Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 29, 2020

California Stat Park Updates

State Parks Safety Measures

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 29, 2020

San Francisco Advises Stay in Your Neighborhood

SF advising residents to exercise in own neighborhoods: AlertSF, a text-based notification system for San Francisco, is advising people: “Get fresh air, but please stay in your neighborhood. If you have to drive to a walk or hike, it’s too far.” The alert fits with the guidance being given by the state’s park system, which has closed access to vehicular traffic.

This is probably a good idea for everyone. It is quite possible we will see more areas making similar recommendations. I have been walking in and photographing local neighborhoods since “shelter in place” has started. I also will temporarily stop posting wildflower reports except local sightings as I don’t want to encourage people to travel.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 29, 2020

Albany Photos

Photos taken on a walk along several streets in Albany, California


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University of Turku News Release

Dragonflies Are Efficient Predators that Consume Hundreds of Thousands of Insects in a Small Area

A study led by the University of Turku has found that small, fiercely predatory damselflies catch and eat hundreds of thousands of insects during a single summer – in an area surrounding just a single pond. In terms of weight, this equates to a total prey mass of just under a kilo. Dragonflies mostly catch different kinds of midges, but also large numbers of other insects.

Who keeps numbers of insect in check during the summer? This has been debated for some time, but a clear answer has remained elusive, as it has been difficult to monitor the numbers consumed by different insect predators. A new study now sheds light on the role of dragonflies that occur in large numbers.

Even in just a small area, populations of matchstick-sized damselflies that whiz around, consume hundreds and thousands of insects. Although the numbers of prey species individuals hatching in the area is as much as one hundred times the quantities being consumed by the damselflies, the quantity consumed is nevertheless significant because there are many other predators also preying on the same prey species.

The results of the novel study were obtained by combining multiple scientific methods. The prey species of the dragonflies and their relative quantities were assessed by examining prey DNA extracted from the faeces of damselflies, using a method known as metabarcoding. Population estimates of dragonflies were also obtained.

We investigated the numbers of dragonflies by marking them with a series of numbers on their wings, releasing them and then catching them again. By comparing the numbers of marked and unmarked dragonflies caught, we were able to estimate the total number of individuals in the area. The numbers of insects consumed, meanwhile, were estimated by covering certain areas with tent-like hatching traps and counting how many insects accumulated in them over a particular surface area, explains Senior Researcher Kari Kaunisto from the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku, who led the study.

Chironomids Are Damselflies’ Favourite Food

Dragonflies are among the apex predators of the insect world and are considered to be responsible for regulating the numbers of many other insect species. During the period studied, the insect species consumed the most by the damselflies were different chironomids.

In the 12-hectare area we studied, the catch mass for the four species of dragonflies was about 900 grams, equivalent to about 700,000 medium-sized midges. This equated to around 1% of the total mass of the midge populations in the area. This amount should not, however, be disregarded, as damselflies are by no means the only predators of midges and other insects. The area we are studying has an enormous number of other predators, including twenty other species of dragonfly, as well as birds and bats, explains Docent of Molecular Ecology Eero Vesterinen from the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku, who was responsible for the project’s DNA analyses.

Dragonflies have always fascinated people, as they are impressive insects and effective predators. Dragonflies are also particularly at risk because they are apex predators in natural ecosystems.

In this study, we focused on four small but locally abundant damselfly species from among the 62 dragonfly species found in Finland, Vesterinen adds.

The species studied were the common blue damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum), the northern damselfly (Coenagrion hastulatum), the Irish damselfly (Coenagrion lunulatum), and the variable damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum).

New Information on Natural Food Web Functions

Understanding the functioning of the food webs is particularly important now, when natural diversity is diminishing at an accelerating rate.

For the first time, our study examined the intensity of insect hunting in relation to the total number of insects being preyed on. The collapse of insect populations reduces the amount of food available to dragonflies, but it has not been possible to assess the impacts of predation by dragonflies without this accurate information on food chains, says Kaunisto.

Professor Tomas Roslin from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, who participated in the study, is really excited about the new approach and the interesting results of the study.

By combining several methods, the research reveals the overall impact of predation in nature. We succeeded in revealing both the wide range of insects preyed on by dragonflies and the significance of predation in relation to both individual prey species as well as the community as a whole, Roslin exclaims.

