If you're interested in using any of these photographs in any way, please contact me. Send an e-mail to naturalhistoryphotos(at)gmail.com. Thanks!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Loon, water, and light

It was another gray day in Bodega Bay, but on the way back from the post office I stopped to watch this Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata).  (This is the loon's non-breeding plumage; it has a red throat during the breeding season.)

With the calm water and the crab boats headed out, there were gentle waves creating intriguing reflections.  It reminded me of skipping stones how many skips, or how many reflections can you see in one picture?  Here are a few examples:

The loon spent some time drifting and looking around, and some time resting with its bill tucked under its back feathers.

Maybe I was drawn to the loon because this is how I feel todaya bit tired and ready for the weekend.  :) 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Night sky

Sometimes when things are stressful or disheartening, it's helpful to step outside and to look up at the moon.  I'm so thankful for the beauty in the night sky.  Photographed from Cotati on 12 December 2019.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Harbor reflections

Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) at the north end of Bodega Harbor on 10 December 2019.

The light was a bit dim, but the patterns and reflections on the water drew my eye:

Below is a comparison of two goldeneyes and a Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola).  Although both species are dominantly black and white, the placement of white on their heads is different.  The goldeneyes have a smaller white spot in front of the eye, while the Buffleheads have a larger white patch behind the eye and wrapping around the back of the head (females of both species are brown and have different patterning than the males):

Monday, December 9, 2019

Stearns' ear?

Jim and I were talking about marine snails today, and at one point we discussed this species, Marsenina stearnsii (formerly Lamellaria stearnsii).  It's a small snail that I haven't seen very often, but I don't think I've shown a photo of them before, so here you go.  This one was photographed on Bodega Head in November 2009.  It is sometimes referred to as Stearns' Ear Shell because the shell (which is often hidden by the mantle in live animals) looks a bit like an ear.

A few fun facts about these interesting snails — Their color patterning looks like the tunicates that they eat (so they can be hard to see); they are likely nocturnal (another possible reason they're not observed that often); they have acid glands on the dorsal (top) surfaceI'm guessing those are the little points at the top of the rounded area in the middle of the animal.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Enjoying the storm

It always seems like the gulls enjoy a good storm.  You'll often see them riding the updrafts along the bluffs.  Photographed on Bodega Head on 7 December 2019.  (We've received ~1.2" of rain on Bodega Head during the past 48 hours. The rainfall total since October 1st is ~5.1", but ~3.6" of that has fallen during the past week.)

Thursday, December 5, 2019


We were trying to do a shorebird survey this afternoon (5 December 2019) when I looked towards Doran Beach and noticed a very large bird on the tidal flats.  It was a bit bedraggled by the weatherrain showers and southeast winds — but it was fun to see this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in Bodega Harbor.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Mystery at the bottom of the pool

Okay, so this is mystery close-up, but one that I don't know the answer to yet.  Abby spotted this organism with beautiful spreading tentacles in a very shallow, high rocky tidepool.  Our best guess at this time is that it's a species of worm (perhaps in the family Oweniidae?), but we're not sure about its identity yet. 

Just in case you're wondering, there are large pieces of sand and a piece of white shell surrounding the tentacles of the mystery worm.  There's also a tubular organism with black-stripes in the bottom center of the photo that's not associated with the mystery tentacles that's part of a different animal, a peanut worm.

If these tentacles look familiar to you, let me know!