Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 16, 2015

Yosemite Reduces Fall/Winter Entrance Fee

Yosemite National Park’s entrance fee has been reduced to $25 for a seven-day pass for private vehicles from November through March. The reduced entrance fee aims to encourage visitation to Yosemite National Park outside of the busy summer season. The private vehicle entrance fee is $30 from April through October.



Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 15, 2015

Southern California Fall Color Updates 11/14/15

California Fall Color has the following update for Southern California

Weekend reports from color spotters show fall color going big across Southern California.

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – San Bernardino Mountains (Lake Gregory, Rim of the World, Seely Creek, Green Valley, Deep Creek)

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Wrightwood

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Photos and full report at S. Calif Fall Color


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 15, 2015

Birding Eastshore State Park 11/14/15

Yesterday I went birding in the Eastshore State Park in Berkeley, CA. We walked three miles from Gilman St. to University Av. along shore and through Berkeley Meadow, west along University north around Berkeley Meadow, Virginia Annex and back to Gilman St. The habitat is bay, coastal scrub and restored meadow. Berkeley Meadow is still dry and the seasonal ponds were non-existent.

Due to the incoming high tide coming in there were few shore birds but we did have three sightings of Spotted Sandpiper. Most abundant today were American Coots, Scaup (only identified Greater), Ruddy Ducks, Red-winged Blackbirds, Brewer’s Blackbirds, and House Finch. Best bird of the day was a Eurasian Wigeon in the cove behind the Sea Breeze Market and Deli at University Av. 33 bird species were identified.

Plants in bloom were Gumplant, Anise, California Poppy, Lizard Tail , California Fuchsia, Coyote Bush and Blackberry. Butterflies seen were several Monarchs and one American Lady. We also one quick sighting of a rabbit.


Click read more to see bird list

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 15, 2015

Juvenile Cowbirds Sneak Out At Night

ScienceDaily reports

A new study explores how a young cowbird, left as an egg in the nest of a different species, grows up to know it’s a cowbird and not a warbler, thrush or sparrow.

Read full article Juvenile cowbirds sneak out at night — ScienceDaily

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 14, 2015

Sierra Foothills Fall Color 11/13/15

California Fall Color reports

Traveling west on I-80 from Truckee to Auburn, we saw the full range of past peak to peak color, today.

Above 6,000′, trees are stripped of color. No surprise; the High Sierra is Past Peak.

However, at 5,700′ and below, black oak are peaking with full peak at Dutch Flat (3,144′).

Over the years, I have driven past Dutch Flat a couple hundred times, but never exited. Today, in search of fall color, I exited and Dutch Flat is anything but flat when it comes to its color and charm.

Dutch Flat was full of fall color.  This stretch of I-80 is peaking from Drum Forebay Rd. west, past Dutch Flat and Colfax to Auburn.  Golden cottonwood, orange-yellow black oak and crimson exotics are backlit brilliantly by afternoon sunlight. There seems to be no obvious vantage point from which to overlook the forest, though hillsides painted with orange black oak and dark green pine are evident along I-80.

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Sierra Foothills (5,500′ to 2,000′)

See photos and full posting at Sierra Foothills 

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 14, 2015

Did You Know There Are Three Trillion Trees !

The BBC reports  Earth’s trees number ‘three trillion’

The figure is eight times as big as the previous best estimate, which counted perhaps 400 billion at most.

Read story at Earth’s trees number ‘three trillion’ – BBC News

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 13, 2015

Native Bees Exposed to Neonicotinoid Insecticides & other Pesticides

news release USGS

Native Bees Foraging in Fields Are Exposed to Neonicotinoid Insecticides and other Pesticides

According to the first-ever study of pesticide residues on field-caught bees, native bees are exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides and other pesticides. This report was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

This research focused on native bees, because there is limited information on their exposure to pesticides. In fact, little is known about how toxic these pesticides are to native bee species at the levels detected in the environment. This study did not look at pesticide exposure to honey bees.

“We found that the presence and proximity of nearby agricultural fields was an important factor resulting in the exposure of native bees to pesticides,” said USGS scientist Michelle Hladik, the report’s lead author. “Pesticides were detected in the bees caught in grasslands with no known direct pesticide applications.”

Although conservation efforts have been shown by other investigators to benefit pollinators, this study raises questions about the potential for unintended pesticide exposures where various land uses overlap or are in proximity to one another.

The research consisted of collecting native bees from cultivated agricultural fields and grasslands in northeastern Colorado, then processing the composite bee samples to test for 122 different pesticides, as well as 14 chemicals formed by the breakdown of pesticides. Scientists tested for the presence of pesticides both in and on the bees.

