Bee Balm, Reclining Saint Andrews Cross, Mountain Angelica, Rattlesnake Plantain, Black Cohosh, Coreopsis and White Top Aster. School House Gap From Turkey Pen Trail to Laurel Creek Rd. – Basil Bee Balm, Rattlesnake Plantain, Tick Trefoil, Rosebay Rhododendron, Mountain Angelica, Wood Nettle and Doll Eyes berries fully colored. Bote Mountain B to Finely Cane Trail – Basil Bee Balm, Rattlesnake Plantain, Reclining Saint Andrews Cross, Red Clover, Rosebay Rhododendron, Heal All, Star Grass, Coreopsis and White Clover. Finely Cane B-E – Rosebay Rhododendron, Tick Trefoil, Basil Bee Balm, Reclining Saint Andrews Cross, Wood Nettle, Black Cohosh and Rattlesnake Plantain. Note:  Not many flowers blooming now.  Rosebay Rhododendron blooms are about gone.

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

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 14, 2014

UC Botanical Garden Photos 7/14/14

I just went up to the UC Botanical Garden in Berkeley.

A current highlight in the garden is the Queen of the Andes (Puya raimondii), a terrestrial bromeliad. It  is the largest bromeliad species in the world. Flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds and perching birds.The stalk can be up to 10 m tall (30 ft), have over ten thousand  flowers and set 8 – 12 million seeds. In the wild Queen of the Andes plants don’t usually flower until they are about 80-100 years old however the plant in the garden is Garden is only 24 years old and has just started to bloom. Learn more at Queen of the Andes.

There was a lot of bird song in garden today. Birds I was able to identify by sight and sound included California Towhee, Bushtit, Red-tail Hawk, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Mourning Dove, Anna’s Hummingbird, Dark-eyed Junco and American Robin. There were many other bird sounds I was unable to ID.

Butterflies were also active. Most abundant were Pipevine Swallowtails and Cabbage White. I also saw a Buckeye  and others that will remain unnamed.

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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 14, 2014

Oregon Wildflowers: Crescent Mt. 7/12/14

Oregon Wildflowers has a new wildflower report for Crescent Mt.

Many wildflowers are blooming at Crescent Mountain! Although the bear grass Xerophyllum tenax is not quite as robust as last year, it is very profuse in the meadows and continues along the trail beyond the meadows to the summit.

Blooming in the forest: bunchberry Cornus pumila, thimbleberry Rubus parviflorus, western white anemone Anemone deltoidea, Pacific bleeding heart Dicentra formosa, queen’s cup Clintonia uniflora, foamflower Tiarella cordifolia, western columbine Aquilegia formosa, spotted coralroot Corallorhiza maculata, western coralroot Corallorhiza mertensiana, western starflower Trientalis latifolia, candystick Allotropa virgata, pinesap Monotropa hypopithys, heart-leaved pyrola Pyrola asarifolia, and one-sided wintergreen Pyrola secunda.

Blooming in the meadows: the aforementioned bear grass, scarlet gilia pomopsis aggregata, profuse bracken fern Pteridium aquilinum, lupine Lupinus sp., western columbine Aquilegia formosa, Menzies’ larkspur Delphinium menziesii, harsh paintbrush Castilleja hispida, Oregon sunshine Eriophyllum lanatum, Cascade aster Aster ledophyllus, Subalpine mariposa lily Calochortus subalpinus, tall bluebells Mertensia paniculata, yarrow Achillea millefolium, pink owl-clover Orthocarpus imbricatus, orange agoseris Agoseris aurantiaca, Cardwell’s penstemon Penstemon cardwellii, mountain strawberry Fragaria virginiana, a few Cascade lily Lilium washingtonianum, and cliff penstemon Penstemon rupicola near the summit.

Find older reports at Oregon Wildflowers

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 14, 2014

First Inventory Of Wild Bees

National Geographic reported on the first national inventory of indigenous wild bees. As honeybees, who pollinate crops, have been dying off the inventory of native bees takes on increasing importance. Over half of the U.S. honey bee populations have disappeared in the last ten years. It is possible some of their  role might be filled by native bees, however, we are not sure how the native bee populations have bee doing. The inventory will begin to give some answers. Pesticides, fungicides, viruses, and other factors, have contributed to the honeybees’ decline.

