Nature News

El Niño Update: It’s Going to Rain (Almost Certainly, Probably)

October 02, 2015 by

The forecaster mood and message is upbeat these days, with less hedging and more agreement that, yes, this El Niño winter could be a wet one.


Evolution’s Tangled Web

October 01, 2015 by Alisa Opar

Why do so many of our local spiders have traits from the earliest stages of spider development?


On the Fence

October 01, 2015 by Alison Hawkes

The recovery of the nearly extinct Tule Elk has become a dilemma for the park service, ranchers, and environmentalists at Point Reyes.


Harvest of Fire

September 30, 2015 by Joan Hamilton

A journalist spends two years documenting the dramatic changes that the Morgan Fire brought to Mount Diablo.


Here We Go A-Spidering

September 29, 2015 by Alison Hawkes

Spiderwebs are nature’s most ideal trap. And different web types represent a different evolutionary strategy of ensnaring a meal.


Ask the Naturalist: Seabird Feeding Frenzy at Point Montara

September 25, 2015 by Alvaro Jaramillo

Why are large numbers of seabirds congregating off Point Montara?


Why’s It Called El Niño, and How Did Scientists Figure Out What It Is?

September 15, 2015 by

The explanation for El Niño has been revealed only slowly, piece by piece over a century, as dedicated researchers in far-flung locations searched for explanations for the droughts and deluges they witnessed.


What Flows Beneath Temescal

September 08, 2015 by Coby McDonald

Temescal Creek flows through concrete culverts from Lake Temescal through the flats of Oakland and Emeryville, into San Francisco Bay—out of sight and largely out of mind. Creek advocates are hoping to change that.


The Black Oystercatcher Gets ‘Climate Endangered’ Status — But It’s Complicated

September 04, 2015 by

The popular black oystercatcher has been labeled “climate endangered” by Audubon. What does that mean for birds in the Bay Area?


Basking Sharks Appear, Briefly, In Monterey Bay — But Don’t Call It a Comeback

September 04, 2015 by

Enormous basking sharks were once common off Monterey, but it’s now very rare to see as many sharks in one place as were reported in July.


Ask the Naturalist: The Secret of the Slender Redwoods

September 03, 2015 by

Why are some stands of redwoods so spindly? Marin County Parks naturalist David Herlocker explains this anomaly.


Richardson Bay Sea Otter Likely Died From Parasite, Biotoxin

September 02, 2015 by

The sea otter that spent three weeks in Richardson Bay in late June and early July likely died of a “one-two punch” of domoic acid poisoning and infection from the possum-borne parasite Sarcocystis neurona, a California Department of Fish and Wildlife pathologist says.


Today in El Niño Advice: Don’t Worry About The Blob

September 01, 2015 by

The Pacific Ocean is the hottest we’ve ever seen it. What that means — or doesn’t — for the coming El Niño.


A Condor Recovery, Fueled By Volunteers, Needs More Help

August 26, 2015 by

Through their numbers are on the right track, the condor population isn’t self-sustaining. Condors in the wild still face significant threats from lead poisoning and micro trash, and require constant monitoring — most of it by volunteers.


El Niño’s Here. What Does That Actually Mean?

August 25, 2015 by

Two strong historical El Nino wet winters nurture hope for relief from our current drought. But there are several good reasons to hedge about the coming winter.


The Peninsula Watershed: To Open, Or Not To Open?

August 20, 2015 by

The 23,000 acres around Crystal Springs are prime hiking territory in an urban region desperate for more places to get outdoors. They’re also home to numerous endangered species, and critical to San Francisco’s drinking water supply.


Q&A: The Unseen Peninsula’s Private Photographer

August 20, 2015 by

“I am what poet, farmer, essayist and author Wendell Berry might call a placed person, and this is my home.”


Ask the Naturalist: Why are deer droppings so tiny?

August 19, 2015 by

Why are deer droppings so small? East Bay Regional Parks’ Cat Taylor has the scoop on ungulate poop.


What’s Living in the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge? Plenty, Still.

August 13, 2015 by

The Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge might not look like much. But its industrial surroundings hide a biodiversity gem.


In Tough Year for Seals and Sea Lions, Rescue Center Works Overtime

August 12, 2015 by

In a normal year, The Marine Mammal Center rescues around 600 animals. It’s only August, and they’re way, way past that number.


The Lost Birds of Point Reyes

August 10, 2015 by Carolyn Longstreth

As birding became more popular in the 1970s and 1980s, records of the rare sightings accumulated from Point Reyes and other local “vagrant traps,” coastal sites with high concentrations of vagrant birds.


How to Get Along With Coyotes As Pups Venture Out

August 06, 2015 by

Tips from coyote watcher Janet Kessler on coexisting with urban predators.


What Moths Live in the East Bay Hills? On ‘Moth Night,’ A Chance to Find Out

August 06, 2015 by

“Moths are definitely under-appreciated,” says the moth expert leading a nighttime moth expedition in El Cerrito. “People are scared of them. You don’t really get to see them, except when they’re knocking on your window or crowding your porch lights.”


Edges of Extinction

August 04, 2015 by Nicholas Weiler

UC Santa Cruz ecologist Barry Sinervo studies dying species like a detective at a murder scene, hoping to identify animals near the brink of extinction.


Q&A: San Francisco Public Press Reporter Kevin Stark on Sea Level Rise and Bay Area Preparations

July 30, 2015 by

Reporter Kevin Stark, one of the co-authors on a major new sea level rise project from the San Francisco Public Press, talks about the challenges of thinking about and reporting on sea level rise in the Bay Area.


Ask The Naturalist: Why Do Honeybees Clean Themselves?

July 30, 2015 by Eric Mussen and Elina Nino

Some have suggested that the inside of a hive is as clean as a hospital room. Maybe or maybe not. But honey bees are one tidy creature.


After Decades Away, Western Pond Turtles Come Home to Mountain Lake

July 28, 2015 by

Biologists released western pond turtles into Mountain Lake, marking another big step in the San Francisco lake’s comeback.


When It Rains, It Pours: Historic Drought and Atmospheric Rivers

July 27, 2015 by Les Rowntree

Current climate change research suggests California’s weather could become even more variable than in the past, a “new normal” of drier dry periods punctuated by wetter winter storms.


What Could You Do With 13 Acres of Brand-New Parkland In San Francisco’s Presidio?

July 20, 2015 by

By sinking Doyle Drive into a tunnel, the Presidio has created an additional 13 acres of open space. Now the question is how to use it — and the Presidio Trust wants the public to help decide.


First Person: Watching the Weather with Daniel Swain

July 20, 2015 by Eric Simons

Climate scientist Daniel Swain runs the California Weather Blog, a must-read for weather nerds. He’s most famous, though, for something he did almost as an afterthought: He’s the one who gave the name “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” to the pattern that’s being blamed for our three years of drought.


Richardson Bay Sea Otter, First in San Francisco Bay Since 2011, Dies

July 16, 2015 by

A young sea otter that had spent the last several weeks living in Richardson Bay died over the weekend.


Killer Plant Pathogen Is Widespread at SFPUC’s Alameda County and Peninsula Restoration Sites

July 16, 2015 by

Phytophthora tentaculata, a new and particularly pernicious strain of dangerous plant pathogens that has been on a federal watch list, was found throughout one of the SFPUC’s restoration sites in central Alameda County.


Ride on the Wild Side: Exploring the East Bay Parks by Mountain Bike

July 13, 2015 by Greg Fisher

Mountain biking is among the fastest-growing recreational activities in the East Bay Regional Parks. Follow along for a ride with Austin McInerny of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.


Pelagic Birding for Beginners

July 13, 2015 by Maureen Lahiff

We’re fortunate in the Bay Area to have access to good day-long pelagic birding trips. Here are some tips from the Golden Gate Audubon Society.


On a Now-Protected Ranch Above Tomales Bay, a Chance to ‘Give the Land What It Deserves’

July 10, 2015 by

A rare agricultural biodiversity survey gives MALT a chance to explore its stunning new acquisition above Tomales Bay.


Ask the Naturalist: What’s the Best Time and Place to See Meteors?

July 06, 2015 by Michael Ellis

What’s the best time and place to see meteor showers from the Bay Area?


Bayview: On the Trail, With Wheels

July 06, 2015 by David Loeb

Bay Nature’s publisher wrestles with the issue of bikes in parks.


Letter: George Wuerthner Responds to Sheila Barry

July 05, 2015 by George Wuerthner

An ecologist argues that endorsing the benefits of livestock ignores the many negative impacts cows have on water quality, wildlife, plant communities, soils, and ecosystems.


Rocking Out at Kehoe Beach: A Trip Through Time on the Pacific Plate

July 03, 2015 by Doris Sloan

A visit to Kehoe Beach takes you on a journey to one of the Bay Area’s most dramatic geologic sites, where you can see rocks that have traveled far through time and space to pause temporarily in the Bay Area.


The Randall Museum Closes for a Makeover, and the Animals Get a Big Adventure

July 01, 2015 by

On moving day at the remodeling Randall Museum, beloved animals leave their home for the next year.


Native Plant Nurseries Get Ahead of Dangerous Pathogens

June 29, 2015 by

Perhaps the biggest contribution to the fight against phytophthora has been a call to action in the restoration nursery trade.


Phytophthora: New Strains Breaking the Mold

June 29, 2015 by Alison Hawkes

Phytophthoras, Greek for “plant destroyers,” certainly live up to the name. Once introduced to a location, they can spread undetected in the soil or in water and wreak havoc on crops, nursery stock, and natural ecosystems.


Tomales Bay Revival: The Ripple Effects of Restoration

June 21, 2015 by John Kelly and Jules Evens

When the “heart of the estuary” was restored in 2008, scientists expected to see wildlife return. But Tomales Bay’s remarkable renewal in just seven years has exceeded expectations.


To Save a Park in San Francisco’s Bayview, Advocates Turn to Citizen Science “With a Mission”

June 18, 2015 by

Development could wipe out one of the Bayview’s few open space areas. Nature in the City hopes knowing more about what lives there can stop the construction.


Letter: Sheila Barry Responds to George Wuerthner

June 17, 2015 by Sheila Barry

Santa Clara County livestock advisor Sheila Barry on why livestock grazing is valued for conservation.


Two Years in Photos: From “Scorched Earth” to “It’s a Jungle” on Mount Diablo

June 04, 2015 by

Spring has brought new plants, and new cover, to the fire recovery zone on Mount Diablo.


Mapping the Bay Area’s Wild Places

June 04, 2015 by

Guiding people through the wilderness – and empowering them with the tools to protect it – comes naturally to GreenInfo Network Executive Director and Bay Nature board chair emeritus Larry Orman.


Ask the Naturalist: Why Are Sea Hares Multiplying In Lake Merritt?

May 26, 2015 by

Nearly 100 giant sea slugs have been spotted in Oakland’s Lake Merritt — and they’re breeding! But why? We asked Cal Academy’s Terry Gosliner about this sudden influx.


Pro-Grazing Pieces Don’t Do a Full Accounting of Livestock Costs

May 25, 2015 by George Wuerthner

An ecologist argues that the presumed benefits of grazing—if they are real in the first place–can only be realized in small areas and/or result in excessive widespread collateral damage to wildlife, soils, water, and vegetation.


The Ballad of Bodega Head

May 20, 2015 by

Fifty years ago, a small group of activists took on corporate America to keep nuclear power off the North Coast. The battle they fought changed their lives — and American environmentalism.


Driving Home the Butterfly

May 18, 2015 by

The endangered Mission blue butterfly flies again on Twin Peaks, thanks to a dedicated six-year transplant effort that might be in its last year.


Ask The Naturalist: What’s That Weird Ball Coming Out Of That Bird’s Mouth?

May 14, 2015 by Allen Fish

For birds of prey, this may be the closest equivalent to a cat’s hairball. The pellet is a necessary means to get rid of indigested material.


What People Talk About When They Talk About Sage Grouse

May 13, 2015 by

How the greater sage grouse, a chicken-like resident of the sagebrush prairie, became what some call the most important conservation story in a generation.


Flood Control 2.0

May 12, 2015 by

Scientists look to the zone where creeks meet the Bay to guide our response to extreme storms and sea level rise.


A Pretty Pink Nudibranch Moves North, and It’s a ‘Canary in the Tidepool’ for Climate Change

May 10, 2015 by

At low tide on the North Coast right now, the tidepools teem with Hopkins’ rose nudibranchs. “This is not normal business as usual,” says scientist Terry Gosliner.


Pro: Public Lands Need Cattle to Meet Conservation Goals

May 08, 2015 by Sheila Barry

A livestock advisor who promotes biodiversity on grazing lands explains why cattle can be beneficial to conservation.


Con: Cattle Grazing Is Incompatible with Conservation

May 07, 2015 by Karen Klitz and Jeff Miller

Two experts on grazing offer their opinion on why cattle should be barred from public lands.


Spring Brings Peak Bird Biodiversity

May 05, 2015 by Josiah Clark

For birdwatchers, this is the most exciting time of year. Everything knows where it’s going and it moves fast.


Calochortus Lilies Catch the Eye

May 04, 2015 by

It’s the calochortus lily’s floral display that catches everyone’s eyes: from the pendant snowy drops of the white fairy lantern to the purplish hirsute petals of Tolmie’s pussy ears to the open golden landing pad adorned with rich burgundy splashes of the yellow mariposa lily, the flowers of this genus regularly inspire awe and cause digital camera cards to fill up quickly.


Shaping Ocean Plastic into Awareness

April 23, 2015 by

Engaging kids in art is second nature to renowned environmental artist and mom Lee Lee, whose collaborative art tiles project, DEBRIS, sprung out of her concern for her newborn son Thatcher’s future in a world overrun by single-use plastics.


How Green is My Valley!

April 15, 2015 by

A new preserve in the Coyote Valley curbs tech sprawl.


San Francisco Bay: The Ocean’s Watershed

April 06, 2015 by

When it comes to the water in the San Francisco Bay, the ocean doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves. A UC Davis researcher and self-described “ocean evangelist” is trying to change that.


A Helping Hand for Bluebirds

April 03, 2015 by

People come out of the woodwork to protect bluebirds.


First Person: Environmental Education Award Winner Julia Clothier

April 01, 2015 by Jacoba Charles

Julia Clothier has won Bay Nature’s Environmental Education Local Hero Award for her work as director of the Clem Miller Environmental Education Center at Point Reyes National Seashore.


First Person: Conservation Action Award Winner Ralph Benson

April 01, 2015 by Brendan Buhler

Ralph Benson has won Bay Nature’s Conservation Action Local Hero Award for his conservation work at the Trust for Public Land and Sonoma Land Trust.


First Person: Youth Engagement Award Winner Javier Ochoa Reyes

April 01, 2015 by Jennifer Baires

Javier Ochoa Reyes has won Bay Nature’s Local Hero Youth Engagement award for his work at Groundwork Richmond, where he teaches high school-age youth about the importance of trees in urban environments, and works with the students to create more green spaces in Richmond.


Range of Possibilities

March 31, 2015 by Kelly Cash

If ranchers are such great conservation partners, why has ranching often been viewed as bad for the environment?


Bayview: The Growing Understanding of Rangelands

March 31, 2015 by

Just as demand for locally sourced beef is rising, the ability of local ranchers to produce it is going down. The soaring rents and real estate prices that make it difficult for young writers and families to live in the Mission (or Gilman) District also make it difficult for local ranchers—young and old—to keep ranching in west Marin or southern Santa Clara.


The Ethics of Shooting the Wild

March 26, 2015 by

Acclaimed Inverness-based wildlife photographer Daniel Dietrich is raising awareness around the shifty practice of owl baiting in the quest for the perfect shot.


Second Spring

March 23, 2015 by

Eighteen months after a fire, what to look for on Mount Diablo


San Francisco’s Native Bees Do the Job Just Fine

March 17, 2015 by Michelaina Johnson

San Francisco gardeners should take heart. There’s enough native bees around to do your pollinating.


Pioneering The Mammal Big Day

March 12, 2015 by

The idea of recording as many mammals as you can see in 24 hours hasn’t caught on the way the birding big day has. But when a team of longtime biologists set out into the field, their efforts netted them some important new information about Northern California’s wild mammals — and a new North American record.


A Natural History of That Little Yellow Flower That’s Everywhere Right Now

March 11, 2015 by

Oxalis provides a delightful burst of yellow color in the spring. Also, it’s eating the entire Bay Area alive.


Should I Plant Milkweed to Save the Monarchs?

March 03, 2015 by

The road to hell is paved with good intentions — or sometimes, with milkweed.


Fighting to Save, and Popularize, San Bruno Mountain

February 26, 2015 by Joshua Chin

David Schooley and San Bruno Mountain Watch have done much to save San Bruno Mountain. Now they want to share it with the world.


Without Racial Diversity, Do Enviros Risk Becoming Marginalized?

February 25, 2015 by

UC Berkeley professor Carolyn Finney explains why environmentalists should support biodiversity — and racial diversity.


A Landscape Shaped By Fear on Mount Diablo

February 24, 2015 by

What causes the strip of bare dirt between chaparral and grassland? A researcher tests the idea of a “scurry zone” on Mount Diablo.


Gray Fox Spotted in Presidio for First Time In More Than a Decade

February 20, 2015 by

A Presidio Trust biological science tech spotted a gray fox near the Batteries to Bluffs trail on Wednesday, the first recorded in the Presidio since 2004.


‘Slow Coast’ May Get a National Monument

February 16, 2015 by Kaitlyn Kraybill-Voth

Santa Cruz Redwoods National Monument has a certain ring to it.


The Romance of Raptors

February 12, 2015 by

Raptor expert Larry Broderick of Sonoma-based West County Hawk Watch has been enamored of birds of prey since childhood. We swooped in to chat with Larry about his favorite predators on the eve of this weekend’s SF Bay Flyway Festival.


Bay Nature Awards Dinner: Silent Auction Preview

February 11, 2015 by

We’re delighted to be able to offer some wonderful wilderness getaways — plus tours of museums, an artist’s studio, days on the water, and much, much more — for our Local Hero Awards Dinner‘s silent auction this year. Proceeds from the auction will support Bay Nature Institute and its programs. Feast your eyes on the items below […]


What’s Killing California’s Native Pigeon?

February 09, 2015 by

Scientists are using genetic tests to determine how a nasty parasite is killing off the band-tailed pigeon.


Shapeshifter, Trickster, Survivor: Coyote in the Modern World

February 05, 2015 by

Coyotes have been remarkably resilient and tenacious, surviving—thriving, even—in our midst as a relict and a messenger from a much wilder California.


Rancho Corral de Tierra: A Sea to Summit Trek on the San Mateo Coast

February 02, 2015 by

It’s time to open up Rancho Corral de Tierra, a storied, long-private piece of the coast, for all.


Never Mind the Game; Here’s a Superb Owl in San Jose

January 30, 2015 by

This is no mere Internet meme: the City of San Jose has a burrowing owl preserve, with hidden cameras, and it is spectacular.


From the Bottom Up at Mountain Lake

January 30, 2015 by

With San Francisco’s Mountain Lake once again clean enough to support native species, its managers are reintroducing the basic building blocks of a healthy ecosystem.


Keeping Watch on the Bay

January 29, 2015 by

When hundreds of surf scoters and other ducks wintering on San Francisco Bay were found coated with a baffling “mystery goo” a few weeks ago, San Francisco Baykeeper was one of the first organizations on the scene.


Learning to Love the Presidio’s Ancient Dune Ecosystem

January 28, 2015 by Katie Harrington

Ecologists hope that by reviving a rare dune ecosystem, the public will come to appreciate it as much as the forest.


Nowhere to Go But Up

January 26, 2015 by

We’ve built our cities right up the edge of the Bay, and it’s a big Bay so there’s lots of low-lying waterfront. Now sea level rise is forcing hard decisions and creative thinking about that waterfront.


Why’s It So Hot If There’s No El Niño?

January 23, 2015 by

It’s hot. And the next El Niño will likely blow away even 2014’s temperature record, locally, statewide, and globally.


California’s Drought, As Measured From the Sky

January 22, 2015 by

Up until recently, there were limited and fairly antiquated options on how to measure California’s snowpack.


What is the mystery substance that killed East Bay seabirds?

January 20, 2015 by

State investigators will begin testing a mystery substance that has killed or injured more than 200 seabirds in the San Francisco Bay.


Preserving Agriculture, Restoring a Watershed, and Getting Help from the Locals To Do It

January 16, 2015 by

On farmland near the Pajaro River, Point Blue, The Nature Conservancy, and a busload of school kids marry an idea about landscape restoration with an idea about the way the people who live, work, and play on that land can – and should — be part of restoring it.


Of Cows, Cars, and Checkerspots

January 15, 2015 by

Stuart Weiss, co-founder of the Menlo Park-based environmental consulting firm Creekside Center for Earth Observation, is one of those rare birds who’s managed to connect hard science to on-the-ground conservation on a grand scale. And he started out by just doing what he loves: chasing butterflies! Are you originally from the Bay Area? If not, […]


Are Humans Part of Wild Nature? Interview with M. Sanjayan

January 15, 2015 by

New documentary film series explores how humans and nature are codependent.


Ask the Naturalist: Do pelicans carry their babies in their pouches?

January 09, 2015 by

A first-grade teacher asks: Do pelicans ever carry their young in their pouches? We asked International Bird Rescue for the answer.


