Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 23, 2016

Mono County Wildflowers 7/22/16

Yesterday afternoon was a drive out highway 120 east of 395 this is an area that is rarely explored but has some interesting finds. We especially hope to find fields Skunky Monkeyflowers.
At corner of 120 and 395  there were
Eriogonum spergulinum
Eriogonum umbellatum
Ericameria nauseosa
Lupine sp.
Skeleton Plant/Stephanomeria spinosa
Heavenly Blue or Blue Mantle/ Eriastrum densifolium
A morning glory
Artemesia tridentada
Along the road we passed Blazing Star and Prickly Poppy.
We did see some Skunky Monkeyflower/Mimulus mephiticus, Mono Lake Lupine/Lupinus duranii  and a yellow composite. However the Skunky Monkeyflower didn’t appear in great numbers until we passed through the Jefferey Pine Forest. At 7.6 miles east of the turnoff for the Mono Lake South Tufa there were abundant displays of the small, pink Skunky Monkeyflower with Mono Lake Lupine, Eriogonum spergulinum  and a few yellow composites mixed in. The area is between a 35 MPH curve sign and cattle crossing sign.


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 23, 2016

Birding Mono Lake County Park 7/22/16

Yesterday morning  birdwalk in Mono Lake County Park led by Sandra Noll and Erv Nicols,  with the Mono Lake Committee.   They were very knowledgeable and excellent leaders. The Mono Lake Committee has birdwalks every Friday and Sunday  at Mono Lake County Park at 8 am.
It was sunny and clear with little wind.  The habitat included desert scrub, riparian and salt lake. 20 bird species were seen.The highlight was seeing an Osprey nest with three chicks and the pair of adults.
Butterflies included Lorquin’s Admiral, Checkered White, and Mourning Cloak. Other animals were deer, gopher snake and  cottontail rabbit. Click read more to see bird list.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 23, 2016

Monarch Butterflies Use a Magnetic Compass To Navigate

ScienceDaily reported on a study that found monarch have an internal compass system that they use to navigate during migration. They reported

Scientists have identified a new component of the complex navigational system that allows monarch butterflies to transverse the 2,000 miles to their overwintering habitat each year. Monarchs use a light-dependent, inclination magnetic compass to help them orient southward during migration.

To learn more read the full article at:   Monarch butterflies employ a magnetic compass during migration — ScienceDaily.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 22, 2016

Should We Collect Animals For Science

NPR has a story that raises the issue of Is Collecting Animals For Science A Noble Mission Or A Threat?

Collecting animals for science has been a standard practice for some time. Scientists want to study all the places species have been collected and paleontologists study fossils to reconstruct evolutionary patterns, researchers may use the specimens to study what a bird ate, or whether it was sick, or if it was exposed to a toxin.

However it is possible that collecting species that have small or isolated populations may pose a serious threat. A recent article in the Journal Science raised just that issue

It warned that scientific collection has the potential to hurt animal populations that are small and isolated. The article also asserted that “collecting specimens is no longer required to describe a species or to document its rediscovery.”

Read more at Is Collecting Animals For Science A Noble Mission Or A Threat? : NPR.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 21, 2016

Birds Use Experience To Build Nests

Audublog reported on research at the  University of Edinburgh that found birds rely on experience when building nests. This contradicts the earlier thought that nest-building was passed down genetically. The research was with Zebra Finches and found the birds used physical cognition of building materials when nest-building. Read more at Do birds rely on experience when building nests?.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 20, 2016

McGee Creek Wildflowers 7/20/16

McGee Creek in the Eastern Sierra Nevada has scenic high desert landscapes that. are looking good with lots of Rabbitbrush and Sulphur Buckwheat. The area is very dry and most flowers are past peak. There are still some late bloomers and the last few flowers of some of the earlier ones. The following resources were helpful in identifying flowers:


McGee Creek Plant List from the Bristlecone Chapter of the California Native Plants Society (available at the Chapter Website)

Eastern Sierra Wildflower Hotspots Booklet (available at visitor centers)

Wildflower Hot Spots of the Eastern Sierra And Wildflowers of the Eastern Sierra and adjourning Mojave Desert and Great Basin by Laird Blackwell.


