Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 14, 2017

First Ever North America Spotting of Mistle Thrush

The Weather Network  reports  a rare bird spotted, could be first time ever in North America

The European mistle thrush is a bird species commonly seen across Europe and Iceland. There has never been a recorded sighting in North America — until now.

Read story at Rare bird spotted, could be first time ever in North America

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 14, 2017

Pruitt Refuses To Reveal His Climate Science

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility News Release

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is refusing to even search for, let alone produce, records Administrator Scott Pruitt relied upon in claiming that human activity is not a “primary contributor” to climate change, according to legal filings in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit brought by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). U.S. Justice Department lawyers representing EPA contend the PEER suit is “a trap” and would require “an endless fishing expedition.”

In a March 9, 2017 interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Pruitt stated that as to carbon dioxide created by human activity “I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” He also said “there’s a tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact” of “human activity on the climate….”

Read More…

Birdlife International reports

Every year, an estimated 400,000 seabirds worldwide are killed after getting unintentionally snared in gillnets while diving for food. A new review highlights that even penguins – the master swimmers of the avian world – aren’t safe from their clutches, and points the way to where the threat is most acute.

Read full story at Tangled and drowned: new study links penguin declines with fishing activity | BirdLife

National Geographic reports A Canadian Supreme Court decision spares the massive Peel Watershed from development and mining.

Environmental and indigenous groups are cheering a landmark decision by Canada’s highest court on Friday, which ordered the Yukon Territorial Government to abide by a negotiated plan to preserve one of the largest intact wilderness areas in North America.

Read full story at  Yukon’s Peel Watershed Wilderness Protected in Canadian Supreme Court Ruling for Native Tribes

NPR reports

Macron Awards U.S. Climate Scientists Grants To ‘Make Our Planet Great Again’

French President Emmanuel Macron, in a not-so-subtle jab at President Trump, has awarded long-term research grants to 18 climate scientists — 13 of them U.S.-based researchers — to relocate to France and pursue their work with the blessing of a government that doesn’t cast doubt on the threat of climate change.

Read full story at Macron Awards U.S. Climate Scientists Grants To ‘Make Our Planet Great Again’ : The Two-Way : NPR

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 11, 2017

2018 California Birding Festival Calendar

2018 California Birding Festival Calendar

January 2018
11-14     Thur – Sun    Wings over Willcox, AZ
12-15     Fri – Mon      22nd Annual Morro Bay Bird Festival
20          Sat         11th Annual Galt Winter Bird Festival
24-28    Wed – Sun   20th Annual Chico Snow Goose Festival

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 10, 2017

2018 Chico Snow Goose Festival Jan. 24-28

This action-packed 5-day event celebrates the remarkable journey of millions of waterfowl and raptors along the Pacific Flyway that call the Northern Sacramento Valley their home during the winter months. Includes Field Trips, Workshops and Exhibits.

Jon L. Dunn, Author of “National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America” will be the Keynote Speaker
Chief consultant and author of all seven editions of the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, and a birding tour leader for over 30 years, Jon L. Dunn will share his passion for birds and exceptional knowledge of the challenges of identifying the Pacific Flyway’s waterfowl.

For Registration, schedule and more information go to:

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 9, 2017

The Million-Grebe Question

The Mono Lake Committe’s Mono-logue reports

More than 90% of all Eared Grebes in North America stop at either Mono Lake or Great Salt Lake to feed on brine shrimp before continuing their migration to wintering grounds in the southern United States and Mexico. Each year more than a million Eared Grebes depend on Mono Lake’s abundant supply of brine shrimp in order to successfully complete their southbound migration.

