Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 2, 2016

 Point Reyes Birding Festival Releases Preliminary Schedule

 The Point Reyes Birding & Nature Festival has posted the preliminary schedule for this year’s festival which is April 22 to 24.

See schedule at Festival Program — Point Reyes Birding & Nature Festival

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 2, 2016

40,000 Square Miles For Protected For Endangered Whales

Center for Biological Diversity News Release

Feds Protect Nearly 40,000 Square Miles for Endangered Whales Along East Coast

Designation Will Protect Calving, Foraging Areas of Last 500 Right Whales

WASHINGTON— In response to the efforts of conservation and wildlife protection groups, the National Marine Fisheries Service today protected 39,414 square miles of ocean as critical habitat for North Atlantic right whales. Only about 500 of the critically endangered whales exist today, and without additional protections the species faces a serious risk of extinction.

The Fisheries Service’s new rule protects crucial habitat for right whales, including the whale’s northeast feeding areas in the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank region and its calving grounds from southern North Carolina to northern Florida. However, the rule does not protect the whale’s twice-yearly migratory routes through the mid-Atlantic.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 1, 2016

Fetid Adder’s Tongue Or Slinkpod Blooming


My favorite early season wildflower Fetid Adder’s Tongue or Slinkpod / Scoliopus bigelovii  is blooming in Marin County. It is in the  Liliaceae family. It is found in deep shaded forests, primarily in the coastal counties of the western United States from central California to northern Oregon.


Where to see Scoliopus bigelovii in Marin County: John Thomas Howell in Marin Flora lists Sausalito, Muir Woods, Mount Tamalpais (Blithedale canyon, Cataract Gulch, Fish Grade), Bolinas Ridge, San Geronimo Ridge, and San Rafael Hills for Marin County locations. A beautiful place to see Scoliopus bigelovii here in Marin County is Muir Woods National Monument.Cascade Falls in Mill Valley is an easy place to see Scoliopus bigelovii. From downtown Mill Valley, take Throckmorton past the public library all the way to the end where it intersects Cascade. Turn right onto Cascade and watch for a small parking lot on the right with a wooden sign reading CASCADE FALLS.  Source: Marin CNPS: Scoliopus bigelovii

To see other locations go the Calflora at 

To see a detailed article on the biology of Scoliopus check out this article by Frederick Utech in the Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden: Biology of Scoliopus (Liliaceae) I. Phytogeography and Systematics


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 1, 2016

Edgewood Park Feburary Wildflowers

Friends of Edgewood Park have updated its website to show what plants are typically blooming in February. There are 85 photos of plants you might see. Explore plant locations, plant species, which plant blooms when, and answers to a host of other questions at  What’s Blooming This Month


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 1, 2016

New Funding For Restoration of Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Yosemite National Park New Release

Yosemite National Park Receives Funding for Restoration of Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Funding Provided Through the NPS Centennial Challenge Program

The National Park Service announced $15 million in support of 69 projects in 63 parks, including $1,165,000 for the Restoration of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias at Yosemite National Park. This funding augments other National Park Service funds and a Yosemite Conservancy donation of $20,000,000 to make the restoration project possible. This landmark restoration of the Mariposa Grove is currently in progress and expected to be completed in the spring of 2017. The Mariposa Grove is Yosemite’s largest grove of Giant Sequoias and this legacy project will protect the trees, improve habitat, and greatly improve the visitor experience.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 31, 2016

CNPS Field Trips February 2016 updated

Northern California Native Plant Society Chapter February Field Trips:

(for more information on trips go to chapter websites; also check out late trip postings at chapter websites)

Bristlecone (Mono, Inyo and NE Kern counties)

East Bay CNPS

  • Saturday, February 20 at 2 pm, field trip to Huckleberry Regional Park
    Rain Date: February 21 at 2 pm

Marin CNPS

  • February 28, Early Wildflowers of Mt. Burdell, Novato 9:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Milo Baker (Sonoma county)

  • Thursday, February 4, 2016   10:00 am – 2pm, leave Armstrong (carpool 9:15)Earliest wildflowers at Armstrong Redwoods State Park

Napa Valley

North Coast

  • Feb. 27, Sat. Dune Forest ExplorationAll day field trip

Santa Clara Valley

  • Saturday, February 6, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Dirca – Stevens Creek County Park, Cupertino
  • Sunday, February 21, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Montara Mountain, San Pedro Valley County Park (Pacifica)