Fishing the Rip, Part 2

January 08, 2015 by

Jack Harrison, 26, is already a seasoned wilderness and fly-fishing guide and the lead survival instructor at Adventure Out outdoor school based in Santa Cruz. We caught up with Jack as he returned from a morning of ocean fishing at Stinson Beach. Describe some of the personal wilderness expeditions you’ve taken. I’m an big fly-fisherman. […]


Bay Buffet: The Spawn of the Pacific Herring

January 08, 2015 by

The pulses in this silver fish wave, reaching up to a mile long by a mile wide, represent perhaps the largest aggregations of animals you’ll ever find in Northern California.


A Voice for Native Plants Turns 50

January 07, 2015 by

U ntil a few years ago, few people knew about the rare plant communities that persisted quietly in a lightly used city park in the Oakland hills. If people were aware of Knowland Park it was largely because of its proximity to the Oakland Zoo, which sits in a corner of the park and manages […]


Time — and Late Fall Rain — Revitalize Mount Diablo

January 05, 2015 by

On the last day of 2014, Joan Hamilton walked around Green Ranch Road on Mount Diablo to see what a full year, and some long-awaited rain, had done to the Morgan Fire burn area.


Stalking the Elusive, Scientists Carry on Bowerman’s Mount Diablo Legacy

January 05, 2015 by

The 3,100-acre Morgan Fire provided opportunities for scientists. One of the main goals: to learn how plant and animal communities rebuild themselves after a major disturbance.


Bill Kortum Leaves Legacy in Conservation

January 05, 2015 by

Sonoma County’s Bill Kortum, 87, dies leaving much of Sonoma County land preserved for posterity.


Javier Ochoa Reyes, Groundwork Richmond

January 01, 2015 by

Every year, Bay Nature Institute selects three people whose extraordinary work on behalf of conservation and environmental education in the Bay Area warrants special recognition and appreciation. This year’s Local Hero for Youth Engagement is Javier Ochoa Reyes, project coordinator of Groundwork Richmond. This award recognizes an individual, 25 years old or younger, who is making […]


Julia Clothier, Point Reyes National Seashore Association

January 01, 2015 by

Every year, Bay Nature Institute selects three people whose extraordinary work on behalf of conservation and environmental education in the Bay Area warrants special recognition and appreciation. This year’s Local Hero for Environmental Education is Julia Clothier, Education Director of the Point Reyes National Seashore Association. This award recognizes the achievements of an individual who has […]


Ralph Benson, Sonoma Land Trust

January 01, 2015 by

Every year, Bay Nature Institute selects three people whose extraordinary work on behalf of conservation and environmental education in the Bay Area warrants special recognition and appreciation. This year’s Local Hero for Conservation Action is Ralph Benson, longtime Executive Director of the Sonoma Land Trust. This award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions […]


Bayview: Eye-Opening “Functional Beauty”

January 01, 2015 by

  I f you’re going to succeed as a species in this world, you need to get three things right: shelter, food, reproduction. Simple. But it’s the variety of ways in which living organisms go about meeting these three basic needs that gives rise to the mind-blowing diversity of life on the planet—all the shapes […]


Fishing the Rip

December 31, 2014 by

Jack Harrison, 26, is a wilderness and fly-fishing guide and the lead survival instructor at Adventure Out outdoor school based in Santa Cruz. We caught up with Jack as he returned from a morning of ocean fishing at Stinson Beach and spoke with him about his wilderness adventures, surviving in the wild, and the importance […]


A New Twist on Saving Salmon — and Keeping West Marin Affordable

December 30, 2014 by

Coho salmon need help, but so do people with modest incomes. A new initiative seeks to bridge the two.


Water Hyacinth Thrives in Drought Stricken Delta

December 22, 2014 by Theodore Andersen

Drought brings ideal conditions for rapid spread of water hyacinth in the Delta.


Great Nature Reads

December 19, 2014 by

Stuck inside on a rainy day? Felled by a winter cold? Or just feel like curling up with a cup of tea and reading a good book? We’ve got some great selections so you can enjoy nature indoors.


A Sustainable Ocean Harvest

December 18, 2014 by

Exploring the world of kelp with Rising Tides Sea Vegetables’ Larry Knowles.


To Get Kids to the Wilderness, Oakland Group Trains and Equips Trip Leaders

December 15, 2014 by Rachel Hiles

Oakland-based Bay Area Wilderness Training tries to provide teachers and trip leaders with everything they need — from leadership skills to equipment — to get kids out in nature.


High Pressure Ridge Gone at Start of Rainy Season

December 13, 2014 by

Is California’s drought caused by “natural variability” or was it much more likely to happen under climate change?


Q&A With Rue Mapp: Turning to Nature for Healing

December 12, 2014 by

“Right now,” says founder Rue Mapp, “we need nature more than ever.” A Q&A with the founder of Outdoor Afro as she prepares for nationwide “healing hikes.”


Ask the Naturalist: Where Do Birds Go When it Rains?

December 11, 2014 by

Guest naturalist Josiah Clark reveals how birds cope with stormy weather.


In the South Bay Salt Ponds, Better Science Through Fishing

December 10, 2014 by

Field work is supposed to be where ecologists get to play Indiana Jones. The reality with swing-dancing joke-cracking fish-loving UC Davis research scientist Jim Hobbs is somewhat different: wet, muddy, smelly, and mostly involving either waiting for leopard sharks or harvesting leopard shark vomit.


San Francisco’s Chorus Frogs Nearly Disappeared. People Helped Them Return. Then The Frogs Got Noisy.

December 09, 2014 by

How much do we owe to native species we’ve eliminated from their home? Nature in the City is exploring the question with the reintroduction of vocal chorus frogs to San Francisco.


Wild Pigs, Increasing in Numbers on Mount Diablo, Expand Into New Turf

December 09, 2014 by

Wild pigs are uprooting unusual new areas of Mount Diablo this year.


The Significance of Wonder

December 04, 2014 by

The publisher of Heyday Books chats about the importance of keeping the poetry in nature writing.


What To Do When Ladybugs Make Your Home Theirs?

December 04, 2014 by

Question: I have a lot of ladybugs in my living room and kitchen. Should I take them outside?


Pier 94: By the People, For the Birds

December 02, 2014 by Mallory Pickett

P ier 94 salt marsh is located at the end of a wide road with dirt piled high on either side, past two cement plants and a truck weighing station. It doesn’t seem like ideal bird habitat. From the road, on a gray Saturday morning in November, the area looks abandoned and barren. But there […]


Not Doomed (Yet): A Q&A With Extinction Experts Anthony Barnosky and Elizabeth Hadly

November 24, 2014 by

Two biologists discuss Earth’s alarming extinction rate.


Young South Bay habitat hero engages kids in refuge conservation

November 20, 2014 by

2014 Brower Youth Award winner Lynnea Shuck talks about her Junior Refuge Ranger program.


Meet Bay Nature’s 2015 Local Heroes

November 18, 2014 by

Bay Nature Institute announces the three recipients of its 2015 “Local Hero” Awards.


Coastal Crabs in Survival Mode Under Climate Change

November 18, 2014 by Alison Hawkes

A first of its kind study measures the combined impacts of ocean acidity and high temperatures on an intertidal organism.


A Conservationist’s Take on the Knowland Park Controversy

November 17, 2014 by

The City of Oakland is about to make a major decision on the future of one of the Bay Area’s last remaining maritime chaparral communities.


Drought Brings Right Conditions to Stem Sudden Oak Death

November 11, 2014 by

The California drought is bad for most species, including the fungal pathogen that kills oaks.


Ask the Naturalist: Should I Be Afraid Of This Spider?

November 07, 2014 by

Q: I’ve heard of a very large and scary-looking spider that can be found in the Santa Cruz mountains. Should I fear it if I encounter it in the wild?


Sharks, “Swimming Noses,” May Lose Their Sense in a More Acidic Ocean

November 07, 2014 by Ethan Bien

While ocean acidification research often focuses on its impact on shelled animals such as corals or oysters, research is now showing the extent of the problem it will cause for fish like sharks, salmon, and rockfish.


The Underappreciated Undertakers

November 06, 2014 by

When you’re eyeball to eyeball with a turkey vulture, you wonder how he perceives you. (My “he” is Vladimir, a 30-year-old male, permanent resident of WildCare in San Rafael.) You may think of William Leon Dawson, an early celebrant of California birds: “…when the buzzard sweeps low to bend upon you an inquiring eye, you […]


Mushrooms to the Rescue!

November 06, 2014 by Sara Bernard

In the glare of the bright sunshine flooding Duffel Meadow, a pale swath of cattle-trodden grassland near Orinda, several dozen lumpy burlap sacks lie gray and ragged, no more conspicuous than a pile of compost, in two natural swales. But each bag’s straw and wood chip stuffing is threaded with a rich web of mushroom […]


Ascending the Mountain

November 06, 2014 by

For the Mountain Institute’s Ed Bernbaum. connecting people to mountains’ spiritual and cultural meaning is the key to protecting them.


Acorn Woodpeckers Expand Range in Search of Meager Acorn Supplies

November 04, 2014 by Bruce Mast/Golden Gate Birder

The failure of the spring rains this year may have something to do with woodpeckers foraging in Berkeley and San Francisco.


Where Poison Oak Thrives, Mount Diablo Concludes A Red October

October 30, 2014 by

The ever unpopular poison oak is the most colorful plant on Mount Diablo this month, especially in certain places swept clean by the 2013 Morgan Fire.


San Francisco’s Street Trees in Poor Shape as City Shifts Upkeep to Residents

October 30, 2014 by Daphne Matziaraki

Advocates say SF is losing its urban forest because of a budget shortfall for tree maintenance.


Ask the Naturalist: Young Bald Eagle at Palo Alto Baylands?

October 27, 2014 by

A possible young bald eagle sighting intrigues a South Bay park visitor.


For Nontraditional Conservationists, A New Career Pathway

October 23, 2014 by

The Golden Hour Restoration Institute has announced plans to offer an applied master restoration certificate.


Meet the Future: A New Generation Rising at the East Bay Parks

October 22, 2014 by

The EBRPD has become known for fostering long-term employees, but the baby boomers who were hired during the district’s major expansion years of the 1970s are retiring.


Saying “Yes” to Habitat Gardens

October 22, 2014 by

Award-winning master gardener Kate Frey believes gardens should be for more than just show.


Ask the Naturalist: What’s That Poking Out of the Ground?

October 17, 2014 by

A recent visitor to Los Gatos’ Vasona Park was startled by the appearance of a “mystery rodent”.


Why has Mission Peak Become the Thing to Do?

October 16, 2014 by Lakshmi Sarah

Mount Tam? That’s yesterday’s high peak. A younger generation of hikers ascends Mission Peak instead.


New Vision Launched for Candlestick Point

October 14, 2014 by

Just two years ago, the state wanted to abandon Candlestick Point. Now it’s investing money in the park’s renewal.


The View From the Blind: Hunters Take Aim for Conservation

October 14, 2014 by

Nature and culture writer Aleta George takes hunting field trips with a noted conservationists — and finds an extended series of lessons about the intimate and indelible connection between hunting and conservation.


It Was The Perfect Fish Study — Until Nature Messed It Up

October 13, 2014 by

Why do some fish go to sea while others stay home? NOAA researchers had elegant plans to investigate — and then the drought intervened.



October 09, 2014 by

Somewhere between animation and photography, Swiss-born Simon Christen has found his happy place: time-lapse photography. His “day job” is as an animator for Pixar Studios in Emeryville. But in his “spare time” he has found widespread recognition through his series of online time-lapse videos, including Adrift, which portrays the mesmerizing beauty of fog flowing over […]


There Are Insects on Mount Diablo, and This Scientist Is Out to Find Them

October 09, 2014 by

When it comes to documenting the world’s insect life, even places like Mount Diablo are full of unknowns, which UC Berkeley entomologist Kip Will finds exciting—and frustrating.


Fountain a Watering Hole for Drought-Affected Birds

October 08, 2014 by

Where does a thirsty bird go when the drought hits hard?


Q&A With Jose Gonzalez, Founder of Latino Outdoors

October 08, 2014 by

A Q&A with Jose Gonzalez, whose group Latino Outdoors works to make nature accessible to everyone.


Lofty Ambitions: The Ridge Trail Opens Up Sonoma Mountain

October 07, 2014 by

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, an ambitious project to knit together the Bay Area’s diverse ridgeline parks and open spaces. So far, over 340 out of a projected 550 miles of the trail are complete and open to the public. In recognition of this milestone, we invite you […]


When It Comes to Smell, the Turkey Vulture Stands (Nearly) Alone

October 07, 2014 by

Turkey vultures can locate food by scent alone — but it took naturalists a while to figure that out.


Ship Retraces Legacy of Once Mighty Bay Shrimp

October 02, 2014 by Jimmy Tobias

If the Chinese shrimping villages were still around today, could the California bay shrimp support a thriving industry as it once did?


In An Unusual Year for Upwelling, Research Cruise Keeps an Eye on Marine Sanctuaries’ Rich Life

September 29, 2014 by Jason Jaacks

For the past decade, the Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies expedition has monitored the ocean waters just west of the Bay Area. Recently, researchers took the boat in search of krill, the base of California’s marine life.


Ask the Naturalist: Wild Turkey vs. White-Tailed Kite?

September 25, 2014 by

The surprise appearance of a wild turkey in another bird’s nest has one reader wondering.


Putting Nature on the Balance Sheet

September 24, 2014 by

Three Bay Area counties —Santa Clara, Sonoma and Santa Cruz — have found a way to put these values of nature onto a balance sheet.


Connecting with Environmental Journalist Jon Christensen

September 24, 2014 by

The editor of BOOM, a new quarterly journal about California, speaks with Bay Nature about his latest project.


Bayview: California’s Water Year

September 24, 2014 by

We can’t control the rain. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do. Bay Nature Publisher David Loeb on California’s drought.


High Temperatures Threaten Sacramento River’s Fall-Run King Salmon

September 23, 2014 by

The early fall king salmon spawning run on the Sacramento River is taking place between Red Bluff and Redding, but prolonged drought has led to reduced flows from Lake Shasta and high water temperatures downriver, which could deal many egg nests a death blow.


Eat Local, Eat Weird? The Secretive Monkeyface Eel Is Both.

September 19, 2014 by

Fisherman Kirk Lombard encourages his seafood customers to eat small and eat weird. The monkeyface eel is both.


Ask the Naturalist: Shady Bay Area Hikes?

September 19, 2014 by

Where to find some shady hikes in our state parks on sunny fall days? Guest naturalist – and BN publisher David Loeb – had some suggestions.


Ocean Beach’s Sand Supply Dries Up, Leaving Plovers Squeezed

September 16, 2014 by Jimmy Tobias

San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, already struggling with foot traffic and free-roaming domestic pets, faces a serious erosion problem.


Ask The Naturalist: Why Would A Mountain Lion Attack That Child?

September 13, 2014 by

“I hear lion attacks are rare. Why would a mountain lion attack a child in the midst of a large group, as we’ve seen in the Santa Cruz Mountains last weekend?”


Connecting with Whales in Monterey Bay

September 11, 2014 by

Spotting whales in Monterey Bay is at historic highs. Marine biologist Dorris Welch explains why.


Bay Area Seal Researchers Travel the Pacific to Save a Species

September 10, 2014 by

Marin’s Marine Mammal Center is spreading its reach across the Pacific, and this summer opened a $3.2 million seal hospital in Hawaii that is the only facility in the world dedicated to treating and protecting the Hawaiian monk seal.


American Wilderness: Back to the Future in Vallejo

September 10, 2014 by

Environmental groups gathered in downtown Vallejo over the weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, to ponder the meaning of the word and to filter the concept through the lenses of California’s diverse communities.


One Year After the Morgan Fire: The Recovery in Photos

September 08, 2014 by

On the one-year anniversary of what came to be called the 2013 Morgan Fire, there’s good news to report. See the recovery in this series of slideshows by Joan Hamilton.


The Only Plant of Its Kind, Living Life in a San Mateo Agricultural Field

September 05, 2014 by

In a single agricultural field on the San Mateo County coast, the entire known world population of Ornduff’s meadowfoam is thriving.


Ask the Naturalist: Wall-to-Wall Blue Jays?

September 05, 2014 by

A Berkeley reader asks why he’s seeing so many jays lately.


Out on the Trail with V-O-Cal’s Morris Older

August 27, 2014 by

This past weekend, a new trail was blazed from San Francisco’s McLaren Park to its Visitacion Valley neighborhood, providing a safe alternative to walking on a busy city street. The skilled squad of workers behind this new trail offered their time and effort for an organization called Volunteers for Outdoor California, or V-O-Cal. We spoke with longtime V-O-Cal project […]


Replanting the Bay’s Underwater Meadows

August 26, 2014 by

A new effort has been launched to restore 70 acres of native eelgrass in the San Francisco Bay, paid for with Cosco Busan oil spill money.


Ask the Naturalist: Best spots to photograph Bay Area butterflies?

August 21, 2014 by

Doesn’t get much better for eye candy than a butterfly on a flower, right?


Bear, Elk and Talking Ape in Post-Apocalypse Muir Woods: What Are the Chances?*

August 14, 2014 by

A herd of elk and a grizzly bear make an appearance in Muir Woods in the opening scene of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Would such megafauna stage a comeback 10 years after humans are mostly killed off?


Gardening for Wild Bees? Now There’s an App for That

August 13, 2014 by

A new iPad app, Wild Bee Gardening, draws on the knowledge of native bee experts to bring native bee conservation and gardening into the digital realm.


Sharing Secrets of the Oak Woodlands

August 13, 2014 by

Over a decade of close observation and research led to Kate Marianchild’s first book Secrets of the Oak Woodlands.


Love a Shark? Save a Wetland

August 12, 2014 by

The resident sharks of the San Francisco Bay rely on healthy tidal wetlands.


The Scientists are Amateurs, But Their Coastal Research Makes a Splash

August 07, 2014 by

After 12 years of study, an ambitious citizen science effort has recorded population figures for 34 different types of algae and invertebrates at 70 different monitoring sites. Sixty percent of the 4,000 participants have been high schoolers. Their work, scientists say, is a legitimate contribution to marine science.


TBC3: Wrestling Climate Change to the Ground

August 04, 2014 by

It’s not “news” to Bay Nature readers that climate change is in the process of giving a serious thwack to living systems. But what’s less well understood is how plants and animals and the habitats they inhabit are moving—and being altered—in response to changing temperature and precipitation patterns.


Bay Area Wild: Reflections on 50 Years of Wilderness Protection

August 04, 2014 by

In a world thoroughly worked over by humankind, wilderness is our term for those places that seem the least altered, the least managed. It identifies the rawer end of a spectrum, with downtown San Francisco on one end and, say, the Wrangell Mountains on the other. But the word is elastic.


On the Trail with Laura Thompson

July 31, 2014 by

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Bay Trail, a 500-mile-long trail corridor which traces nearly the entire shoreline of San Francisco Bay. We spoke with Bay Trail project manager Laura Thompson about her efforts to connect remaining segments, and the often herculean task of bringing together all of the necessary funds, resources, and […]


On Mount Diablo, Springtime in the Summer Heat

July 30, 2014 by

The temperature rises to well over 90 degrees on Mount Diablo these days—hot enough to bake many small plants. But the little green shrubs have just begun to stage their comeback. It’s springtime in the chaparral.


A Bird’s Eye View of the Morgan Fire, Now Available from Google

July 30, 2014 by

One way to check out the 2013 Morgan fire is to tromp around on Mount Diablo’s trails. Then there’s another option: check out satellite photos.


“By the Wind” Sailors: Seasonal Velella beaching mystery solved

July 30, 2014 by

Recently, Bay Area beachcombers have been spotting dozens of mysterious blue jelly-like creatures littering the beaches. What are they, and why are they here? Bay Nature naturalist Michael Ellis explains.


American Kestrel Population Drops Dramatically, And Without Fanfare

July 29, 2014 by

At the national level, the American kestrel population has been plummeting. Researchers in Santa Cruz are trying to learn more about the surprisingly mysterious birds.


Ask The Naturalist: Can Deer Twins Be Born on Different Days?

July 28, 2014 by

This week’s guest naturalist David Lukas has the answer to a reader’s intriguing cervid question.


Tracking the Ghost Cat: Mountain Lions Remain Elusive in the East Bay

July 25, 2014 by

The Bay Area Puma Project team has been collaring mountain lions and monitoring remote motion-sensor cameras throughout the East Bay. It’s not easy tracking the elusive cats, but it’s vital to understanding how to protect them.


In San Francisco, A Dying Forest Waits for Action

July 23, 2014 by

Mount Sutro’s once-thriving blue gum eucalyptus trees are dying. At the moment, though, there’s no approved environmental impact report for maintenance, and in the absence of major work conditions are deteriorating fast.


Making Their Mark

July 11, 2014 by

The ideas driving the environmental and social movements of the early 1970s gained a strong foothold in the East Bay Regional Park District, thanks in large part to a cohort of young park workers hired during that decade.


Marsh Once More: The Bay Trail Takes Off at Hamilton Airfield

July 10, 2014 by

Looking out across the 650-acre project toward the distant Godzilla arm of the backhoe against the blue sky, I finally see on the ground what the planners and engineers have been describing to me ever since I first began writing stories about Hamilton ten years ago: a tapestry of habitats.


Enlightened by Bioluminescence

July 10, 2014 by

Another phenomenon, equally fabulous but much lower in the food chain, can also occur in the ocean at this time of year: bioluminescence, or “living light.”


It’s Fun! It’s Science! It’s a Bioblitz!

