Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fall Color in Tennessee

These are from my trip to Tennessee last year.

This one is actually at Hot Springs North Carolina when were hiking the Appalachian Trail along the French Broad River.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Sunbeam walk

A walk in the Arcata, CA, Community Forest Nov. 8 was a sunbeam walk! Bundles of beams broke through the canopy, often illuminating showers of droplets from the wet branches. It had rained the night before (as it does almost every night right now).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Snowy Plover in Galveston

When I was at the beach the other day, I found myself thinking about Leaf Lady Gail's post on the Snowy Plover. So, I came home and did some research.

Here's a website for The International Snowy Plover Survey. Apparently, this endangered bird's statistics are well documented along the Pacific coast where Gail lives, and now scientists are using those methods to study the Gulf Coast and Mexico where their numbers are thought to be declining also.

I see Snowy Plovers all the time, and never realized they were endangered. The book Bird Life of Houston, Galveston, and the Upper Texas Coast says that the only nesting evidence of these birds here are the fledglings sighted with their parents. No one has actually seen a nest. A 2004 Census counted 491 pairs along the Texas Coast. Counting these little guys seems to be difficult because of the constant changing of their habitat.

They like to nest in dry dunes near the tidal flats where they feed. This picture was taken at the east end of the island along the Houston ship channel, which is considered a bird sanctuary because of all the tidal sand flats and pools.

Hurricanes wipe out huge sections of these flats, washing the sand into the Houston ship channel.

Then we dredge up the sand from the bottom of the ship channel to rebuild the beaches. This is a section of East Beach that is just before the tidal flats. There was a sign saying that they're rebuilding it for sea turtles and endangered birds.

Here's a view of the reconstruction of East Beach from the tidal flats. The ship channel is to the left. The Gulf is straight ahead on the other side of the dunes.

It will probably take a while for the tidal flats to reform. Each time I go, they seem to be growing. I wasn't able to find a more current census to see if the population is declining. The 2004 Census was supposed to be a baseline for future reference.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dry Lagoon

I went to Dry Lagoon today for the first time in more than a year!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day! WATER!

Water is everywhere. It sustains life. It makes our planet livable.

We drink it, we cook with it, we swim in it.

We sail on it.

But water is endangered! We threaten our own lives, our children and grandchildren, by polluting our water.

Yet there is HOPE!

Five facts about water:

  1. Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Unclean drinking water can incubate some pretty scary diseases, like E. coli, salmonella, cholera and hepatitis A. Given that bouquet of bacteria, it's no surprise that water, or rather lack thereof, causes 42,000 deaths each week.
  2. More people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet. Today, 2.5 billion people lack access to toilets. This means that sewage spills into rivers and streams, contaminating drinking water and causing disease.
  3. Every day, women and children in Africa walk a combined total of 109 million hours to get water. They do this while carrying cisterns weighing around 40 pounds when filled in order to gather water that, in many cases, is still polluted. Aside from putting a great deal of strain on their bodies, walking such long distances keeps children out of school and women away from other endeavors that can help improve the quality of life in their communities.
  4. It takes 6.3 gallons of water to produce just one hamburger. That 6.3 gallons covers everything from watering the wheat for the bun and providing water for the cow to cooking the patty and baking the bun. And that's just one meal! It would take over 184 billion gallons of water to make just one hamburger for every person in the United States.
  5. The average American uses 159 gallons of water every day – more than 15 times the average person in the developing world. From showering and washing our hands to watering our lawns and washing our cars, Americans use a lot of water. To put things into perspective, the average five-minute shower will use about 10 gallons of water. Now imagine using that same amount to bathe, wash your clothes, cook your meals and quench your thirst.

Blog Action Day 2010: Water from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010


These pictures, taken on a northern California beach, may show Snowy Plovers. (I think that's what they are; you may know better.) Their only protection is their camoflage. I will admit I was a bit skeptical when I heard that is the only way they protect themselves from predators (see my other entry). But notice how hard it is to find them among the bits of wood and brush on the sand! Perhaps Nature did know what it was doing.

Snowy Plover?

These pictures may show Snowy Plovers, a small shorebird that's endangered because it makes its nest right out in the open. It just wiggles in the sand enough to create a shallow basin and deposits its eggs right there ... where predators can easily get at them, and people can accidentally or intentionally destroy them too.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Foggy hike

My hiking group went about 50 miles north of where I live in Calif. to the mouth of the Klamath River, where there was supposed to be a scenic overlook. The fog hadn't burned off as hoped, but I did get this nice picture of wildflowers! In the woods, the fog gave an ethereal beauty. And we ate lunch on "Hidden Beach" -- which was still grey but not quite so hidden by fog.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Yellow Lady's Slipper

done in gouache by Mary Stebbins Taitt

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Voracious Predatory Chipmunk

While We were at Bay Furnace Campground Near Pictured Rocks, and Keith was absent from the campsite, Mary watched a drama unfold. A chipmunk who had been nosing around the campsite all morning suddenly aroused the ire of a little chipping sparrow, who chipped madly and fluttered around sort of like a killdeer trying to lead a predator away from it's nest. The chipmunk paid no attention to it and began nosing around the area of open piney woods where the chipping sparrow was.

The sparrow then began attacking the chipmunk, pecking vigorously at its head. Then, Mary spotted a baby chipping sparrow fluttering about in the tall weeds and sparse tall grass. The chipmunk spotted it, too, and rushed after it and there was some furious scuffling where the baby was trying to flutter away, the chipmunk was trying to catch it, and the mother was pecking the chipmunk vigorously. Then, the chipmunk grabbed the baby by the throat and killed it and ran off about 20 feet and started eating it. Mary, who was trying to reposition herself to see better, accidentally scared off the chipmunk, who left the dead baby under a pine and never came back for it while we were still at camp. The mother chipping sparrow kept
searching and calling and searching and calling up until we left.

When we got back from our expeditions, hours later, we both checked, and the dead baby bird was gone from where the chipmunk left it. Since the chipmunk had already killed the bird, we hope he ate it.

This is not the first time that Mary has observed a chipmunk being predacious. She has also seen a chipmunk kill and eat a large water snake, big enough to have eaten it.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Amber waves of sea

It was the July 4th weekend, so I naturally thought of this title. The whitecaps were churning up a lot of yellow foam at Big Lagoon (north of Trinidad, CA).

More gold


And agates too

And I found a fair amount of agates -- nine of these -- the largests ones -- in one small cache of pale, crumbly dirt.

Monday, May 24, 2010


I walked on Clam Beach yesterday, but the only times I took out my camera were when I was looking away from the ocean.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fog and flowers

Both these pictures were taken at Big Lagoon (north of Eurkeka, CA) on the same day last week ... before and after the fog lifted.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

In Every Yard

I think there is a robin's nest in EVERY YARD, at least one--I can't
beleive how many robis you see walking down the street.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


There is a Godwit Festival in the Eureka-Arcata (Calf.) area each spring, as the shorebirds pass through here on their migration. I saw some yesterday at Clam Beach.

More godwits


Monday, April 12, 2010

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