Read about the challenges and findings of doing Mono Lake Eared Grebe counts at  The Mono-logue The million-grebe question

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 8, 2017

Anza- Borrego Now Charges Day Use Fees

 California State Parks began collecting day use fees at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park visitor center starting on November 3, 2017. Day Use fee is $10 per vehicle and will be collected on Fridays through Sundays and holidays. The day use fee ticket is valid at any State Park in the Colorado Desert District or the State Park System  for the date of purchase.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 8, 2017

Plan To Relocate Oakland Herons

The San Francisco Chronicle  reported on the to encourage new nesting areas for Heron who have lost breeding grounds in downtown Oakland, CA

The giant canopies where the long-legged fowl have gathered for nearly a decade are no longer there, and the humans who removed their nests are hoping to lure them to a new breeding ground about a half-mile away at Lake Merritt with decoys equipped with loudspeakers to broadcast recordings of heron mating calls.

Read full story at Wildlife experts hope plan to relocate Oakland herons will fly – SFGate

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 7, 2017

Farthest Monster Black Hole Found

The BBC reports that astronomers discover the most distant “supermassive” black hole known to science.

The matter-munching sinkhole is a whopping 13 billion light-years away, so far that we see it as it was a mere 690 million years after the Big Bang.

But at about 800 million times the mass of our Sun, it managed to grow to a surprisingly large size in just a short time after the origin of the Universe.

Read full story at: Farthest monster black hole found

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 7, 2017

California Birds Nesting Earlier To Adapt To Climate Change

ScienceDaily reports

California birds nesting a week earlier than they did a century ago

Earlier breeding allows birds to raise young at cooler temperatures, avoiding warming climes

Many birds are adjusting their life styles to breed 5-12 days earlier to avoid warming that has occurred since the early 1900s, an ongoing survey of California birds and comparison with century-old data shows. This strategy, combined with the trend of other birds to move northward in range or upward in elevation, allows adaptation to climate change, though eventually the cool window for breeding may become too short for some species.

Read Article at California birds nesting a week earlier than they did a century ago
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 6, 2017

Chaco Canyon Threatened By Drilling

The NY Times reported on the decision of the Bureau of Land Management to allow drilling on federal lands near Chaco Canyon

the B.L.M. district manager says the bureau plans to lease 26 parcels of land in the area next March; while none lie within the 10-mile radius of the park, one of them is just barely outside it and others are close by.

Read full story at  The Treasures of Chaco Canyon Are Threatened by Drilling – The New York Times

The New York Times reports

Patagonia, REI and other outdoor clothing and equipment retailers are speaking out against President Trump’s plan to slash the size of two national monuments in Utah by some two million acres.

Mr. Trump on Monday announced that his administration would shrink Bears Ears National Monument, a region of red rock canyons, by 85 percent, and cut another monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante, to about half its current size.

“The president stole your land,” Patagonia said in a pop-up message on its website. “In an illegal move, the president just reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history.”

Read story at Patagonia, REI and Other Outdoor Retailers Protest Trump’s Decision to Shrink Utah Monuments – The New York Times

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 5, 2017

Berkeley Fall Color

A very California Fall Color photo. An iPhone photo ofSouth Berkeley fall color street trees and palm trees!

Berkeley Fall Color

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 5, 2017

White-throated Sparrow

The last two weeks we have had a rather rare visitor to our backyard in the North Berkeley Flatlands. A White-throated Sparrow.

White-throated Sparrow

Center for Biological Diversity News Release

Lawsuit Targets Trump’s Slashing of Protections at Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante

WASHINGTON —Hours after President Donald Trump issued a proclamation taking an axe to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, conservation organizations today filed a lawsuit attacking the order as an abuse of the president’s power. Earthjustice is representing eight organizations in a suit charging that the president violated the 1906 Antiquities Act by stripping monument protections from this national treasure: The Wilderness Society, the Grand Canyon Trust, the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians and Western Watersheds Project. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Natural Resources Defense Council are co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit and represented by in-house counsel.

“President Trump has perpetrated a terrible violation of America’s public lands and heritage by going after this dinosaur treasure trove,” said Heidi McIntosh, managing attorney in Earthjustice’s Rocky Mountains office. “While past presidents have used the Antiquities Act to protect unique lands and cultural sites in America, Trump is instead mangling the law, opening this national monument to coal mining instead of protecting its scientific, historic, and wild heritage. We will not let this stand. We will use the power of the law to stop Trump’s illegal actions.”