July 10, 2014 by

On the last weekend of March, 9,000 people armed with binoculars, butterfly nets, cameras, and smartphones, spread out over an archipelago of national park lands from Point Reyes in Marin County to Mori Point on the San Mateo coast. Their goal: document as many species as possible of plants, animals, and other living things in […]


Bay View: America’s Wild Anniversary

July 10, 2014 by

As far as I know, the passage of the Wilderness Act 50 years ago was the first time in human history that a society has declared by statute that certain areas shall never be developed, nor exploited for commercial gain, nor intruded on by motorized transport.


On Its 40th Anniversary, the Farallon Wilderness Remains Uniquely Wild

July 08, 2014 by

Each wilderness area has its own unique essence, and the Farallon Islands’ might just be how utterly, unbelievably wild it is.


The Clapper Rail Calls at Dawn

July 03, 2014 by

A Bay Nature special feature about weird birds, hardy biologists, and the difficult methods we employ to move past what our eyes and ears tell us and see something like the truth.


Award-Winning Filmmaker Discusses Upcoming Wilderness Anniversary

July 02, 2014 by

Filmmaker Steve Dunsky usually spends his time behind the camera not in front of it. Now and  then, however, he steps into public view. As one of the main creative forces behind the 50th anniversary celebration of the Wilderness Act that will take place in Vallejo this September, he’s become more public and perhaps more […]


Impressionism, Pointillism, Statistical Processing: Finding Truths in the Patterns of Nature

July 02, 2014 by

The beauty of science is that it really does search for truth. It is easy to follow the tracks and trails of one or several of nature’s patterns and yet be completely lost as to the whole picture.


Trail Trekkers Forge a New Path in El Cerrito

July 01, 2014 by

Since 2012, the El Cerrito nonprofit ECTT has built two new trails: Motorcycle Hill Trail and another called Lower Snowdon Trail. Both of these are in the Hillside Natural Area, 85 acres of city-owned open space in El Cerrito.


To Catch a Mouse: Chasing Mammals on Recovering Mount Diablo

July 01, 2014 by

Researchers are using hidden cameras and small mammal traps to try and answer questions about animal life following the fire.


Mammals Caught on Hidden Camera Visiting the Diablo Burn Area

July 01, 2014 by

A team of researchers, with a grant from Save Mount Diablo, has installed hidden cameras in a variety of plots around the Mount Diablo burn area to see what sort of large wildlife shows up.


Seeing America, Again: Re-imagined Art Project Connects Artists, Parks

June 30, 2014 by

A new campaign crowd-sources artwork from all 50 states to revive New Deal-era posters with a new collection of art celebrating America’s national parks.


Video of Snakes Caught in the Act in Petaluma

June 26, 2014 by

A few months ago a Point Blue Conservation Science staff member spotted two happy king snakes engaged in an act of passion at the edge of Shollenberger Marsh. Here’s the video.


Bioblitz Turns Up Ancient Find in the Presidio

June 24, 2014 by

One of the most unexpected finds of the March Golden Gate National Parks bioblitz, at El Polin Springs in the Presidio, was a freshwater sponge, one of the most ancient forms of animal life.


Spreading the Buzz About Native Bees

June 19, 2014 by

Native bee expert Gordon Frankie has been acquainting farmers with California’s own pollinators.


Beavers Used to Be Almost Everywhere in California

June 19, 2014 by

Beavers used to live across most of California before they were trapped out of existence. But could they be a solution to drought and climate change?


EAST BAY: Mount Diablo Fairy Lantern

June 13, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed in the Morgan Fire burn area at Viera-North Peak, by David Ogden, May 6.


EAST BAY: Calochortus venustus

June 09, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed by David Ogden in Perkins Canyon, Mount Diablo, May 14.


San Francisco Group Launches Pop-Up Gardens

June 06, 2014 by

There are pop-up kitchens, pop-up retail stores … so why not pop-up gardens? One San Francisco group is taking over vacant lots until they are developed.


Singing the Praises of our Local Creeks

June 05, 2014 by

“I am fortunate to live near Las Gallinas Creek, so I get to see it every day. Its beauty has been a great source of inspiration to me for many years, and that’s why I wrote my song Glory Day.” — Kurt Huget, one of the musicians on Watershed. Watershed, a recently released CD compilation, is […]


What a Great Wildflower Year Looks Like in the Spring

June 03, 2014 by

Regular visitors to Mount Diablo are calling this spring one of the best wildflower years they’ve ever seen. Here’s what that looked like in May in the Morgan Fire burn area.


EAST BAY: Triteleia laxa

June 03, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on the Sinawik Trail, Joaquin Miller Park, by Andrew Aldrich, June 1.


Santa Clara Water District Cuts Reservoir Releases to Local Creeks and Ponds

June 02, 2014 by

Santa Clara Valley Water District officials say they are facing an “unprecedented shortage” of water this year, and as the district’s drinking water reservoirs run dry, it is cutting releases into the county’s creeks and recharge ponds to conserve. In dry years SCVWD imports up to 99 percent of its drinking water from state and […]


Hidden Cameras Capture Stunning Photos of Wildlife in the Santa Cruz Mountains

May 27, 2014 by

What do mountain lions and other wildlife do when we’re not looking? Georgia Stigall’s hidden cameras show their remarkable world.


A New Paradigm For Conservation: Consider the Countryside

May 27, 2014 by

Conservation biologists are realizing that farmlands could play an important role in conservation.



May 23, 2014 by

Thanks for visiting Bay Nature’s Mount Diablo fire recovery page. Follow us on social media for updates, and please email us with feedback or tips!


Watch the Recovery Live

May 23, 2014 by

Nerds for Nature has installed posts at several spots in the fire area, where you can take pictures and give them a hashtag to feed them into a slideshow documenting change on Mount Diablo.


The Jumbo Squid Have Left California. Or Have They?

May 22, 2014 by

Humboldt Squid have moved into and out of California, sometimes for years at a time, for centuries. Now an El Niño approaches the Pacific Coast, and squid researchers are waiting.


Chasing the Fire Followers

May 22, 2014 by

Botanist Heath Bartosh, co-founder of Nomad Ecology, gained an early appreciation for the rich botanical wealth of the Golden State.


‘Slow Coast’ Will Stay Slow with Newly Protected Lands

May 21, 2014 by

For the first time in a century, the public will have access to two key sites along the Central Coast.


The Last Oyster

May 20, 2014 by

The West Coast’s native Olympia oyster serves an important role as an ecosystem builder with its ability to filter the water. But owing to reasons that are still somewhat unclear, over the last few millennia native oysters have largely disappeared from the San Francisco Bay.


EAST BAY: Wind poppy

May 19, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on Mount Diablo’s Mary Bowerman Trail by Jane Huber, May 18.


EAST BAY: Bitter root

May 19, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on Mount Diablo’s Mary Bowerman Trail by Jane Huber, May 18.


EAST BAY: Triteleia laxa

May 15, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed by David Loeb in Perkins Canyon, Mount Diablo, May 11.


It’s Not Just the Fire-Followers

May 15, 2014 by

Bay Nature Publisher David Loeb visited Perkins Canyon over the weekend and found it awash in flowers!


Groundwater Depletion Could Lead to Earthquakes

May 15, 2014 by

In a newly published paper, scientists link groundwater depletion in the Central Valley to geologic uplift and maybe even earthquakes.


“Bay Nature on the Air” Nominated for Northern California Emmy Award

May 14, 2014 by

Bay Nature on the Air — nature shorts based on features from Bay Nature magazine — has been nominated for a regional Emmy Award.


Chronicle Features Fire Following Flowers

May 14, 2014 by

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Kevin Fagan has a big story today about fire-following flowers on Mount Diablo, and the work of Heath Bartosh to track them!


EAST BAY: Delphinium californicum ssp. interius

May 14, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed by David Ogden at Mangini Ranch, Concord, May 8.


Peninsula Measure Would Get People onto More Public Lands

May 14, 2014 by

Election coverage: Almost half of Midpen’s lands are closed to the public, but that could change if Peninsula voters approve funding for projects.


Quick Guide to Fire Following Flowers

May 12, 2014 by

Need help identifying sprouting plants in the field? iNaturalist’s Ken-ichi Ueda made this quick guide to fire-following flowers on Mount Diablo.


What Follows a Fire? A Mount Diablo Botany Quiz

May 12, 2014 by

After a fire, botanists hustle out to burned areas to identify surviving and regenerating species. They’ve often got only a few leaves to go on, some from species that haven’t been seen for decades. So it’s tough. Want to test your skills against those of the botanists?


EAST BAY: Calochortus venustus

May 12, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed by David Loeb in Perkins Canyon, Mount Diablo, May 11.


Flowers Everywhere!

May 09, 2014 by

In a Facebook post today, Save Mount Diablo writes that this is the best wildflower season many of them have ever seen. Recent sightings include fire poppies and whispering bells, and the rare Kellogg’s climbing snapdragon, Antirrhinum kelloggii, which had only been recorded twice in Contra Costa County or the East Bay before, both times on […]


Fire Followers Arrive, with Scientists Right Behind

May 09, 2014 by

An expert in rare plants, Heath Bartosh is especially interested in “fire followers,” plants whose seeds stay buried in the ground until heat or smoke stimulates germination. These annuals flourish for one to three years. And then they’re gone—until the next fire.


The Inner Visions of Mark Kitchell

May 07, 2014 by

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then and have known ever since that there was something new to me in those eyes, something known only to her and to the mountain.” — Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac On Earth Day 2014, […]


Tule Elk Relocated As Numbers Rebound

May 07, 2014 by

How do you relocate a 1,000-pound bull? Wildlife officials truck California’s “homegrown elk” to new sanctuaries.


Interior Secretary: Contra Costa Habitat Plan A National Model

May 06, 2014 by

United States Interior Secretary Sally Jewell took in the view from the summit of Kreiger Peak to highlight the plan that helped preserve the east Contra Costa peak.


California Academy of Sciences Acquires iNaturalist

May 06, 2014 by

The California Academy of Sciences acquired the nature-cataloguing tool iNaturalist in late April in a merger of two of the Bay Area’s most prominent faces of public science.


New Genetics Research May Shed Light on the Secretive Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse

May 06, 2014 by

Although many people are studying salt marsh harvest mice, or “salties,” as they are affectionately known, San Francisco State graduate student Anastasia Ennis is one of a few people studying harvest mouse population genetics.



May 01, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on Milagra Ridge by Jennifer Schurk, April 30.


A Long Time Coming, but the Bay’s Back at Former Hamilton Airfield

April 30, 2014 by

Last week a backhoe knocked a hole in the outer levee at the former Hamilton Army Airfield, letting the Bay seep back onto a landscape that had undergone 18 years of preparation for this moment.


Tree Camping: A Bed of Boughs in a City of Lights

April 29, 2014 by

My plan was really more of a prompt, a nudge from me to myself in the direction of urban-arboreal adventure. I’d wander San Francisco, neighborhood to neighborhood, park to park, paying attention to trees.


Orcas Erupt at Point Reyes

April 29, 2014 by

A pod of orcas put on a show for visitors off the shore of the Point Reyes Lighthouse this weekend. Check out these photos.



April 29, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed near El Polin Springs in the Presidio by Elizabeth Creely, April 27.


From Shanghai to San Francisco Bay

April 24, 2014 by

The son of Russian immigrants living in post-war Shanghai, Igor Skaredoff moved to California with his parents at the age of six, and has been here for most of his life. After a long career as an environmental engineer for Shell Oil, Skaredoff retired from industry and dedicated himself to advocating for the creeks and […]


The Drought Could Harm Research At Farallon Islands

April 24, 2014 by

Without rainwater, Farallon Islands research station is unable to function.


Why Bay Nature?

April 22, 2014 by

Publisher David Loeb had his Bay Nature epiphany while hiking in China Camp State Park. That’s when he conceived of the idea to start a magazine about the natural wonders of the San Francisco Bay Area. Recently David gave a presentation at the Oakmont Symposium in Santa Rosa on the roots of Bay Nature magazine, […]


Nature Below Dolores Park, One Way or Another

April 22, 2014 by

A Dolores Park construction hole filled with water. Was this the clue to an unresolved mystery, and a window into a piece of San Francisco history?


French Broom and An Earth Day Message of Resilience

April 22, 2014 by

Removing French broom might as well be a message for Earth Day 2014 — pull the weeds is your backyard, however intractable they might be.


EAST BAY: Owl’s clover

April 21, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on the North Peak Trail, Mount Diablo State Park, by David Loeb, April 20.


NORTH BAY: Checkerbloom

April 21, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on Ring Mountain, Corte Madera, by David Loeb, April 19.


First Person: Youth Engagement Award Winner Cheyanna Washburn

April 21, 2014 by

We first encountered Cheyanna Washburn in her role as an intern with the California Phenology Project at the John Muir National Historic Site in her hometown of Martinez. Now a student at Diablo Valley College in botany and recreational therapy, Cheyanna found her path into the natural world at the alternative New Leaf Leadership Academy, […]


First Person: Conservation Action Award Winner Craig Anderson

April 21, 2014 by

It’s sometimes hard to tell what Craig Anderson loves more: land, people, music, outdoor adventure, or his 29-year-old Toyota pickup. That’s because whatever he’s doing at any particular moment, he’s doing it with great passion, keen intention, and a big heart.


First Person: Environmental Education Award Winner Liam O’Brien

April 21, 2014 by

The architect of urban butterfly habitat projects like Tigers on Market Street and the Green Hairstreak Corridor, and the restoration of Mission blues on Twin Peaks, Liam O’Brien is a man on a mission to prove that habitats for humans and habitats for butterflies aren’t mutually exclusive.


EAST BAY: Mt. Diablo wallflower

April 21, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed by David Loeb, North Peak Trail, Mount Diablo State Park, April 20.


EAST BAY: Blow-wives

April 21, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on the Maguire Peaks Loop, Sunol Regional Wilderness, by Harold Poskanzer, April 20.


First Blue Heron Cam in California Set up at Stow Lake

April 18, 2014 by

A blue heron cam will be watching the majestic birds nest on Stow Lake this year to aid in research and public education.


A New Haven for the Leopard Shark

April 17, 2014 by

Leopard sharks are a shallow-water coastal species, with a range extending from southern Oregon to southern Baja California. They are the most abundant shark species in the San Francisco Bay.


PENINSULA: Wight’s Paintbrush

April 16, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on San Bruno Mountain by Lech Naumovich, April 15.


The Fish We Never Knew

April 16, 2014 by

The Galapagos damselfish exists only in the specimens collection at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, the victim of an unusually strong El Nino. Thoughts on the fish, and its lessons in a changing world.


Could this be the end of California’s drift gillnet fishing?

April 16, 2014 by

The tide may be finally turning against the use of drift gillnets off California waters. WARNING: Disturbing images.


Nudibranchs, Kings of the Tidepool, Command An Audience

April 14, 2014 by

There are lots of pretty pictures of the 3,000 nudibranchs species already discovered, but few specifics. Key elements of their fundamental biology are still poorly understood, or not understood at all. Or not even examined.


BUTTE COUNTY: Frying pan poppies

April 14, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve (north of Oroville), by Carolyn Straub, March 15.


EAST BAY: California poppies

April 11, 2014 by

Seen and photographed on the North Peak Trail between Prospector’s Gap and Mount Diablo, Mount Diablo State Park, by Harold Poskanzer, April 5.



April 11, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on the Mount Olympia trail, Mount Diablo State Park, by Harold Poskanzer, April 5.


How Can You Tell If a Lichen Is Dead?

April 11, 2014 by

Lichens by nature are mottled and brittle looking. So how do you know when they are dead?


Moments of Inception: The Founding Vision of the East Bay Regional Parks

April 10, 2014 by

In 1863, not a year after Thoreau’s death, Frederick Law Olmsted, king of American landscape architecture, looked into the hills east of San Francisco Bay and saw that they were good. He imagined a park up there.


Trailblazing with TRAC’s Bruce Beyaert

April 10, 2014 by

This year, the Trails for Richmond Action Committee (TRAC) is celebrating its 15th year as the leading advocacy group for completion of the San Francisco Bay Trail along the Richmond shoreline. TRAC’s chair and co-founder is Bruce Beyaert, a longtime Richmond resident and former Chevron employee whose passion for the Bay, his knack for planning, […]


Explaining the Cosco Busan Spill’s Toxic Effects: Scientists Report A Link Between Oil and Fish Heart Health

April 09, 2014 by

Seven years after the Cosco Busan oil spill, a group of scientists led by Barbara Block at the Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey have discovered the exact chemical pathway that makes oil such an insidious toxin.


Living Shorelines

April 07, 2014 by

A few years ago the State Coastal Conservancy went looking for something new: habitat restoration that would also address sea level rise. Two years into a pilot experiment, the results suggest that in the appropriate places this green climate adaptation might work.


EAST BAY: Goldfield

April 04, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on the Canyon View Trail, Sunol Regional Wilderness, by Ayesha Ercelawn, March 30.


EAST BAY: Gilia tricolor

April 04, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on the Canyon View Trail, Sunol Regional Wilderness, by Ayesha Ercelawn, March 30.


PENINSULA: Checkermallow

April 04, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on San Bruno Mountain by Elizabeth Creely, March 30.


PENINSULA: Phacelia californica

April 04, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on San Bruno Mountain by Elizabeth Creely, March 30.


Turning the Corner on Invasive Spartina

April 04, 2014 by

Today, after 13 years of work by the Invasive Spartina Project and its partners to eliminate the invasive hybrid, the team is now into the rebuilding phase of its long-term plan, replanting the area with native cordgrass in hopes that it will reclaim its former territory.


Counting Crows: Why are there So Many?

April 04, 2014 by

The crow population is exploding, and with it the number of nuisance complaints. But perhaps crows deserve a bit more respect for being so resilient and smart.


Some Wildflowers Take Advantage of Drought

April 03, 2014 by

Yes, it’s been a dry year. But that’s not entirely a bad thing for annual natives like wildflowers, which are finding a rare opportunity to restore their seed banks.


EAST BAY: Delphinium

March 30, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on the Canyon View Trail in the Sunol Regional Wilderness by Ameet Zaveri, March 23.


PENINSULA: Yellow viola

March 30, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on San Bruno Mountain by Elizabeth Creely, March 30.



March 28, 2014 by

On a beautiful spring afternoon under blue skies and sunshine, our group followed the California Academy of Sciences renowned entomologist Dr. Brian Fisher down the Presidio bluffs to look for ants. Fisher had surveyed this area years ago, he said, but not been back since its recent restoration. What did we find? To our surprise, […]


SAN FRANCISCO: Tidy tips and goldfields

March 28, 2014 by

Seen and photographed by Jane Huber below Inspiration Point in the Presidio, March 26.


SAN FRANCISCO: Douglas iris

March 28, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on the Coastal Trail in the Presidio by Eric Simons, March 28.



March 28, 2014 by

Spotted and photographed on the Coastal Trail near Battery West, Presidio, by Eric Simons, March 28.


Berkeley nixes plan to exterminate ground squirrels

March 28, 2014 by

Water officials said they were concerned that ground squirrel tunnels were sending toxins into the San Francisco Bay.


Bay Nature’s Annual Local Hero Awards Dinner 2014 – Photos!

March 28, 2014 by

Bay Nature’s 2014 Local Hero Awards dinner, held on Sunday, March 23 at Scott’s Seafood on Jack London Square, honored three local conservation heroes who’ve made outstanding contributions to the understanding, protection, and stewardship of the natural world of the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more about our honorees here. Our guest speaker was  Michael Brune, […]


Welcome Bioblitzers!

March 28, 2014 by

Hi there, and welcome to Bay Nature’s diary-of-a-bioblitzer page. Did you participate in the big event? See anything weird? Learned something new about a place you often visit? Saw some part of the Golden Gate National Parks for the first time? Let us know by filling out this form and attaching a picture, then go […]



March 28, 2014 by

Seen and photographed by Judith Bush on the Serpentine Loop Trail in Edgewood Park in Redwood City, March 23.


PENINSULA: Purple sanicle

March 28, 2014 by

Seen and photographed by Judith Bush on the Serpentine Loop Trail in Edgewood Park in Redwood City, March 23.


PENINSULA: Star lily

March 27, 2014 by

Seen and photographed by Judith Bush on the Serpentine Loop Trail in Edgewood Park in Redwood City, March 23.


PENINSULA: Blue dick

March 27, 2014 by

Seen and photographed by Judith Bush on the Serpentine Loop Trail in Edgewood Park in Redwood City, March 23.


PENINSULA: Shooting star

March 27, 2014 by

Seen and photographed by Judith Bush on the Serpentine Loop Trail in Edgewood Park in Redwood City, March 23.  


The Nearby Wilderness: Seeking Solitude and Serenity in the Orestimba

March 27, 2014 by

Moments of utter solitude are the Orestimba’s calling card. Wherever you might travel in the American West, you are not likely to find a place more isolated.


Swimming for Sharks

March 27, 2014 by

Emmy-award-winning filmmaker and marine scientist David McGuire has not only swum with sharks, he’s swum FOR them. As founder and executive director of the Sausalito-based marine research and advocacy organization Sea Stewards, McGuire started the locally popular fundraisers “Swim for the Sharks” and “Run for the Sharks”. His newer project, Shark Stewards, focuses on the […]


Letter from the Publisher: April Showers, May Flowers?

March 26, 2014 by

By the time you read this in April, the die will have been cast and the show — of unknown quality and duration — should be on. So head on out for a springtime pilgrimage, and while you’re at it, why not share your best wildflower sightings with us and our readers?


Ask The Naturalist: How Will the Drought Impact Amphibians?

March 21, 2014 by

Question: Will newts, frogs and salamanders be out in full force in the Bay Area this spring?