Santa Cruz

  • Wednesday April 22, 9:30 am-1:30 pm Wilder Ranch
  • Sunday April 26, 10 am-3 pm Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve with

Yerba Buena (San Francisco/Northern San Mateo)

  • Saturday, February 13, 2016 10:00am to 1:00pm Walk: Lichens of the Presidio

If you are interested in information on other chapters go to:

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 30, 2016

California Wildlife Photo Winner

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News  Release

California Photographer Named Winner Wildlife Photo Contest

Berkeley resident Jennifer Joynt’s image of an American pika in Yosemite National Park earned the 2015 grand prize in the California Wildlife Photo of the Year contest. The image of the furry, diminutive critter was chosen as the winner of the yearlong contest presented by Outdoor California magazine and California Watchable Wildlife Inc., and sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the State Coastal Conservancy.


Joynt’s picture captures the animal as it crests a rock formation along a trail near Gaylor Lake. The shot was the winner for the November/December issue of Outdoor California magazine, and in early January, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham selected it as the year’s top wildlife photo.

“The image of this pocket-sized American pika holding blades of grass that are nearly longer than its body length captures the imagination immediately,” Director Bonham said. “You can’t deny the ‘aww-factor’ that comes from the facial expression, but I see a pika on a mission to build its hay pile, its nest, its future. Such is the indomitable way of nature.”

Beginning Monday, the top eight images (including a second photo of Joynt’s) from the contest will hang as part of a week-long display at the Capitol outside the Governor’s Office. The photographs include all of the year’s top finishers and honorable mentions selected by the contest sponsors. In addition to Joynt’s pika photograph, the photos on display include:

  • Gray kit fox (Jennifer Joynt)
  • American Rubyspot Damselfly (Phil Robertson, Lincoln)
  • Northern river otter (Beth Savidge, Davis)
  • Great Egret at marsh (Sandrine Biziaux Scherson, Irvine)
  • Ferruginous hawk (Gary Kunkel, Visalia)
  • Black bear cub (Brent Paull, Tulare)
  • Summer tanagers (Brent Paull)

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 30, 2016

February 2016 Birding Field Trips

February 2016 Golden Gate Audubon Birding Field Trips

For more information on any of the trips below go to

  • Tilden Nature Area, Berkeley Friday, February 5, 8:30 — 10:30 a.m. (First Friday bird walk)
  • Aquatic Park, San Francisco Saturday, February 6, 8:00 — 9:30 a.m.(First Saturday bird walk)
  • Snowy Plover Enclosure and Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary Crown Memorial State Beach, Alameda Saturday, February 6, 8:00 — 10:00 a.m.
  • Arrowhead Marsh and Garretson Point, MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland Saturday, February 6, 12:00 — 3:00 pm
  • San Francisco Botanical Garden Sunday, February 7, 8 — 10:30 a.m. (First Sunday bird walk)
  • Family Bird Count at Lake Merritt, Oakland Sunday, February 7, 10 a.m. — noon
  • Inspiration Point, Tilden Park, Berkeley Friday, February 12, 8:30 — 10:30 a.m (Second Friday bird walk)
  • Family Bird Count at the Berkeley Waterfront Sunday, February 14, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Garretson Point and Arrowhead Marsh, MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland Monday, February 15, 2:00 p.m. to dusk
  • Lake Temescal, OaklandWednesday, February 17, 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. (Third Wednesday bird walk)
  • UCSF Mt Sutro Open Space Preserve. San Francisco Thursday, February 18, 8:30 — ~11 AM.
  • Corona Heights, San Francisco Friday, February 19, 8 – 10 a.m.
    (Third Friday bird walk) B
  • Ear-birding at Upper San Leandro Reservoir, near Moraga Sunday, February 20, 8:30 – noon
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline and beyond by bicycle, Oakland Saturday, February 20, 10:30 a.m. – ~3 p.m.
  • Concrete Bridge, Lake Merced, San Francisco Sunday, February 21, 8:30 – 11:00 a.m.
  • Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco Sunday, February 21, 8:00 — 10:00 a.m.
  • Solano County Winter Birds Sunday, February 21, 7:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m.
  • Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park, Oakland Wednesday, February 24, 9:30 a.m. – noon (Fourth Wednesday bird walk)
  • UCSF Mt Sutro Open Space Preserve. San Francisco Sunday, February 28, 8:30 — ~11 AM.
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 29, 2016