The research has just been published in the prestigious international Journal of Animal Ecology: Kaunisto K M, Roslin T, Forbes M R, Morrill A, Sääksjärvi I E, Puisto A I E, Lilley T M, Vesterinen E J. Threats from the air: damselfly predation on diverse prey taxa.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 28, 2020

More Bay Area Park Closures

San Mateo County Parks announced Friday evening that it’s closing all parks as of 6 p.m. today in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Source: San Mateo County closes parks to prevent COVID-19 spread – SFGate

San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department announced Thursday night that parking lots at the Marina Green, Ocean Beach and the Beach Chalet are closing.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 28, 2020

Live Free Garden Tour Today and Tomorrow

Theodore Paynes is streaming a free on-line garden tour today and tomorrow.

A two-day self-guided, online journey through 42 of the most beautiful and inspiring private and public landscapes in Los Angeles County.

Here is the link to general information about their Tour:
Here is their link for how to use Zoom:

Source: Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 28, 2020

 Will planting millions of trees really save the planet? 

The BBC reports on how planting trees can impact climate change at  Climate change: Will planting millions of trees really save the planet? – BBC News

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 27, 2020

Today’s Berkeley Photos

Photos from the North Berkeley flatlands taken today.

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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 27, 2020

Court Rules Fracking OK on Federal Land

Some more bad news. A federal judge today upheld the Trump administration’s decision to repeal an Obama-era rule that established standards for hydraulic fracking on federal land.

The Washington Post reports

Thousands are crowding into free national parks. And workers are terrified of coronavirus.

A park ranger at Grand Canyon National Park had 600 close contacts with visitors in a single day, greatly increasing his exposure to infection, according to a staff member at the attraction.

Read story at  Visitors are rushing to national parks amid employees’ concerns about coronavirus. – The Washington Post

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 27, 2020

Shelter-in-Place Birding 

Golden Gate Audubon a recent blog post by David Rice, author of Why We Bird Shelter-in-Place Birding – Golden Gate Audubon Society

Also check out the post May Your Shelter In Place Lift Up Your Birding Spirits – Golden Gate Audubon Society

I encourage you to feed your backyard birds. Birding your yard and neighborhood are vastly underrated and can be very rewarding. It is a chance to learn more about the behavior of your local birds. Here is an old article from Natural History Wandering from December 13, 2014 about Backyard Birding. Backyard Birding, Feeding & Safety

The Sierra Club Article Hope Is Also the Thing With Feathersis another resource with Four digital ways to learn about birds and connect with birders.

In North America, migratory birds are starting their journeys north to summer nesting and breeding grounds. But even if you’re quarantined, you can get your bird fix.


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 26, 2020

Petrified Forest is temporarily closed as of 3/24/2020

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 26, 2020

Homestead Valley Land Trust Wildflowers 3/25/2020

Homestead Valley has a new wildflower update. See photos and maps at March 25, 2020

– Fringe cups is blooming beside the creek by 435 Laverne.
– Pacific bleeding heart is blooming with heart-shaped pink flowers below the redwood tree visible from Laverne to the left of the creek at 435.
– Wild rose is blooming pink in the forest of the Ridgewood Rock.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 26, 2020

San Francisco Bay Osprey Camera

Golden Gate Audubon’s webcam for the Osprey nest in Richmond is up and running at | San Francisco Bay Osprey Camera / Brought to you by Golden Gate Audubon Society

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 25, 2020

Marin Parks Clarify Park Closure Policy

Marin County clarifies parks closure: Outdoor recreation areas including parks, open spaces and campgrounds in Marin County are closed to motorized access, but people can still access those areas by foot, bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle, county health officials clarified Tuesday. People with physical limitations or who live up steep hills can still access park facilities by motorized means “to the minimum extent necessary to engage in essential activities.” All visitors are told to follow social distancing requirements.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 25, 2020

More Berkeley Neighborhood Photos

Photos taken yesterday while doing a neighborhood walk as part of “Sheltering in Place”

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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 25, 2020

