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

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 1, 2017

Supermoon This Sunday December 3

Read about Supermoons and other special moons in the New York Times at 2017’s Supermoon and Other Moons That Are Super in Their Own Ways.

Supermoons mean very high tides, which create good bird viewing opportunities in marshy areas. The high tide often pushes birds such as rails and sofas out of their hiding places.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 1, 2017

Point Reyes Fungus Fair December 10, 2017

13th Annual Point Reyes Fungus Fair, Bear Valley Visitor Center
Sunday, December 10, 2017
10:00 am — 4:00 pm

Sponsored by the Bay Area Mycological Society and Point Reyes National Seashore

Join us for the 13th annual Point Reyes National Seashore Fungus Fair! Learn about the fungi of the Point Reyes National Seashore. See remarkable colors and shapes of wild mushrooms that were collected right in the park. Attend lectures, and learn about edible and poisonous mushrooms in the Bear Valley Visitor Center Auditorium.
Schedule of Speakers11:00 am Chemical Ecology of the Death Cap Mushroom, by Cat Adams

12:30 pm Introduction to Wild and Edible Mushrooms, by David Rust

2:00 pm Zen and the Art of Mushroom Hunting, by Debbie Viess

Debbie Viess presents an introduction to the joys of fungi. David Rust will list some of the “do’s” and many of the “don’ts” of edible mushrooms. We have a new speaker this year: Cat Adams presents a look at Death Cap mushrooms!

Download the 13th Annual Fungus Fair Flyer (PDF)

Amateur mycologists will be on hand to talk about mushrooms, and their role in the environment. See our beautiful Death Cap sculpture. Learn more about the Bay Area Mycological Society activities, scientific and educational mission.

Collect fungi for the fair on Saturday, December 9. Meet at the Bear Valley Visitor Center at 10:00 am. We’ll meet in front of the Bear Valley Visitor Center to organize. Be sure to bring a basket or bag, water, compass, knife, pencil/pen, and a lunch. Bring collections to the Red Barn starting at 1:00 pm for identification. No registration necessary; just show up before 10:00 am. Contact David Rust 510.468.5014 for more details. Park visitors and local residents are welcome to participate!

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 30, 2017

Fall Color At LA Arboretum 11/28/17

California Fall Color reports on LA Arboretum

Over recent years, California Fall Color has consistently received reports and photographs of autumn foliage from this arboretum between mid November and mid December, but it is early December when fall color there is most beautiful.

That is largely consistent among coastal arboretums and botanic gardens, including the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley, Descanso Gardens, Huntington Botanical Gardens, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Balboa Park Botanical Garden and Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden. Though, not all feature as broad a range of varieties with fall color.

At the LA County Arboretum, Frank McDonough, its Botanical Information Specialist and one of our perennial color spotters, will be leading a Fall Foliage Walking Tour of the LA County Arboretum on Saturday, Dec. 2. He worries, however, that this year’s fall color is “way late.” Warm temperatures and dry skies have kept the color from developing, as seen in his photos of cotoneaster and crepe myrtle.

Frank, who has recorded the beauty of autumn there for years, will be speaking about what triggers the change among the broad mix of foliage to be enjoyed at the LA County Arboretum, including: gingko biloba, fishtail gingko, Eastern white oak, horse chestnut, Japanese maple, Japanese lacquer trees, Daimyo oak, crepe myrtle, sweet gum (liquidambar), sour gum, red maple, Eastern redbud, American elm, Chinese tallow, Chinese parasol trees, Chinese pistache, birch, pomegranate, cotoneaster, California fan palm, tulip trees, sticks on fire, pin oak, Chinaberry, Jerusalem thorn, blaze maple, horned maple, California wild grape, flame leaf sumac and California fan palms.

So, as December arrives, peak color does as well, though this autumn it is late in appearing at the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens in Arcadia.

LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, Arcadia – Patchy


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 30, 2017

December 2017 Birding Field Field Trips

December Golden Gate Audubon Birding Field Trips

For information on above trips go to Golden Gate Audubon Field Trips

  • Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley Friday, December 1, 8:30 — 11:30 a.m.
  • Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley Saturday, December 2, 8:00 — 10:00 a.m.
  • Biking and Birding Marin Saturday, December 2, 9:30 a.m. — ~ noon
  • Las Gallinas Storage Pond, San Rafael Sunday, December 3, 8:00 — 11:00 a.m.
  • San Francisco Botanical Garden Sunday, December 3, 8:00 — 10:30 a.m.
  • Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont, Alameda County Friday, December 8, 8:30 a.m. – noon
  • Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco Sunday, December 10, 8:00 — 10:00 a.m.
    (Usually the Third Sunday bird walk, but this month the second Sunday)
  • Hilltop Lake Park, Richmond Wednesday, December 13, 2017, 9:00am-10:45 
  • Corona Heights, San Francisco Friday, December 15, 8 — 10 a.m.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland Wednesday December 20, 8:30 — 10:30 a.m.
  •  Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park, Oakland Wednesday, December 27, 9:30 a.m. – noon

For more Bay Area birding  field trips through out the Bay Area click on the Mt. Diablo Audubon Society Calendar 

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 29, 2017

Creating a Dark Sky Site in Idaho

NPR reports on the efforts of Stanley to become a Dark Sky Reserve.