The most common pesticide detected was the neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam, which was found in 46 percent of the composite bee samples. Thiamethoxam is used as a seed coating on a variety of different crops. Pesticides were not found in all bee samples, with 15 of the 54 total samples testing negative for the 122 chemicals examined.

Although this study did not investigate the effects of pesticide exposures to native bees, previous toxicological studies have shown that the chemicals do not have to kill the bees to have an adverse effect at the levels of exposure documented here. For example, neonicotinoids can cause a reduction in population densities and reproductive success, and impair the bees’ ability to forage. Follow-up research is now being designed to further investigate adverse effects at these exposure levels.

There are about 4,000 native species of bees in the United States. They pollinate native plants like cherries, blueberries and cranberries, and were here long before European honeybees were brought to the country by settlers. In addition, many native bees are quite efficient crop pollinators, a role that may become more crucially important if honey bees continue to decline.

This paper is a preliminary, field-based reconnaissance study that provides critical information necessary to design more focused research on exposure, uptake and accumulation of pesticides relative to land-use, agricultural practices and pollinator conservation efforts on the landscape. Another USGS study published in August discovered neonicotinoids in in a little more than half of both urban and agricultural streams sampled across the United States and Puerto Rico.

“This foundational study is needed to prioritize and design new environmental exposure experiments on the potential for adverse impacts to terrestrial organisms,” said Mike Focazio, program coordinator for the USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program. “This and other USGS research is helping support the overall goals of the White House Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators by helping us understand whether these pesticides, particularly at low levels, pose a risk for pollinators.”

More information can be found on this paper here. USGS research on the occurrence, transport and fate of pesticides can be found with the USGS Toxic Substance Hydrology Program webpage or the USGS Pesticide Fate Research project in California. Stay up to date with USGS Environmental Health science by signing up for our GeoHealth Newsletter. Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 12, 2015

Desert Wildflower Reports 11/12/15

Desert Wildflower Reports – DesertUSA has the following wildflower reports and predictions

Nov. 2015 – Rain has fallen in most of the deserts in the southwest, this could be the foundation for a good wildflower season. A beautiful wildflower spring depends on the right amount of rain, in the right months and how fast the desert heats up. Some new reports below.

Southern Arizona

Nov 12 2015 Wildflowers in November! Strips of yellow flowers were found between I-10 and the railroad tracks, from Ina well past Cortaro. Several Texas Ranger bushes were covered with lilac blossoms. Monday, See photo at S. Arizona Wildflowers

Nov 5, 2015 Big Bend National Park‬ Reports: Blooming now! Mountain sage, Salvia regla, blooms in the Chisos from late summer to fall, adding beautiful color to the hills. The Chisos Mountains is the only place in the U.S. where it grows natively, but it is used by many gardeners across the Southwest as food for hummingbird and butterflies. See photo at Big Bend



Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 12, 2015

Bear Bear Fall Color 11/11/15

California Fall Color reports

The fall color to be seen at Big Bear is worth bundling up and heading to Big Bear.  As, a beautiful mix of fully peaking black oak and some lingering cottonwood provide swaths of bright color painted across the San Bernardino Mountains.

Arrowbear Lake is nearing Past Peak with its oak still showing color, but probably only for another week.

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Big Bear Lake

See photos at Big Bear

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 12, 2015

Monarch Population in California ‘Booming’ 

The Bug Squad blog reports that the California Monarch butterfly population is booming. At least in the Central California areas monitored by butterfly researcher Art Shapiro. Art says

“This is the best monarch year in my part of California in at least a decade and I’ve seen more monarch caterpillars this year than in the last five to 10 years put together.”

Read full story at Monarch Population in California ‘Booming’ – Bug Squad – ANR Blogs

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 11, 2015

LA Country Arboretum Fall Color 11/10/15

California Fall Color reports

it’s still early, though fall color is about 20% there, with developing reds and yellows.

The arboretum is a bellweather of approaching color in Southern California’s gardens and urban forests, and a great place for an autumn stroll.

From the looks of the garden, it’s colorful now, though will be close to perfect near Thanksgiving Day and beyond.

That means there’ll be lots of autumn color in the southland to add autumn color and mood to Thanksgiving Day festivities.

Patchy (10-50%) – Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

See photos at LA County Arboretum


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 11, 2015

New Northern California Birding Field Guide

There is a new birding field guide for Northern California called Birds of Northern California. It is 502 page photographic guide that is  full of details on over 400 Northern California bird species.