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 5, 2017

Marin County Naturalist Outings

See the winter schedule of  Marin County nature walks at d  Walks on the calendar include birding, mushrooms and early season wildflowers.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 5, 2017

Drones and Birds Don’t Mix

Drones and Birds often don’t mix. Flying drones by rooting birds harasses them and is harmful to their health. It kind disturb nesting behaviors, resting periods as well as chase them away from desired and sensitive habitat.

Audubon has an article on birds and drones at How Will Drones Affect Birds? | Audubon

Below is a list some recommendations made by Cindy Margulis, Executive Director of Golden 
Gate Audubon about the prohibition of drones in many parklands and what to do if you see someone flying a drone in a prohibited area.

Multiple steps are possible.  Drone flying within East Bay Regional 
Parklands is not allowed.  It’s also not allowed in National Parks.  
Other local parks might similarly have explicit regulations in place.

1)  Alert the relevant land management agency for that area.  IF it is 
occurring on EBRPD, call EBRPD POLICE line and report it. They may not 
have an officer who can respond as promptly as you like, but report it 
anyway, please.  IF it’s on City of Emeryville premises, also report 
it.  Since Emeryville Crescent is quite close to the Bay Bridge, I don’t 
think Homeland Security will be too amused by drones overflying that 
area, either….

2)  KNOW THIS:  Flying drones into roosting wildlife is harassment and 
thus it’s a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBYA).  If the 
law enforcement doesn’t recognize this, you can cite it to them.   You 
can and should report such a violation also via the anonymous CalTIP 
hotline.  However, IF you wish to be able to talk to a responding 
warden, be sure and leave your name and phone(s)/contact info so they 
can call you if the investigator has any follow-up questions for your 
witness account.  They keep your information confidential but if you 
don’t leave your contact details, they can’t reach you if they want more 
info or to tell you status of their response.  CalTip is conscientious 
about following up on these repiorts, but they have very few wardens for 
vast area of our region, so it may take some time (hours or even several 
days) to get a call back.  Do not be discouraged!

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 4, 2017

Trump Reduces Bear Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante Nat. Monuments

Center for Biological Diversity New Release

Trump’s Order Would Rob Americans of Public Lands, National Monuments

WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump today ordered Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments in Utah to be dramatically reduced in size. The order would slash protections for an untold number of irreplaceable natural, scientific and historic treasures, and is part of a push by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress to dismantle public lands. It will be challenged in court.

“Trump’s unprecedented, illegal action is a brutal blow to our public lands, an affront to Native Americans and a disgrace to the presidency,” said Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “He wants to hand over these lands to private industry to mine, frack, bulldoze and clear-cut until there’s nothing left for our children and grandchildren.”

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 4, 2017

Point Reyes Photos

Photos from a trip around Pt. Reyes. Some different subjects for me: fences, old farm equipment and a ruined boat. And some usual ones: Turkey Vultures, lichens and plants.

You can also see a high quality version of this slideshow with larger pictures and files on Flickr at

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 4, 2017

A 5000 Mile Off Course Duck

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on the sighting of a European Shelduck at Clear Lake in Northern California. What isn’t know is was this a bird that was 5000 off course as the bird is usually found  in the Wadden Sea on the coast of Germany and Ireland or is an escaped pet. Read story at  Clear Lake duck may have been 5,500 miles off course – SFGate

NPR  reports on new research that may answer why Passenger Pigeons went extinct

Billions of these birds once flew over North America, but the last known passenger pigeon died in 1914. To try to figure out what happened, scientists analyzed DNA from the toes of birds in museums.

Scientists believe they may have new insights into why passenger pigeons went extinct, after analyzing DNA from the toes of birds that have been carefully preserved in museums for over a century.