Read story Idaho Dims The Lights For One Of The Best Night Skies Anywhere : NPR

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 28, 2017

It Is Elephant Seal Breeding Season At Point Reyes

The northern elephant seal breeding season is upon us. Two bull elephant seals arrived at Drakes Beach this week – the first bulls of the season! You can see them from the Elephant Seal Overlook. More adult elephant seals will be arriving in the coming weeks. The picture below shows one of the bulls on Drakes Beach (NPS Photo/Kristen Richardson). NMFS Permit No. 17152.

Learn more about elephant seals and where to view them in Point Reyes:

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 28, 2017

California Mushroom Foray January 19-21, 2017

The Bay Area Mycological Society announces

All California Club Foray 2018

January 19-21, 2018 | Albion, CA

Mushroomers from all over the West will be gathering for the eighth biannual All California Club Foray January 19-21, 2018 at the Albion Field Station in Mendocino County. Dr. Michael Beug, lead author of Ascomycete Fungi of North America, will be our mycologist. This event is geared to those with an interest in mushroom taxonomy, but is open to all serious self-motivated mushroomers from California mushroom clubs and all NAMA members. Registration is now open!

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 27, 2017

Another Blizzard Of Snowy Owls Could Be Coming

Audubon reports

Will this winter bring an irruption of the Arctic raptors to the continental U.S.? A few clues from up north have Project SNOWstorm predicting yes.

Read story at  Hold Onto Your Bins: Another Blizzard of Snowy Owls Could Be Coming

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 27, 2017

Public Gets More Time To Protest National Park Fee Hike

National Parks Conservation Association News Release

Public Gets More Time to Protest National Park Fee Hike

Administration extends public comment period by one month

WASHINGTON November 21, 2017 – The Trump Administration is extending its 30-day public comment period on its proposal to double or triple the entrance fees during peak visiting seasons at 17 national parks for another month. The fee proposal would increase fees as high as $70 at some of our most visited national parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Arches and Acadia.

The comment period, originally set to end on November 23rd, will now end on to December 22nd, according to the Park Service’s official comment page. The administration says the revenue generated from the increase will help pay for the Park Service’s $11.3 billion in needed park repairs, estimating the raised fees will generate $70 million per year. But that amount would address less than one percent of the backlog needs, and comes on the heels of the administration proposing the largest budget cut to the National Park Service since World War II.

Of additional concern, the administration’s rapid original 30-day comment period included no public hearings, leaving out the surrounding park communities that could see their economies suffer under higher entrance fees.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 26, 2017

Loss of Federal Protections May Imperil Pacific Reefs

The New York Times reports

Loss of Federal Protections May Imperil Pacific
Reefs, Scientists Warn
Fisheries officials call the marine national monuments
unnecessary, and their boundaries are said to be under review by the Trump administration.

The Trump administration is considering rolling back federal protections for 10 national monuments, including two in the central Pacific. The Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument and the Rose Atoll National Marine Monument protect the waters around a handful of islands, most uninhabited, to the south of the Hawaiian Islands.

The shore reefs of the islands have long been protected from commercial fishing; the monument designations extended that protection to 50 miles from shore in some cases and 200 miles in others.

Read full story at Loss of Federal Protections May Imperil Pacific Reefs, Scientists Warn

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 25, 2017

Early Anza Borrego Wildflower Bloom 11/22/17

Desert USA reports

The rain in September is now producing some wildflowers in Coyote Canyon, these pictures were take at the 2nd crossing. High clearance vehicle needed to get to the area. The road is in good shape with some rocks showing.

See photos at

via Anza Borrego Desert State Park – Super Bloom – DesertUSA

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 25, 2017

Sonoma Valley Fall Color 11/22/17

California Fall Color reports

Whereas, “Sonoma Valley is a mix of full-on color, some vineyards have lost their leaves.”
Sonoma Valley – Peak to Past Peak – You Almost Missed It.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 25, 2017

Even Death Valley Has Dark Sky Issues

Have you heard of sky glow? It is the brightening of the night sky from human-caused light scattered in the atmosphere and it even affects the night sky in Death Valley. How can you help Death Valley and other International Dark Sky Parks? One way is to reduce any unnecessary lighting. Think you are too far away to make a difference? There are national parks that experience sky glow from 200 miles away!
To learn more about how you can help

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 25, 2017

State Attorneys General Oppose Plan To Raise National Park Fees

The LA Times reports

 A group of state attorneys general on Wednesday urged the National Park Service to scrap its proposal to more than double the entrance fee at 17 popular national parks.