Read a detailed review and description with sample pages on the Golden Gate Audubon blog at Birds of Northern California — new field guide Golden Gate Audubon Society

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 10, 2015

California Fall Color Updates 11/10/15

California Fall Color has the following fall color updates

Trinity County
Weaverville is prime to visit and peaking.  GO NOW!
Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Weaverville
Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Weaverville/CA-299
Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – West Trinity County
See photos at Trinity County and Shasta Trinity 

El Dorado Foothills Suburbs
Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – El Dorado Hills (Sierra foothills suburb)
See photos at El Dorado Foothills

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 10, 2015

 Great Smoky Mountains Fall Color 11/10/15

Great Smoky Mountains National Park  reports

The fall color season is winding down. While there is still some color in the foothills, many trees, even in lower elevations, are now bare. Trees in middle and upper elevations are bare.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 10, 2015

Oregon Removed Endangered Protection For Wolves

Defenders of Wildlife News Release

Conservationists Criticize Precedent Setting State Wolf Delisting

SALEM, Ore. – Defenders of Wildlife says the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission’s decision today to remove state endangered species protections for wolves is premature and would likely lead to slowed or stopped wolf recovery in the state. No other species has been removed from the state’s endangered species list with a population of fewer than 100 individuals statewide or when they were still absent from a significant portion of their historic range.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 9, 2015

Silverwood Lake Fall Color 11/7/15


California Fall Color reports on Silverwood Lake Fall Color

Peak color is painting Southern California’s mountains with soft and beautiful color

The Lake Silverwood area seems drier than it did last year, “this late in Fall, …some nice color in the meadows, and around the shore. Almost all of Oaks, and a couple of cottonwoods have turned.”

Near Peak to Peaking.Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Silverwood Lake

See photos at Silverwood Lake

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 9, 2015

Australia Uses Sheepdogs to Save a Penguin Colony

The New York Times has a story on how a breed of territorial sheep dogs were used scare off foxes that had threatened a penguin population on an Australian Island. The Times reported

Foxes killed 180 penguins in that particular episode, in October 2004. But the toll on Middle Island, off Victoria State in southern Australia, kept rising. By 2005, the small island’s penguin population, which had once numbered 800, was below 10.

Today, their numbers are back in the triple digits, and much of the credit has gone to a local chicken farmer known as Swampy Marsh and his strong-willed sheepdogs.

Read full story at  Australia Deploys Sheepdogs to Save a Penguin Colony – The New York Times

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 9, 2015

Birding West Marin County

This past Saturday I went birding with the Master Birder Class along the coast in Western Marin County. We made stops at Gull Rock, Stinson Beach, Stinson Canyon, Bolinas Lagoon, Keith Hanson’s Gallery and Bolinas.

Habitats included Ocean, Coastal Cliffs, Coastal Scrub, Forests, and Lagoon. Weather was Sunny with little wind.

Highlights included a Common Murre and Peregrine Falcon at Gull Rock, a Merlin at Stinson Beach, Two Eurasian Wigeons and about 45 Snowy Egrets at Bolinas Lagoon and a White-Throated Sparrow at Keith Hanson’s Studio. Also of interest at Keith Hanson’s studio was setup of a spotting scope hooked up to a camera and computer screen that showed close-ups of his feeders.

Non–bird sightings were a Mule Deer at Stinson Canyon, about 40 harbor seals at Bolinas Lagoon, and a number of Monarchs at several sites.

Click Read more to see Bird Lists

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 8, 2015

Lake Arrowhead Fall Color 11/7/15


California Fall Color reports

Black oaks are now either peaking or near peak, though dogwood, maple, and cottonwood are still showing lovely color around Lake Arrowhead and in its village.

Lake Arrowhead’s fall color should last another week, if winds don’t strip the trees.

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Lake Arrowhead

See photos at Lake Arrowhead

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 8, 2015

City Life Doesn’t Stress Burrowing Owls Out

Conservation Magazine reports on how Burrowing Owls are tolerating city life.

Scientists are going beyond observing and documenting urban wildlife to figure out what makes city species tick at a physiological level.

Source: City life doesn’t stress burrowing owls out – Conservation

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 7, 2015

Asheville NC Fall Color 11/5/15

Asheville NC Fall Foliage Color Leaf Report 2015 reports

see photos from these trips on our Fall Color Reports. Some great color is still hanging on in the Chimney Rock and Lake Lure areas, along with the rest of Rutherford County.  – See more at:

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 7, 2015

West Nile Virus Killing Millions More Birds Than Thought

Sierra Sun TImes reports

West Nile virus is killing millions more birds and affecting many more bird species than previously thought, according to new research from a multi-university team of researchers.

Survival estimates dropped dramatically in populations exposed to West Nile virus for nearly half of the 49 bird species studied, the largest percentage of species yet found to be affected by the virus. Previous estimates have been closer to one-third of studied species.