Click Read More to see today's Plant List

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 20, 2016

Massive Effort To Save Amazon Failing

The Washington Post reports

In recent years, scientists have identified numerous other threats to the region — which spans across eight countries — including damming and mining. And now, a new study is calling attention to yet another way human activity can harm the forest and its inhabitants. Published Wednesday in the journal Nature, the new paper explores the effect of other human disturbances, besides deforestation, on the Amazon’s biodiversity — including selective logging (which typically targets specific types of trees while leaving the rest of the forest intact), wildfires, hunting, altering or fragmenting the landscape, and other forms of habitat degradation.

Read full story at Massive effort to save the Amazon is failing even in ‘protected’ areas – The Washington Post

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 19, 2016

Bishop Creek Wildflowers 7/19/16

Today was exploring wildflowers along Bishop Creek in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. We drove from 395 to South Lake (approx. 22 miles). The Wildflowers don't start to appear until about 11 miles and the best flowers along the road were during the last few miles.

The highlight was a very short hike we did through a wildflower “garden”, which was a short spur to left of the main trail just above the parking area. This was probably the most flowery area we have seen during this trip. There were lots of Kelley's Lily, Monkshood, Red Paintbrush, Western Columbine, Sierra Rein-Orchid, Arrow-leafed Groundsel, and Ranger Buttons. Other flowers in this area included Green Rein Orchid, Fireweed, Single-stemmed Groundsel, Goldenrod, Slender Cinquefoil, Grass-of-Parnassus and Swamp Onion. The Lupine and Shooting Stars were pretty much finished.

The Bishop Creek Checklist (annotated) booklet by Jack and Pat Crother was very helpful with plant ID's. Click read more to see a detailed plant list from today.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 19, 2016

Carson Pass Wildflowers

Calphoto has a new wildflower report for Carson Pass

We visited the Carson Pass area this past weekend and the wildflowers are going strong. I was able to identify around 45 different kinds, and I missed quite a few of them, especially all the white ones that I can never remember. The variety in that area is just amazing, and I'm not sure if it's because of the type of soil, rainfall amounts, or what it is about this area that makes it so outstanding. I think the peak will be next week, and I would recommend a visit.


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 19, 2016

How The Frigatebird Can Soar For Weeks Without Stopping

NPR reports

A new study has found that frigatebirds, sea-going flyers with a 6-foot wingspan, can stay aloft for weeks at a time. The results paint an astonishing picture of the bird’s life, much of which is spent soaring inside the clouds.

Read full story at  Nonstop Flight: How The Frigatebird Can Soar For Weeks Without Stopping : The Two-Way : NPR

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 19, 2016

Rock Creek Wildflowers 7/18/16

There are some outstanding roadside flowers on the road up to Rock Creek. The best flowers start around 8500 feet elevation. There is are area with Kelley's Lilies, maybe 100's, along the road to Rock Creek Trailhead at about 9570 feet, just after the sign that you are entering Inyo County. Same area saw Rein Orchids. Some things were drying up along Rock Creek trail in the meadows but still many flowers in bloom along the trail. Did find Alpine Gentians as well. If you plan to visit this area go soon.

Used Rock Creek Wildflowers book by Cathy Rose and Stephen Ingram. It was very helpful. Click read more to see detailed plant list.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 18, 2016

Sparrows With Unfaithful ‘Wives’ Care Less For Their Young

Science Daily reports

Sparrows form pair bonds that are normally monogamous, but many females are unfaithful to their partner and have offspring with other males. Biologists believe that the male birds are unfaithful to ensure they father as many chicks as they can, while females are unfaithful with males of better ‘genetic quality’ — ones that are fitter and could produce stronger offspring. But new research shows that cheating comes with a cost — the cheating female’s partner will provide less food for their nest of young.

