Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 7, 2020

2020 Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. February 14-17

Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.

Now, more than 160,000 people of all ages and walks of life worldwide join the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.

We invite you to participate! For at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, February 14-17, 2020, simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world, for as long as you wish!

If you’re new to the count, or have not participated since before the 2013 merger with eBird, you must create a free online account to enter your checklists. If you already have an account, just use the same login name and password. If you have already participated in another Cornell Lab citizen-science project, you can use your existing login information, too.

Click here for more info on how to get started.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 6, 2020

Henry Coe Wildflower Update 1/5/20

Henry Coe State Park has early January wildflowers in bloom. See what is currently flowering 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 | January 6, 2020

Top Ten Tips for Watching Meteor Showers

EarthSky posted

1. Be sure you know which days the shower will peak.

2. Find out the time of the shower’s peak in your time zone.

3. Watch on the nights around the peak, too.

4. Understanding the shower’s radiant point can help.

5. Find out the shower’s expected rate, or number of meteors per hour.

6. You must be aware of the phase of the moon.

7. Dress warmly.

8. Bring along that thermos of hot coffee or tea.

9. Bring a blanket or lawn chair.

10. Relax and enjoy the night sky.

EarthSky 2020 lunar calendars are available! Nearly sold out. Order now!

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 5, 2020

Santa Monica Mountains Wildflowers 1/5/20

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has a new report

We’ve had some rain so it won’t be long before things green-up. In many ways, the first small blades of green appearing along the edges of the trails is as exciting to me as a hillside of flowers. It means Spring is coming!

Corral Canyon Backbone Trail 1/1/20
         This is an area that burned thoroughly in the Woolsey Fire 14 months ago. It looks to be recovering well with new dense growth of chaparral on the hillsides and recovering oaks and sycamores on the valley floor. Not much was in bloom today, only cliff aster, twiggy wreath plant, wild morning glory and some clumps of slender sunflowers. However I saw plenty of signs of flowers to come. If we continue to get rain, and maybe even if we don’t, this promises to have a spectacular spring bloom.
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 5, 2020

Trump Rule Would Exclude Climate Change in Infrastructure Planning

The NY Times reports

Federal agencies would no longer have to take climate change into account when they assess the environmental impacts of highways, pipelines and other major infrastructure projects, according to a Trump administration plan that would weaken the nation’s benchmark environmental law.

Read more at Trump Rule Would Exclude Climate Change in Infrastructure Planning – The New York Times

The New York Times reports

In just three years, the Trump administration has diminished the role of science in federal policymaking while halting or disrupting research projects nationwide, marking a transformation of the federal government whose effects, experts say, could reverberate for years.

Read article at  Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 3, 2020

Bushfires In Australia Kill 11 As Flames Sweep Toward Sydney

NPR reports

Record heat has contributed to the ferocity of massive bushfires that have swept through eastern Australia in recent days, forcing mass evacuations and killing at least 11 people since Monday. The flames now threaten the outskirts of the country’s largest city, Sydney.

Authorities are warning of worsening conditions over the weekend. The rural fire service deputy commissioner for New South Wales, Rob Rogers, has warned of the “frighteningly quick” advance of the blazes.

See photos at Bushfires In Australia Kill 11 As Flames Sweep Toward Sydney : NPR

Center for Biological Diversity News Release

Trump EPA Used ‘Emergency’ Loophole to Approve Pesticides Toxic to Bees on 16 Million Acres in 2019

WASHINGTON— The Environmental Protection Agency reported today that in 2019 it issued so-called “emergency” approvals to spray neonicotinoids — pesticides the agency itself recognizes as “very highly toxic” to bees — onto more than 16 million acres of crops known to attract bees.

The great majority of those approvals were issued for the neonicotinoid called sulfoxaflor, prior to the EPA’s July decision to permanently expand its use. That decision, which obviates the need for further emergency approvals, has prompted multiple lawsuits from beekeepers, food-safety and conservation advocates.

