Originally published at The Wild Beat in 2013 I stepped out of a mist and I knew I am. I am what I am. And then I thought, 'But what have I been before?' And then I found that I had been in a mist, not knowing to differentiate myself from things; I was just one thing among many things." ~ Carl Jung, The Red Book I used to think about Jung and bird [...]
The show Bird Note just posted an audio piece on California Clapper Rails in San Francisco Bay. Bird Note covers an eclectic array of bird stories, from behavioral questions to ecological issues. The stories are short audio bits with related blog posts and resources to flesh out the subject matter. As an adjunct to the Clapper Rail story, Bird Note asked if I would revisit my observations of a Clapper Rail tagging operation at Arrowhead Marsh [...]
Every so often, I get a request for 'derivative works' permission -- usually from a wildlife artist who wants to use a photo as the foundation for a painting or print. I particularly love it when the work is used to benefit an animal cause ... like this painting of a Brown Pelican I photographed in San Francisco. Artist Dan Kent created an ink and watercolor version as part of a wildlife benefit during the [...]
I pulled a few of my Western Bluebird pics from the archives to illustrate the following excerpt. This month's Smithsonian Magazine has a short piece entitled Why So Blue? by Helen Fields, which explores the natural magic behind bluebird blue: [Ornithologist Richard Prum] discovered that as a blue feather grows, something amazing happens. Inside each cell, stringy keratin molecules separate from water, like oil from vinegar. When the cell dies, the water dries [...]
This post is a tribute to the wild turkeys who walk among us. Every year, Hugh and I Adopt a Turkey from Farm Sanctuary. And every year, I try to somehow commemorate the awesomeness of the wild turkeys I've been privileged to be among and photograph. The timing of this new episode from Nature on PBS was perfect for this post: My Life as a Turkey. Thanks to an FB friend for the [...]
Lake Merritt was the first place I touched soil -- or rather, marine sediment --after returning to the Bay Area from Los Angeles. We were perched above Oakland in a hotel room with just a sliver of a view, looking at the lake through what amounted to a castle loophole.
I have a weakness for bad lyrics, and 18th century sea chanties like The Saucy Sailor Boy probably take the prize. If you live here in San Francisco, you can take the kids (or just your own self) to Hyde Pier for monthly (and free) Sea Chanty Sing-a-Longs. You'll get hot cider if you bring your mug. I can't say if the sailor boys (and girls) aboard these container ships are saucy. But you can [...]
Those ears serve this Black-tailed Jackrabbit well. A jack will usually hear you coming long before you see him. And he can regulate blood flow in these ears to adjust for external temperatures. The Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) -- any jackrabbit -- is actually a hare, not a rabbit. This particular jackrabbit wasn't keen on my presence. What appears as "calm" is anything but. It's a defense mechanism. So, although I could have [...]
I'm keen to see eyes peering out of mudflats . . . the creatures from the bog, the foraging carp, the bullfrog in camo, a Pacific chorus frog in a dewdrop. I shot this photo at Blake Garden, just north of Berkeley in the Kensington Hills. My vision is tuned to anomalies and, sure enough, there was one: a frog basking unnoticed, up to his eyeballs (literally) in spring mud. Blake Garden -- [...]
"This country ain't big enough for the two of us. So I'm giving you 'til sundown to get out of town." ~ The Virginian
The Great Newt Commute is what happens on the way to the Great Newt Party. From the first winter rains through early spring, California Newts migrate from their summer homes to their winter breeding grounds -- to ponds and streams where they mate and lay eggs before trundling back up the hills and into burrows for the dry season. It is a genuine trundle for the little newt. I snapped this photo on a trail [...]
Until this week, I didn't know how much gratitude I owed Mr. Hulet Hornbeck. The sign below marks the head of a commemorative trail at Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline -- a park in the vast and lovely East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD). When Hornbeck began his tenure as Chief of Land Acquisition for EBRPD in 1965, just 13 parks comprised the park district, a sum of 13,000 acres. By the time he retired in [...]
Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve isn't haunted, but it's a park grown upon the ghosts of California's history. The spirits of the Ohlone and Miwok people still permeate the land. When I stand on wild hilltops, I look to the expanse of tract development over what, by all accounts, was once a natural paradise in every sense. The ugly paradox is that were it not for the rapacious behavior of the early settlers, most of [...]
Old docks smell, this much I can tell you. You'll catch a whiff of decomposing mussels and sea greens long before you ever see the old boards stacked, as these particular boards were, in the parking lot of the Berkeley Marina. The Marina is renovating -- replacing the old A-B-C docks with improved versions. And in the process -- much to the chagrin of many locals -- they've ripped out the landscaping and [...]
You'll hear Soras more often than you'll see them. But once in a while you'll be lucky enough to experience both -- when the characteristic Sora call precedes a visual of the Sora wading through the shallows. Soras are in the rail family, not rare, even if they are elusive. They share a lineage with the endangered California Clapper Rail (among other birds in the family Rallidae). Coyote Hills, with its drought-driven mud cracks and [...]
Photos of a Great Horned Owl perched in Strawberry Canyon in Berkeley.
A male Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) roots around just before dusk at the Nature Center in Tilden Park.
Photos of young/juvenile fox squirrels playing in an urban environment, on telephone poles and wires. Also includes images of baby squirrels in the hands of a wildlife rehabilitator.
Take a look at this image of terns — not because it’s anything spectacular. In fact, those terns were but specks on my visual horizon, so this is a dramatic crop to show just one thing: the size differential between the Caspian Terns and the Forster’s Terns I wrote about in a previous post. Caspian and Forster’s Terns – ©ingrid The large birds with their black caps and [...]