The Elusive Black Rail May Adapt Better Than You’d Think

March 21, 2014 by

Black rails are one of the most secretive of birds. But new research is showing that the scurrying marshland species can pick up and move if it must.


Mount Diablo’s Chamise, Researcher Shows, Likes It Hot

March 20, 2014 by

A Berkeley researcher is using chamise seeds collected from Mount Diablo this fall to explore the plant’s response to fire.


All of These Monster Invasive Fish Came Out of One Small San Francisco Lake

March 20, 2014 by

In the Presidio’s Mountain Lake, as this sequence of photos shows, there are some ferocious predators lurking in the watery depths.


Q&A: Greenfriar a New Voice in Nature Writing on the Web

March 18, 2014 by

It’s rare to see someone trying to bring a new nature publication into the world. But with the March launch of Greenfriar, Bay Area-based writer Ken Layne is doing just that.


EAST BAY: Mustard

March 15, 2014 by

Seen and photographed in Brentwood by Robin Mayoff (RHMImages), March 15.


EAST BAY: Baby blue eyes

March 15, 2014 by

Seen and photographed by David Loeb on the North Peak Trail, Mount Diablo near Devil’s Pulpit, March 15.


EAST BAY: Scarlet Delphinium

March 15, 2014 by

Seen and photographed by David Loeb on the North Peak Trail, Mount Diablo near Devil’s Pulpit, March 15.


When and Where Do I Look to See Orcas?

March 13, 2014 by

I’m trying to spot some orcas this year and wanted to know when and where I should look.


Water, Water Everywhere…?

March 13, 2014 by

In these days of scarce water, the supply of organizations talking about water policy seems to exceed the supply of the precious liquid itself.   But alongside the economically powerful giants duking it out for their share of the dwindling supplies, there’s  The Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW), which  focuses on the inequitable allocation of water […]


Poaching Redwood Burl Affects Tree’s Reproduction

March 12, 2014 by

Redwood trees rely on burl growth, more than they do seeds, to repopulate the species.


Rains Lure California Newts Home to Mate (Video)

March 05, 2014 by

The rains have sent a strong signal to California newts — time to mate. A graceful, underwater mating dance is the prelude to this season’s replenishment of the species. (VIDEO)


Bottlenose Dolphins Move North Into the Bay, Creating a Research Puzzle

March 05, 2014 by

About 60 coastal bottlenose dolphins have been spotted traveling from Southern California to the waters off Bodega Bay, pushing the northern limit of their range and leaving the scientists who study them with a mystery.


Bay Nature Annual Awards Dinner 2014: Silent Auction Preview

March 01, 2014 by

We’re delighted to be able to offer some wonderful wilderness getaways — plus mouthwatering wine, art, music, and gardening packages — for Bay Nature’s Annual Awards Dinner silent auction this year. Proceeds from the auction will support Bay Nature Institute and its programs. Feast your eyes on the items below and prepare to make your […]


The Beauty and the Cheeseweed, a San Francisco Butterfly Love Story

February 28, 2014 by

Of the 35 breeding butterfly species in San Francisco, 25 have now found a non-native host plant they can work with. In an area this urban, undesirable weeds growing in sidewalk cracks have become vital to the life of butterflies.


How Much Water Does it Take to Grow an Almond? Despite Uncertainty, Salmon Forecasts Favorable

February 28, 2014 by

How Much Water Does it Take to Grow an Almond? And more Bay Area nature news…


Sierra Club leader to speak at Bay Nature’s Annual Awards Dinner

February 27, 2014 by

On Sunday March 23rd, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune will speak at Bay Nature’s Annual Awards Dinner on the significance of wilderness in the 21st century. His talk is entitled “Wilderness at 50: Keeping It Real, Relevant, and Wild in 2014”.  Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune’s first trip out West – a family vacation […]


Creating a Drought-Resilient Garden with California Natives

February 27, 2014 by

Over five years ago, Nalani and Anna Heath-Delaney, ditched their water guzzling lawn and planted a colorful and diverse native plant garden. They have since saved water, provided habitat for local species and created a native plant sanctuary. With the current drought, now is the perfect time to consider transitioning your garden and “going native.”


Connecting the Dots for Pacific Marine Life

February 27, 2014 by

National Park Service ecologist Sarah Allen has been looking at the “big picture” of marine ecosystem health since the mid-1970s when she worked as a field biologist on the Farallon Islands, then later in the ’80s and ’90s tracking seabirds, whales, and seals in the Gulf of the Farallones  for Point Reyes Bird Observatory (now […]


What’s Small, Ladybug-Like, and Golden All Over?

February 27, 2014 by

A few years ago a Bay Nature reader spotted something golden and shiny on her carpet. Suspecting it was a piece of jewelry she picked it up, only to find it was alive! What kind of beetle is golden, metallic and looks like a ladybug?


A Wildlife Photographer’s Most Important Photography Advice: Set the Camera Aside

February 24, 2014 by

Suzi Eszterhas will lecture about the rare animals she’s seen and her own adventures in wildlife photography on Wednesday night in the African Hall at the California Academy of Sciences.


Complete Nest Failure at Martin Griffin Preserve’s Heronry

February 21, 2014 by

The great egret colony at Martin Griffin Preserve in West Marin failed to fledge any young egrets in 2013, the first time in the preserve’s 62-year history, leading Audubon Canyon Ranch to change public access to the preserve for 2014.


NAFTA Leaders and Monarch Butterflies, Scientists To Test Kelp For Radiation

February 21, 2014 by

Do monarch butterflies need space on the North American summit agenda? And more Bay Area nature news…


Are Black Squirrels Common in the Bay Area?

February 20, 2014 by

Love them or hate them, squirrels are everywhere. But how common are black squirrels?


Counting Harbor Porpoises with Carbon Currency

February 19, 2014 by

San Francisco Bay’s waters have clearly become popular with the porpoises. What researchers want to know now is: What does that mean about the Bay ecosystem itself?


Annual Awards Dinner 2014: Silent Auction Preview!

February 19, 2014 by

A Yosemite getaway and a Central Valley birding tour with Bay Nature naturalist Michael Ellis are highlights of our silent auction this year. Feast your eyes on the mouthwatering items we have lined up for the Bay Nature Annual Awards Dinner on March 23rd! Check out the preview here, then buy your tickets to the dinner!


Sunday Bioblitz a Chance to See Lake Merritt’s Wild Side

February 19, 2014 by

The wild side of Lake Merritt inspired Jim Carlton’s career. This Sunday is a chance for everyone else to join in on the fun.


Western Monarch Population Hanging On

February 18, 2014 by

Monarch butterfly populations in California’s coastal overwintering sites showed a slight — and surprising — rebound in 2013 after more than a decade of dwindling numbers.


Could CA’s Drought Last 200 Years? Marin Officials Tell Feds to Ease GGNRA Dog Ban

February 14, 2014 by

Could California’s drought last 200 years? And more Bay Area nature news….


How Are Wildflowers Coping with the Drought?

February 13, 2014 by

It’s tough to be a plant when there’s no water! Rainfall is one of the most critical—and most unpredictable—of all the factors that affect wildflower bloom. So how are they coping?


For the Love of Seaweed

February 13, 2014 by

Josie Iselin’s passion for discovering natural treasures along the shore started young, and later evolved into her life’s work: turning ocean objects into art through her popular photography books. We spoke with Josie as she prepared to release her seventh book An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed in March 2014. When and where did […]


Preparing a Mountaintop to Welcome Back Birds — and People

February 12, 2014 by

After years of demolition and cleanup, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District installed nesting boxes for rare purple martins at the top of Mount Umunhum. Preparing the summit for the martins marks a special moment in the restoration process — of the completion of the demolition phase and a celebration of the summit’s rebirth as a habitat and natural wonder.


San Francisco Students Display Their Scientific Flair at Annual Science Fair

February 10, 2014 by

More than 200 science projects from 34 San Francisco schools will be on display at the Randall Museum in Corona Heights for the next two weeks as part of the San Francisco Middle School Science Fair.


The Beauty of an Atmospheric River

February 07, 2014 by

The forecast calls for big rain this weekend from an “atmospheric river,” a plume of moisture stretching thousands of miles across the Pacific and splashing onto land right smack on the Northern California coast.


Do Hummingbirds Reuse Nests?

February 07, 2014 by

After an unfortunate pruning accident, a reader wrote in to ask: do hummingbirds reuse nests?


Rainy Days Ahead But Little Relief; Drought Forces Broadest Fishing Ban in State

February 07, 2014 by

Rainy days ahead but little drought relief and more Bay Area nature news….


Sea Otter Confirmed in Tomales Bay for First Time in Almost a Decade

February 06, 2014 by

Several boaters spotted and photographed a sea otter feeding in Tomales Bay this week, the first confirmed sighting of a sea otter in the bay since 2005. Nature photographer Richard Blair took the above photo from the boat of longtime Inverness conservationist Richard Plant on Monday, Feb. 3. Brett Miller, who was leading a Saturday […]


Richardson Bay Sets Winter Bird Count Record

February 06, 2014 by

At 23,000 birds, the tally in Richardson Bay this December was higher than any year since the surveys began in fall 2006 — much higher. The previous high was 13,000 birds.


What’s Causing the Dry Weather — And When Will It End?

January 31, 2014 by

In the 150-plus years that we’ve been tracking rainfall in Northern California, it’s never been this dry. It was the driest December in many places, and this week’s drizzle wasn’t enough to keep San Francisco from its driest-ever January. And if there’s an end in sight to the big-picture weather pattern that’s led to the […]


Drought Shakes Off Winter for Early Spring, Pop-Up Wetlands Give Birds a Break

January 31, 2014 by

Drought shakes off winter for early spring, pop-up wetlands give birds a break and more nature news…


A Botanist, a Bay Area Island and a Big Surprise

January 28, 2014 by

In the mid 90s, botanist Mike Wood was contracted by the U.S. Navy to undertake a rare plant survey of Yerba Buena Island as the military prepared to leave the base. At the time he didn’t think the island would be of much botanical interest. But two decades later, he’s still going back.


Helping Restore Hamilton Wetland from the Ground Up

January 24, 2014 by

Several thousand of the 60,000 plants intended to ultimately go into the ground at the Hamilton Wetland restoration site will arrive there via the hands of young Marin residents as part of the Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed Program.


Native Oysters Face Double the Threat, Why CA’s Water Woes Could Just Be Starting

January 24, 2014 by

Why California’s water woes may be just be starting and more Bay Area nature news…


Mavericks: The Science Behind the Killer Surf

January 23, 2014 by

After a forecast of surf swells upwards of 40 feet, the Mavericks big-wave surf competition has been called for this Friday, January 24th. But what does it take to create a monster wave?


Gov. Brown Declares CA Drought Emergency; River Otters Making a Comeback

January 17, 2014 by

Governor Brown declares CA drought emergency, and more Bay Area nature news…


Sooty Brown Body, Yellow Bill: What Kind of Gull is This?

January 16, 2014 by

Lauri Taylor, visiting from Salt Lake City, spotted an interesting gull at Baker’s Beach in San Francisco. She asked Bay Nature to help identify what species it was…


Why Mud Matters

January 16, 2014 by

English-born geomorphologist Jeremy Lowe is serious about wetlands and serious about mud, though he’s got a wicked sense of humor that shows he’s not taking himself too seriously. We caught up with the senior scientist from San Francisco-based environmental planning firm ESA to discuss why mud is a critical element of the Bay’s ecosystem — […]


Naturalist’s Notebook: SF Bay Skimmers

January 15, 2014 by

Black skimmers frequent the waters at the Radio Road ponds in Redwood Shores.


Radio Road: A Place for the Birds — and Birders

January 15, 2014 by

The wastewater treatment ponds of Radio Road in Redwood Shores attract a wide range of birds species by the thousands and with them, come the birders.


Avian Cholera Outbreak in Redwood Shores Pond

January 15, 2014 by

An avian cholera outbreak at a Redwood Shores wastewater treatment pond and popular birding site -had killed more than 200 birds as of Tuesday, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Fish Forecast: Swimming Upstream Against Climate Change

January 14, 2014 by

The survey research that Peter Moyle started decades ago now has a dual purpose: It offers evidence for the free fall of native fish populations, but it also may ultimately contribute to one of the best opportunities to soften this decline.


Orcas of the California Coast: Deciphering the Culture of Killer Whales

January 13, 2014 by

Our growing understanding of orca ecotypes — bolstered by recent advances in research technology and protocols — has been a major key to unlocking the mystery of the killer whales of the eastern North Pacific.


Oasis on Mount Diablo: Perkins Canyon’s Trial By Fire

January 13, 2014 by

The Morgan Fire transformed more than 3,100 acres of meadow, chaparral, and woodland on Mount Diablo’s south and east sides, including Perkins Canyon. “It was a once-in-
a-generation event,” says Seth Adams — the biggest fire on the mountain since 1977.


Map Sense: From Topos to Tablets at the East Bay Regional Parks

January 13, 2014 by

Every map tells a story — about the world, and about the person who made it.


The Versatile Bulb: The Many Uses of Soaproot

January 13, 2014 by

Food seems an unusual use for a plant called soaproot. In fact, food is just one of many traditional California Indian uses for the plant, some apparently contradictory. Soap, food, glue, medicine, poison, and more — all from a hairy, fist-size underground bulb.


Battle of the Ants at Jasper Ridge

January 13, 2014 by

One of the keys to their success is that Argentine ants are much less aggressive toward other Argentine ants than they are toward other species. They share information, resources, and trails; they are so cooperative with each other they appear to function as a single colony, with many queens and many nests.


The Wild Life of a Coastodian: An Interview with Richard James

January 13, 2014 by

From the western edge of the continent, Richard James blogs about life and litter at, takes photos, and dreams up art projects that challenge our view of the world.


Letter from the Publisher: Watching Mount Diablo Heal Itself

January 13, 2014 by

I have a mixed reaction when I hear that a place I know and love has been hit by wildfire. On the one hand, there’s a visceral recoil: Will this cherished place survive? But on the other hand, there’s a thrill that comes from anticipating dramatic changes to a familiar landscape.


New Life for Presidio’s Historic Forest

January 13, 2014 by

The young trees are dwarfed by the backdrop of towering eucalyptus, Monterey pine, and Monterey cypress planted in the Presidio more than 120 years ago, but the mission is lofty: to replace a dying forest.


An Elkhorn Slough Encounter: Man Meets Otter

January 10, 2014 by

Bay Nature Publisher David Loeb was out for what seemed like a normal Elkhorn Slough kayaking trip with sea otters. Then one hopped onto his boat — and it’s all captured on video.


Added Protection for Big-Eared Bat, CA Dry Spell Continues

January 10, 2014 by

Townsend’s big-eared bat could get added protection from the state and more Bay Area nature news…


Photographer Tory Kallman Gets His Orca Breach

January 09, 2014 by

On a whale watching trip in the Monterey Bay, photographer Tory Kallman witnessed one of nature’s great events—an orca in pursuit of lunch. One of the resulting photographs became Bay Nature’s January 2014 cover image.


Which Species of Woodpecker Can You Find in Golden Gate Park?

January 09, 2014 by

As you walk through Golden Gate park you may here the ‘knock, knock, knock’ of a woodpecker working for its lunch. But as one reader asked, what species can you find in the park?


Fire-chasing Beetles Make an Appearance

January 08, 2014 by

For decades, charcoal beetles were known as an irritant to firefighters and football fans but now, scientists understand the habits of these fire-chasers.


Q&A: The Long Bike Ride from Palo Alto to Tierra del Fuego

January 08, 2014 by

Over two years, David Kroodsma rode his bike 21,000 miles from Palo Alto to Tierra del Fuego and then from New York back home, to study and talk about climate change. A Q&A with the San Francisco-based climate journalist, scientist and educator, who’s recently authored a book about his experiences.


The Making of The Boneman: How a Bookseller from Homer, Alaska Became the California Academy of Sciences’ Orca Skeleton Expert

January 08, 2014 by

Why the California Academy of Sciences brought in a bookseller from Homer, Alaska to help lead the articulation of its rare orca skeleton — and how Lee Post became “Lee Post AKA The Boneman,” one of the world’s leading authorities on the re-putting-together of beached whales.


Richardson Bay Herring Return, With an Entourage

January 07, 2014 by

The North Bay played host to one of nature’s great spectacles this week, the annual Richardson Bay spawning of Pacific herring, an event eagerly anticipated by hungry animals and curious people — and an event all the more precious for how close it once came to disappearing.


The Man Who Sees the Trash

January 06, 2014 by

Richard James, who keeps the beaches of Point Reyes as litter-free as he can, has an obsessive eye for the discordant note of trash. His life as a park volunteer comes with a lesson: You learn strange things when you pick up after the world.


Muir Beach Reopens, CA Drought Deepens

January 03, 2014 by

Muir Beach reopens after a six month closure and more Bay Area nature news.


2014 Local Hero Award Winner for Youth Engagement

January 02, 2014 by

Cheyanna Washburn, a sophomore at Diablo Valley College in botany and recreational therapy, is one of those dedicated young leaders who inspires her peers to get involved and active. Before entering college, she was a student at New Leaf Leadership Academy at Vicente Martinez High School in Martinez, where she participated in dozens of creek […]


2014 Local Hero Award Winner for Environmental Education

January 02, 2014 by

>> Liam was recently interviewed on KQED-FM’s Forum about his life in lepidoptery (2/7/14). LISTEN A trained stage actor (who appeared in Les Miserables on Broadway), Liam O’Brien now uses his “stage presence” and self-described “loud voice” to champion the cause of local lepidoptera. His encyclopedic knowledge of butterflies and moths is entirely self-taught, his seemingly […]


2014 Local Hero Award Winner for Conservation Action

January 02, 2014 by

Craig Anderson is the inspirational Executive Director of LandPaths, a Santa Rosa-based nonprofit dedicated to connecting people to the natural and agricultural landscapes of Sonoma County. At LandPaths, Craig has pioneered new ways to nurture citizen engagement with open space, promoting the concept of “people-powered parks” that encourages citizen participation in providing stewardship and public […]


A Child’s Book of Habitat

January 02, 2014 by

Wildlife biologist and environmental science writer (and former Bay Nature contributing editor) Matthew Bettelheim temporarily switched out of his academic mode to write a children’s book that is coming out this week. Sardis and Stamm takes young readers on a journey through the unique and fragile habitat of the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge through […]


The Rise of Cyanobacteria at Pinto Lake

January 02, 2014 by

This past fall a cyanobacteria known as, Microcystis aeruginosa, spiked toxin levels above the state’s safe recreational exposure limit at Watsonville’s Pinto Lake. Scientists and the community have begun tackling the problem and hope that conclusions drawn at Pinto Lake will help remedy cyanbacterial blooms elsewhere.


New Record for San Francisco Christmas Bird Count?

December 30, 2013 by

Last Friday about 120 birders fanned out across the 15-mile diameter of the San Francisco Christmas Bird Count circle and set what could be a new record for the number of species in the SF count — 183.


2013—A Bay Nature Year In Photos

December 29, 2013 by

For Bay Nature, 2013 brought environmental news, features and photography celebrating and capturing not only nature’s beauty but its resiliency and vulnerability. Take a look at the year gone by in stunning nature photographs.


Dry year sparks fire and water fears, affects Bay Area bird counts

December 27, 2013 by

California’s driest year in recorded history sparks fire and water fears, and more Bay Area nature news…


Signs of the season: elephant seals, born to breed

December 26, 2013 by

One of the most dramatic mating rituals in the animal kingdom is right on our Bay Area doorstep. Male elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Park risk life and limb to be the guy who gets to impregnate up to 75 females.


Before the Annual Fungus Fair, It’s All About Finding the Right Mushroom

December 23, 2013 by

Served in French dishes under the alias pom pom du blanc, lion’s mane has a texture and taste resembling lobster or shrimp. Chris Schoenstein, a lifelong enthusiast and member of the Mycological Society of San Francisco, has only seen one 2 or 3 times. But that, if you’re a mushroom hunter, is the hook that keeps you coming back to an event like the Wunderlich Foray.


Critical Habitat Identified for Franciscan Manzanita

December 20, 2013 by

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has declared 230 acres of San Francisco critical habitat for the Franciscan manzanita, the oft-discussed rare shrub famous for its dramatic rediscovery and the relocation of a sole survivor in 2009.


Big Sur Fire Nears Full Containment, SF Proposes Bottled Water Ban

December 20, 2013 by

Big Sur fire nears full containment as SF Board of Supervisors consider plastic water bottle ban and more Bay Area nature news…


Fox Sparrows Plentiful at Palomarin Field Station

December 19, 2013 by

This fall’s government shutdown left a two-week gap in Point Blue Conservation Science’s bird monitoring and banding data. But with the counts now in, the second half of October appears to have been a success, with researchers capturing and banding a surprisingly high number of fox sparrows.


Filmmaker Judy Irving’s “Pelican Dreams” Taking Flight

December 19, 2013 by

San Francisco filmmaker Judy Irving may be best known for her award-winning documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, about a homeless street musician who befriends a flock of conures living in the trees in his neighborhood — but her heart belongs to pelicans. Irving’s lifelong love of the gawky but charismatic birds inspired her […]


What Do I Need To Know About Feeding Birds In My Yard?

December 18, 2013 by

I’ve started to put out bird seed in my North Oakland backyard and have enjoyed the visitors. What do I need to know about feeding wild birds in my yard?


Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones Looking to Expand

December 17, 2013 by

A proposal now under NOAA consideration would more than double the size of the sanctuaries, and protect the entire Sonoma County coastline and part of the Mendocino coastline to Point Arena, as well west to the edge of the continental shelf.