“The EPA is using this backdoor approval process to ramp up otherwise unlawful use of neonicotinoids and other harmful pesticides,” said Nathan Donley, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re talking about millions of acres being sprayed with poisons that are known to kill pollinators.”

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 3, 2020

Job Openings: Antelope’s Valley Visitor Services Park Aides

Antelope Valley  posted

Great Basin District is seeking to hire ten Visitor Services Park Aides for the 2020 spring Antelope Valley poppy season. The reporting location is the Antelope Valley CA Poppy Reserve at 15101 Lancaster Road, Lancaster CA 93536 (16 miles east of Hwy 14). Applications must be received by January 6th, 2020. See below

These positions will work under the direction of the Supervising State Park Ranger. The visitor services park aide duties will include operating the entrance station at the Antelope Valley CA Poppy Reserve, collection of park fees, and completing end-of-day cash register accounting and associated collections paperwork. These positions are a primary point of contact for park visitors and will provide information on the park(s), explain and advise park rules, and give directions to park facilities, surrounding area features, and establishments.

Required skills are reporting of park issues and problems to lead staff, and basic reading, writing and math skills. Reliable transportation is essential due to the remote work location as well as a valid class C driver’s license. This is a uniformed position and the successful candidate will be required to purchase and wear a state parks uniform, and must complete and pass a DOJ live scan.

These positions are seasonal with an approximate start date of February 3rd, 2020. For further information regarding this position, please contact Matthew Williams at (661) 369-1148.

Applications must be received by January 6th, 2020. To apply, complete a California State Application Form ( and mail or deliver it to:
Great Basin District
Attn: Personnel
15101 Lancaster Road
Lancaster, CA 93536

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 2, 2020

Thousands Flee Fires in Australia as States Warn Crisis Will Worsen 

The New York Times reports

“It’s going to be a blast furnace,” one official said, after predictions that next few days would be the worst yet in an already catastrophic fire season.

All along the southeastern coast of Australia, tens of thousands of people abandoned their homes on Thursday after the authorities called for evacuations, warning that the massive fires headed their way this weekend might be the worst yet in an already catastrophic season.

Read full story at Thousands Flee Fires in Australia as States Warn Crisis Will Worsen – The New York Times


The BBC  reports

Astronomers are warning that their view of the Universe could be under threat.

From next week, a campaign to launch thousands of new satellites will begin in earnest, offering high-speed internet access from space.

But the first fleets of these spacecraft, which have already been sent into orbit by US company SpaceX, are affecting images of the night sky.

They are appearing as bright white streaks, so dazzling that they are competing with the stars.

Read full article at Satellite constellations: Astronomers warn of threat to view of Universe – BBC News


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 1, 2020

2020 Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events  

The astronomy calendar of celestial events for 2020 contains dates for notable celestial events including moon phases, meteor showers, eclipses, oppositions, conjunctions, and other interesting events. To see calendar go to Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events 2020 – Sea and Sky

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 31, 2019

Regional Parks Botanic Garden Photos 12/31/19

Today I was in the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park in Berkeley. It is a botanic garden of California native plants. Although only a few flowers are in bloom, it is a good place to see nature in winter. There are many other things to see and photograph such as snowberries, lichens, cactus and birds. Below is a slideshow of some of what I photographed today. To see larger higher quality photos you can go to to my Flickr album Regional Parks Botanic Garden 12/31/19. You also see other photos from the garden on the garden’s Flickr group page Regional Parks Botanic Garden.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 31, 2019

January 2020 CNPS Field Trips

California Native Plant Society Chapters:

If you are interested in information on other chapters go to:

If you are interested in more information on any of the programs below go to the chapter website.