Read full story at: Sparrows with unfaithful ‘wives’ care less for their young — ScienceDaily

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 17, 2016

White Mt. Wildflowers 7/17/16

We spent the entire day on White Mt. is in Inyo National Forest, which is east of Bishop, CA. We drove from highway 395 to Patriarch Grove. The best flowers were on the last 12 miles, which is the unpaved road between Schulman Grove, where the visitor center is, and the Patriarch Grove. All flowers were close to the road. Flowers are listed mainly from lowest to highest elevation with some exceptions. Click read more to see detailed plant list.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 17, 2016

Presentation On A Very Big California Year

A Very Big California Year – July 21 in San Francisco

Biologist Curtis Marantz spent 2014 crisscrossing California in an attempt to find as many species as possible during a one-year period. He ultimately broke the state record and found 485 – including every species that now breeds regularly in the state. At The July Golden Gate Audubon meeting Curtis will give an overview of how he set this new record, including stories about the birds seen (or missed!) while driving 40,000 miles in a single year. He’ll show photos of the more unusual species.

Date:     Thursday July 21

Time:    6:30 p.m. for refreshments, 7 p.m. for program

Place:    First Unitarian Universalist Church & Center

              1187 Franklin Street at Geary in San Francisco

Cost:      Free for GGAS members, $5 for non-members. 

For more info, see the GGAS web site.
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 16, 2016

Urban Birds Age Fast, Die Young

Conservation Magazine reports

Urban birds may age fast, die young

Urban life has its ups and downs, for birds no less than for people. On the one hand, birds in the city often have easy access to abundant food sources thanks to humans, but on the other they have to contend with stresses like air pollution, traffic noise, and artificial light.

Read full story at Urban birds may age fast, die young – Conservation

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 15, 2016

Yosemite High Country Wildflowers 7/15/16

Today I drove across the Yosemite high country on highway 120. Although Tuolumne Meadows was disappointing and Crane Flat had less flowers than I had hoped for there were many wildflowers in bloom and some nice gardens in a number of  spots along the road. Below is a list of some of what I saw.

Crane Flat – drier than expected. Many Coneflowers. Also saw a Checkermallow, Lupines, Yarrow, Yampah, Western Columbine, Forget-me-not and a couple of Lilies (Parvum?),Sticky Cinquefoil, Graceful Cinquefoil and Collomia. Also a  cooperative Monarch who I was able to photograph on Coneflowers.
At the pullover by the large Jeffrey Pine a few miles further along there were Pussypaws, Gayophytum, Slender Navararretia, Dusky Horkelia, Naked Buckwheat, Mustang Clover.
Flowers seen along the road, Lewis’s Monkeyflower, Western Columbine, Coyote Mint, Showy Penstemon, Mt. Pride, Red Paintbrush, Pretty Face Triteleia, Single-stemmed Groundsel, a Fleabane (Erigeron), Yampah, a Small Yellow Monkeyflower, a Dudleya, Naked Buckwheat, Scarlet Gilia, Large Leaf Lupine, Brewers Lupine, Mariposa Lily (Leichtlinii), a low White Buckwheat, Goldenrod, Bistort, Shooting Star, Labrador Tea, Spirea, Pond Lily, an Arnica, Shieldleaf, Creambush, White Buckwheat (not low), Lemmon’s Paintbrush, a small Astragalus, Showy Penstemon, Whorled Penstemon, Horsemint,Blue Elderberry,Sulphur Buckwheat, Purple Nightshade, Wallflower, Prickly Poppy, Evening Primrose (closed).


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 15, 2016

Antarctica Penguins At Risk From Climate Change

National Geographic: Images of Animals, Nature, and Cultures reports

Adélie penguins are one of two true Antarctic penguins, and they are threatened by a changing climate.