Scientists believe that wild bee populations have decreased due to habitat loss from the growth of agriculture and home gardens replacing native plants with exotics most pollinators of their food.  The loss of native vegetation  decreases the bees food source. Bees’ food sources may also be suffering from  the effects of climate change, droughts, floods, and flowers blooming prematurely as the days grow warmer.

Read more at As Honeybees Die Off, First Inventory of Wild Bees Is Under Way.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 13, 2014

Colorado Wildflower Update 7/12/14

The Colorado Nature Photographers Wildflower Thread has a new wildflower update:

Ophir / Alta Lakes / Telluride area were a-blaze in color on Saturday; Had an absolute blast creating images and trekking around, including a 4-mile round trip trek from just outside Telluride up to the base of Bridal Veil Falls yeah, I could have driven, but what fun is that? LOL.

Crested Butte, Kebler Pass as far as the FR-730 [Ohio Pass Rd] and Ohio Pass Rd back to Gunnison were simply AWESOME!!!
See photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/uskestrel/sets/72157645262881670/

See more reports at:  Photo Critique Forums.

Today we went along part of the Richmond Bay Trail. We walked from Pt. Isabel to Shimada Park returning by walking through Marina Village to Meeker Slough to Pt. Isabel.

We had a total of 28 birds identified, which was more than I expected as it was a mid-day summer day and before high tide.  Highlights were seeing close-up views of a pair of Ruddy Ducks and a distant view of a Black Oyster Catcher. Most abundant were Willets and Red-winged Blackbirds. See bird list at: Pt. Isabel Regional Shoreline Bird List 7/13/14

There were many flowers in bloom including natives both those growing naturally and the result of restoration work as well as planted exotics. Flowers in bloom included California Poppy, Gumplant, Lizard Tail, Anise, Yarrow, Zauschneria, Matilija Poppy, Echium as well as many others.

Butterflies seen included Anise Swallowtail as well as Anise Swallowtail caterpillars, Cabbage Whites and one Monarch.

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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 13, 2014

Super Full Moon Tonight

Tonight is the first of three super full moons. August 10 and September 9 are the other two. 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.

Read more at  July 12 full moon first of 3 full-moon supermoons in 2014 | Tonight | EarthSky.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 13, 2014

Wildflower Season in The San Juan Mountains 7/13/14

Box Canyon Lodge in the San Juan Mountains has just posted a wildflower report listing current bloom and suggested trails and 4-wheel drive routes.  Read report and see photos at:  Wildflower Season in The San Juan Mountains.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 13, 2014

How Bird Sexual Behavior Effects Life Expectancy

Birdwatch magazine reports on a study of the relationship between sexual behavior and life expectancy in bird. They report

A new study of many different bird species has shown how sexual behaviour is linked with life expectancy for the first time. In many bird species, the promiscuous males tend to die young, while childless females tend to live longer, with these survival rates also causing an imbalance in the ratios between the sexes.

Read article at:  Mate fast, die young | News | Birdwatch Magazine.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 12, 2014

Oregon Wildflowers: Elk Meadow 7/12/14

Oregon Wildflowers has a new report for Elk Meadows

Beautiful, but not in bloom. Backpacked into Elk Meadows July 10-12. Yellow monkey flower and others flowering along Newton Creek. Best blooms of the trail are on the switchbacks across Newton Creek where western columbine, paintbrush, and various bluebells? can be seen. At Elk Meadows itself, a few patches of lupine, mountain cats ear, and fleabane dot the creek east of the shelter. On the trail up to Lamberson Butte are spare patches of blooming lupine, mountain cat’s ear, and small yellow and white flowers close to the ground. Timberline trail is obscured by snow close to Lamberson Butte but passable.