East Bay Regional Parks Closures

  • The East Bay Regional Park District has announced park area closures to limit overcrowding and public safety. This past weekend, the Park District saw more people in parks than on a busy holiday.
    Ways the public can help keep parks open include:
    • Maintain a 6-foot distance from other people
    • No picnicking, groups, gatherings, or meetups (only immediate households should be together)
    • Pack-in, pack-out trash, including dog poop bags (there is no trash collection during COVID-19)
    The list below of parks, developed park areas, parking lots, and entrance points will be closed beginning Friday, March 27, 2020, through Thursday, April 30, 2020. For up-to-date closure info visit
    All picnic areas, restrooms, water fountains, swim facilities/areas, playgrounds, campgrounds, group campsites, backcountry campsites, sports fields, kiosks, and reservable facilities are closed through Thursday, April 30, 2020.
    • Black Diamond Mines – Upper Parking Lot Closed (Parking available at Sidney Flat)
    • Castle Rock Recreation Area Closed
    • Contra Loma Closed (Trails Open from Frederickson Lane)
    • Crown Beach – Otis Parking Lot Closed (Walk-In Access Only)
    • Del Valle Closed (Trail Access from Arroyo Staging Area Only)
    • Diablo Foothills Closed (Limited Parking for Trail Access)
    • Garin/Dry Creek – Meyer’s Garden Closed
    • Point Isabel – Main Parking Area Closed (Walk-In Access Only)
    • Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park – Redwood Road Gate Closed
    • Piedmont Stables (Boarders Allowed to Care for Horses)
    • Roberts Regional Recreation Main Park Area Closed (Walk-In Access Only)
    • Shadow Cliffs Closed (Walk-In Access Only)
    • Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve – Tunnel Road Entrance Closed (All Other Access Points Open)
    • Sunol Regional Wilderness Closed
    • Tilden Botanic Garden – Garden Closed
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 25, 2020

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are closed

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced today

Effective immediately, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are closed to all park visitors until further notice. California Highway 180 will remain open for pass-through traffic to access Giant Sequoia National Monument and private property. All other roads and parking facilities are temporarily closed.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners is our number one priority. The National Park Service is working servicewide with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels @SequoiaKingsNPS.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 25, 2020

Shelter-in-Place Birding 

Golden Gate Audubon a recent blog post by David Rice, author of Why We Bird Shelter-in-Place Birding – Golden Gate Audubon Society

Also check out the post May Your Shelter In Place Lift Up Your Birding Spirits – Golden Gate Audubon Society

I encourage you to feed your backyard birds. Birding your yard and neighborhood are vastly underrated and can be very rewarding. It is a chance to learn more about the behavior of your local birds. Here is an old article from Natural History Wandering from December 13, 2014 about Backyard Birding. Backyard Birding, Feeding & Safety

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 25, 2020

How To Be Safe Outdoors During A Pandemic

Sierra Magazine  writes the Natural Stress Relief.of being outdoors safely during the pandemic

Spring is here—flowers are blooming, birds are singing. Yet the pandemic has forced millions of us to shelter indoors for the greater good. If done responsibly, getting outside can help us relieve the stress of social distancing and even stay healthy.

Read article at Sierra magazine’s Jason Mark on a way to “stay safely apart yet still be together.”

NPR reports

Those eager to retreat into the wilderness amid the coronavirus pandemic were delivered disappointing news on Tuesday: three major national parks are now closed to visitors.

Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the Great Smoky Mountains have shut their gates to the public.

Park officials said a crush of visitors moving through the trails was beginning to run afoul of social distancing.

Read more at  Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Great Smoky Mountains Close Over Coronavirus Fears : Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR

Wildflowers report from Daniel in Sacramento

Electra Road Jackson CA and the New Melones Lake Area Wildflowers

Daniel reports: I started the day by first going to Electra Road in Jackson CA and was surprised to see a decent amount of poppies but mostly up on the hillside. The flowers were mostly closed due to the overcast weather but there appears to be a good amount of small poppies in the process of growing out. The view should be better in 1 or 2 weeks. There was a decent amount of patches for the first 2 miles up until the first bathroom. After that there are a few more spots with the last potential good area forming just past the dam. During the super bloom years the grass just took over most of this area. This year’s bloom has the potential to be better than the decent bloom I saw for this spot in 2018. There are also a couple of pullouts on Highway 49 just north of Electra Road where you could stop briefly to see the poppies in the distance up on the hillsides. A reminder that Electra is a narrow paved road that has a lot of small pot holes traveling parallel to the Mokelumne River.

Normally I would combine this trip to Electra Road with a visit to Daffodil Hill, or to the nearby wineries, or the seafood lobster buffet at Jackson Rancheria Casino which are all currently closed. So I decided to try a new wildflowers hiking location further south.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 24, 2020

Doing Photography In The Neighborhood

If you are frustrated about the limits of where you can go since “shelter in place” began and trips have been cancelled and all your spring photography plans have dissolved you might want to check out this post by Michael Frye. He has simple tips for keeping your photography eye sharp while you’re stuck in your house and limited to nearby walks or hikes  at How to Keep Your Photography Eye Sharp While Stuck at Home : Michael Frye Photography

His post motivated me to walk around my neighborhood with a camera and see what caught my eye. Here is some of what I found.