Mt. Tam Wildflower Report 1/28/16

The Marin County CNPS Facebook Page had the following wildflower report for 1/28/16 on Mt. Tam

Made a quick trip to Tam’s south slope yesterday, hiking Old Stage Road, Nora, and Matt Davis. Lots of Toxicoscordion fremontii plants in the woods but no bloomers yet. No Cardamine californica plants. Several Cynoglossum grande plants (no flowers), but only on Matt Davis between Bootjack and Pantoll. Manzanitas were the stars of the hike. Is there anywhere in the Bay Area with more varieties of manzanita than this part of Tam? A handful of varieties were blooming, with other still in bud.

See photos at Marin Native Plants

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 29, 2016

Anza Borrego Wildflowers 1/27/16

DesertUSA  has the following wildflower report for Anza Borrego Desert State Park in California

On 1/27/16, we took a quick trip to the park to see what was happening with the wildflowers so far this year. We checked Henderson Canyon Rd., Coyote Canyon and Fish Creek. It’s still early; there weren’t many wildflowers.

On Henderson Canyon Road we didn’t find much, just a few buds here and there. We drove over to Coyote Canyon where the ocotillo was very green, and some even had a few flowers. We stopped a little past the first crossing, and found there was water running in the creek. We couldn’t find much in wildflowers in that area, though we did find creosote bushes with flowers and seedpods.

See photos at   Anza Borrego Desert State Park – Wildflower Reports – DesertUSA

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 29, 2016

Feds Launch Review Of Endangered West Coast Orcas

Center for Biological Diversity News Release

Feds Launch Review of Endangered West Coast Orcas

Conservation Groups Urge Immediate Expansion of
Critical Habitat Protections for Southern Resident Killer Whales  

SEATTLE— The National Marine Fisheries Service today announced a five-year review of endangered southern resident killer whales, which are down to just 84 orcas, to assess whether they are properly protected under the Endangered Species Act. The Fisheries Service last year announced plans to expand existing critical habitat protections from the killer whales’ summer habitat in Puget Sound to include 9,000 square miles of their winter foraging habitat along the West Coast sometime in 2017, but conservation groups have urged officials to speed up that timeline.

“These iconic orcas need more federal protection, not less. This status review will show these orcas are still endangered and that we need to quickly address threats from pollution, noise and lack of prey,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director at the Center for Biological Diversity, which has been working to save these orcas since petitioning for their Endangered Species Act protections in 2001.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 28, 2016

How Urban Noise Changes Sparrows’ Song

Bay Nature reports on how White-crowned Sparrows’ Bird Songs Are Evolving To Compete With Urban Noise

Read story at  Sparrows losing their dialects with increase in urban noise Bay Nature