Bristlecone (Mono, Inyo and NE Kern counties

East Bay
January 4, 2:00 pm, field trip to Huddart County Park

El Dorado (Sierra foothills around Placerville)


Sunday, January 5, 2019 Fabulous Ferns and Seedlings
Saturday January 11 Buzzaards Roost at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Monday January 13  Point Lobos Mushroom Walk
Thursday January 23 Mount Madonna Fetid Adder’s Tongue Hike

Sacramento Valley

Santa Clara Valley
Wed. Jan 1  10am – 1pm  Año Nuevo State Preserve New Year Hike (San Mateo County)

Santa Cruz

January 11 — 9:30 am to noon  San Lorenzo River
Friday, January 17 Wilder Ranch State Park


Yerba Buena (San Francisco/Northern San Mateo)
January 12 1-3 pm   San Bruno Mountain: Ridge Lichens
January 18 Saturday San Bruno Mountain: Saddle and Bog Trails


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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 30, 2019

January 2020 Birding Field Trips (corrected)

January 2020 Golden Gate Audubon Birding Field Trips

For more information on any of the trips below go to

  • Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley Friday, January 3, 8:30–11:30 a.m.
  • Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, Oakland Saturday, January 4, noon–3 p.m. (due to tides)
  • Biking and Birding Marin Saturday, January 4, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Lafayette Community Park, Lafayette Sunday, January 5, 8:30–11:00 a.m.
  • San Francisco Botanical Garden Sunday, January 5, 8:00–11:00 a.m.
  • Blake Garden, Kensington Wednesday, January 8, 9:00–11:00 a.m.
  • Hilltop Lake Park, Richmond Wednesday, January 8, 9:00–10:45 a.m.
  • Hayward Regional Shoreline, San Lorenzo and Hayward
    Winton Avenue to Grant Avenue (one-way with car shuttle)
    Friday, January 10, 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Creekside Park on Cerrito Creek, Albany Saturday, January 11, 10:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
  • UCSF Mt. Sutro Open Space Reserve, San Francisco Saturday, January 11, 8:30–11 a.m.
  • Arrowhead Marsh, MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland Saturday, January 11, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Bicycle trip: Arrowhead Marsh, MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland Saturday, January 11, 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
    Meet at EBRPD Tidewater Staging Area 10:00 a.m. Google Maps link:
  • Salesforce Park, San Francisco Tuesday, January 14, 8:00–8:45 a.m. Repeats on 2/11, 3/10, and 4/14
  • Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, Oakland Wednesday January 15, 8:30–10:30 a.m.
  • Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary, Crown Beach Thursday, January 16, 8:00–10:00 a.m.
  • Valle Vista Staging Area, Upper San Leandro Reservoir, Moraga
    Friday, January 17, 8:30–11:30 a.m.
  • Corona Heights, San Francisco Friday, January 17, 8:00–10:00 a.m.
  • Alameda Creek and Coyote Hills Regional Park by bicycle, Union City/Fremont Saturday, January 18, 10 a.m.–about 3 p.m.
  • Fort Mason Community Garden, San Francisco Sunday, January 19, 8:00–10:00 a.m.
  • Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park, Oakland Wednesday, January 22, 9:30 a.m.–noon
  • Staten Island and Cosumnes River Preserve, Central Valley
    (Optional overnight stay in Willows for Sacramento and Colusa NWRs) 
    Saturday, January 25, with optional extension to Sunday, January 26
  • Albany Shoreline: McLaughlin Shoreline State Park and Albany Mudflats Sunday, January 26, 1:00–3:00 p.m.
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 29, 2019

2019 San Francisco Christmas Bird Count

from Golden Gate Audubon

Rarities and sunshine at 2019 SF CBC

Thanks to all participants in this year’s San Francisco Christmas Bird Count – we had a great turnout and a clear (but chilly) day for counting.

Count Week is still going through Monday 12/27.  Hoping we can still pick up a few more species!.

First the high points:

Black was the theme for uncommon warblers:  Black-throated Grey, Black and White, and Blackburnian were all seen.  Some uncommon species that seem to be becoming annuals were Tropical Kingbird, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Western Tanager and Orchard Oriole.

Among the less-frequently reported species, we had a Redhead and Rhinoceros Auklet (Sloat seawatch), and Northern Fulmar (Funston afternoon seawatch).  The continuing Rock Sandpiper at Heron’s Head showed up on count day (a first on SF Count) but the Red-Footed Booby did not.  We do have the Booby for Count Week, but if anyone saw it yesterday, please get in touch.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 29, 2019

Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans

The Borowitz Report writes political satire as news pieces. Too often they seem too close to reality such as this one  “Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans”

Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.