Capturing King Tides Through Citizen Science

December 13, 2013 by

Since 2010 the California King Tides Initiative has been documenting king tide events through photography—presenting a very real picture of rising sea levels. This year, the project has expanded to include a citizen science program, that will help researchers ground climate models.


Park Service Drops Muir Woods Parking Lot Plan, CA Groups Call for Offshore Fracking to Halt

December 13, 2013 by

California groups call for offshore fracking to halt, Park Service drops Muir Woods panoramic parking plan and more Bay Area nature news.


Where are all the Western Toads?

December 12, 2013 by

I used to have a multitude of western toads on my ranch in Nicasio but I no longer see them. I was wondering what happened to all the toads?


San Francisco Mulls Commercial Butterfly Release Ban

December 11, 2013 by

San Francisco may become the first U.S. city to ban the release of commercially raised butterflies at ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, and charity events.


Bay Nature’s 2013 Holiday Gift Guide

December 09, 2013 by

Struggling to find that perfect gift? Look no further with Bay Nature’s 2013 holiday gift guide.


SF Bay Waters Becoming Clearer, Threat of ‘Dead Zone’ Along Sonoma Coast

December 06, 2013 by

San Francisco Bay is becoming clearer and more Bay Area nature news…


What’s up with this Hummingbird?

December 05, 2013 by

A Palo Alto based reader sent in a photograph she took of a pretty funky looking hummingbird. “What’s up with this hummingbird’s face?” she asked.


Getting Back On the Trail

December 05, 2013 by

Longtime hiker and mobility coach Jayah Faye Paley turned her passion for the outdoors into a mission to get people back on their feet – and back on the trail  – using the power of hiking poles. BN: Are you from the Bay Area?  No, I’m originally from Florida, where it’s hot, muggy, buggy, and flat. I […]


Traditional and Modern Methods of Acorn Preparation

December 05, 2013 by

Bay Area oaks are prolific, but acorn use has diminished within the last 200 years. With the help of modern kitchenware you can rediscover the art of acorn preparation and its rich history grounded in Native American traditions.


Friends of China Camp Reach Amended Agreement with State

December 04, 2013 by

Friends of China Camp reached an amended agreement in November with the state Department of Park and Recreation to fund China Camp State Park, Olompali State Historic Park and Tomales Bay State Park.


Restoring Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge

December 02, 2013 by

Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge has been shaped by industry and development leaving its three endemic and endangered species clinging to their habitat. But in a recent partnership between the Port of Stockton and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, dredged sand from the San Joaquin River will be offloaded at the refuge to aid with large-scale dune restoration.


Tule Elk vs. Ranchers, 2000 Coho Released in Dry Creek

November 29, 2013 by

Tule elk causes headaches for ranchers in West Marin—but what’s the solution? And more Bay Area nature news…


How Can You Tell a True Turkey Tail from an Imposter?

November 28, 2013 by

Bracket fungi, named for their shelf-like structure, can often be seen fanned out of decaying wood. But how can you tell if what you’re looking at is a true turkey tail or, an imposter?


Becky Jaffe and the Art of Biophilia

November 26, 2013 by

Nature photographer Becky Jaffe on art, photography and biophilia.


Sea Lion Escapes in West Marin, Burrowing Owl Family Leave Freeway Safely

November 22, 2013 by

A sea lion escapes in West Marin and later recaptured in a cow pasture and more Bay Area nature news…


Why do Pacific Salmon Die After Spawning?

November 21, 2013 by

The upriver salmon run is one of nature’s great migrations. But why after spawning just once do Pacific salmon die?


Bay Researchers Fight Uphill Battle with Invasive Cordgrass

November 21, 2013 by

Three years ago, managers at the Invasive Spartina Project thought they’d be almost out of a job by now. But while the ruthless and hybridizing cordgrass hasn’t spread any more, it hasn’t been eradicated either and this final push to eliminate it, will be the hardest.


Roam If You Want To

November 21, 2013 by

A life-changing accident gave former Cal academic Ronn Patterson  time to think long and hard about his life path.  He ended up founding Dolphin Charters, which leads guided natural history cruises and photo expeditions to wildlife hotspots in North and South America.   Captain Ronn moves with the wildlife: In the spring and fall, he […]


It Takes a Village To Create a State Park

November 20, 2013 by

On Saturday November 16th, a crowd gathered at Eastshore State Park to celebrate legendary Save The Bay co-founder Sylvia McLaughlin and to rename the park in her honor.


Painted Redstart in Berkeley: A first for Alameda County

November 18, 2013 by

This weekend, hundreds of bird enthusiasts flocked to a quiet southside Berkeley neighborhood to catch a glimpse of a beautiful North American breeding bird that has never before been sighted in Alameda County.


Who’s Suffering, Who’s Not as Drought Stretches On

November 18, 2013 by

As drought stretches on in California, local plants and animals are falling back on their evolutionarily honed behaviors for outlasting the dry.


Orcas Put on a Killer Show in Monterey Bay, Feds Unveil Bay Wetlands Restoration Plan

November 15, 2013 by

A pod of orcas have been staging an unbelievable show in the Monterey Bay and more Bay Area nature news.


In Dry Times, California Turns to Cloud Seeding

November 14, 2013 by

With the persistent drought that has gripped California for the past year, state water managers are increasingly turning to cloud seeding to extract as much water as they can.


Signs of the Season: Feathered fall migrants

November 12, 2013 by

As the days shorten and valley oak leaves fall, hundreds of birds are flocking to the Bay Area. Here’s a sneak preview of some of the highlights.


Save Mount Diablo purchase Curry Canyon Ranch; USFWS study pesticide impact on CA’s rare frogs

November 08, 2013 by

Save Mount Diablo acquire Curry Canyon Ranch property and more Bay Area nature news…


Jake Sigg: Nature News’ Passionate Pen

November 06, 2013 by

Anyone interested in Bay Area nature and ecology has likely come across Jake Sigg’s Nature News, an indispensable and idiosyncratic email newsletter that goes out to 2,400 subscribers every week. Nature News—a volunteer project Jake does on his own—is much more than a listing of local hikes, classes, campaigns, and restoration events. At any given […]


Jake Sigg: Why I Fight for Nature

November 06, 2013 by

We asked Jake Sigg, the popular and opinionated editor of Nature News, what originally inspired him to become such a passionate advocate for the environment. Here’s what he told us…. Back in the spring of 1966, I went on a Sierra Club backpacking trip down the Escalante River, a tributary of the Colorado. Of all […]


New Report Shows Decline in Delta Fish Populations

November 06, 2013 by

A recent report from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a decline in fish populations in the San-Joaquin Sacramento Delta.


Wasting Disease Devastates West Coast Starfish

November 04, 2013 by

Marine scientists are investigating a recent outbreak of ‘sea star wasting syndrome’ that has ravaged starfish populations along the West Coast.


Looking for Lichens in Knowland Park

November 04, 2013 by

Oakland’s Knowland Park boasts unparalleled views of the San Leandro Bay, gnarled coast live oak trees and stands of rare, maritime chaparral. But within this large landscape, one of nature’s smallest communities is flourishing—lichen.


Saving the Palos Colorados Trail, Santa Clara to See Water Bottle Refill Stations

November 01, 2013 by

Thanks to the efforts of volunteers, Joaquin Miller Park’s Palos Colorados trail has escaped permanent closure—and more Bay Area nature news.


Dublin Land Exchange Raises Concern Over Burrowing Owls

November 01, 2013 by

The burrowing owl requires only a few basic ingredients to survive urban settings but biologists say those needs are threatened by a new land exchange.


For Bee Researchers, a Real-Life Night of the Flying Dead

October 31, 2013 by

San Francisco State researcher John Hafernik noticed bees acting like zombies a few years ago. Now he’s traced the “zombee” infestation to its source: a mind-controlling parasitic fly.


Jumping Spiders March to a Unique Beat

October 31, 2013 by

Some of the area’s most amazing spiders are the ones you’re most likely to miss. With colorful appendages and a big pair of striking frontal eyes, the diminutive Habronattus genus of jumping spider might be one of the cutest, and most surprising, of Western arachnids.


Ashy Storm-Petrel Denied Protection Under Endangered Species Act

October 30, 2013 by

After four years of consideration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced earlier this month that the ashy storm-petrel has been denied protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).


Finding Nature in Mussel Rock Park

October 27, 2013 by

Mussel Rock Park has an uneven human and geologic history. That hasn’t stopped Oscar Porter from hiking there every day in search of extraordinary nature. He’s collected his photos of coyotes, birds and spiders on YouTube and in a book called Nature Under the Fog.


What’s That Little White Moth in the Oak Forest, and Why So Many?

October 25, 2013 by

I’ve noticed lots of butterflies (moths?) in the Indian Valley Open Space area of Novato (oak forest). I haven’t seen this many in previous years. The butterflies are about the size of a nickel or quarter and are white. What kind of butterfly are they?


Imagining the Future of Regional Open Space

October 25, 2013 by

After four decades of preserving open space in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) is undertaking a vision planning process, that will guide its work for the next 15-20 years. What do you want for the future of open space?


Juvenile Coho Salmon in Walker Creek, First Glimpse of Condor Cam in Big Sur

October 25, 2013 by

Juvenile coho salmon have recently appeared in Walker Creek, and more Bay Area nature news.


Log It or Leave It – Post-fire Debate over Burned Trees

October 24, 2013 by

As California’s fire season comes to a close, the fires that burned Yosemite and Mt. Diablo have left a landscape of burned trees, logs and soil. What to do next with that land, particularly in Yosemite, is a complicated decision, and politicians, land use managers, and ecologists have differing goals.


Tales of a Recovered Arachnophobe

October 23, 2013 by

Gwen Heistand hasn’t always loved spiders: In fact, she used to be deathly afraid of them! As resident biologist at Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Martin Griffin Preserve on Bolinas Lagoon, Gwen now helps people overcome their own fears of these creepy-crawlies and replace it with a sense of wonder. She’ll be giving a talk on the […]


Why Does the Pacific Leatherback Turtle Migrate to Californian Waters to Feed?

October 23, 2013 by

Ever wondered why the Pacific leatherback turtle migrates from Indonesian waters to the California coast to feed on jellyfish?


On the Hunt—Searching For Rare Plants in the Delta

October 19, 2013 by

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the lifeblood of the central valley. But this somewhat landscaped environment is also home to some of California’s rare plant populations, and on a kayak trip down Sycamore Slough, a group of volunteers is on the hunt to find them.


Bay Area National Parks Reopen, Dredging River May Benefit Antioch Butterflies

October 18, 2013 by

Bay Area National Parks reopen, and more nature news…


After the Government Shutdown Ends, Bird Monitoring Resumes

October 17, 2013 by

As the government shutdown comes to an end, scientists working on federal land will be able to resume their research. But what impact does a 15 day hiatus have on long term monitoring and research?


Is There Earthquake Weather? And Was That It?

October 16, 2013 by

Some people swear there’s earthquake weather. Some people swear there’s not. So what happens when an earthquake strikes California during earthquake weather? We called the Berkeley Seismology Lab to get an expert opinion.


Photo Gallery: Coyotes Raising Kids in San Francisco

October 16, 2013 by

Coyotes are among the 3-5 percent of mammal species that mate for life, and parents raise pups cooperatively. Except for loners and transients, coyotes live in nuclear families not so different from our own.


Keeping Cigarette Butt Litter Out of the Bay

October 15, 2013 by

As cities and counties across the Bay tackle the problem of single-use plastic bags, cigarette butt litter continues to threaten the Bay’s water quality and wildlife.


Point Molate Beach Park Opens After Long Closure

October 14, 2013 by

Point Molate Beach Park reopened at sunrise Monday morning after being closed for more than a decade due to budget woes.


Behind the Fracking Boom: Unearthing the Secrets of the Monterey Shale

October 14, 2013 by

But the pressure to exploit these resources isn’t going away anytime soon either, nor is the debate over the wisdom of doing so. As we weigh the pros and cons, a missing piece of the conversation is the land itself: What is the Monterey Formation? What is it made of and how did it get here? And what kind of habitats, plants, and animals live atop it?


Signs of the Season: Old Man’s Beard, Lichens that Live on Air

October 14, 2013 by

Lichens of any sort aren’t plants. Lichens are not so much a taxonomic category as a way of life; as lichenologist Trevor Goward put it, “Lichens are fungi that have discovered agriculture.”


From Indonesia to California – Protecting Pacific Leatherback Turtles

October 13, 2013 by

Did you know the Pacific leatherback turtle is California’s official marine reptile? Nesting in Indonesia then migrating to Californian waters to feast on jellyfish, this elusive species is a truly global traveler. But with threats both in the Pacific and on their nesting beaches, the leatherback turtle may not be around for that much longer.


Sonoma county defends its oaks, Officials say CA can’t foot the bill for national parks

October 11, 2013 by

Californian officials have said the state cannot pay to reopen National Parks, and more Bay Area nature news.


Pumpkins, Pies and Produce: Harvest Festivals in the Bay Area

October 10, 2013 by

As the fog lifts and clear days fill the week, it is a sure sign that fall in the Bay Area is upon us. And what better way to celebrate than by attending one of the many harvest festivals in the Bay Area. Here’s Bay Nature’s festival round-up to get you started.


Counting her Chickens

October 10, 2013 by

Tracy Fasanella, CEO of CarbonCount, Inc., a green accounting firm, lives in two worlds.  When she’s not parsing cap-and-trade regulations for clients, pointing them to money for efficiency research, she tends her garden, nurtures her rabbits, and gets both fertilizer and joy from her chickens. BN: What is your connection with the Bay Area?  Fasanella: […]


Ask the Naturalist: Where Are the Chorus Frog Babies?

October 10, 2013 by

Q: I collect rainwater to use on my garden and I’ve found Pacific chorus frogs in the black garbage can that collects the rainwater, but I’ve never seen eggs or tadpoles in there. I wonder why not; would they be too small to see? [Marian, San Jose]


Ocean Acidification: Making Sense of Crabs and Skeptics

October 09, 2013 by

Like other aspects of climate science, ocean acidification (OA) science has created much debate, particularly when it comes to its impact on hard shelled sea creatures such as crabs.


Photographer Steve Zamek Gets His Decisive Moment

October 09, 2013 by

Photographer Steve Zamek, waited at Lloyd Lake in Golden Gate Park for over three hours photographing birds. When he decided it was time to leave, this hooded merganser sprang into action and Zamek snapped this shot.


Connector trail moves hikers, bikers, horses off Highway 1; derelict pilings to be removed from Bay

October 08, 2013 by

Dias Ridge Connector trail to move hikers, bikers, horses off Highway 1, and more Bay Area nature news.


With the Government Shut Down, What Happens to Federally Funded Research?

October 07, 2013 by

National parks are not only recreational hubs, but they also serve as centers for scientific research and environmental monitoring programs. Since the federal government shutdown, researchers have been unable to continue their work running the risk that months of consistent study could be lost in a few weeks.


Letter from the Former Editor: Farewell from Dan Rademacher

October 07, 2013 by

When I walked into Bay Nature’s office in February 2004, I had never run a magazine before. I was 29 years old. For the first year or two, it was often disconcerting when I’d meet authors, sources, or photographers in person after working with them for months on an issue of the magazine. They’d say, […]


Ocean Acid Trip: The Hidden Harm of Climate Change

October 07, 2013 by

Seawater has historically been alkaline, but is increasingly becoming less so. What does this mean for the ocean ecosystem in general? And along the California coast in particular? We’re just beginning to figure that out.


Conservation in Action: Sea Level Rise Photos Worth a Thousand Words

October 07, 2013 by

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then imagine the power of thousands of pictures of actual rising sea levels — even if, for now, the high water only lasts for a few hours or days at a time.


On the Trail: By Land and By Sea in the California Coastal National Monument

October 07, 2013 by

The link between dry land and deep water may soon be better recognized thanks to twin efforts to link together 3,300 acres of spectacular public shoreline and to make that land part of the California Coastal National Monument, a sprawling protected area almost no one’s ever heard of.


Anchovies spark humpback feeding frenzy in Monterey Bay

October 04, 2013 by

Humpback whales often enter the Monterey Bay to feed in the summer months. But this year, huge anchovy runs have brought them in by the hundreds. Photographer Tory Kallman shares his photographs of the feeding frenzy.


Research Vessel Spots Blue Whales — Now Can Their Observation Help Others?

October 04, 2013 by

The researchers log the sighting: three blue whales. From this distance, the world’s largest mammal looks like nothing more than a silver glint on the ocean’s surface. But the spotting is significant to the researchers, who aim to protect the animals from passing ships.


Diablo fire sparks cattle grazing debate, Crown Beach restoration underway

October 04, 2013 by

Aftermath of Mount Diablo fire sparks cattle grazing debate, and more Bay Area nature news.


Looking forward to the future of California’s state parks

October 03, 2013 by

The 2011 state budget crisis hit California’s state parks hard. Two years later, the Parks Forward Initiative has been looking to ensure the park system’s future and on Oct. 2nd, asked for public input in San Rafael.


National parks shutdown, Golden Gate Conservancy receives $25 million donation

October 01, 2013 by

National park- goers locked out as federal government shuts down and more Bay Area nature news.


New project gives ‘snapshot’ of CA’s wild salmon populations

September 30, 2013 by

A new project from The Nature Conservancy looks into the state of California’s wild salmon populations.


From Perch to Pikeminnows: The Freshwater Fish That Didn’t Get Away

September 30, 2013 by

Our native fish may be down, but they’re not out, they’re hanging on in ecosystems they once ruled. And biologists and environmental advocates alike are working to make things better. The fish have advocates, and the exhibit is a tool for that advocacy, a means of engaging the public at large.


The Stewardship Connection: Interview with Sue Gardner

September 30, 2013 by

For the past 20 years, Mill Valley native Sue Gardner has run the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy’s Park Stewardship program, connecting people to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), the nation’s largest urban national park.


Bay View: Change in Nature — and at Bay Nature

September 30, 2013 by

It can be said that the nature of nature is change. That doesn’t mean change is necessarily good or bad. It just is. And the best advice is often to embrace the change instead of digging in your heels in a hopeless attempt to prevent it.


Study reveals historical range of wolves in CA

September 29, 2013 by

The results of a recent study shed light on the historical range of wolves in California.


Sonoma gardeners vs. hungry deer, top Bay Area chefs pipe up on fracking

September 27, 2013 by

Sonoma locals face increasingly hungry deer feasting on their gardens, and more Bay Area nature news.


California’s new fracking law divides environmentalists

September 27, 2013 by

California’s new fracking law is the first of its kind in the nation to regulate this method of tight oil extraction.


Turning Over a New Leaf

September 26, 2013 by

“Phenology studies the seasonal cycles in nature, such as when flowers bloom, insects hatch, and birds migrate. In the era of climate change, the science of seasonal observation has taken on a new urgency.” – Jacoba Charles, “The Phenology Project”, Bay Nature Rona is co-founder of the New Leaf Leadership Academy, an innovative program within […]


Bay Area classic film hikes

September 26, 2013 by

Film buff? Local history fan? Bay Nature takes a look at the bay’s best classic film hikes.


CA sea otter population growth, weekend rain not enough to dampen Bay Area dry spell

September 24, 2013 by

Good news for California sea otters with populations growing since last year, and more Bay Area nature news.


Redwoods normally buck fires, except when Sudden Oak Death is around

September 24, 2013 by

Researchers find that redwood forests suffering from Sudden Oak Death burn with greater intensity.


Turning trash into treasure along the California coastline

September 20, 2013 by

Can beach trash be art? One couple has found beauty in a “throwaway culture.”


Today’s the day to bring nature to parking spots

September 20, 2013 by

Park(ing) Day requires one thing: You bring a little greenery to a parking space.


Mount Diablo fire may not be all bad — in the long term

September 18, 2013 by

Wildlife will rebound on Mount Diablo, but it may take longer for some struggling species.


Could fracking the Monterey Shale lead to the next Big One?

September 17, 2013 by

The Monterey Shale runs through some of California’s major fault lines. Could pounding the earth trigger the next Big One?


Should I kill invasive trees with herbicides?

September 13, 2013 by

An Oakland resident wants to know how to kill off invasive trees from her garden.


Fording a Troublesome Creek

September 12, 2013 by

Todd Evans aims for cultural and historical authenticity in his plays. His latest work, Troublesome Creek, celebrates the life of environmental writer and activist Rachel Carson, who lands in a small Kentucky mining town in the 1960s to defend her new book Silent Spring. The play is being performed this week by Sonoma Stage Works, […]


CA could be first to ban leaded bullets, Pleasanton park expands

September 12, 2013 by

California expected to become first state in nation to ban leaded bullets, which are deadly to wildlife in more ways than one, and more Bay Area nature news.


Ospreys taking a liking to San Francisco Bay

September 11, 2013 by

Ospreys have been expanding their range in recent years, setting up nests along the San Francisco Bay for the first time.


Muir Woods mulls reserved parking, Mt. Diablo fire 45 percent contained

September 10, 2013 by

Muir Woods looking into a reservation system for parking, and other Bay Area nature news.


Will a Warriors arena harm the San Francisco Bay?

September 05, 2013 by

A 125-foot high basketball arena on San Francisco’s shoreline may be detrimental to wildlife, conservationists worry.


Drakes’ Bay Oysters likely to close, a Bay Area “snake scam”

September 05, 2013 by

Drakes Bay Oyster Co. will likely close now that a federal appeals court ruled against company’s request to stay open, and other Bay Area nature news.