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 27, 2016

Death Valley Wildflowers 1/27/16

Death Valley Facebook Page has the following report today

The Badwater Road is the place to be for wildflowers this week. No other paved road even comes close. There are so many flowers out along this road that it’s hard to believe it’s only January! Fields of Brown-eyed Evening Primrose (Camissonia claviformis) and Desert Gold (Geraea canescens) that become denser the farther south you go. If you get out of your car and walk around you are likely to see both Caltha-leaved (Phacelia calthifolia) and Notchleaf Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata), Cryptantha, Mohavea (Mohavea breviflora), Purple Mat (Nama demissum)and Desert Star (Monoptilon belioides). Past Mile Marker 40 you will also see Sand Verbena (Abronia villosa), Shredding Evening Primrose (Camissonia boothii), Golden Evening Primrose (Camissonia brevipes) and Desert Five-Spot (Erimalche rotundifolia). Walking up the alluvial fans and into the washes is likely to reward you with more variety than when you just stay by the roadside. If you do drive down south, please, please, PLEASE do not feed the coyotes! It trains them to run out in the road when they see a car, and they get run over. Feeding them is giving them a death sentence. A fed coyote is a dead coyote.
As for other parts of the park, there are some flowers, more every day, but not in the numbers you find on the Badwater Road. Highway 190 has Desert Gold and Brown-Eyed Evening Primrose from Stovepipe Wells to the East Entrance to the park. The Golden Evening Primrose and Notch-Leaf Phacelia are starting to look pretty good in the canyon area between the Furnace Creek Inn and Zabriskie Point. Turtleback (Psathyrotes ramosissima) and Pygmy Cedar (Peucephyllum schottii) are blooming between Zabriskie Point and the Dante’s View Road. Bigelow Monkeyflowers (Mimulus bigelovii) and Encelia brighten the washes and canyons of the Funeral Mountains.
Mud Canyon is showing some color. The lower parts of the canyon have Desert Gold and Brown-Eyed Evening Primrose, while the brilliant purple and gold of Notch-Leaf Phacelia and Golden Evening Primrose adorn the upper reaches of the canyon.
I did say best paved road. If you are a dirt road back road enthusiast, word is Warm Springs Canyon is the place to go. I’ve heard it is even better than the southern Badwater Road! Millions (yes, millions) of Desert Gold and vast expanses of Brown-Eyed Evening Primrose cover the landscape. The Golden Evening Primrose is unbelievable they say, with some plants large enough to be bushes! There are lots of Desert Five-Spot coming up, and whole hillsides covered with Notch-Leaf Phacelia. Another place where things are starting to happen in the backcountry is the Saratoga Springs Road. Lots of Golden Evening Primrose coming up near the spring, and Sand Verbena is blooming at the ibex Dunes.
Although this is an El Nino year and higher than average precipitation is still predicted for February through April, the rainstorms have not materialized due to a high pressure cell hovering off the coast of California which is effectively blocking the moisture. We need a rainstorm. Some plants are showing signs of stress. If we do not get a rainstorm soon, this will still certainly be a good flower year, but not a superbloom. There are still an incredible amount of tiny seedlings coming up, so we should have plenty of flowers for some time to come, but the numbers will not be as great as originally predicted without additional precipitation. Just a word to the wise….Happy Flower Hunting!

See photos at Death Valley Facebook Page


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 27, 2016

Early Registration Opportunity For Pt. Reyes Birding Festival

The 2016 Pt. Reyes Bird Festival is April 22 to 24, 2016 Festival Highlights
It is three days over Earth Day weekend to get outside and enjoy the bounty of the Spring Migration in Point Reyes!  This year’s festival features over 45 events where participants will see migrating seabirds, waterfowl, resident and migrant land birds, raptors, alcids, and owls.  In addition to the unique birding opportunities, there are stunning wildflower displays, butterflies, dragonflies, migrating whales, elephant seals, sea lions, and Tule elk!

We will post our preview schedule on February 1st on our registration page.  We are bringing back several of our most popular field events and have added some new items.

Join West Marin Evironmental Action Committee by January 31st for Early-Bird Registration
If you are not already a member  there is still time to join.  We have extended our enrollment period for membership to qualify for early-bird registration until January 31st.

The Point Reyes Birding and Nature Festival is the major fundraiser for this local grassroots environmental nonprofit based in Point Reyes Station, CA.  The EAC is dedicated to the protection and appreciation of West Marin’s wild lands, wildlife, wilderness, watersheds, and rural character.  The annual festival provides an opportunity for the public to explore and enjoy the bounty of wildlife the public lands of Marin County have to offer.  By becoming a member of the EAC you empower our voice to speak on behalf of local conservation efforts.

Tickets for the Point Reyes Birding and Nature Festival will go live:

Wednesday, February 17th at 8:00 am to members of the EAC
Saturday, February 20th at 8:00 am to the general public
Members of the EAC receive early-bird registration to the festival.  For popular events, membership is a must, as tickets to popular events sell-out within a few hours.  In addition to early-bird registration, you will receive exclusive EAC member invitations to year-round birding and nature events.

Tickets will be on sale at

Memberships begin at $40 annually for individuals and $75 for households of two or more.  The more you give, the more we can do. Don’t miss out, join today!   The EAC is a 501(c)3 non-profit, all membership contributions are 100% tax deductible.

Featured Speaker Events
Don’t miss out on our Friday and Saturday night programs.

Ron Le Valley will discuss “Our Changing Ocean” at our Friday night dessert and wine reception.  His keynote will address the changes of a warming ocean, pollution levels, increasing levels of Carbon Dioxide, and how they affect our local climate and currents.  These changes could result in alterations of species distribution, and seasonal trends of marine mammals, and birds.