Read full satire piece at  Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans | The New Yorker

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 28, 2019

 Migrant species do well in warm and wet UK in 2019

The BBC reports

It’s been a good year for migrant butterflies, moths and dragonflies in the UK, according to a review of 2019 by the National Trust.

The charity says warm and wet weather saw the biggest influx of painted lady butterflies in a decade.

But the impacts of drought and wildfires in some parts mean it’s not been a good year for natterjack toads and water voles.

The fires saw the habitats of mountain hares impacted as well.

Read more at  Climate change: Migrant species do well in warm and wet UK in 2019 – BBC News

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 27, 2019

World’s oldest fossil trees uncovered in New York

The BBC reports

The earliest fossilised trees, dating back 386 million years, have been found at an abandoned quarry in New York.

Scientists believe the forest they belonged to was so vast it originally stretched beyond Pennsylvania.

This discovery in Cairo, New York, is thought to be two or three million years older than what was previously the world’s oldest forest at Gilboa, also in New York State.

Read more at  World’s oldest fossil trees uncovered in New York – BBC News

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 26, 2019

Mono Lake Committee’s summer seasonal job openings

We’re hiring! Mono Lake Committee’s summer seasonal job openings are posted

by Rose, Education Director

Have you always wanted to spend a summer living and working at Mono Lake? This may be your chance!

We will begin accepting applications for the 2020 seasonal staff positions on January 1, 2020. Photo by Miranda Norlin.

The Mono Lake Committee is looking for passionate individuals to join our team for the busy 2020 summer season. This is your opportunity to share your love for Mono Lake and gain great experience working with a successful environmental non-profit.

Take a look at the seasonal staff job postings, which include positions leading interpretive tours, helping visitors in the Information Center & Bookstore, canoeing on Mono Lake, working with our Outdoor Education Center program, and more.

If you have always wanted to work at Mono Lake, this is your chance! Photo by Ava Stavros.

The Mono Lake Committee values a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace where all employees and volunteers feel respected and appreciated. We are committed to a nondiscriminatory approach and provide equal opportunity for employment and advancement in all of our departments.

We will accept applications starting on January 1, 2020 and positions fill quickly. To apply, please send cover letter and resume to the staff member listed on the job description. Please feel free to contact me, Education Director Rose Nelson, with any questions via email.


Reuters reports

Energy companies and other businesses that accidentally kill migratory birds will no longer be criminally prosecuted, the Trump administration said Friday in a decision hailed by industry but denounced by environmental groups.

Read more at Accidentally killing migratory birds not a crime, Trump administration says – Reuters

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 25, 2019

Annular solar eclipse on December 26

EarthSky reports

2019’s only annular eclipse – the third and final solar eclipse of this year – falls on December 26. It’s visible along a narrow path in the world’s Eastern Hemisphere. Like a total solar eclipse, an annular solar eclipse happens when the new moon moves directly in front of the sun. During a total solar eclipse, the new moon completely covers over the solar disk. During an annular eclipse, the lunar disk is too small to totally cover over the sun, so an annulus – or thin ring of the sun’s surface – surrounds the new moon silhouette.

The narrow annular eclipse path (in red) starts at sunrise at left ,over Saudi Arabia. and ends at sunset at right over the North Pacific ocean. The annular eclipse takes 3 1/3 hours to traverse this 8,000 mile (12,900 km) path. At any one point on the path, however, the maximum duration of the annular eclipse is only 3 2/3 minutes. Visit for an extended version of the above map, or see for a detailed map and local eclipse times.

Read more at  Annular solar eclipse on December 26 | Tonight | EarthSky

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 25, 2019

California Academy of Sciences Identifies 71 New Species

ScienceDaily reports Scientists at the California Academy of Sciences describe 71 new species in 2019

From geckos to goblin spiders, flowering plants, and Mediterranean ants — spanning five continents and three oceans — these 71 new species described by Academy scientists grow Earth’s tree of life.