Read full story at Antarctica Could Lose Most of Its Penguins to Climate Change


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 14, 2016

Carson Pass Wildflower Walk 7/16/16

Carson Pass Information Station has a Wildflower Walk this Saturday July 16 9:30-11:00 Meet the Wildflowers of Carson Pass A docent led walk to identify some of wildflowers around Carson Pass. Sorry no dogs.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 14, 2016

San Francisco’s Urban Coyotes

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on a study of San Francisco’s urban coyote population

Amid the tension, experts don’t know exactly how many coyotes live in the city, and they don’t know much about their movements. That’s why, in May, Young launched the first comprehensive study of urban coyote behavior and ecology in San Francisco. The tagging and tracking program is part of an effort to educate the public about the creatures, which aren’t going away anytime soon.

Read full story at: Where do SF’s coyotes roam? Urban study tracks wild creatures – San Francisco Chronicle

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 14, 2016

Frogs Lift Three Times Their Weight With Their Tongues

The BBC reported on a study that found that frogs can pull up to three times their body weight with their tongues. Read more at: BBC News – Frogs tongue can lift three times own body weight.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 13, 2016

Mono County Wildflowers 7/12/16

Mono County Tourism – California’s Eastern Sierra has several recent posts showing wildflower bloom in a number of spots in the Sierra including Gaylor Lakes Yosemite, Virginia Creek and the Ansel Adams wilderness.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 13, 2016

Climate & Land Use Impace On Certain Species

Stanford News Release

Stanford research details ‘one-two punch’ of climate and land use changes on certain species

Study highlights that paying attention to current and future regional climate can help decision-makers expand agriculture in ways that minimize harm to, and maybe even benefit, particular at-risk species.

By Rob Jordan

Some species are luckier than others.

A new study shows the effects of deforestation and climate change are amplified into a one-two punch that pushes particularly vulnerable rainforest species towards extinction, while dry-climate species persist. The findings could help guide decisions about where land can be converted to agriculture while minimizing species losses.

A new study of more than 300 bird species in Costa Rica, including this rufous-tailed jacamar, found that when rainforests were cleared for agriculture, bird species that require wetter climates tended to die out, while dry-climate birds took their place. (Image credit: Daniel Karp)

“The current and future climate of a region must be considered when evaluating the impact of habitat conversion,” said lead author Luke Frishkoff, a Stanford biology doctoral student at the time of the research. “By paying attention to current and future regional climate, agricultural landscapes may be modified in practical ways to minimize harm to, and maybe even benefit, wildlife.”

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 12, 2016

Gary Giacomini Open Space Preserve Wildflowers 7/9/16

See a field report for the Gary Giacomini Open Space Preserve. It includes wildflowers currently blooming and photos at  at the Marin CNPS website at

CNPS Marin – Report on the July 9, 2016 Field Trip to the Gary Giacomini Open Space Preserve

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 12, 2016

Henry Coe Wildflower Update 7/11/16

Henry Coe State Park has a new wildflower bloom report  for July 11 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 | July 12, 2016

74% Decline Monarchs Overwintering In Coastal California

Xerces Society News Release

State of the Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Sites in California

New Report Documents a 74% Decline in the Number of Monarch Butterflies Overwintering in Coastal California

The Xerces Society prioritizes the top 50 monarch butterfly overwintering sites most in need of conservation

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.; Friday, July 8, 2016—A report released today by the Xerces Society shows a sharp two-decade decline in the number of monarchs which overwinter along the California coast and prioritizes the top 50 overwintering sites most in need of conservation and management attention.