Paul Bannick will take our Saturday night banquet audience on a brand new presentation featuring a visual and auditory exploration of the habitats of North American owls and woodpeckers that most define and enrich these places.  This photographic field report celebrates the ways the lives of these iconic birds are intertwined, their role as keystone, and indicator species for their environment.  Paul will share striking new images, videos, and stories that provide fresh illumination  to the themes of his The Owl and Woodpecker book.  Find out his latest discoveries since the release of the book, and information on his newest title, Woodpeckers of North America.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 26, 2016

Death Valley Wildflower Report – 1/26/16

DesertUSA reports

For those of us who love the Desert Gold of Death Valley, this January bloom is some of the best I have seen in the southern Badwater road area since 2010. From the rise at Ashford Mills, an exciting number of bright yellow patches are to be seen going off into the distance. Good stops along the Badwater Road, starting at the far end:

1) The last few miles before the road closed sign – see a patch of solid gold off in the distance and walking up washes out to them. The Sand Verbena intermixed is fresh and lovely.

2) MM 41 – wander around two domes of black rock that are covered with Desert Gold.

3) MM 28 – stop at an alluvial fan of Desert Gold along the road.

4) MM 27 – look closely at the rocks and seeing dozens of tiny Desert Stars. And,5) the first part of Artist Drive – get out and looking at the flowers along the road that are, well, artistic. One place has a nicely arranged display of Purple Mat, Caltha Phacelia, and Brown Eyed Primrose and in other spots Desert Gold are artistically placed. I also drove up the Warm Springs road (high clearance/4 wheel drive).There were nice sections of Desert Gold and one area thick with Golden Evening Primrose and Desert Five Spot, but overall there was as much to see along the paved roads. A wide variety of plants were shooting up and yet to bloom. One Desert Five Spot had close to a dozen buds.

See photos at Death Valley Wildflower Report – DesertUSA

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 26, 2016

Climate Change Threatens Desert Rats Diet

The New York Times reports

Climate change may affect wood rats in the Mojave Desert in a most unusual way. A new study finds that warmer weather reduces their ability to tolerate toxins in the creosote bush, which they rely on for sustenance.

The consequences may be dire for the wood rats.

Read full story at Desert Rats Finding Meals Less Palatable – The New York Times

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a preliminary pollinator risk assessment for the neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid, which shows a threat to some pollinators. EPA’s assessment, prepared in collaboration with California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation, indicates that imidacloprid potentially poses risk to hives when the pesticide comes in contact with certain crops that attract pollinators.

To read risk assessment by EPA on risk of Insecticides to Bees at  01/06/2016: EPA Releases the First of Four Preliminary Risk Assessments for Insecticides Potentially Harmful to Bees

The Xerces Society had several criticisms of the study. They said

  1. The EPA used managed honey bees as surrogates for native bees even while it acknowledges that native bees face potentially greater risks.
  2. The EPA failed to address the risks caused when imidacloprid is mixed with other chemicals
  3. The EPA disregards the clear risk to bumble bees and other native bees from the use of imidacloprid on tomato production.
  4. The EPA failed to evaluate potential risks of imidacloprid to declining monarch butterflies.

Read the Xerces Society’s article elaborating on the above criticisms at Xerces Society criticisms of the study

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 24, 2016

Birding Las Gallinas 1/24/16

Today I went birding at Las Gallinas in Marin County with several members from the Master Birders Class that I finished the end of last year. There were many birds and as a group we saw 66 species. Highlights included a group of 13 Common Mergansers swimming in a group and doing synchronized diving, a large number of Black-crowned Night-Heron, frequently hearing and sometimes seeing Marsh Wrens, watching Forster’s Tern skimming along the top of the water (but never diving today) and a Sora.

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click read more to see Bird List

Las Gallinas Valley WTP, Marin, California, US Bird List
Jan 24, 2016 8:15 AM – 11:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Partly overcast.  Saw two river otters fishing in pond 1.
66 species (+1 other taxa)