Read or listen to the story at  Why Did The Passenger Pigeon Go Extinct? The Answer Might Lie In Their Toes

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 3, 2017

Birding Point Isabel 12/3/17

Today we went birding at Pt. Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond, CA. It was a 7 foot king tide. We hoped the high tide would some of the Ridgway’s Rails out of hiding. We did hear a number of rails but none were visible.

The highlight of the day was seeing Wilson’s Snipe. We counted 13 but there may have been more. They were on the north side of the Island that is near where the trail splits off towards Meeker Slough. We also saw one on the east side of the trail on the way out. Also of note is there were four Black-crowned Night-Herons in the trees around the parking lot.  There were many water birds far out and shorebirds on distant rocks in poor light that were difficult to identify. We saw or heard about 40 species. Click Read More to see the list.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 3, 2017

Edgewood Park December Wildflowers

Friends of Edgewood Park have updated its website to show what plants are typically blooming in December. There are  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 | December 3, 2017

Henry Coe Wildflower Update 12/1/17

Henry Coe State Park has a new wildflower bloom report  for December 1, 2017 at the Pine Ridge Association website with photos and a list of flowers now in bloom at: Henry W. Coe – Wildflower Guide.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 3, 2017

East Bay Regional Park Botanic Garden Classes

Classes and docent training for the East Bay Regional Park Botanic Garden this coming Winter and Spring

Upcoming Classes
A click here will take you to a full description of the class as well as the class registration form
February 4 Zen and the Art of Mushroom Hunting Space Available
February 11 Bryophytes in the Garden Space Available
Feb 18 – May 19 Free introduction meeting and 5 trips Exploring Sierra Foothill Wildflowers Space Available
March 22 Tending a Native Garden Space Available
March 31 Spring Wildflowers and Restoration Ecology at Skyline Gardens Space Available
April 2 until April 6 Trek Through Joshua Tree National Park Space Available
May 20 Garden-worthy Native Grasses Space Available
May 27 Seed Propagation of California Native Plants Space Available
June 11 until June 15 The Siskiyou Mountains and the North Coast Space Available

Regional Parks Botanic Garden Docent Training begins in January

Deepen your botanical knowledge and play an important role at the RPBG! The next five-month Docent Training Class begins January 9 and runs through June 12, 2018. Classes are held Tuesday mornings, 9:00 am – 12:30 pm, at the Visitor Center. Classes will be taught by Dr. Glenn Keator.
Click here for more information and details on how to register.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 3, 2017

Apps For Birders

  • Merlin Bird ID: Merlin offers instant bird identification help for 2,000+ species in North America, Central America, and Europe, including ID tips, photos, and sounds. Just answer a few questions about the bird you saw, or upload a photo and ask Merlin to identify your mystery bird with its powerful photo recognition feature. For iOS and Android devices. Find out how you can help Merlin expand to new regions.
  • Audubon Bird Guide App: Available for smartphones and tablets through the Apple App StoreGoogle Play, and Amazon App Store. Features 800+ North American species with sounds, images, and range maps.
  • eBird Mobile App: Enter your eBird and GBBC checklists from iOS and Android devices. Works anywhere on earth; multiple languages
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 2, 2017

Sonoma County Fall Color 12/1/17

California Fall Color reports

West of Sebastopol along CA-116, liquidambar are set ablaze by an autumn sunrise. While, midday in the Alexander Valley, north of Healdsburg, northern Sonoma County’s hillsides are scored with peaking vines.
Sonoma County – Peak to Past Peak – You Almost Missed It.


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 2, 2017

New Study: Birds Of Prey Hardest Hit By Wind Farms

BirdLife International reports

New study pinpoints birds of prey as hardest hit by wind farms
A new study has revealed which bird and bat species are most at risk of collision with wind turbines, with birds of prey and migratory birds coming top of the list. This research is the first to take a global view of the problem, and pinpoints some possible solutions to allow birds, bats and wind turbines to share the skies with less conflict.

Read full story at New study pinpoints birds of prey as hardest hit by wind farms | BirdLife

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