Top 10 signs of climate change in Northern California

September 05, 2013 by

A new state report compiles evidence that California’s climate is rapidly changing.


Santa Cruz cypress delisted as endangered species

September 02, 2013 by

Another success of the Endangered Species Act. The Santa Cruz cypress, a small evergreen, is doing well thanks to protections.


How the Monterey Shale came to be

September 02, 2013 by

There has been so much talk of a potential fracking boom in California. But how, exactly, did the Monterey shale formation become so valuable?


Ask the Naturalist, August 2013

August 29, 2013 by

This week we welcome Santa Clara Valley Audubon’s Bob Power as our Guest Naturalist! Dear Bay Nature, What is the 2013 count of burrowing owls at Shoreline Park? How many breeding pairs were observed? — Sharon – – – – – – – – Dear Sharon, This year, Shoreline Park in Mountain View hosted 5 […]


The “Bat Lady” of Yolo Basin

August 29, 2013 by

Corky Quirk is the founder and executive director of Northern California Bats (aka NorCal Bats), a Sacramento-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of bats. NorCal Bats is also deeply committed to dispelling the fears and myths about bats that lead to the destruction of roosts and colonies. Corky’s annual walks to the Yolo […]


It’s Fun to Share!

August 28, 2013 by

San Francisco resident Kelly Jensen is the Interlibrary Loan and Digital Production Assistant at the California Academy of Sciences. One of the perks of her job is a discounted membership in City CarShare (CCS),  a program which offers car rentals by the hour or the day. Members choose from a selection of low-emission, hybrid, or […]


Not at Burning Man? You can celebrate at home in the Bay Area

August 28, 2013 by

So you didn’t go? Well, nevermind. There’s plenty to do here at home that evokes the spirit of Burning Man.


Fracking the land of the kit fox, and its fellow desert natives

August 21, 2013 by

What’s in store for the desert species who’ve come to rely on an undeveloped landscape now threatened by a California oil boom?


fin whale dies of trauma, Marin says no to fracking

August 21, 2013 by

Endangered fin whale youngster died near Stinson Beach from undetermined trauma injury, and other Bay Area nature news.


Oakland experiments with giving walkers, bicyclists free rein

August 20, 2013 by

Traffic has come to a stop at a major intersection in downtown Oakland. What would happen if pedestrians and bicyclists took the place of the cars?


Warren Hall implosion reveals secrets of the Hayward Fault

August 20, 2013 by

Maybe now we’ll know more about what the heck the earthquake-prone Hayward Fault is doing.


A solution to ‘beepocolypse,’ shark fin ban hits legal snag

August 15, 2013 by

Sonoma grape-growers and bee do-gooders creating “bee patches” to combat beepocolypse, and other Bay Area nature news.


Why exactly is Muir Beach closed to parking until the end of the year?

August 15, 2013 by

The National Park Service is in the final stages of a restoration project to restore the watershed and protect coho salmon.


Redwoods growing faster in a warmer climate

August 14, 2013 by

Surprisingly, climate change happens to be a good thing for coastal redwoods and sequoias.


Could the ghost of John Muir save Alhambra Hills from development?

August 08, 2013 by

The family and fans of John Muir say the hills outside of his Martinez estate should be saved to preserve his legacy.


Above the Monterey Shale, farmers worry fracking will destroy the land

August 05, 2013 by

What happens when Big Oil meets small town California?


Seabird feeding frenzy off Ocean Beach, Marin favors hikers over mountain bikers

August 05, 2013 by

Seabirds descend by the thousands on Ocean Beach in SF to gobble up a school of fish close to shore, and other Bay Area nature news.


This is your brain on nature

July 31, 2013 by

Wallace ‘J’ Nichols has a novel way of approaching conservation: look at the human brain.


AT&T Park gets edible garden, who will maintain Transbay garden?

July 31, 2013 by

SF really is a crunchy city: AT&T Park gets edible garden behind center field wall, and other Bay Area nature news.


A Clear-Eyed Vision for Clear Lake

July 30, 2013 by

Roberta Lyons is a muckraker, though a different sort than her journalist mother.  Lyons herself looks past actual muck – the rash-inducing algal blooms that periodically foul the shores of her beloved Clear Lake – to find plentiful natural beauty and wildness. And through her role as president of the Lake County Land Trust, she does her best to […]


Are California state parks stuck in a 1950s business mentality?

July 29, 2013 by

California State Parks is grappling with modern funding problems as it strains for cash while its staffing, recreation and maintenance needs grow.


Flamingo turns up in Sunnyvale, “mollusk matchmaker” coaxes white abalone to spawn

July 29, 2013 by

A flamingo has turned up near the Sunnyvale sewage treatment plant, and local zoos say none of theirs is missing, and other Bay Area nature news.


A highway, a wetland and 250,000 bats

July 25, 2013 by

The Yolo Causeway is more than just link between here and there. It’s the summer residence of a thriving colony of Mexican free-tailed bats.


New wildlife corridor created at foot of Mount Diablo

July 24, 2013 by

Roddy Ranch has been spared from development and is on it’s way to becoming a new park.


Bay Area’s sea gull population explodes, Mt. Diablo summit deck still closed

July 22, 2013 by

Bay Area’s sea gull population exploding, and they’re munching up endangered species, and other Bay Area nature news.


Biologists remove disease-spreading invasive frogs from Golden Gate Park

July 22, 2013 by

The “bubonic plague” of amphibian diseases is being carried by an invasive frog that’s turned up in Golden Gate Park.


In condor country comes a California oil boom

July 18, 2013 by

California could be on the verge of a major oil boom centered a stone’s throw from the Bay Area. What does that mean for the landscape and the wildlife that call that place home?


Walk Like a Newt

July 18, 2013 by

Lance Milbrand has spent more than 27 years as an independent filmmaker specializing in films about wild animals and marine life. He’s donned his scuba gear to film the endangered Devils Hole pupfish in a Death Valley cave and a school of Galapagos sharks off the coast of Mexico. On land, he’s chronicled park rangers’ […]


On the trail with nature’s sounds

July 17, 2013 by

It’s World Listening Day on Thursday. Leave the bombarding noise of city life and head out into nature for some auditory bliss.


East Bay Parks eyes 16 new park sites, SF curbs environmental review

July 17, 2013 by

East Bay Regional Parks releases its plan to potentially acquire 16 new park sites, and other Bay Area nature news.


An architect and a tardigrade

July 15, 2013 by

Long before “sustainable architecture” became buzz in the design world, there was Eugene Tsui drawing up fantastical visions of a world in tune with nature.


Whales in danger of ship strikes gain mobile app

July 11, 2013 by

Whale protection? Yep, there’s an app for that, too. And shippers are saying they’re on board.


Sailor’s Guide Nature Guide

July 09, 2013 by

Jack Laws brings us a guide SF Bay wildlife just in time for the America’s Cup.


California buckeyes know what to do in summer dry spell — hibernate

July 08, 2013 by

What does a California buckeye know that many imported plants around here don’t? Duh, you don’t go full steam in the hot, dry summer.


Fires in West fueled by global warming, Muir Beach closes today

July 08, 2013 by

In summer heat, West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes more active than usual, and other Bay Area nature news.


How Can You Tell Male vs Female Lizards?

July 07, 2013 by

Q: Is there a way to tell the difference between male vs female lizards? How do they attract their mates? [Saundra, Concord] A: One way, Saundra, is to wait until spring and watch them mate: The male is on top. But I bet you want more details than that. The Bay Area’s most common lizard […]


River otters are here to stay — at the Aquarium of the Bay

July 03, 2013 by

Viewing wild river otters can be thrilling, if you find one. Up your chances to 100 percent at a new, permanent exhibit at Aquarium of the Bay.


Feds conclude great whites not endangered, Oakland has new bird safety standards

July 03, 2013 by

NOAA concludes Pacific great white shark not in danger of extinction and doesn’t warrant extra protection, and other Bay Area nature news.


Get outside with the kids: Bay Nature’s top family picks

July 03, 2013 by

Lazy summer days on your hands? Now’s the time to explore nature with the kids.


Around the Bay in 30 Days

July 03, 2013 by

Armed with a San Francisco Bay Trail map, his set of Bay Trail map cards, and his Clipper Card, San Francisco resident Kurt Schwabe spent every day last month circumnavigating the Bay, completing over 300 miles of accessible trail – and mainly using public transit to get there and back. At home between segments, he […]


Happy 4th! Nature’s fireworks are on display

July 03, 2013 by

As you scan the skies for pyrotechnic eye-candy, remember that nature makes its own quite impressive displays.


Leaves of Three: The Rash Success of Poison Oak

June 30, 2013 by Joe Eaton and Ron Sullivan

Poison oak is one native plant people love to hate. But it does have a good side, feeding birds and other wildlife. For people, the best thing is to learn to recognize it, and step aside.


Fog and redwoods: Demystifying the mist

June 30, 2013 by

Fog means survival for many Bay Area plants and animals. What will happen to this life-giving airborne moisture in an era of global warming?


Huey Johnson takes the long road

June 30, 2013 by

Huey Johnson was the first Nature Conservancy employee west of the Mississippi. He founded the Trust for Public Land. He’s still going strong.


Monitoring steelhead: Counting the fish after they’ve hatched

June 30, 2013 by

A new study aims to see how well our steelhead trout are doing AFTER they’ve grown up a bit. Are they getting big enough to survive in the ocean?


Year of the Bay: Let’s put our backs into making a better Bay

June 30, 2013 by

This summer’s confluence of the Americas Cup races and the presumptive opening of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge (if they can figure out what to do about those pesky bolts) has some people calling 2013 the Year of the Bay. At Bay Nature we say that every day is Earth Day, so […]


Wrentit: High-fidelity in the scrub

June 30, 2013 by

Wrentits, possibly North America’s most sedentary birds, just don’t go far. So when you hear their song in the same place twice, you’re probably listening to the same bird or its offspring.


Bay Restoration: Lines in the Mud

June 30, 2013 by

Over decades of struggle, San Francisco Bay restoration has become the expectation, a difficult challenge still, but one everyone’s agreed to fight for.


Baylands Reborn: Introduction

June 29, 2013 by

Mrs. Semino once had to put on a pair of rubber boots to cook her Thanksgiving turkey. It was a long time ago, in the 1920s, when she and her husband lived by the banks of Sonoma Creek in a place called Wingo. After a storm or high tide, Wingo’s half dozen cabin floors returned […]


Baylands Public Access

June 29, 2013 by

San Francisco Bay is surrounded by amazing wetlands and wetland restoration projects, but they can be hard to find. Here’s everything you need to get there.


Threatened with closure, Anderson Marsh gains new lease on life

June 27, 2013 by

Most rural California state parks have languished in obscurity, but Anderson Marsh has been buoyed by those who value its history.


Filmmaker Judy Irving gets her mouse

June 26, 2013 by

Filmmaker Judy Irving set herself a goal to get a good shot of an endangered salt marsh harvest mouse. She did, and it’s Bay Nature’s July 2013 cover image.


Snowy Plovers nest at Stinson Beach for first time in 30 years

June 26, 2013 by

Not only are snowy plovers nesting in unexpected places this year, at least one pair appears to be a bit unconventional.


Who can resist a California state park when dinner and dancing is involved?

June 24, 2013 by

Santa Cruz state parks supporters are using a bit of marketing and PR to attract new park-goers and raise money.


Vandals destroying hundreds trees in Golden Gate Park, what would it mean to de-extinct a species?

June 24, 2013 by

Why would anyone be destroying young, reforested tree in Golden Gate Park? Hundreds have had their tops lopped off. And other Bay Area nature news.


How do you pronounce Olompali?

June 20, 2013 by

Olompali State Historic Park, located just west of Highway 101 between Novato and Petaluma, is rich in both natural and human history. But despite its location right next to a major highway, it is less well-known and less visited than some of its other North Bay cousins in the state park system. Here visitors can […]


Sunset hikes to celebrate the summer solstice

June 20, 2013 by

What better way to celebrate the end of the week and the ascent of summer than an evening hike ending with a breathtaking sunset? Friday marks the longest day of the year, with the sun rising at 5:48 AM and setting at 8:35 PM.  The summer solstice sunset is the sun’s final hurrah before it […]


Oakland’s bug guy wants you to like bugs too

June 19, 2013 by

Eddie Dunbar has helped make Oakland a bit friendlier towards the Bay Area’s creepy-crawlies.


Whale feeding frenzy in Monterey Bay, Ranch near Mt. Diablo bought for open space

June 19, 2013 by

Krill bloom brings in crowd of whales, including blues, into Monterey Bay, and more Bay Area nature news.


Don’t get PO’ed: Poison oak tales of woe, and some ID assistance

June 18, 2013 by

Summer’s the time to get outside, but in California that also means steering clear of poison oak. Here are some tales of woe, and a video to help you avoid getting POed.


Does Marin’s plan to curb development do enough to protect salmon?

June 17, 2013 by

A new ordinance advances coho salmon protection along Lagunitas Creek in Marin. But salmon advocates say it has too many loopholes.


State Parks chief: Parks need diversity, and MBAs

June 17, 2013 by

State parks chief General Anthony Jackson told East Bay park activists that his department needs MBAs and that the whole parks community needs to diversify.


Calif. considers lead bullet ban to save condors, Tilden golf course gets green creds

June 17, 2013 by

CA lawmakers consider ban on lead bullets used during hunting to save condors, and other Bay Area nature news.


What’s that western scrub-jay doing, anyway?

June 15, 2013 by

A western scrub-jay standing tall caught the eye of photographer Dave Strauss, and his photo gave us an occasion to celebrate the intelligence of jays, crows, and their relatives.


The Bay Area fathers among you

June 14, 2013 by

Three-spined sticklebacks are like stay-at-home dads, while male river otters are the deadbeats of the animal kingdom. We have a list of father archetypes to brighten your Father’s Day.


Artists cast a net for safer oceans

June 14, 2013 by

A new art installation at the Marine Mammal Center puts the focus on ghost nets — lost fishing gear that wreaks havoc in the ocean — and on what we can all do to make our oceans healthier.


How would the Bay Area respond to its next oil spill?

June 14, 2013 by

Bay Nature takes a trip on a training exercise where California officials show off the latest techniques in oil spill containment in the San Francisco Bay.


In California oil spills, chemical dispersants treated with caution

June 13, 2013 by

In the event of a major oil spill, federal officials can’t make the same mistake in California as they did during the Deepwater Horizon spill.


Eucalyptus removal: A dilemma of habitat and history

June 12, 2013 by

The East Bay eucalyptus removal debate continues with public comment until June 17. We hear from experts on amphibians, raptors, and forest succession.


Berkeley officials get closer to public ‘parklet’ policy

June 11, 2013 by

Parklets have been very popular in San Francisco. Now Berkeley is looking to start allowing them.


Millbrae mulls bird feeding ban, Calif. voters say ‘no’ to fracking

June 11, 2013 by

Millbrae mulls bird-feeding ban to prevent airport bird strikes, and other Bay Area nature news.


State Parks “land manager” helps tend 70,000 acres

June 11, 2013 by

“Land Manager” ought to be California State Parks’ Portia Halbert’s title. Protect seabirds? Plant 150,000 shrubs? Manage controlled burns? All in day’s work.


Burrowing owls make a comeback in hubbub of Silicon Valley

June 10, 2013 by

Burrowing owls are finding habitat alongside the massive tech companies of Silicon Valley, thanks to an effort to show how the quizzical birds can adapt to humans when given the chance.


Could volunteers help keep California’s state parks alive?

June 06, 2013 by

From volunteer vacations to juvenile court’s community service program, one study suggests that California could get a lot more enterprising in the use of volunteers in the state parks system.


Finding biodiversity in a bucket

June 05, 2013 by

Famed National Geographic photographer David Liittschwager teams up to bring the power of “one cubic foot” to the masses.


The Oakland Museum’s taxidermist: an inside view of wildlife

June 04, 2013 by

Oakland Museum taxidermist Alicia Goode has special insight into California wildlife.


Hayes Valley Farm to be replaced by housing development, Google goes green in new campus

June 04, 2013 by

Hayes Valley Farm in SF to be replaced by housing development, but it didn’t go down without a last minute fight, and other Bay Area nature news.


These beavers know the way to San Jose

June 03, 2013 by

In the heart of San Jose, a family of beavers have set up a home. Their arrival marks the first time in 150 years that beavers have been seen in the area.


California deer infected with non-native lice

May 30, 2013 by

California deer are suffering from an infestation of non-native lice that’s causing baldness and other health problems.


SF Green Film Festival opens with Marin’s open space rebels

May 29, 2013 by

Premier night (Thursday) at the SF Green Film Festival is a film about the people who saved Marin’s coastline from development. (Interview)


Are pot farms poisoning spotted owls, can hatched salmon smell their way home?

May 29, 2013 by

Time for Wednesday’s Bay Area nature news digest.


Preservation Ranch: Big conservation, thanks to carbon credits

May 28, 2013 by

Preservation Ranch is the biggest conservation deal in Sonoma County history, and it’s part of an even bigger deal. The key to the model? Carbon credits.


East Bay hills tree removal debate catches fire

May 23, 2013 by

A plan for tree removal in the East Bay hills is open for public comment until June 17. We talk to a biologist, historian, gardener, land manager, and critic.


Will $8 parking fees deter visitors from Sonoma County beaches?

May 23, 2013 by

Many local beach goers in Sonoma County are reacting strongly against a proposal to make them pay to play in the sun.


Beyond Fossil Fuels

May 23, 2013 by

Ever heard of California’s “Low Carbon Fuel Standard”? UC Berkeley prof Dan Kammen co-wrote it. What about the terms “cap and trade” and “carbon offsets”? Kammen helped popularize these concepts for the American public and transform the way we view energy consumption. As director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab at the University of […]


It’s rattlesnake season – beware!

May 22, 2013 by

Summer is upon us, and the rattlers are out. Or rather, you are. Which makes you much more vulnerable to running into one.


Oakland Museum’s new science gallery opens May 31

May 21, 2013 by

On May 31, the Oakland Museum will open its overhauled science gallery, the world’s largest museum exhibit focused on California’s habitats and wildlife.


Enviros decry governor’s raid on carbon programs

May 20, 2013 by

Gov. Jerry Brown wants to divert $500 million earmarked for environmental initiatives to balance state budget.


Sonoma locals reject beach parking fees, Big Basin plan short shrifts murrelets

May 20, 2013 by

Sonoma locals up in arms about state parks plan to charge for beach parking, and other Bay Area nature news.


The Endangered Species Act has officially hit middle age

May 17, 2013 by

On its 40th anniversary, the Endangered Species Act has a 99 percent success rate.


Lake Merced Birds: A Lone Wrentit

May 14, 2013 by

Every so often I see a note from a local birder or amateur botanist that reminds me that there’s a whole world of animal and plant movement under our noses all the time, comings and goings of which we just catch glimpses every so often. That’s what happened on Cinqo de Mayo, when San Francisco […]


What ever happened to Alden Olmsted?

May 14, 2013 by

Alden Olmsted has been MIA since last year’s state parks funding scandal, quietly working on a documentary he hopes will change the public’s consciousness.


Publisher’s Circle hike at Rockville Trails

May 13, 2013 by

Here are selected photos from the Bay Nature Publisher’s Circle hike at Rockville Trails with Solano Land Trust on the sunny day of May 11, 2013. Our hike of approximately five miles through quintessential inner coast range oak woodlands and grasslands afforded us expansive views of the surrounding hills and valleys. [Photos by David Loeb, […]


The Bay Area mothers around you

May 11, 2013 by

Happy Mother’s Day. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from the mothers around you.


Who builds those stick houses, anyway? Woodrats!

May 10, 2013 by

Stewart Gilbert of San Rafael writes to ask: “Who makes these homes built out of sticks? They’re very common at China Camp. From a wood rat of some sort? The sticks can be large, requiring strength to pile up. I’ve never seen any sign of habitation or fresh construction. And they occur at both the […]


Butterflies in bloom

May 09, 2013 by

Have you ever seen a butterfly emerge from its pupa? Now’s your chance.


Local Hero: Cindy Moreno of WattzOn and Full Circle Farm

May 08, 2013 by

It’s not easy to catch up with Cindy Moreno. The daughter of immigrant farmworkers from the Central Valley and a recent graduate in environmental studies from San Jose State, Cindy is doing more than her share for the environment.



May 08, 2013 by

Rick Lewis evokes the phrase, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  Where other people see industry and ugliness, he finds the bright and the beautiful. Where other people see steel yards, he spots great blue herons.  A self-taught photographer whose work has appeared in at least half of the 50 issues of Bay […]


Bald eagles have returned to nest at Anthony Chabot

May 08, 2013 by

Bald eagles have returned to nest for a second year in a restricted section of the park.


Bee population sinks to new lows, Berkeley’s school garden program in jeopardy

May 08, 2013 by

The bee population is now so low that there may not be enough to pollinate crops, and other Bay Area nature news.


What’s a tiger swallowtail doing in downtown San Francisco?

May 02, 2013 by

This riparian butterfly species finds suitable habitat in the tall buildings and wide spaces of Market Street. Advocates aim to keep them there.


Hikes that defy the heights of Devil’s Slide

May 02, 2013 by

The recent opening of the twin tunnels through San Pedro Mountain has made Devil’s Slide in San Mateo County more accessible than ever to hikers.


Muir Beach closes for summer, semi-finalists picked for museum at Crissy Field

May 01, 2013 by

The very popular Muir Beach closed this summer to drive-ins for habitat restoration work, and other Bay Area nature news.