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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 24, 2020

Major Victory for Alaska’s Majestic Trees and for the Climate

EarthJustice reports

Protecting trees, particularly old-growth trees in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, is a win for local communities and for the climate.

On March 11, a federal judge ruled in our favor, finding that the U.S. Forest Service had violated NEPA, and other environmental laws, when it approved the enormous Prince of Wales timber sale. It’s not yet clear whether the Forest Service will have to abandon the project entirely, because the judge has not decided on a legal remedy.

Read more at Major Victory for Alaska’s Majestic Trees and for the Climate | Earthjustice

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 23, 2020

Marin County Parks Updates 

All Marin County Parks locations are under restrictions, to comply with the Marin County public health order released on March 22, 2020. The order was issued when popular beaches and trailheads in Marin became dangerously overcrowded.

Marin County’s public health officer is asking people not to drive to beaches, open space, or parks outside their neighborhoods. Avoid places where groups are gathering. Community members may walk or bike to nearby preserves, parks, and pathways that are open. View the updated location list.

The purpose of the public health order is to help keep the most vulnerable members of the Marin community safe from the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). To do this we all need to:

  • Remain home as much as possible.
  • Stay local for outdoor exercise.
  • Don’t drive, except for essential travel. Walk or bike.
  • Maintain 6 feet of distance from anyone outside your household.
  • Practice personal hygiene.
Marin County Parks remains committed to preserving and protecting the natural resources of Marin. Even under these unprecedented circumstances, we encourage you to take time to enjoy the nearby nature that surrounds you. Thank you for your patience and community collaboration as we support efforts to slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Visit for updates.
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 23, 2020

2020 Audubon Photography Contest

If you are at home going through your bird photos you might want to enter them in  Audubon’s 2020 Photography Awards Contest

Entry Period: began on Monday, January 13, 2020 at 12 p.m. (noon) Eastern Standard Time (EST), and ends on Monday, April 06, 2020 at 12 p.m. (noon) Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (the “Contest Entry Period”).

Read more  about rules and how to submit photos at 2020 Audubon Photography Awards 

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 23, 2020

No Permit Needed for EBMUD Trails

Recreation Area Restrictions

EBMUD has nearly 90 miles of watershed trails that traverse the region that remain open to the public. To enable our community to enjoy the outdoors safely during this difficult time, we encourage the use of our watershed trails.

From March 19 through April 30, 2020, EBMUD is temporarily suspending the requirement that trail users obtain a permit for the following watershed trails. The public may use these trails without a permit, as long as the rules and regulations are followed. EBMUD requests that trail users practice social distancing.

North Watershed trails (Orinda/El Sobrante)
• Pinole Valley Multi-use (bikes OK)
• Pinole Ridge
• Old San Pablo
• Eagle’s Nest (bikes OK)
• Inspiration
• Orinda Connector
• Hampton (leashed dogs OK)
• Oursan (leashed dogs OK)
• Bear Creek
• De La Veaga
• Skyline

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 23, 2020

Get outside (but keep your distance!) at L.A.’s hidden marsh

Madrona Marsh Preserve is an outdoor option in the LA area while sheltering in place: Get outside (but keep your distance!) at L.A.’s hidden marsh

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 23, 2020

Loving the Parks — from a Distance

National Parks Conservation Association has a website that shows 8 ways to enjoy the places you care about from the safety of your home.

As millions of Americans grapple with the developing COVID-19 pandemic, housebound park lovers are missing the world outside their living rooms and longing to explore.

NPCA encourages potential visitors to heed the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and to take precautions during the public health crisis to stem the spread of the virus, including avoiding parks when conditions could be unsafe.

Read more to see information about 8 ways to enjoy the outdoors virtually at  Loving the Parks — from a Distance · National Parks Conservation Association

The San Francisco Chronicle reports

One day after scolding the public for packing its beaches and parks despite a statewide shelter-in-place order due to the coronavirus pandemic, Marin County on Sunday announced it was closing all of its parks.

The immediate closure affects over 18,000 acres in federal, state and local parks. They include Point Reyes National Seashore, Mount Tamalpais State Park, Muir Woods National Monument, Stinson Beach and Point Bonita Lighthouse.

Read more at  Marin County closes all of its parks in response to massive crowds despite pandemic – SFGate

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