State of the Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Sites in California provides an analysis of western monarch population trends. A comparison of the average number of butterflies overwintering in California during the periods 1997–2001 and 2010–2014 shows a decline of 74 percent, a figure that is comparable to declines documented at monarch overwintering sites in Mexico.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 11, 2016

Pt. Reyes Wildflowers: Muddy Hollow Trail

Wildflower Hikes and More has a new posting from a recent hike along Muddy Hollow at Pt. Reyes. It has a detailed description of the trail along with many photos and flower identifications at Muddy Hollow Trail at Point Reyes. Due to shade and coastal fog it still has many flowers in July.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 11, 2016

Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower Starts July 12, peaks July 38

EarthSky reports

Late July, 2016 – around July 28 or 29 – presents the nominal peak of the Delta Aquarid meteor shower, but this rambles along steadily from about July 12 to August 23 each year.

Read more at Delta Aquarid meteor shower ahead | Astronomy Essentials | EarthSky

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 10, 2016

Mt. Tam Wildflowers 7/10/16

See photos of Lilies now in bloom at the junction of Cataract and Mickey O’Brien trail junction on Mt. Tamalpais at Marin Native Plants.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 10, 2016

How Pollution Impacts Bees’ Feeding & Pollinating Abilities

ScienceDaily reports

Air pollutants interact with and break down plant-emitted scent molecules, which insect pollinators use to locate needed food, according to a team of researchers. The pollution-modified plant odors can confuse bees and, as a result, bees' foraging time increases and pollination efficiency decreases. This happens because the chemical interactions decrease both the scent molecules' life spans and the distances they travel.

Read full story at Bees' ability to forage decreases as air pollution increases — ScienceDaily

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 9, 2016

Mount Rainier Wildflowers 7/8/16

Mount Rainier National Park  reports

Currently Blooming – Updated July 8, 2016
At Paradise, early bloomers such as avalanche and glacier lilies are at prime bloom. Many flowers appearing in the lower meadows, which are estimated to be 2-3 weeks from peak bloom. Three or more weeks to reach full bloom for upper and east meadows in the Paradise area. At Sunrise, lilies and marsh marigold are in the meadows near Shadow Lake and the approach to Fremont Lookout is a good spot for blooming wildflowers. Please remember to stay on trails.

Wildflower Reports

  • Sunrise (7/7) – western spring beauty, valerian, magenta paintbrush, harsh paintbrush, glacier lily, avalanche lily, penstemon, speedwell, cinquefoil, buttercup, marsh marrigold, pasqueflower, pink heather, bracted lousewort, American bistort, broadleaf lupine, cascade aster, Lewis monkeyflower (White River), low and elegant jacob’s ladder, tall bluebells, mountain monkeyflower (Fremont), partridge foot, smooth mountain dandelion, spreading phlox, subalpine buckwheat, western columbine

  • Paradise (7/4) – valerian, paintbrush (particularly along roadway), glacier lily, avalanche lily, penstemon, speedwell, cinquefoil (Alta Vista trail), buttercup, marsh marigold, pasqueflower, pink heather, Jeffrey’s shooting star, bracted lousewort, western spring beauty

  • Carbon River (7/5) – foam flower, buttercup, pearly everlasting (early), thimbleberry, slender bog orchid, twin flower

  • Summerland Trail (6/28) – lupine, pussytoes, sandwort, bracted lousewort, penstemon

  • Fremont Trail (6/27) – cascade wallflower, Drummond’s anemone, king’s crown/roseroot, red columbine, small flowered penstemon, tall bluebells, lewis monkeyflower, yellow mountain heather, elegant Jacob’s ladder

  • Longmire to Paradise Road (moving up in elevation) (6/27) – tiger lily, cow parsnip, thimbleberry, goats beard, thistle, bear grass, yarrow, penstemon, rosy spirea, paintbrush, jeffrey’s shooting star, sitka valerian, bluebells, subalpine daisy

  • Longmire (6/22) – bunchberry, pipsissewa, foam flower, pinesap; (6/16) cow parsnip, lupine, coralroot, bog orchid, salal, common speedwell, candyflower, gnomeplant, starwort, curly dock, yarrow, fringecup, buttercup, wood sorrel, twin flower, tiny trumpet

See photos and more information on Mt. Rainier Wildflowers at Discover Wildflowers – Mount Rainier National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

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