Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 20, 2017

Death Valley Wildflowers 2/20/17

DesertUSA shows photos of Desert Gold, Desert Chicory, Popcorn, Browne-eyed Evening Primrose, Desert Five-spot and Narrow-leaf Phacelia in bloom.

See photos and location information at Death Valley Wildflower Report – DesertUSA

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 20, 2017

Free National Park Entrance Feb 20

The National Park Service just turned 100 years old! Celebrate the start of our second century by visiting a park in 2017. During ten days of the year, all National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone.
Mark your calendar for these entrance fee–free dates in 2017:

  • January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 20: Presidents’ Day
  • April 15-16 and 22-23: Weekends of National Park Week
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 30: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend
National parks are America’s Best Idea, and there are more than 400 parks available to everyone, every day. The fee-free days provide a great opportunity to visit a new place or an old favorite, especially one of the 120 national parks that normally charge an entrance fee. The others are free all of the time. Plan your visit and enjoy our country’s history and nature.

The fee waiver includes entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.

Fee-free days make parks accessible to more people. However, national parks are always economical, with entrance fees that range from $3 to $30. In addition, any fourth grade student can get a free annual pass through the Every Kid in a Park program, and active duty military and citizens with a permanent disability can also get free passes. For more information about the variety of discounted passes available, please visit the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass page.
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 19, 2017

2017 Coachella Valley Wildflower Festival March 4

The 10th annual Coachella Valley Wildflower Festival is Saturday, March 4, 2017 9:00am 4:00pm.  This FREE event celebrates wellness, recreation, and the outdoors. Featuring local artists and conservation partners, a kids’ zone (with a climbing wall!), wildflower hikes, beer & wine garden, food & other beverages, and more! We’ll also have a sand play area for the kids. Come celebrate spring in our desert! NO ONSITE PARKING: Free parking and shuttles start at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church.


EarthJustice News Release

“We will fight in every court across the country when Administrator Pruitt tries to take a sledgehammer to the agency…”

The U.S. Senate, along a mostly party-line vote of 52-46, has confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Donald Trump’s pick to lead our nation’s top enforcer of environmental laws will take office despite his open hostility to bedrock air and water protections like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, his refusal to turn over state documents and answer straightforward questions during his hearing process, and his many conflicts of interest resulting from the 14 times he has sued EPA to fight public health protections.
Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen issued the following statement:

“This is a sad day for our country, especially for those living in polluted neighborhoods who count on the Environmental Protection Agency for help cleaning up their air, water and land.  Scott Pruitt is unfit to lead the EPA. We couldn’t be more disappointed in the Senate’s insistence on putting the interests of the polluters before the well-being of our communities.

“Earthjustice’s mission remains the same: to protect the environment and health of all people. We have the law, the facts, the science and public opinion on our side. We will fight in every court across the country when Administrator Pruitt tries to take a sledgehammer to the agency charged with the protection of our air and water.”

via Earthjustice’s President on Scott Pruitt’s Confirmation as EPA Administrator | Earthjustice

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 18, 2017

Backyard Bird Count 2/18/17

Today we did our annual Great Backyard Bird Count with friends. We observed our yard for a few hours than walked around the neighborhood in North Berkeley. We had at least 23 different birds. We were unable to ID the woodpecker as we only heard it and the gulls were all flying to high to ID.  The highlight was a Red-breasted Nuthatch, which spent most of the day in yard. (Normally they are only an occasional and relatively brief visitor. Here is our list

gull sp.  3
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  3
Mourning Dove  2
Anna’s Hummingbird  4
woodpecker sp.  1     heard drumming but not seen
California Scrub-Jay  1
American Crow  9
Common Raven  1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  2
Oak Titmouse  1
Bushtit  10
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
American Robin  1
Cedar Waxwing  31
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1
Fox Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  3
White-crowned Sparrow  4
Golden-crowned Sparrow  2
California Towhee  4
House Finch  1
Lesser Goldfinch  5
House Sparrows 5

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 18, 2017

Desert Wildflower Updates 2/18/17

DesertUSA had many wildflower updates today.

We got some rain in the deserts, and the outlook remains very good for the 2017 wildflower season. Results should start showing in a few weeks.


Mexican Poppies below Eagle Rock on the Superstition Foothills trail system. See photos at

Estes Canyon–Bull Pasture loop trail in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument when we spotted the poppy and the purple flower in bloom. Rain is forecast for this weekend. Brittle bush is just starting to flower. See photos at

Catalina State Park reports: We the first Mexican gold poppies of the spring wildflower season!