The top government lawyers from 10 states and the District of Columbia sent a letter saying the increase could put access to the parks out of reach for many Americans.

“We cannot let the most popular and awe-inspiring national parks become places for the wealthy,” they said in the letter to the Park Service’s acting director.

Read full story at  State attorneys general bash plan to hike national park fees – LA Times

Center for Biological Diversity News Release

Cattle Waste Puts California’s Point Reyes on ‘Crappiest Places in America’ List

POINT REYES, Calif.— The livestock-polluted waters of Point Reyes National Seashore rank in the top 10 percent of U.S. locations most contaminated by feces indicated by E. coli bacteria, according to a new report published on the investigative journalism website The Revelator.

The report also discloses that Point Reyes National Seashore has been one of the 10 most feces-contaminated locations monitored in California since 2012 and that the state’s highest reported E. coli level was on a Point Reyes cattle ranch.

“A national park like Point Reyes shouldn’t be home to some of the crappiest waterways in America,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Park Service is supposed to manage these public lands for protection of natural resources, but commercial dairies and cattle ranches continue to cause significant bacterial pollution of the park’s waterways.”

Read More…

Today we went birding at the Albany Mudflats and McLaughlin Eastshore SP–Albany access, which is the meadow next to the mudflats. The highlight of the day was our first sighting of a Burrowing Owl this year. Also see were two Eurasian Wigeons. There were large numbers of Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, American Avocet, and Northern Shovelers. There were also numbers of Northern Pintail, Brown Pelican, Ruddy Duck (in the distance), Ring-billed Gull, and American Coot. Click read more to see today’s bird list. We saw or heard 30 species.

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Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 24, 2017

New Channel Islands Native Plant Garden and Plant Sale 12/2/17

Channel Islands National Park News Release

Public Invited to Opening of Native Plant Demonstration Garden

Ventura, CA —The National Park Service, California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI), and the Ventura Master Gardeners welcome the public to attend the opening of a native plant demonstration garden on Saturday, December 2 at 10:30 am at Channel Islands National Park in Ventura Harbor.

Plant Sale: Dec. 2nd, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Demonstration Garden Opening: 10:30 am
Location: Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center.(Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center) 1901 Spinnaker Dr. at the end of Ventura Harbor

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Birding

This morning we went birding at Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary, Garretson Pt. at MLK regional Shoreline and our backyard. It was low tide and mostly cloudy.

At Elsie Roemer shorebirds were out in great numbers. Most abundant were the various sandpipers, Avocets, Forster’s Terns and Brown Pelicans.

A quick stop at Garretson Pt. we found the seasonal pond was still pretty dry. Most abundant in the bay were Ruddy Ducks. Best bird was a Belted Kingfisher who showed up just before we left.

Here are a few photos from Elsie Roemer that give you an idea of how birds it was. Click Read more below to see bird lists. I even included a bird list of a few birds that were in the yard in the N. Berkeley flatlands when we got home. We had a White-throated Sparrow make a couple of appearances earlier this week, but haven’t seen him the last few days.


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Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 23, 2017

Fall Color Slideshows

California Fall Color has a video of slideshow of this past fall color season at GIVING THANKS AND LOOKING BACK AT 2017

There are also links to fall color slideshow from previous years at LOOKING BACK AT 2013, 2014, 2015 AND 2016

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 23, 2017

Talking Turkey – Happy Thanksgiving

The Golden Gate Audubon blog the Golden Gate Birder has an article by Bob Lewis on Wild Turkeys in California

Wild Turkeys aren’t native to California. But today, a quarter-million or more make their home in the Golden State. Maybe some are in your neighborhood!

Read story at: Talk some turkey this Thanksgiving! – Golden Gate Audubon Society


The New York Times  also reports on Wild Turkeys across the U.S. and some of the problems they are creating for humans

It turns out that genuine, free-range wild turkeys — not to be confused with the farm-raised kind that most people will overcook on Thursday — are increasingly finding their free range to include suburbs from New England to California and lots of spots between.

Human-turkey conflicts are on the rise.