Greater White-fronted Goose  1
Cackling Goose  1
Canada Goose  100
Mute Swan  9
Gadwall  20
American Wigeon  50
Mallard  10
Cinnamon Teal  4
Northern Shoveler  6
Northern Pintail  70
Green-winged Teal  6
Canvasback  20
Bufflehead  15
Common Goldeneye  1
Common Merganser  13     13 seen swimming in a tight group, diving and resurfacing as one.
Ruddy Duck  40
Pied-billed Grebe  6
Eared Grebe  1
Double-crested Cormorant  5
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  4
Snowy Egret  5
Black-crowned Night-Heron  30
Turkey Vulture  7
White-tailed Kite  2
Northern Harrier  3
Cooper’s Hawk  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  3
Sora  2
Common Gallinule  4
American Coot  20
Mew Gull  20
Ring-billed Gull  20
Western Gull  20
California Gull  50
Herring Gull  1
gull sp.  X
Forster’s Tern  20
Vaux’s Swift  2
White-throated Swift  2
Anna’s Hummingbird  3
Belted Kingfisher  1
American Kestrel  5
Black Phoebe  10
Say’s Phoebe  2
Western Scrub-Jay  1
American Crow  2
Common Raven  1
Tree Swallow  20
Violet-green Swallow  3
Marsh Wren  10
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Western Bluebird  5
Northern Mockingbird  2
European Starling  100
Common Yellowthroat  3
Yellow-rumped Warbler  50
White-crowned Sparrow  10
Golden-crowned Sparrow  6
Song Sparrow  10
California Towhee  3
Red-winged Blackbird  8
Western Meadowlark  10
Brewer’s Blackbird  10
House Finch  15
Lesser Goldfinch  1


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 24, 2016

Antelope Valley Wildflowers 1/24/16

DesertUSA has an Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve report for Jan. 24, 2016

Rain on October 2015 brought about germination of poppies, filaree, fiddleneck and grasses. Since then there have been nights of freezing temperatures and on December 22, 2015 the winds reached 76 mph at the reserve. One has to marvel at the resiliency of the plants that survive in our desert.

There are filaree plants and some are starting to bloom. Fiddleneck leaves are up to 4 inches. Grasses are up to 2 to 4 inches. There are lupine plants with leaves up to 3 inches. Poppies that germinated after the October rain are looking healthy, forming their rosettes and measure 1 to 3 inches across. There was rain at the beginning of January and I did find just a few poppy cots. Even though it has been over 10 days for poppy cot germination, with the wind and freezing temperatures it may be too soon for them to have emerged. The few I found were less than ¼-inch tall. Observations: Spotted a northern harrier, flocks of sparrows, mountain blue birds, road runner and cottontails.

Source: Desert Wildflower Reports for Southern California by DesertUSA

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 24, 2016

Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers 1/23/16

Anza- Borrego Desert Natural History Association has a wildflower report for the Mine Wash East Fork Loop  View Hike details here.

This is one of our favorite hikes: It has such a nice variety of different plants. It’s Emory’s rock-daisy, Perityle emoryi time, a lot of plants we noticed last month are now flowering. Not that much new in the wash, I expect again too much rain at once removed some previous germination.

We’ve been looking for Desert mistletoe, Phoradendron californicum female flowers for some time, and now we got a picture of it. But the bad thing is that the search is now over.

We hardly find fresh, fully yellow, blooming Arrow-leaf, Pleurocoronis pluriseta, this may just be bad luck. The Yellow-head, Trichoptilium incisum turned orange/red, I like it even better that way. Redstem filaree, Erodium cicutarium are now starting to grow bigger. This is also the loop of the Parry’s dalea, Marina parryi, with flowers that are easy to miss.

See photos at Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers Update


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 24, 2016

Calif. Fish-Eating Birds at Risk From Mercury In Lakes

News Release California State Water Resources Control Board

Statewide Survey Finds Fish-Eating Birds at Risk From Mercury in Many California Lakes

SACRAMENTO, CA, Dec. 29, 2015 – The first statewide survey of contaminants in wildlife from California waters has found that mercury concentrations in the blood of two closely related species of grebes were high enough to potentially translate to harmful impacts on their reproduction in over half of the 25 lakes sampled.

Published studies suggest that mercury concentrations in avian blood between 1.0 parts per million (ppm) and 3.0 ppm are associated with a moderate risk of effects on reproduction, and concentrations above 3.0 ppm are associated with high risk. Grebes with blood mercury above 1.0 ppm (moderate risk) were observed at 14 of the 25 lakes sampled. At seven lakes, more than 50 percent of the grebes had concentrations above 1.0 ppm. Grebes with blood mercury above 3.0 ppm (high risk) were observed at six of the 25 lakes. Lake Berryessa had the most severe contamination, with concentrations above 3.0 ppm in 88 percent of the grebes sampled.