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum reports: Our cactus garden is full of these bloomin’ beauties! The Chihuahuan Snowball cactus (Thelocactus macdowellii) produces a beautiful and vibrant pink flower. Make sure to come visit this weekend to catch a glimpse of these prickly and precious plants!

 Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument reports: We are spotting Mexican Gold Poppies, Fairy Dusters, and Brittlebush blossoms, to name a few!

Saguaro National Park reports: Fairy dusters have started to bloom! There are two types of Fairy Dusters but, the native species’s bloom go from white to red. This woody short shrub can be found at both districts of the park. Since the West district is at a lower elevation, most flowers like the Fairy Duster will bloom earlier there and at a later time over at the East district.


Joshua Tree NP reports: Rain is in the forecast for this weekend which means some dirt roads in the park may be temporarily closed soon. Park maintenance crews close park roads when conditions are unsafe for vehicles to pass and to protect the road surface. Bypassing closures may cause damage to road, costing thousands of dollars and lots of time to repair.

Shooting star at vernal pools trail at the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve 02/15/2017. See photo at


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 18, 2017

Death Valley Wildflowers 2/18/17

Death Valley National Park reports on its Facebook page

Although we are not planning on a wildflower bloom similar to last year, there are still flowers to be found! This Desert Sand Verbena was discovered near the Ibex sand dunes, in the southeast part of the park.

See photo at :  Death Valley National Park

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 17, 2017

Anza-Borrego Wildflowers 2/17/17

Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association has the following report from Ocotillo Wells SVRA 

Beware of our blooming bonanza at the base of East Butte! Two of our featured wildflowers this week are relatives in the nightshade family, which contains fruits ranging from deliciously edible to poisonous to hallucinogenic. The yellow blooms of desert ground cherry (Physalis crassifolia) will eventually form tomatillo-like green fruits. Annual desert tobacco (Nicotiana obtusifolia) spreads like crazy in washes and disturbed areas. 

Desert lilies are starting to bloom!  The one below was spotted near the intersection of Pole Line and Gas Domes Trail. Thanks to Mardee for being our alert bloom spotter this week! Several other flowers currently in bloom include: Popcorn Flower, Phacelia, White Rhatany, Dyeweed (shown below) , Brown-Eyed Primrose, Little Gold Poppy, and even our Palo Verdes. Join us for drop-in wildflower walks this coming Friday through Monday at our Discovery Center from 9am-noon and 1-4pm. You can join our Naturalist for a short walk, or just get directions to the best places to see flowers in the area. See you there!

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 17, 2017

Word Of The Day: Bombogenesis

A rapidly intensifying storm, which meteorologists describe with the fancy term “bombogenesis,” is developing in the Pacific and forecast to hit the state Friday night.

The process of bombogenesis occurs when a low pressure storm system intensifies rapidly, or “bombs out.” To qualify, the minimum central air pressure must drop 24 millibars in 24 hours.

The LA Times reports

Southwest California is expected to get drenched Friday with the strongest storm it has seen in several years. “The after

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 17, 2017

Anza-Borrego Wildflowers 2/15/17

Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association has two new reports for Feb. 15

February 15, 2017  Carrizo West Fork Palms – Hiking Details
We’ve never been in this Carrizo canyon fork, when there was any bloom, so it was time to correct this.
Glad we did, again the Carrizo canyon is good, with many interesting flowers we’ve been missing for a long time. And the Bigelow’s monkey flower, Mimulus bigelovii bigelovii, generally only with one flower, are amazingly big for the desert.

(please note this is Carrizo in Anza- Borrego Desert State Park NOT Carrizo Plain National Monument)

Gloriieta Canyon – Hiking Details
We noticed flowers posted from Glorietta canyon, so we changed our plans, go where the flowers are.
Within 10 minutes we found over 30 blooming plants, that’s very good.
By far the biggest plants and best bloom is from where the road enters the wash up to the end of the road.
Further on along our route we added flowers gradually.  A good number of Rockcrosoma where in bloom, the lotebush smell was very strong and pleasant, finding the snapdragon in bloom made our day. The canyon entrance is close to prime bloom but the surrounding area is still a couple of weeks behind.  Finally we got the best bloom of this season.  With the expected rain we should have prime bloom in the low desert between the end of February and the middle of March.