Read Story at The Turkeys Not on Your Plate: They’re Out Back, Climbing the Roof

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 22, 2017

California Fall Color – updated 11/22/17

California Fall Color reports

Ventana Wilderness – Pine Valley and the Ventana Wilderness in Monterey County this past Sunday to find that most of the ponderosa pines, several of the larger landmark black oaks and cottonwoods there survived the Soberanes Fire. The latter are carrying bright orange and golden color.
Tassajara Road, a dirt road that leads to the trailhead at China Camp, also full of beautiful orange black oaks.
the Ventana Wilderness at Peak and advises that the area is prime for fall color hikes over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, making Pine Valley in the Ventana Wilderness Hike of the Week.
Ventana Wilderness, Monterey County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Berkeley = California Fall Color also has a photo I took from this past weekend’s Berkeley Half-Marathon

Berkeley Half-Marathon on Gilman Street

Berkeley/Bay Area – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!  Many of Berkeley Street trees are at peak. Especially colorful are Chinese Pistache Tree, Liquidamber and Persimmon Trees. See my post from two days ago Fall Color in Berkeley and California Fall Color’s post GIVE THANKS, THE BAY AREA IS PEAKING


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 22, 2017

How Natural Disasters Further Threaten Endangered Species

The New York Times  reported on the impact of natural disasters including Fires and Hurricanes on endangered species

When a wildfire swept through Arizona, all but 35 rare red squirrels disappeared. After California’s fires and Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, so did other near-extinct animals.

Read story at  For an Endangered Animal, a Fire or Hurricane Can Mean the End – The New York Times

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 21, 2017

Sierra Mountain Pass Road Status Updates

Sonora Pass – SR 108 is officially closed for the winter!

(Monitor Pass – SR 89 is currently OPEN.

Tioga Pass – SR 120 and the Bodie Road SR – 270 are currently closed and will be assesed later on this week.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 21, 2017

Muir Woods To Require Parking & Shuttle Reservations

News Release from National Park Service

Muir Woods Parking and Shuttle Reservations Launch January 16, 2018

MILL VALLEY, Calif. — The National Park Service today announced that parking and shuttle reservations at Muir Woods National Monument will begin on January 16, 2018.

All vehicles and shuttle passengers arriving to Muir Woods will be subject to the reservation system. Visitors arriving by commercial carrier – or on foot or bicycle – will not be required to use the reservation system or pay fees associated with it.

“Making a parking and shuttle reservation will be fast and easy,” said Deputy Superintendent Carey Feierabend. “The new system will improve the overall visitor experience by allowing visitors to plan their trip in advance while enhancing the protection and preservation of the surrounding natural resources.” The system, managed by Ace Parking Management, Inc., will operate year-round and reservations will be made through a website and call center.

The system will launch January 1, at which point parking and shuttle reservations can be made up to 90 days in advance on a rolling basis. Visitors will have the option to reserve either a vehicle parking space for $8 per car or a seat on the shuttle for $3 per adult (16 years and older). A vehicle or shuttle reservation provides the visitor with a timed arrival with no restriction on the length of stay for the remainder of the day. Visitors age 16 or older are required to pay a $10 park admission entrance fee in addition to any parking or shuttle reservation fees.

The reservation system will proactively manage parking and visitor flow to protect the health of Muir Woods and the Redwood Creek watershed and effectively address overcrowding, traffic congestion, and parking issues. Under the new reservation system, annual visitation is expected to be reduced to under one million from an estimated 1.2 million visitors.

Commercial carriers will be required to make advance reservations through a separate system managed through Reservations for commercial parking spaces are anticipated to begin in late spring 2018.

More information can be found at

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 20, 2017

Large Number Blue Whales In Monterey Bay

The San Francisco Chronicle reports

The largest animal on planet Earth, blue whales, and the second-largest animal, fin whales, are swimming in the Monterey Bay in large numbers.

Beginning Monday, up to 50 blue whales have been sighted off the coast of Monterey.

Read story and see photos atBlue whales invade Monterey Bay

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 19, 2017

Fall Color In Berkeley

A series of photos of fall color seen seen walking around North Berkeley the last two days.

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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 19, 2017

Sacramento Fall Color 11/18/17

California Fall Color reports

Each year in the week before Thanksgiving, Sacramento streets are layered with canopies of ruby, crimson, orange, gold, yellow, green and buff-colored leaves.
My favorite locations for seeing fall color in Sacramento County include: Mormon Island Wetland Reserve and bike trails of Folsom, quaint Fair Oaks where chickens run free, East Sacramento’s Fabulous Forties (Gracious Tudor, Colonial Revival, Arts and Crafts, California Bungalow and other grand homes along tree-lined streets numbered in the 40s), William Land Regional Park in South Sacramento and along the American River Parkway (Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail – a 32-mile paved bike and pedestrian trail from the Sacramento River to Folsom Lake).
Sacramento County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

See photos at: Sweeping Fall Away

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