See older reports at: Oregon Wildflower Reports

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 12, 2014

How Planting Trees Could Boost UK Economy

Birdwatch Magazine writes about a report that suggested if the UK planted at least 200 million trees in the right areas it could generate £500 million annually. They report that

 “Creating new woodland areas would generate a variety of benefits, including cleaning water before it goes into rivers, providing habitats for birds and reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Woodlands are also great places for recreation, and trees are a crop which provides timber for sale, giving farmers a source of income.

“Choosing the best locations for planting new trees is very important for maximising their value.

Read story at: Planting 200 million trees would boost UK economy | News | Birdwatch Magazine.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 11, 2014

Colorado Wildflower Update 7/11/14

Colorado Nature Photographers wildflower thread  reports

More evidence of a banner year in NW Colorado even though its still early. A couple of forays to the Stillwater area in the Flat Tops and to the Hahns Peak-Steamboat Lake area showed a lot of promise. Lots of columbines and bluebells around the Yampcola Reservoir area and already some nice bunches just inside the wilderness boundary. At Hahns Peak and Steamboat Lake the arnica and oxeye daisy were all over the place.

See photos  and more reports at: Photo Critique Forums.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 11, 2014

Bird Population Decline And Pesticides

Yesterday I ran the post Habitat Loss Not Insecticides Causes Declines In Grassland Birds | Natural History Wanderings. This conclusion may not be correct. There have been a few article about bird decline being more connected to pesticides than previous believed. The pesticides are neonicotinoid chemicals which have already been identified as a major cause of honey bee deaths. Read more at  BBC News – Bird decline smoking gun for pesticides effects. It appears habitat loss and pesticides both have significant negative impact on bird populations.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 10, 2014

Rocky Mt. Wildflower Update 7/9/14

The Rocky Mt. Nature Photographers wildflower thread reports on July 9

Mariposa Lily in Red Rocks Open Space in Colorado Springs

See a number of wildflower photos at:  Photo Critique Forums.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 10, 2014

Western Ornithologists Conference 10/8-10/12/2014

The 39th annual conference of Western Field Ornithologists will be in San Diego, California, 8–12 October 2014, at the Marriott Courtyard hotel at Liberty Station.

Field trips include pelagic trips, as well as visits to a wide diversity of San Diego’s many birding hot spots. There are workshops on field identification of warblers (Jon Dunn and Kimball Garrett), vireos (Peter Pyle), and sparrows (Homer Hansen), molt (Peter Pyle), specimen preparation (Phil Unitt), and bird sound identification (Nathan Pieplow). The Saturday evening banquet will feature a celebration of the rich 44-year history of WFO. Ed Harper and Nathan Pieplow will again offer their ever-popular sessions on bird ID by sight and sound.

For registration, schedule and more information go to Western Field Ornithologists: Annual Conferences

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 10, 2014

Habitat Loss Not Insecticides Causes Declines In Grassland Birds

ScienceDaily recently reported on research that show habitat lost, not the use of insecticides is primary reason for the decline in grassland birds. They report

Contrary to recent well-publicized research, habitat loss, not insecticide use, continues to be the best explanation for the declines in grassland bird populations in the U.S. since the 1980s, according to a new study by ecologists. Last year, a pair of researchers linked the drop in the populations of grassland bird species to insecticide use, rather than to a rapid decline of grasslands, a more commonly accepted theory. However, after re-examining the data, researchers now believe that the loss of habitat continues to be the best explanation.

Read full story at:  Habitat loss, not poison, better explains grassland bird decline — ScienceDaily.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 9, 2014

Large Numbers of Sooty Shearwaters Off California

Audublog — news and notes from the Pacific Flyway reports

We’ve been seeing reports all week of huge numbers of Sooty Shearwaters off California. Check out this amazing video from Monterey Bay.

See full post and video at: Huge numbers of Sooty Shearwaters in Monterey Bay

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 9, 2014

Fire At Audubon Bobcat Ranch

Audublog reported that the Monticello Fire burned 3500 of 6800 acres at Audubon Bobcat Ranch. No structures were damaged. Whether this will be good for the habitat (fires can sometimes be beneficial) will be revealed over time. Read more at: Fire at the Audubon Bobcat Ranch

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