See photos at Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers Update

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 17, 2017

Marin County Wildflowers: Mt. Burdell 2/16/17

The Marin CNPS Facebook page reports at Mt. Burdell plants in bloom include Poppies, Peppergrass, Water Buttercup, Sun Cups, Cream Cups and Mimulus douglasii. See photos at Mount Burdell 2/16/17.


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 17, 2017

Texas Wildflower Predictions

Gary Regner Photography reports on February 17, 2017 –

Trees Blooming –After a strong El Nino in 2016, climate scientists declared a La Nina. Now apparently, the very short lived La Nina is over and neutral conditions exist. What does that mean for spring wildflowers? Who knows. What does matter is that there has been good rainfall during the fall that has continued all through winter. In central Texas we’ve seen a roller coaster of temperatures, from the coldest temperatures seen in years, to multiple record highs in the 80’s. These warmer temperatures have caused trees to bloom early, the earliest I’ve seen since 2012. Mountain laurels have been blooming for a week or more, and redbuds have begun this week. This usually means we are a month or less from a significant annual wildflower bloom. I am very optimistic about the prospects for an average to above average bloom this year.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 17, 2017

Congress Advances Legislation To Kill Wolves, Bears In Alaska

Center for Biological Diversity News Release

Congress Advances Legislation to Kill Wolves, Bears in Alaska

Bill Would Repeal Protections on National Wildlife Refuges

WASHINGTON— The House of Representatives today used the Congressional Review Act to strip away protections implemented during the Obama administration for wolves, bears and other predators on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. By eliminating these protections, the House measure greenlights killing wolves and their pups in their dens and allows bears to be gunned down at bait stations.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 16, 2017

Southern California Wildflower Reports 2/16/17

DesertUSA has the following new wildflower reports today

Chino Hills State Park. There are quite a few patches of blooming poppy, Beautiful! From Chino Hill gate, go along the paved road, when you see the 2 hydro towers, walk up toward the two hydro towers on the right hand side, when you walk up the hill, turn left towards the hydro tower, continue to go, until you see a bush of trees
See photos at :

Carrizo Plain National Monument has received a good amount of rain this year and that should result in a good wildflower season. Look for wildflowers in early March

Anza-Borrego The parks may be getting more rain this weekend, and everything is already very green. The wildflowers have started but, it’s still early. Below are some of the pictures we got this week; we have a 4wd vehicle so some are in remote locations. The ones along Coyote Creek Rd are easy to reach and can be seen without 4wd. Wildflowers can be found in the first two miles of the dirt road. Not much along Henderson Canyon Rd yet.

Joshua Tree A few wildflowers are starting to show at the south entrance of the park, rain is in the forecast for the weekend.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 16, 2017

Fresno Blossom Trail 2/14/17

Blossom Trail Update reports on the Fresno Blossom trail on Feb. 14

Buds have been spotted on the trees (see Pictures section), should see blooms starting on the trail in 5-7 days (weather permitting).

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 16, 2017

African Penguins  ‘Trapped’ By Climate Change

The LA Times reports

Climate change and overfishing off Africa’s southern tip have set a “trap” for endangered African penguins leaving their nests.

The young penguins swim thousands of miles from where they hatched, following biological signposts advertising a buffet of anchovies and sardines. What they don’t realize is the buffet seems to have closed.

Read full story at African penguins are being ‘trapped’ by climate change – LA Times

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 15, 2017

Henry Coe Wildflower Update 2/15/17

Henry Coe State Park has a new wildflower bloom report  for February 15, 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 | February 15, 2017

Antelope Valley Poppies May Be Moderate But Other Flowers May Surprise

The LA Times  has a story today about what type of wildflower season might be happening this year at Antelope Valley. Although the poppies might only be moderate this year, there is a chance of a good bloom of Goldfields and Blue Dicks. Read full story at Antelope Valley poppy blooms expected to be moderate, but ‘surprise’ wildflowers may save the day – LA Times

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 15, 2017

Reminder The Great Backyard Bird Count Starts Friday

The GBBC is February 17-20, 2017.For more information on the count and participate go to: GBBC eNews: Last-Minute Checks for the Count, Starting Friday!

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 15, 2017

Horsetail Falls at Yosemite

from the US Department of Interior Twitter Feed

Every February a rare phenomenon makes Horsetail Fall glow like fire. Pic from Saturday by Ray Lee

A waterfall glows orange down the side of a granite formation
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 14, 2017

Anza-Borrego Wildflowers 2/11/17

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park  published a wildflower report dated February 11, 2017

Good rains in December and January have annual plants growing in the flower fields north of town, and along trails in western canyons. Desert lily plants are budding in many locations, including the badlands, and at the end of Di Giorgio Road, just beyond the end of the pavement. Most are not blooming just yet, but when they do, they are beautiful and fragrant!