Read full story at UCLA Researchers Find West Nile Virus Killing Millions More Birds Than Previously Thought

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 6, 2015

California Fall Color Updates 11/6/15

California Fall Color has the following fall color updates

Plumas County
The big leaves are still bright yellow along creeks and river bottoms near Greenville.
Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Indian Creek, Plumas County
See photos at Plumas County Fall Color

Apple Hill – Placerville
Because of the range of fall color to be seen, we’ll rate Apple Hill as Near Peak, though expect black oak to be Just Starting, other trees to be Patchy and still others Peaking.
Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Apple Hill
See photos at Apple Hill Fall Color

San Bernardino Mts
Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Lake Gregory
Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! -Rim of the World
Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Lake Arrowhead
See photos at San Bernardino Fall Color



Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 6, 2015

Coconino National Forest Fall Color 11/6/15

Coconino National Forest reports

Red Rock Ranger District Fall Color Update: November 6, 2015 Colors in Oak Creek Canyon and into Sedona and the Verde Valley are beginning to turn. Observations along Oak Creek Canyon yesterday are that trees have turned in the upper canyon, are just starting to turn in the lower canyon, with a lot of color at Slide Rock State Park. Snow fell earlier in the week in the upper reaches of the canyon, and may remain visible for another day or two before it melts off. Trees are just beginning to get a touch of color around the city of Sedona. Recommendations for enjoying fall color in the Oak Creek Canyon, Red Rock country, and the Verde Valley include:

Oak Creek Canyon and West Fork Oak Creek are popular locations near Sedona to see fall colors, they’re not the only places to visit and parking is very limited! Huckaby Trail: cottonwoods and other bushes and trees at the creek should peak in the next week or so.

Flagstaff Ranger District Fall Color Update: November 6, 2015. The fall color season for the Flagstaff has passed, particularly at the higher elevations around the San Francisco Peaks, Mt. Elden, and surround hills. Many of the landscape trees around the city of Flagstaff are still showing lots of color, but that may pass quickly with the colder weather. Snow that fell down to around 6500′ should continue to be visible on the Peaks through the weekend, particularly in the Inner Basin and the north side of the Peaks.

Mogollon Rim Ranger District Fall Color Update: November 6, 2015 Like the Flagstaff area, color is done for the season.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 6, 2015

Bird Eggs Can Be Fertilized By More Than One Sperm

The New York Times reports

Bird eggs are fertilized by more than one sperm, a process called polyspermy. Penetration by multiple sperm may be unusual in the animal kingdom, but it is somehow crucial to the development of the bird embryo, a new study finds.

Read Full story at Bird Eggs Are Fertilized by More Than One Sperm – The New York Times

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 5, 2015

Yosemite Valley Fall Color Peaking 11/4/15

California Fall Color reports

Bigleaf maple at full peak in Yosemite Valley along Southside Drive.  “While the valley has lots of bare trees already there are plenty of areas of color left.  I’d go now….I did.”  Black oaks… should be peaking as well near Yosemite Village and Lower Yosemite Falls.
Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Yosemite Valley

See photos at Yosemite Valley – Full Peak

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 5, 2015

Placerville Fall Color 11/4/15

California Fall Color reports

Reds and golds appearing in the vineyards and orchards near the Boeger Winery in Placerville.

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Apple Hill, Placerville, El Dorado County

See photo at Apple Hill

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 5, 2015

How Electric Eels Can Double Their Shock Power

ScienceDaily reports on how electric eels curl up to deliver even more powerful shocks

Electric eels temporarily paralyze their prey by shocking them with electricity using a series of brief, high-voltage pulses, much as a Taser would do. Now, a researcher has discovered that the eels can double the power of their electrical discharge by curling up their bodies. In bringing their tail up and around, the eels sandwich prey between the two poles of their electric organ, which runs most of the length of their long, flexible bodies.

Read full story at


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 4, 2015

 San Bernardino Mountains Fall Color 11/4/15 – Updated

California Fall Color
reports on the San Bernardino Mts.

Mt. Laguna is one of the best areas in So. Cal. to photograph black oak.

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Rim of the World
Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Rim of the World
Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Arrowbear Lake

See photos at  San Bernardino Mountains Near Peak

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 4, 2015

Altamont Winds Inc. Shuts Down Bay Area Turbines

Golden Gate Birder reports

In a major victory for Altamont Pass birds, a wind company that has killed outrageous numbers of birds in the Altamont area announced that it is shutting down its 828-turbine wind farm, effective November 1.

Read full story at Altamont Winds Inc. to shut down its Bay Area turbines Golden Gate Audubon Society

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