Surge of pine siskins means dead birds, but also new neighbors

April 30, 2013 by

We’ve been hearing a lot about dead pine siskins all over the country. Turns out it’s natural, and it might mean more siskins in more places for a while.


Publisher’s Circle Cooley Ranch hike — Photos!

April 30, 2013 by

Here are selected photos from the Bay Nature Publisher’s Circle hike at Cooley Ranch on April 28, 2012 with LandPaths Executive Director Craig Anderson. Learn more about the Publisher’s Circle here.


Harbor seals pupping at Point Reyes

April 30, 2013 by

The best time to watch harbor seals is the first week of May, and the biggest concentration is right in our backyard: Point Reyes National Seashore.


Getting Outside: Good for All Ages

April 29, 2013 by

Inspired by her grandparents’ love of the outdoors, South Bay biotech executive Anne Ferguson founded an organization that helps older adults feel good about getting outside and engaging with nature. We spoke about Bay Area Older Adults and what it’s all about…. BN: When did you first arrive in the Bay Area and what first […]


State Coastal Conservancy out of money, Point Reyes ranchers demand extended leases

April 29, 2013 by

State Coastal Conservancy out of its $1 billion in bond money with no new funds in sight, and other Bay Area nature news.


Your favorite park along the Bay was once a dump

April 29, 2013 by

Chances are that your go-to spot on the San Francisco Bay was once a trash dump.


A Surprise Circle of Redwoods

April 27, 2013 by

Another father-son geocaching adventure, this time revealing a very tall trees that seem to hide in plain sight.


Loving nature with pencil and paper

April 25, 2013 by

Looking for a way to commune with nature and others? Nature journaling might be just the thing.


“Paint slowly and carry a small brush”

April 24, 2013 by

Internationally acclaimed painter Jeff Long, known primarily for his abstract works, has lately taken up his brush in defense of Western birds and other wildlife. Referencing the classic bird illustrations of John James Audubon, Long’s monumental and highly detailed paintings depart from the master by including elements of the ecological challenges each species faces. His […]


San Jose mostly tree-less, Yosemite expands parkland

April 24, 2013 by

Only 15 percent of San Jose has trees, according to study using laser tree trackers, and more Bay Area nature news.


Which California parks should remain under state control?

April 23, 2013 by

A long awaited report has sparked a debate on how to best manage the California State Parks system.


It’s Earth Day! Celebrate with our native species

April 22, 2013 by

In time for Earth Day, a reminder of our “wow factor” wildlife. Photo slideshow.


Jack London’s oak tree dying, San Franciscans may start drinking local water

April 22, 2013 by

The 300- year-old oak tree outside Jack London’s former cottage in Glen Ellen to be felled because of fungus, and other Bay Area nature news.


The Exploratorium’s new eyes on the bay

April 18, 2013 by

The Exploratorium reopened this week with a new focus on the world right outside its doors: San Francisco Bay.


What are you doing for Earth Day 2013?

April 18, 2013 by

We’ve got the Earth Day events roundup for you.


Local Hero: Mia Monroe, Muir Woods National Monument

April 17, 2013 by

Officially, Mia Monroe is Site Supervisor of Muir Woods. But what she really does is serve as a passionate ambassador for nature.


Why are there so fewer songbirds, and so many crows?

April 17, 2013 by

Songbirds seem to be disappearing, but crows are everywhere. Is there a connection?


Coyotes and humans without the dogs do ok, Preservation Ranch deal in the clear

April 17, 2013 by

Coyotes and humans coexist peacefully in Golden Gate Park — when dogs aren’t part of the picture, and other Bay Area nature news.


Back again: Great blue herons nest at Stow Lake

April 15, 2013 by

Great Blue Herons are back again at Stow Lake in San Francisco for the 20th nesting season.


Rare opportunity to see bald eagle in flight

April 15, 2013 by

Sequoia takes a 30 minute spin every day with her Palo Alto trainers.


Local Hero: Seth Adams, Save Mount Diablo

April 15, 2013 by

2013 Local Hero award-winner Seth Adams of Save Mount Diablo is a big-picture guy, but he also revels in the details of wildflowers, maps, building a trail, or building a coalition.


Marin parks get more money, Annadel tamps down “outlaw” trails

April 15, 2013 by

Marin adds $5.2 million to county parks budget thanks to voter referendum last fall, and other Bay Area nature news.


Ithuriel’s Spear and Other Spears of Springtime

April 11, 2013 by

Ithuriel’s spear and similar flowers are some of our most charismatic springtime blooms. Just don’t drive off the road next time they show their stuff!


Iconic tree at Mount Davidson topples over

April 11, 2013 by

The dead eucalyptus had its admirers and opponents. Now it’s gone forever.


A Festival with Legs

April 09, 2013 by

What has more than two thousand legs and is converging on San Francisco’s Corona Heights neighborhood?  A: The parents, children, insects and arachnids who collectively take part in Bug Day at the city’s Randall Museum.  Q: Who is responsible? A: Nancy Ellis, Science Curator.  And she’s thrilled. I spoke recently with Nancy about Bug Day, […]


Clear Lake, a Destination for Kayaking and Birding

April 08, 2013 by

We’ve thought about doing a piece on Clear Lake for a long time: It’s a wildlife magnet just over two hours from our office in Berkeley, and yet relatively few Bay Area nature lovers ever visit. You might imagine that Clear Lake was named for the clarity of its water. Not so. It turns out […]


A Warbler Comes to West Berkeley

April 08, 2013 by

Last winter I noticed a different bird in the bare branches of the London plane trees outside the office. A yellow-rumped warbler. Not an uncommon bird, yet not one I would expect to see next to a cement plant.


Presidio to add green space, CEQA changes politically dead?

April 08, 2013 by

Presidio expanding its parkland with new green space over Doyle Drive tunnels that will connect to Crissy Field, and other Bay Area nature news.


GGNRA mulls plastic water bottle ban

April 04, 2013 by

GGNRA is under pressure to join growing number of national parks that ban the sale of plastic water bottles.


Underground leaks ruining Alamo Square’s vintage look

April 04, 2013 by

San Francisco wants to rebuild Alamo Square’s irrigation system, but historian says leaks are natural springs.


How do barnacles make baby barnacles?

April 03, 2013 by

Barnacles are hermaphroditic – they contain both male and female sex organs. You’re thinking, “Well, they always have a date on Saturday night.” No, it’s a really bad idea to self-fertilize: Inbreeding results in little genetic diversity. Worms, slugs, snails – slow-moving animals with low rates of encounter – are all hermaphroditic. And you could not get any slower than an adult barnacle!


Sea lion pups, pot farming and tree-sitters

April 03, 2013 by

“Unusual morbidity event” among sea lion pups this year, and other Bay Area nature news.


Do the Presidio’s new dog walking rules go far enough?

April 02, 2013 by

Limits on commercial dog walkers in the Presidio has some nature lovers questioning: Should they be allowed at all?


Bees, bee-killing and Marin creeks

April 01, 2013 by

Hives run out of room, bees swarm. Time to call your friendly, local beekeeper, and other Bay Area nature news.


Remembering Rich Stallcup

April 01, 2013 by

In December 2012, the Bay Area, and the world, lost one of its most eloquent spokespeople for and about birds. Rich Stallcup, a cofounder of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory (now PRBO Conservation Science), was an unrivaled birder and teacher. Here are two of the dozens of remembrances posted on PRBO’s online guestbook: More than anyone […]


The Phenology Project

April 01, 2013 by

The California Phenology Project’s citizen scientists are studying changes in plant life cycles to better understand local climate change impacts.


Turning Blue: Ain’t nothing but a hound’s tongue!

March 29, 2013 by

John Muir Laws turns his naturalist’s eye and paintbrushes to the hound’s tongue, one of our early spring bloomers.


Dinosaur eggs on Point Reyes Estero Trail?

March 29, 2013 by

Tim Hastings wrote to us wondering about “many large round, almost ‘dinosaur-egg’ like rocks dotting the muddy sands” when he was hiking the Estero Trail. Tim’s guess is that the soft rock is susceptible to erosive shaping during the rise and fall of tides; thus the almost uniform rounded, oval shape of these small boulders. That’s […]


How do you make a teeny hummingbird chick comfy?

March 28, 2013 by

Imagine fitting your little eggs inside a nest the size of a golf ball? Hummingbirds are back, and raising the next generation.


Bird of the week: Marshmallicious delicious

March 28, 2013 by

It’s spring nesting season, but apparently there’s a lot of confusion around Easter time about one particular bird.


Best Bay Area hikes into wildflower country

March 28, 2013 by

Got some time on a beautiful spring weekend? Spend it in wildflower country on some of the Bay Area’s best hikes.


Firefighters, bottled water and an armored beach

March 27, 2013 by

Even firefighters think California should discontinue flame retardants in furniture, and more Bay Area nature news.


Helping Kids Make the Nature Connection

March 26, 2013 by

For Palo Alto-based Environmental Volunteers, personal exploration of nature is what it’s all about.  By providing school kids with hands-on experiences of nature, Environmental Volunteers works to instill a love of the natural world and an interest in protecting it from an early age. The organization’s executive director Allen Berkowitz spoke with me last week […]


A “Big Birder” on Sonoma Mountain

March 25, 2013 by

He’s big, he’s tall and he’s an obsessive birder. WhyTed Eliot can’t get birds out of his head.


Devil’s Slide tunnels an environmental success story

March 25, 2013 by

What could have been at Devil’s Slide makes you appreciate the tunnels that came to be.


Pedro Point’s Transformation, for Wildlife and People

March 22, 2013 by

Volunteers are transforming Pedro Point, home to the new Devil’s Slide tunnels, into a healthier wildlife habitat that’s also a great outdoors destination.


Deficit battles hurt Bay Area’s national parklands this summer

March 21, 2013 by

Closed visitors centers, fewer programs, brushy trails and dirtier bathrooms — Washington’s deficit battles will hurt the Bay Area’s national parklands this summer.


Animal Tracking: Signs of Life

March 20, 2013 by

Plenty of wildlife roams the Bay Area. With help from expert naturalists, you can learn to read the messages they leave behind in their tracks and signs.


It’s spring! Admire the hound’s tongue, and the rest

March 20, 2013 by

Looking to nature for signs of spring is a beloved sport among Bay Area wildlife enthusiasts. What are you noticing out there?


Nature Sounds: The Sounds of Silence

March 20, 2013 by

Nature sounds make up the rich soundscapes of redwood forests, marshes, and our backyards. Learn how you can listen and help protect your local soundscape!


Satellites to the rescue for Clear Lake algae problems?

March 19, 2013 by

Clear Lake algae problems persist, but a new effort aims to use satellite imagery to track pollution and find solutions.


Bay Area native plants play it safe, biologically speaking

March 14, 2013 by

Bay Area plant species bloom to their own tune. Our plants are always sending something out, but they’ve also learned to play it safe.


St. Patrick’s Day hikes around Dublin’s rolling hills

March 14, 2013 by

Need some green rolling hills to get you in the Irish spirit? Head out to the Irish capitol’s sister city in the East Bay.


Beach access, Devil’s Slide and Oakland’s parks

March 14, 2013 by

Are landowners required to provide public access to a beach? Martin’s Beach debate in San Mateo County goes to court, and more Bay Area nature news.


River otters find a fish head in Walnut Creek park

March 14, 2013 by

Three river otters and a fish head. You fill in the rest.


What’s the California newt’s lifespan?

March 13, 2013 by

What’s a California newt’s lifespan? Surprisingly long for captive newts, and wild newts’ potent poison likely helps them live longer than other amphibians.


Madeline’s Garden

March 13, 2013 by

A resident of Saratoga, Madeline Morrow sits on the Steering Committee of the 2013 “Going Native” tour, a two-day extravaganza of 60 open gardens around Santa Clara, including hers.  The event, hosted by the Santa Clara chapter of the California Native Plant Society, is a showcase for “the unique aesthetic appeal of gardens designed with […]


Steelhead trout flopping around in dried up Palo Alto creek

March 11, 2013 by

With creek water drying up, steelhead trout advocates in Palo Alto are worried about whether this year’s fish will be able to spawn.


Tesla, a mini door and fire

March 11, 2013 by

The future of Tesla property in Livermore could be decided by year’s end, and other Bay Area nature news.


Reviving the ghost of Aldo Leopold in West Marin

March 06, 2013 by

Aldo who? Mid-century environmental ethicist Aldo Leopard is finally going mainstream this year with more publicity than ever about this life and work.


Spotting the subject of legends, the common poorwill

March 04, 2013 by

Expert birders can go a lifetime in pursuit of the common poorwill. One Bay Area photographer recently stumbled across the subject of legends.


White sharks, Sutro Forest and sniff dogs

March 04, 2013 by

Great white sharks get full legal protection under CA endangered species act as state considers official listing, and other Bay Area nature news.


Are deer twins common?

March 03, 2013 by

Are deer twins common? Turns out, yes, even though any individual twin fawn is less likely to survive than its singleton cousins. What gives, nature?


How can math help solve the climate puzzle?

February 28, 2013 by

Mathematicians are jumping in to help sort out the underlying equations that make up the Earth’s complex, and rapidly changing climate system.


Keeping Santa Cruz Evergreen

February 28, 2013 by

Nowadays Reed Holderman dedicates his time to the conservation of trees and their habitats, specifically the Coast Redwood. That’s because he’s been the executive director of the Sempervirens Fund since 2009. One of the oldest conservation organizations in the United States, Sempervirens has been preserving the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains since 1901. […]


Bringing life back to Mountain Lake

February 27, 2013 by

San Francisco’s only remaining natural lake has experienced dramatic changes over its 2,000 year history, and is about to see another one.


Lake Merritt, CEQA and restaurant fish

February 25, 2013 by

Oakland officials open a channel that will one day reconnect Lake Merritt to the SF Bay, and other Bay Area nature news.


San Jose considers banning styrofoam

February 25, 2013 by

San Jose is considering a ban on styrofoam that if successful would make it the largest city in the nation to nix the use of the non-biodegradable foamy plastic.


Hayward owl cam: Up close and personal with barn owls!

February 25, 2013 by

A family of barn owls at Hayward’s Sulphur Creek Nature Center are the starts of an owl-cam: see baby owls hatching, feeding, and being their cute selves!


Santa Rosa’s Taylor Mountain throws open the gates

February 22, 2013 by

Santa Rosa gets a brand-new park this weekend. Taylor Mountain, above the Roseland neighborhood, is a great hiking spot and a model of park planning.


More visitors expected as Pinnacles becomes a national park

February 21, 2013 by

Now that it’s officially on the national park circuit, Pinnacles may be seeing more visitors as diehard national park goers add the geological wonder to their bucket lists.


Lead bullets, abalone and nitrogen

February 20, 2013 by

Groups aim to make California first state to ban bullets made from lead to protect wildlife from poisoning, and more Bay Area nature news.


Rallying on climate change this Sunday

February 15, 2013 by

While Bay Area conservation leaders have been getting arrested in Washington, DC, demanding action on climate change, a local “Forward on Climate Change” rally is planned for Sunday, February 17.


Springing Forward into Nature

February 14, 2013 by

One constant of Cindy Spring’s ever-changing life path has been her commitment to live her values. A one-time news broadcaster and holistic health practitioner with a deep dedication to activism, Cindy’s passion turned to local nature ten years ago following a stint as an organizer for Earth Day 2000. Next month, the program she co-founded […]


Valentine’s Day tales from nature, guaranteed to make you blush

February 13, 2013 by

It’s Valentine’s Day and we’ve got some stories to share with you about how Bay Area species do it.


Capeweed, a fish kill and taxes

February 13, 2013 by

Customs officials intercept invasive capeweed at Port of Oakland on flowers shipped from Australia, and other Bay Area nature news.


San Francisco, a honeybee’s paradise

February 11, 2013 by

Why has San Francisco, of all places, become the land of milk and honey for honeybees?


A bike race, Valero and a dog ban

February 11, 2013 by

America’s top bike race will scale Mount Diablo in May, but it’s creating a headache for organizers, and more Bay Area nature news.


Geocaching Oakland’s Belap Path

February 10, 2013 by

The East Bay Hills are riddled with hidden paths and staircases.  Providing an athletic training ground for the hard-core runner, a short cut from elevation to elevation for the casual rambler, convenient access to transit systems that have long ceased to exist, they are also like Easter eggs:  Appearing – as if out of nowhere […]


Celebrating the year of the snake with Bay Area favorites

February 09, 2013 by

Happy Chinese New Year! It’s the year of the snake, so we’re taking a moment to reflect on some of our Bay Area favorites.


Best romantic hikes in the Bay Area

February 08, 2013 by

If you’re looking for something adventurous this Valentine’s Day, how about going for a hike?


National Trust hopes to save slice of history at state park

February 07, 2013 by

Ceramicist Marguerite Wildenhain left her legacy at Austin Creek State Recreation Area in Sonoma County. What happens when the interests of art history and state parks coincide?


Taylor Mountain, an albatross, and an urban canopy

February 06, 2013 by

Sonoma County gets a new park, the largest in decades, at Taylor Mountain, and other Bay Area nature news.


A treaty, a terrified coyote and ‘dogs run wild’

February 04, 2013 by

The San Francisco Bay estuary has been listed as a “wetland of importance” in an international treaty, and other Bay Area nature news.


Sutro Sam, the river otter, getting too much attention

February 04, 2013 by

Wildlife experts say to leave San Francisco’s adorable river otter alone a little bit.


Making the Most of Mud

February 01, 2013 by

San Francisco Bay has been clearing up, but that’s not necessarily a good thing for marshes in an age of sea level rise. Those marshes need mud so they can keep up with rising tides.


Should we be worried about asbestos in serpentine rock?

January 31, 2013 by

Should we worry about asbestos in serpentine rock? Yes, a bit. In California, we have North America’s largest exposures. It’s even our official state rock.


Charting the Geographies of Hope

January 31, 2013 by

On the very edge of the North American tectonic plate, surrounded by ranches and wetlands and everyone’s favorite  park — Point Reyes National Seashore  — sits the town of Point Reyes Station. And in the center of town (it’s all the center, really—it’s small) sits Point Reyes Books. And at the helm of the store sit […]


Hikes for waning New Year’s resolutions

January 31, 2013 by

Some great hikes to inspire you as your New Year’s resolution to “get in shape” starts to falter.


San Francisco group seeks Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights

January 30, 2013 by

A group of San Francisco nature enthusiasts want to make official every kid’s right to climb a tree, see the ocean and ride a bike.


Ebony and Ivory

January 30, 2013 by

A school of fish gets trapped in a slough at ebb tide. Dinnertime for egrets and cormorants!


Oakland Zoo, sneaker waves and redwood logs

January 30, 2013 by

The Oakland Zoo is going to take in lead-poisoned California condors for recovery, and other Bay Area nature news.


The thrill of the hive: San Francisco beekeeping

January 28, 2013 by

One of San Francisco’s most prominent beekeepers produces 500 pounds of honey a year by never turning down a bee in need.


Santa Clara Valley habitat plan up for final vote

January 28, 2013 by

San Jose officials on Tuesday will decide the fate of a plan to preserve 46,000 acres of open space.


Monarch butterfly numbers are down again

January 24, 2013 by

Monarch butterflies are about half of last year’s numbers in the Bay Area. But that’s not saying all that much.


Lawns, the 49ers and beachgrass

January 24, 2013 by

San Francisco residents pave over front lawns for parking with disregard for need of permeable surfaces, and other Bay Area nature news.


Limantour Beach, and a complete hike of Point Reyes

January 23, 2013 by

Hike along Limantour Beach with naturalist Jules Evens on the final leg in his yearlong journey to hike every trail at Point reyes National Seashore/


Give a nesting bird a home

January 23, 2013 by

Nesting birds are coming back to town. Now’s your chance to be a bird box landlord.


Planting in memory of MLK

January 23, 2013 by

What’s native plant restoration have to do with MLK Day? Maybe not a whole lot, unless you spend it on the MLK Regional Shoreline planting seven varieties of wetland species.


What, exactly, is in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

January 23, 2013 by

From the journal of Brian Kallen, who describes his journey through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.


Was MLK an environmentalist?

January 20, 2013 by

Martin Luther King, Jr. predated the environmental movement, but his words show he respected the natural world.


Naked in the tidepools

January 17, 2013 by

With seasonally low tides, now’s the time to head out to see arguably the most colorful critters in the Bay Area — the nudibranchs that dwell in tidepools along the coast.


The Guardian of San Bruno Mountain

January 17, 2013 by

Silently rising above the industry and commerce lining Highway 101 south of San Francisco  is San Bruno Mountain, an area rich in biodiversity. What has allowed this gem to remain relatively undisturbed despite the development pressures lapping at its feet? The work and perseverance of many local residents, galvanized by the vision and passion of […]


Why does Half Moon Bay get winter monster waves?

January 16, 2013 by

The Mavericks surf contest has been called for Sunday, January 20. As we wait for big kahunas to roll in, we ask why Half Moon Bay gets the legendary waves that become the surfer’s delight.


Killer whale, salamander tunnels and aquariums

January 16, 2013 by

Killer whale travels 2,000 miles in 2 weeks from Puget Sound to Point Reyes, and more Bay Area nature news.


The Smallest Sandpipers

January 15, 2013 by

Our two local sandpipers are cute as buttons, hard to tell apart, and eat primordial ooze. What’s not to love?


Crabber gets $10,000 fine for setting traps in marine park

January 14, 2013 by

Apparently fishing in a state marine reserve is no light matter. A commercial crabber gets nabbed lowering 100 traps in a Sonoma County marine reserve.


