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Friday, November 30, 2018

The one time

The one time when you don't want to see a Peregrine Falcon?

When you're trying to count these: 

The scenario: When we've planned a shorebird count, it's the one time when I hope not to see a falcon.  But today wasn't that day.  

We try to count shorebirds (sandpipers and plovers) when they're standing on the tidal flatswhere we can scan across a relatively stationary flock to get a good count of the number of individuals.  When a falcon flies by, all of the shorebirds take off, swerve in unison to avoid the falcon, scatter, and eventually land somewhere else, making counting very difficult! 

P.S.  The shorebirds in the photo above are primarily Dunlin, with a few Sanderlings, and one Black-bellied Plover.

P.P.S.  I don't think I'm ever truly disappointed to see a Peregrine Falcon.  Although they do complicate our surveys, it always feels special to see them.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Rainy and snowy

Rain showers, dynamic clouds, and a few rainbows today (29 November 2018):

And a Snowy Plover in the fading light on Salmon Creek Beach:

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A break in the weather

The waves were still big today and the sun was just starting to come out, so I took a short walk before lunch to document the scenery.  Pick your favorite!  [You can click on the images for larger versions.]

With Point Reyes on the far horizon:

Just starting to break:

Spindrift, with a Red-throated Loon for scale: 

Sea spray:

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Storm swell

A couple of quick pictures from today's storm swell (27 November 2018).  The waves reached almost 16 feet at the offshore buoy this afternoon:

Looks like we're in for more big waves tomorrow (13-15 feet).

Monday, November 26, 2018

Moonlight stroll

Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii) out for a moonlight stroll in Bodega Bay on 26 November 2018...perhaps in anticipation of tomorrow's rain?

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Lavender eyes

We're back late again from doing surveys in the rocky intertidal zone, but here's one quick shot from tonight (25 November 2018). 

One time while I was searching for something else, I looked down to see these beautiful lavender eyes:

Such a wonderful shrimp!

Saturday, November 24, 2018


We were busy doing some surveys at low tide tonight (24 November 2018), but I couldn't resist taking a picture of this beautiful Moonglow Anemone (Anthopleura artemisia):

(One night after the full moon!)

Thursday, November 22, 2018


Each year flocks of Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) feast on the berries in our yard.  Below are a few photos from today (22 November 2018).

Perched in the distance:

Feeding on berries nearby: 

 Resting and preening after the meal:

It was fun to experience the parallels between the waxwings outside and the people inside during the Thanksgiving meal!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Meaningful moments

I've been thinking about how so many people in California are having such a hard time right now.  During difficult times in my life, I've often looked to nature.  Whether its for distraction, inspiration, perspective, or motivation, I hope that observing nature can help you through these challenging times.

Here are a few more of my favorite pictures of River Otters taken earlier this month.

Young otters waiting for mom to return:

Mom with the remains of a fish she caught after the young ones ate the rest:

Young otter resting:

With appreciation and gratitude, and the very best wishes from our hearts to yours on Thanksgiving. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Up on the rooftop

As I walked through the parking lot at work yesterday (19 November 2018), I noticed this handsome Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum) on the roof of one of the buildings. Palm Warblers spend a lot of time walking on the ground, so it was fun to see this one from a different perspective.

Monday, November 19, 2018


Wildfire smoke has continued to affect the appearance of landscapes and seascapes in Northern California.  Here's a view of the muted light on the water in Bodega Bay at around 4 p.m. this afternoon (19 November 2018):

Sounds like there will finally be some rain on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Golden eye

Partially hidden Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia), photographed on 15 November 2018.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Late afternoon baths

We haven't spent much time outside lately because of the wildfire smoke and poor air quality, but at times there have been quite a few birds visiting the water bath in our yard.  Here's a sampler (photos taken through the kitchen window on 17 November 2018).  [Click in the images for larger versions.]

Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)

Townsend's Warbler (Setophaga townsendi)

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)

Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)

Thursday, November 15, 2018


Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus), photographed 15 November 2018.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Sand sculpture

A rock crab (Romaleon antennarium, formerly Cancer antennarius) buried beneath the sand.  I like the way you can see that it's a crab just by the impressions left at the surface.  It looked a bit like a sand sculpture!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Smoke over the water

Wildfire smoke and filtered light over the ocean: 

View from Bodega Head at around noontime on 13 November 2018.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Hoping for rain

Last night we returned from an out-of-state meeting to smoke-filled skies.  Tonight (12 November 2018) the moon was glowing orange on the western horizon:

I'm so sorry for everyone affected by the fires.  Here's hoping for some rain to help the firefighters.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Ocean blues

A photo from Big Sur, taken in April 2009.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A hint

A hint of green at sunset tonight (7 November 2018).

Monday, November 5, 2018

Check the boxes

Can you find a common theme shared by these three photo mosaics?

Here's the first one:

Any ideas yet?  

Here's the second one: 

Need a hint?  Consider the first letter for each organism, starting in the upper left corner and reading like a book.

The third mosaic:

I know this is tricky.  And the theme is?

For the first mosaic: Veliger, Otter, Tern, Echinoderm

For the second mosaic: Vulture, Octopus, Trifolium, Eagle

For the third mosaic: Vermetid, Owl, Toad, Egregia 

Thanks so much for playing.  Don't miss your chance to use your voice in the elections on Tuesday!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Golden light

American Pipit (Anthus rubescens) in the golden light of fall.  Photographed on 2 November 2018.

P.S.  The pipit was walking among the seaweeds in the wrack line.  The whitish algae to the right of the pipit is a piece of coralline algae that's been bleached by the sun (it's normally pink).

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Trio at twilight

While walking Salmon Creek Beach at the end of the day today (3 November 2018), Eric and I noticed three Pacific Golden-Plovers (Pluvialis fulva) feeding on the upper beach.  The light was fading and they were a bit distant, but here are a few shots for the record. 

Views of single birds:

Two together:

And all three:

A nice way to end the day!

P.S.  For more information about golden-plovers, you can review some earlier posts, e.g., "Going for gold" on 20 October 2012 and  "Golden-plover, Part 2" on 23 October 2016.

Friday, November 2, 2018


This week I felt lucky to catch another glimpse of a local River Otter (Lontra canadensis) family.  This time they were fishing along the rocky shore.  While the mother was swimming and diving offshore, two young otters waited expectantly for her return.

First, the mom, diving below the surface:

And the two little ones, looking out to sea, wondering where she is and what she'll bring back:

(They didn't have to wait too long for dinnermom was successful and returned with a very nice fish!)