Read full article  Scientists at the California Academy of Sciences describe 71 new species in 2019 — ScienceDaily

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 24, 2019

Yellowstone Geyser On Eruption Streak

NPR reports

Yellowstone National Park’s Steamboat Geyser has been on a real eruption streak lately. The geyser can shoot water more than 300 feet into the air, and this year it has erupted more than 45 times. Scientists are trying to understand what triggered this unusual streak of activity. (Listening time, 4:36)

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 24, 2019

Pt. Reyes Winter Shuttle Bus Schedule

It’s winter and that means northern elephant seals and gray whales at Point Reyes National Seashore! That also means a lot of visitors and in order to reduce traffic congestion, shuttle buses will be in operation.

$7 shuttle bus tickets are available at the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center at Drakes Beach from 9:30 am to ~3 pm. Shuttles buses will run on weekends and federal holiday Mondays from Saturday Dec 28 until late March or mid-April 2020.

Please note that Sir Francis Drake Blvd will be closed at the South Beach junction from 9 am until ~5:45 pm while the shuttle buses are in operation.

Here’s to a fun and enjoyable sealson of whale watching and seal seeing! Look for Winter Wildlife volunteer docents in red vests to learn more about these magnificent marine mammals!

For more details and information, please check the park website:

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 24, 2019

How Trump Administration Has Harmed The National Parks

National Parks Conservation Association  reports on home the Trump administration has been destructive to U.S. National Parks

It’s been a tough year for national parks. The Trump administration has undermined, degraded, and outright attacked the laws and agencies that protect our public lands. These are the “lowlights.”See the full list at

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 23, 2019

Mormon Meadows in the Bodie Hills Protected

Eastern Sierra Land Trust announced

We have some great news to share today: Mormon Meadows in the Bodie Hills is protected forever, thanks to our friends at The Wilderness Land Trust!👏👏

We’ll be working alongside them to restore and care for the wildlife habitat here, which hosts Bi-State sage-grouse, pronghorn, black bear, and so much more. The land will eventually be transferred to public ownership, under the Bureau of Land Management.

Thank you to every single member of the Eastern Sierra land conservation community who makes this important work possible 🙌.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 23, 2019

Vegetation Science position

California Native Plant Society has an opening for a Vegetation Intern to work on the coast in Mendocino/Northern Sonoma Counties. The Intern will work with CNPS vegetation and rare plant scientists to explore and understand California’s plants and plant communities primarily in Mendocino and Sonoma counties. This is a part‐time to full-time Vegetation Science position directly supervised by both the Vegetation Program staff and the Dorothy King Young Chapter vegetation chairs. The position includes at least 6 months of work, beginning mid to late February 2020, and the position may be extended beyond summer depending on funding.…/…/12/job-rice_veg_intern-20191220.pdf

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 23, 2019

Barge With 600 Gallons of Diesel Sinks Off Galápagos Islands

The New York Times reports

Hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel sank into the waters off the Galápagos Islands on Sunday after a crane toppled onto a barge and caused it to overturn, the authorities in Ecuador said, prompting an emergency cleanup in one of the world’s most revered natural destinations.

The authorities said that 600 gallons were on the barge when it sank off San Cristóbal Island, threatening the nearby environment. They declared an emergency and said they had ordered an investigation.

read more at Barge With 600 Gallons of Diesel Sinks Off Galápagos Islands – The New York Times

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 22, 2019

 Portola Valley, CA Commits To Native Plants and Landscaping |

The Town’s Conservation Committee recently reviewed and updated the Native Plant List and Discouraged Plant List for Portola Valley, and they will soon be incorporated into the Town’s Design Guidelines. Landscape design in Portola Valley should seek to preserve the qualities of the natural environment through the use of native plant materials and landscaping plans that provide a blended transition to adjacent open areas.

Read more at Native Plants and Landscaping | Portola Valley, CA

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