So far, cool weather is allowing the ground to stay moist, and plants are continuing to grow. Sunflowers in the “Flower Fields” along Henderson Canyon Road are not yet budding, so give them a few more weeks to develop.

Spectacle-pod is starting at the north end of Di Giorgio Road. Extensive, deep mud should discourage even four-wheel-drive vehicles from driving into Coyote Canyon, but patches of sand verbena and dune evening primrose await those willing to walk a half-mile or so up the dirt road.

Poppies, phacelia, and brittlebush are just beginning to bloom at the Visitor Center, where cryptantha has been in bloom for a couple of weeks.

It’s hard to predict a peak, but we should start to see lots of flowers toward the end of February. If temperatures this month continue to be mild, flowers should persist into the first half of March, at least. Of course, another rain shower or two might extend the blooming period, so our fingers are crossed!

For updates, join Anza-Borrego Foundation’s email list at or call the State Park Wildflower Hotline, 760-767-4684.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 14, 2017

Saguaro National Park Wildflowers 2/14/17

Feb 14, 2017 Saguaro National Park reports: Jojoba’s beautiful little yellow flowers grace us with their presence. These yellow flowers signify that this specfic jojoba is male and a female jojoba will produce the acorn shape nut. These upright leafed shrubs can be found all around the park (there is one blooming right outside the Red Hills Visitor Center)

Source: Desert Wildflowers Tucson – Southern AZ – DesertUSA

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 14, 2017

Lake Elsinore Poppy Bloom 2/14/17

DesertUSA reports there is a good poppy bloom at Lake Elsinore on the north side of Railroad Canyon Rd. See photos at Desert Wildflower Reports for Southern California by DesertUSA

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 14, 2017

Birding Landfills 

The New York Times recently ran a story about what most experienced birders know – that landfills are rich birding sites. Read the story and learn about some of the better birding landfills across the country at A Birder’s Heaven: Just Follow the Stench to the Landfill

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 14, 2017

Marin County Wildflowers Homestead Valley Land Trust 2/14/17

Homestead Valley Land Trust reports

– Blue dicks, a soft blue cluster at the end of a long stem is bobbing blue on the way to Homestead Hill. There are many patches of it yet to bloom on the ridge trail and down in the brighter places along the Homestead Trail.
– Spring gold, a bright yellow low cluster, is blooming just down the face of the Ridgewood Rock. We can look forward to lots more as the blooms come where it carpets the lower part of the rock.
– Woodland strawberry is common at the forest edges where it is starting to bloom.
– Wood sweet cicely is abundant along all the woodland paths. Its small white blooms are appearing now. Once it goes to seed, the tender pods make a delicious trail snack.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 14, 2017

Santa Barbara Area Wildflowers

The Santa Barbara Independent has a story on best places to catch wildflowers in the Santa Barbara are. The mention Anacapa Island, Guadalupe Dunes, And Figueroa Mountain.

Read Story at  Where to Catch the Best Wildflowers

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 13, 2017

Antelope Valley Wildflower Update 2/13/17


Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve SNR reports

As of February 13th, the hills are greening up but no flower buds have been seen yet. Because the rains started late and then came on heavily, it wasn’t the optimal precipitation pattern for poppies so we’re expecting a moderate poppy bloom. Their shallower roots from late germination will also be more vulnerable to late freezes and early heat waves. However, we might be getting a good show of some rarely seen flowers that need heavy rains. If all goes well, we can expect the bloom to start in early to mid-March and last until mid-April or later.

 Current Photos

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 13, 2017

Photographing  Owls 

Audubon Magazine has a recent article on how to successfully photograph owls including how to find them, techniques, tips and equipment. Read story at  How to Find and Photograph Owls — Bird Photography| Audubon

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 12, 2017

Death Valley Wildflowers 2/12/17

Death Valley National Park reported on its Facebook page today

We are starting to see some wildflowers appear in the southern end of Death Valley. By Ibex Dunes we are seeing Desert Gold and then off of Harry Wade Road we are seeing some Primrose, Desert 5 Gold, Buckwheat, and several other species as well. We probably won’t have as big of super bloom like last year but these recent blooms are promising

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 12, 2017

The Billion-Bug Highway

Animated video by NPR on the billions of  insects in the sky Look Up! The Billion-Bug Highway You Can’t See – YouTube

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