Western grebes and Clark’s grebes were chosen as the wildlife indicator species because they are widely distributed and breed in lakes throughout California, are piscivorous (fish-eaters) near the top of the lake food chain, and are excellent indicators of lake-specific contaminant exposure.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 23, 2016

World’s Fastest Cheetah Dies

National Geographic reports

Sarah the cheetah, who shattered the world record for the standing 100-meter dash in a feat photographed by National Geographic magazine, was euthanized this week at the Cincinnati Zoo.

At 15, Sarah’s quality of life was diminishing—a cheetah’s average life span is eight to twelve years.

See full story and video  World’s Fastest Cheetah, Featured in National Geographic, Dies

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 22, 2016

Birding Emeryville Shoreline 1/22/16

Emeryville Shoreline

Emeryville Shoreline

Today we went birding during the 6.6. high tide at the Emeryville shoreline–near fire station. It was rainy part of the time and we only lasted 40 minutes. There were easily well over a thousand shorebirds on the rocks right next to the sidewalk on the south side of road. There were  large numbers of Western Sandpipers, Dunlin, Marbled Godwit and Willets. Also seen were a number of Black Turnstone. Only one each of Sanderling, Black-bellied Plover and American Avocet. Out in the Bay we saw Bufflehead, Ruddy Ducks and One Western Grebe.

Sandpipers take flight

Sandpipers take flight



The Lone Sanderling

The Lone Sanderling


Click read more for bird list

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 22, 2016

See Five Planets at Once


Sky and Telescope report

Over the next two weeks, for the first time in more than a decade, you can see all of the naked-eye planets — from Mercury to Saturn — together in the predawn sky. If you follow celestial comings and goings at all, you know that bright planets have been largely missing from the evening sky for a few months. Sure, with careful watching you could have spotted Saturn low in the southwest as late as November, and Mercury put in a brief appearance a few weeks ago.

But really all the action has been in the sky before sunrise. Anchored by bright Venus and Jupiter, joined by Mars and Saturn, this planetary fab four has been dominating skywatchers’ attention for months. (Did you catch last October’s triple play involving Venus, Jupiter, and Mars?)…

But realistically you’re not going to see Mercury linger in the predawn sky for a whole month. Instead, I suggest that the last week of January and first week of February are your “best bets” for success.)

Read full story at  Get Up Early, See Five Planets at Once! – Sky & Telescope

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 21, 2016

Marin County Wildflowers 1/21/16

The Marin County CNPS Facebook Page  reports

Hiked Tucker Cutoff, Bill Williams, Gertrude Orr, Phoenix Lake Road, and Harry Allen trail. So gorgeous — waterfalls gushing.

Also saw Indian warrior (Pedicularis densiflora) on hillsides and one Fremont’s star lily (Toxicoscordion fremontii). Lots of hound’s tongue still growing.

Fetid adder’s tongue (Scoliopus bigelovii) on Bill Williams Trail

Also Milkmaids (Caramine californica)Silktassel (Garrya elliptica) and Manzanita

See photos at   Marin Native Plants

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 21, 2016

2016 Birding Festival Calendar

I have updated the 2016 bird and nature festival calendar on Natural History Wanderings. You can see it California Birding and Nature Festival Calendar

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 20, 2016

Death Valley Wildflower Updates revised 1/20/16


Death Valley National Park reports

The southern part of the Badwater Road is still where the big show is going on. Hills are covered with Desert Gold (Geraea canescens), Sand Verbena (Abronia villosa), and Brown-eyed Evening Primrose (Camissonia claviformis). Cryptantha, Desert Five-spot (Erimalche rotundifolia) and Notch-leaf Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata) are also coming up on those black volcanic hills in the last few miles before Ashford Mill. The canyons of the southern Black Mountains have all of the above, as well as an abundance of Shredding Evening Primrose (Camissonia boothii ssp condensata) on the alluvial fans. Desert Star (Monoptilon bellioides), Golden Evening Primrose (Camissonia brevipes), Broadleaved Gilia (Aliciella latifolia) and Mohavea (Mohavea breviflora) can be found in the washes, and Caltha-leaved Phacelia (Phacelia calthifolia) is coming into its own, covering whole hillsides in some of the canyons.
Brown-eyed Evening Primrose is absolutely unbelievable right now. Driving down Badwater Road in the morning, you will notice entire FIELDS of this flower.


Cryptantha is popping up all over the lower elevations. Although the numbers are greater down south, the variety on the alluvial fans from Artist’s Drive to just south of Badwater is astounding! Desert Gold, Brown-eyed Evening Primrose, Specter (Phacelia pedicellata), Notch-leaf and Caltha Leaved Phacelia, Purple Mat (nama demissum), Mohavea, Cryptantha, and Desert Star are all blooming. Desert Five-Spot, Gravel Ghost (Atrichoseris platyphylla), and Rock Daisy (Perityle emoryi) will be blooming within days. And the ground is thick, thick, THICK with plants. For those of you worried if there will be any flowers left when you come in March, be assured that there are huge numbers of teeny tiny seedlings popping up behind the more developed plants. The Artist’s Drive area has Desert Gold, Purple Mat, Brown-Eyed Evening Primrose, and Caltha Leaved Phacelia. Another interesting flower coming up in Artist’s Drive is Golden Carpet (Gilmania luteola). This relatively rare endemic plant has a very limited range, only found in the somewhat salty soils of the northwestern Black Mountains, and only blooms in years of abundant rains. So go see it now!

Highway 190 east of Furnace Creek has Turtleback (Psathyrotes ramosissima), Pygmy Cedar (Peucephyllum schottii), Golden Evening Primrose, Mohavea, Desert Gold, and Brown-eyed Evening Primrose blooming. The canyons of the Funeral Mountains are great place to see Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) and Bigelow’s Mimulus (Mimulus Bigelovii). Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) and Paintbrush (Castilleja chromosa) are starting to bloom there, too.

Reports have come in of Panamint Daisies (Enceliopsis covillei) starting to bud in the southern Panamint Mountains. Stay tuned for more on this special flower in the coming weeks. Get out of your car and walk while here in Death Valley, and you may be surprised by the variety and beauty of the wildflowers blooming so early in the season! (dm)

See photos at  Death Valley National Park

DesertUSA also has Death Valley Wildflower photos at Source: Death Valley Wildflower Report


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 20, 2016

California Native Flora Pastel Exhibit

Chasing Color:
Painting California’s Native Flora through the Seasons.

At the Helen Crocker Russell Library
San Francisco Botanical Garden, Golden Gate Park,
January-April 2016
Reception: Thursday, January 21, 5-7 pm
This solo show of 30 of Erika Perloff’s new pastels represents more than a year of painting California’s flora in the landscape from Coast to Sierra. Reception and artist talk on Thursday Jan. 21, 5-7 pm. Arrive early if you want to walk around the gardens.

Getting on in Years by Erika Perloff

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 19, 2016

Wildflower Exhibit At San Francisco Public Library

There is a  exhibit of wildflower photos by Rob Badger and Nita Winters at the Main San Francisco Public Library Jewett Gallery 100 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA from January 23 to March 27, 2016

*Beauty and the Beast: California Wildflowers and Climate Change

Focusing on California, 40 exquisite photographs by Rob Badger and Nita Winter, highlight spectacular wildflower landscapes and intimate floral portraits created on California’s public lands. Badger and Winter have documented wildflower environments from below sea level in Death Valley National Park to the high alpine “rock gardens” above 11,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The exhibit features Bay Area wildflowers, and includes many breath-taking photographs of 100 and also 50 year blooms seen across Southern California that defy description.This exhibit addresses climate change and other human impacts, and their effect on a universal symbol of beauty – the wildflower.

Visit to see  images and learn about the project.

Related Programs:

Opening event: Meet the photographers. Saturday, January 23, 2:00 pm. Main Library, Koret Auditorium.

February 3, The Beauty of Natives, Photography Tips for a Garden Photographer, Main Library, Latino Hispanic Community Room, 6:00.

Feburary 9, Native Plants in our Local Landscape, 6:00 pm, Main Library, Latino Hispanic Community Room.

Source: *Beauty and the Beast :: Calendar :: San Francisco Public Library

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 18, 2016

Birding Miller Knox 1/18/16


Today we did a brief birding trip to Miller Knox Regional Shoreline in Richmond, CA to see the Gull-a-palooza. We spent most of the time at Ferry Point with a quick look at the pond before leaving. We started just after two and feeding consisted mainly of numerous gulls, probably in the thousands. We saw many Western, Mew and Glaucous-winged Gulls; a few Herring and Ring-billed and one Heerman’s Gulls. There were large numbers of Scaup and Buffleheads further out in the bay. On the distant breakwater were large numbers of Brown Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, and more gulls. In the pond were Mallards, Coots, and American Wigeon.



Click read more to see bird list.

Read More…

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