A marvel of magnolias

January 14, 2013 by

Magnolias may not be native to Northern California. But the SF Botanical Garden has been conserving this endangered flowering tree, and now’s the time to see them in full bloom.


San Francisco Bay herring running at Mission Bay

January 09, 2013 by

The herring are running again in San Francisco, and it’s quite a show. Commercial fishing boats cast their nets in China Basin, at the mouth of Mission Creek, in the shadow of the Giants ballpark, and dozens of anglers threw small nets from piers and wharves all along the waterfront in Mission Bay. Birding expert […]


Iconic Tennessee Beach arch suddenly falls into sea

January 09, 2013 by

And suddenly it was gone. The iconic rock arch at Tennessee Beach in Marin unexpectedly gave way, changing the view forever.


Bay Bridge, an arch and monarchs

January 09, 2013 by

Bay Bridge exempted from Cosco Busan rules restricting large ships from sailing in fog, and other Bay Area nature news.


Songbirds dying at birdfeeders

January 08, 2013 by

A number of local bird rescue groups are reporting an outbreak of salmonella among pine siskins, small songbirds that are common at Bay Area bird feeders this time of year. Wildcare of Marin sent dead birds to a lab for testing and confirmed that they died of salmonella. “The disease Salmonellosis is a common cause of disease and […]


Song of the Meadowlark in Solano County

January 08, 2013 by

The Solano Land Trust’s King-Swett Ranches are great destinations for Solano County hiking: amazing views and a sense of seclusion in between Benicia, Vallejo, and Fairfield.


Footage of elephant seal pups nursing, and more

January 08, 2013 by

Nature photographer David Cruz sent in these amazing pics and a video of nursing pups from his recent trip out to Ano Nuevo State Reserve.


New records set in Bay Area’s Christmas bird counts

January 07, 2013 by

The annual Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count, the longest running citizen science survey in the world, has finished up in the Bay Area with some important findings.


Getting in tune with nature

January 07, 2013 by

Glen Ellen resident Bernie Krause records sounds in nature to understand a habitat’s biodiversity.


‘Bouillabaisse of life’ in San Francisco Bay

January 07, 2013 by

Paddle the San Francisco Bay with Paul McHugh, a journalist and columnist who’s been covering the environment for more than 30 years. VIDEO.


Cut Off from Nature or Take the Right Cut-off?

January 05, 2013 by

Another father-son geocaching adventure: Learning to love wetlands, even the ones by the highway.


Investigation finds State Parks deliberately hid some funds

January 04, 2013 by

The California Attorney General’s office releases the results of its investigation into the State Parks Department over its funding fiasco.


Winter fog brings quiet beauty to Bay Area parks

January 03, 2013 by

With all the cold and moist days we’ve had lately, it’s the perfect time to experience winter’s tule fog, a different variety than summer’s ocean-borne type.


Piecing together the Diablo landscape

January 03, 2013 by

On a warm autmn morning, a half-dozen volunteers are watering young native plants on a piece of land known as Marsh Creek IV, just outside Clayton. The land, on the banks of its namesake creek, is one of several properties owned by Save Mount Diablo (SMD), a Walnut Creek–based group that’s been advocating for Mount […]


Kehoe Marsh and McClures Beach in Winter

January 02, 2013 by

Discover diverse wildlife and great sunsets, even in winter, with naturalist Jules Evens at McClure’s Beach, Point Reyes. This is his second-to-last post in a yearlong quest to hike and write about every trail at Point Reyes.


Pinnacles, trash and shipping

January 02, 2013 by

SF proceeds with enviro review of shipping trash by rail to Yuba County after groups sue, and more Bay Area nature news.


Bumblebees like flower diversity, not asphalt

January 02, 2013 by

Want to help out the bumblebee population? Get rid of asphalt and plant a diversity of flower species. That’s the conclusion of a new study of a California native bumblebee published recently in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Scientists from the UC Berkeley and the University of Texas at Austin looked […]


First Person: How to Make a Frog’s Day

January 01, 2013 by

In 2008, Kerry Kriger founded Santa Cruz-based Save the Frogs, which he says is the nation’s only public charity dedicated exclusively to amphibian conservation.


Spotlight on San Luis National Wildlife Refuge

January 01, 2013 by

If you find yourself headed through the Central Valley at this time of the year, a nice pit stop off Highway 5 is the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge.


Virginia rail peeks through reeds at Lake Merced

December 31, 2012 by

A Virginia rail made a surprise year-end appearance at Lake Merced in San Francisco.


Gateway to the Delta

December 31, 2012 by

I’m in another world from the moment I step into the East Bay Regional Park District’s Big Break Regional Shoreline. Here on the edge of the Delta in eastern Contra Costa County, birds sing and soar overhead, cottonwood leaves rustle in the breeze, and on a clear day you can see across the Delta’s vast […]


Land of the Salamander

December 31, 2012 by

North America has more kinds of salamanders–the tailed, mostly four-legged amphibians–than any other continent. Your backyard is probably full of them right now!


The Bay Area’s top 10 environmental news of 2012

December 31, 2012 by

The Bay Area has had its share of interesting environmental stories in 2012. Here’s our pick of some of our favorites.


Celebrate the New Year with Canopus

December 28, 2012 by

Put yourself in just the right spot at midnight on New Year’s Eve and you may be able to see the second brightest star in the sky that’s normally invisible in much of the Bay Area — Canopus.


Painting the Delta, from “frankenanimals” to finished artwork

December 27, 2012 by

When we decided to commission an original illustration for our January feature about Big Break Regional Shoreline, I did what I often do in these situations: I contacted Ann Caudle, who runs the scientific illustration program at Cal State Monterey. She suggested Logan Parsons, a freelance illustrator based in Pacific Grove. She created the illustration […]


Point Reyes Exploration: Five Brooks to Alamere Falls

December 27, 2012 by

Tag along with Jules Evens to discover dozens of bird species, secluded ponds, and a rushing waterfall on the beach.


The General’s mission for California state parks

December 21, 2012 by

Major General Anthony Jackson came out of retirement for one more mission: to turn around California’s state parks department. In a Bay Nature interview, Jackson explains why, “My goal, honest and truly, is not closing any parks.”


Welcoming in California’s new marine parks

December 20, 2012 by

Anyone who loves the California coast — that would be everyone, right? — should be toasting this week’s big news.


Trees snag Oakland’s first major creek daylighting project

December 20, 2012 by

A 250-foot stretch of Sausal Creek would see the light of day. But Oakland’s plans to remove 84 trees, many of them coast redwoods, has raised an uproar among Dimond Park users.


At Oakland’s Christmas Bird Count, 177 species in 177-square miles

December 19, 2012 by

177 species was a normal year’s count at Audubon Society’s 2012 Christmas Bird Count in Oakland. But there were nevertheless some pleasant surprises: hermit warblers, a snow goose and a Ross’s goose.


Wetlands preserve way of life in South Bay town

December 19, 2012 by

On the southern end of the San Francisco Bay, the Mexican-American community in the tiny hamlet of Alviso is realizing that wetlands may be needed to keep the sea at bay. VIDEO


Owl, a shuttle and Treasure Island

December 19, 2012 by

The male in pair of great-horned owls who’ve long nested in Glen Park died of rat poison, and other Bay Area nature news.


Alligator keeper and salamander seeker

December 18, 2012 by

When we put out the call for photos to go along with our forthcoming salamander feature by David Rains Wallace, I wasn’t sure what to expect. How many local salamander and newt photos could possibly be out there? Quite  a few, as it happens: I received nearly 300 submissions for the story. Some of the […]


On the Passing of Rich Stallcup

December 17, 2012 by

I’m tremendously saddened to hear of the recent – and, to me, sudden – passing of master birder Rich Stallcup. Rich was one of the founders of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory (now PRBO Conservation Science). And he was one of the most insightful naturalists I’ve ever had the opportunity to go birding with (though, unfortunately, not often enough). […]


A docent and a dream at King-Swett Ranches

December 17, 2012 by

Docents help bring many Bay Area parks alive to the public. No where is that more true than the King-Swett Ranches outside of Vallejo, where Jim Walsh leads tours into areas otherwise inaccessible to the public.


A petition, an oil boom and a Douglas fir

December 17, 2012 by

Wild Emergency Services, an animal aid group, has started a petition to change way California Fish & Game deals with mountain lions in public places after Half Moon Bay cougar cub shooting, and more Bay Area nature news.


Bay Nature Honors Three Local Heroes

December 17, 2012 by

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Berkeley, CA (December 17, 2012) — A beloved ranger/naturalist at Muir Woods, a dynamic advocate for open space around Mount Diablo, and a young woman dedicated to reaching out to diverse communities with a message of conservation will be the recipients of Bay Nature Institute’s 2013 Local Hero Awards. Each year, the […]


Point Reyes: Drake’s Head via Estero Trail

December 13, 2012 by

Author Jules Evens is only three hikes away from his goal of walking every mile of trail at Point Reyes National Seashore in 2012, the park’s 50th anniversary.


2013 Local Hero Award for Environmental Education

December 13, 2012 by

Each year, the nonprofit Bay Nature Institute, based in Berkeley, selects three individuals who are making outstanding contributions to the understanding, protection, and stewardship of the natural world of the San Francisco Bay Area. No one is more dedicated to getting people out to appreciate and learn about the natural world than Mia Monroe, Site […]


2013 Local Hero Award for Conservation Action

December 13, 2012 by

Each year, the nonprofit Bay Nature Institute, based in Berkeley, selects three individuals who are making outstanding contributions to the understanding, protection, and stewardship of the natural world of the San Francisco Bay Area. No one knows more about Mount Diablo and its people than Seth Adams, Director of Land Programs at Save Mount Diablo. […]


2013 Local Hero Award for Youth Engagement

December 13, 2012 by

Each year, the nonprofit Bay Nature Institute, based in Berkeley, selects three individuals who are making outstanding contributions to the understanding, protection, and stewardship of the natural world of the San Francisco Bay Area. At 23 years, Cindy Moreno has already packed in more experience in the environmental arena than most of us get to […]


Protecting the “Golden Foothills”

December 13, 2012 by

Land Conservation Associate George Phillips coordinates Save Mount Diablo’s Stewardship, Landowner Outreach and Hike programs.


Controlled burn at Redwood Regional Park

December 12, 2012 by

In summer 2012, we reported on the East Bay Regional Park District’s plan for a prescribed burn at Redwood Regional Park. The author of that feature, Wendy Tokuda, went out just before Thanksgiving to watch the burn. Here’s her report: The prescribed burn at Redwood Regional Park in Oakland happened on November 12, although not […]


King Tide, Oakland Zoo and Humboldt squids

December 12, 2012 by

Thursday will bring highest tides of year. Grab your camera and help document Bay Area’s risk of sea level rise, and more Bay Area nature news.


Naming the ‘fire lizards’ of the world

December 12, 2012 by

For an animal that’s been given mythic properties, the salamanders of the world have some pretty colorful names.


Foster City’s developer faces sea level rise

December 12, 2012 by

Meet the Fosters, the family who build Foster City out of former wetlands on the San Francisco Bay. They and their neighbors now face the difficult scenario of sea level rise. VIDEO.


Salamanders, sandpipers, sediment, and more, coming in our January issue

December 11, 2012 by

Coming up in our January 2013 issue, noted author (and one of our favorites!) David Rains Wallace surveys our region’s remarkable diversity of salamanders and newts. Tiny slender salamanders in your garden, toxic newts in a nearby park, Pacific giant salamanders deep in a redwood forest: it turns out that we live in the land […]


Up a creek in floodwaters

December 10, 2012 by

During the big deluge two weeks ago, Marin’s creeks were raging with water at a capacity rarely seen so early in the winter season.


Fracking leases, conservatives and a lone wolf

December 10, 2012 by

On Wednesday, feds opening 18,000 acres of land for oil and gas leases in Monterey Shale in central California, and other Bay Area nature news.


Bay Area’s Top 10 nature gifts for the holidays

December 10, 2012 by

Hey, Bay Area nature lovers. Still on the hunt for a perfect holiday gift? Bay Nature has assembled a Top 10 list of local nature gifts.


Chinook salmon sighted in Berkeley creek

December 06, 2012 by

The discovery of a 24-inch fish, believed to be a Chinook salmon, in a creek along Berkeley’s northern border with Albany, has inspired a ripple of excitement in the community.


Cupertino cement plant cutting mercury pollution

December 05, 2012 by

The Bay Area’s No. 1 mercury polluter, the Lehigh cement plant in Cupertino, is cleaning its business after the region’s air district passed the strongest air rules in the nation.


Where retreat is not an answer

December 05, 2012 by

Some farmers stake their livelihood on faith that the levees holding back rising seas will hold strong. VIDEO.


Cougar cubs, oysters and weather stations

December 05, 2012 by

Widespread criticism over Cal Fish & Game decision to shoot cougar cubs hiding out at Half Moon Bay house, and more Bay Area nature news.


Geocaching in Oakland

December 01, 2012 by

Follow the geocaching adventures of a father and son, this time in Oakland, underground.


Getting People Outside

November 28, 2012 by

In a previous era, Michael Closson might have been a pioneer outdoorsman in the Sierra Nevada. Now he’s simply an avid hiker – and a passionate advocate for the environment. When he’s not hiking, Michael channels his passion into his work as Executive Director of Acterra, a South Bay nonprofit that provides people with tangible, hands-on […]


A devil, killer whales and a lawsuit

November 28, 2012 by

Enjoy the start of this week’s “atmospheric river” with a little nature news: Largest concentration of aggressive great-tailed grackles, a.k.a. “devil’s bird,” turns up in SF’s Lake Merced. [San Francisco Chronicle] SF enviros wary over bill to streamline enviro review, saying developers could conceal negative impacts of projects. [San Francisco Examiner] Coho salmon returning to […]


Finding my Charlie Brown perfect at San Pedro Headlands

November 27, 2012 by

The San Pedro Headlands offers up the ultimate solution in “sustainable” Christmas trees — restoring coastal scrubland by removing Monterey pine. My tree was a little short of perfect, but one to remember. (Alison Hawkes)


Marine vomit threatens Drakes Estero

November 26, 2012 by

“Marine vomit” can be as vile as it sounds. The invasive marine invertebrate is fueling the debate about the future of Drakes Estero in time for this week’s ruling on oyster farming.


Dunes, the airport and a thank you

November 26, 2012 by

Landowners trying to develop last of Daly City’s historic sand dunes, and other Bay Area nature news.


Keeping wild turkeys in check

November 21, 2012 by

It’s a wild turkey world out there, as the growing population of Meleagris gallopavo shows. California is trying to tamp down the size of this gobbling, introduced species.


Signs of the Season: From crab pot to stovetop, Dungeness crabs arrive

November 21, 2012 by

Thanksgiving time marks the start of one of the most exciting sustainable, local food events of the year: Dungeness crab season.


Twenty miles of Point Reyes

November 20, 2012 by

Tag along with Jules Evens on two 10 mile hikes as he closes in on hiking every mile of trail at Point Reyes National Seashore in 2012.


The Ghost Below at The Marine Mammal Center

November 19, 2012 by

Special Art Exhibit Premiere: The Ghost Below at The Marine Mammal Center Date: Saturday, December 1, 2012 – December 31, 2013 Time: 10 am – 5 pm, daily Approximately 100,000 marine mammals and nearly 1 million seabirds become an entangled in and die from ocean trash each year. Visit The Marine Mammal Center starting December […]


Levees or wetlands? Planning for sea level rise

November 19, 2012 by

The Bay Area has important choices to make about how it will adapt to the reality of sea level rise. VIDEO.


New details discovered about Bay Area’s 750-legged millipede

November 15, 2012 by

Scientists report new findings on how a 750-legged millipede from the Bay Area – the leggiest animal on Earth — may have evolved all those legs to thrive in its unique niche under sandstone rocks in moist oak woodlands.


Will this year’s good ocean conditions last?

November 15, 2012 by

The first thing we heard was the exhalation of the animal,” says marine ecologist Kirsten Lindquist about the blue whale that surfaced close to R/V Fulmar during a research trip in late July. The trip was run by ACCESS, Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies, a collaborative research project of PRBO Conservation Science and two of […]


Crab, oysters and a major general

November 14, 2012 by

Dungeness crab fishermen head out to sea to set crab pots after price with processors agreed at $3 per pound, and more nature news.


Bob Berner, Protecting Marin Farms for 28 Years

November 13, 2012 by

Bob Berner, the founding director of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, is retiring at the end of 2012, but not before protecting fully half of West Marin’s farmland.


In unpoliced oceans, marine mammal shootings go unsolved

November 13, 2012 by

The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito has treated six gunshot victims so far this year, including Whirlybird, a sea lion. Which raises the disturbing question. Who is shooting marine mammals and why?


Rising seas reclaiming San Francisco’s waterfront

November 12, 2012 by

Climate disruption is causing higher tides and storm surges. The result: more and more flooding for cities like San Francisco.


Documenting the rising tide

November 12, 2012 by

Since the 1970s, Claire Schoen has been producing environmental documentaries in a variety of formats, from photography to film to radio. She’s recently expanded her repertoire to take advantage of online opportunities as a “web storyteller.” Her current project, RISE: Climate Change and Coastal Communities, strives to educate the public about the impact of climate change on […]


Mountain Lake, Ken Burns and dog poo

November 12, 2012 by

The 1,700 yr-old Mountain Lake in San Francisco is a mess as restoration effort begins to clean up contaminants and remove invasives, and other Bay Area nature news.


In age of superstorms, Bay Area prepares for every inch of water

November 08, 2012 by

With the Northeast still reeling from the affects of superstorm Sandy, there’s been quite a bit of chatter out here on the Pacific about our own vulnerabilities to large tropical storms in the age of climate change.


Deciding the Fate of Searsville Dam

November 07, 2012 by

San Franciscans voted in a landslide against an effort to study the removal of Hetch Hetchy. A few dozen miles south, at Stanford, another campaign aims to remove the much smaller Searsville Dam, which blocks steelhead spawning while also creating wetland habitat.


Keeping the peace with urban coyotes

November 07, 2012 by

When a pet goes missing, urban coyotes can quickly develop a bad rap. But many wildlife experts say it’s not the coyotes who need better management — it’s us.


Election results, sardines and rice

November 07, 2012 by

A number of initiatives to fund parks passed, while voters gave the thumbs down to GMO labeling and restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley, and other nature news.


Election roundup: Bay Area’s green ballot measures

November 05, 2012 by

Alright. Tuesday’s the day, and after penning in their choice for president, Bay Area voters will get to decide how green they’re going to go on a number of state and local ballot measures.


Crabs, French broom and meteors

November 05, 2012 by

Dungeness crab season looks promising as recreational crabbers get started with their catch, and more nature news.


Scouting For Preservation Opportunities

November 05, 2012 by

From a boy scout catching frogs to a leader in open space conservation, Sonoma Land Trust’s Ralph Benson has been taking calculated risks — and realizing considerable success.


Year of the Bay sets sail

November 01, 2012 by

On November 1, the historic ship the Alma set sail from the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park on the north end of the city, bound for its birthplace, Hunter’s Point, which it hadn’t visited for several decades. The Alma is a scow schooner, a flat-bottomed boat that maritime park Superintendent Craig Kenkel called “the […]


Hetch Hetchy measure questions SF’s water system

November 01, 2012 by

On the eve of the 100-year anniversary, the decision to drain Hetch Hetchy Valley to build a reservoir for San Francisco is still actively debated, even as the city’s dependence on the Sierra water has deepened.


West Coast doesn’t have hurricanes, it has the Pineapple Express

November 01, 2012 by

A geologist reminds us that a “Pineapple Express” could do just as much damage here as Hurricane Sandy did back East.


A bathtub, rubber mats and Disney

October 31, 2012 by

San Francisco chose to dam Hetch Hetchy because of its “perfect bathtub shape,” and other interesting facts in time for Measure F, and more nature news.


Signs of the Season: Pumpkin spiders on the move

October 31, 2012 by

It’s Halloween, and you’ve probably noticed spiders everywhere. And not just the ones in costume. Perhaps the most seasonal of Bay Area spiders is the “pumpkin spider,” which gets it name from its bulbous, rust-colored thorax.


Will park groups accept the state’s apology?

October 30, 2012 by

The California parks department is figuring out how to disperse $10 million to groups that kept their local state parks from closing this year. But some parks fans wonder how they’ll get out from the shadow of a parks department in scandal.


Santa Clara purchases land, creates 822-acre preserve

October 29, 2012 by

Santa Clara County added more acres to its open space preserve outside of Gilroy and stopped housing estates from destroying wildlife habitat.


Food prices at center of GMO labeling debate

October 29, 2012 by

Agribusiness claims a GMO label will spike food prices if California voters pass the measure. But supporters of organic say “Big Ag” has itself to blame for rising grocery bills.


McClellan Ranch, textbooks and a poaching ring

October 29, 2012 by

A new environmental center at McClellan Ranch, the word on recycling in school textbooks, busting a poaching ring and more.


Fight for Daly City Dunes

October 26, 2012 by

Remnant dunes in Daly City hint at the long-lost sands of San Francisco. And the folks at San Bruno Mountain Watch would like to keep it that way, despite proposals to build houses here.


Migrating hawks break records in sightings

October 25, 2012 by

This year has turned out to be an extraordinary one to spot broad-winged hawks, which have been amassing in a way that’s suspiciously like their East Coast siblings.


Taxes, Warriors and groundwater

October 24, 2012 by

Time for Wednesday’s news digest! Lake County residents to vote on 1/2-cent sales tax increase to make Clear Lake clearer and cleaner. [Santa Rosa Press Democrat] Opposition rising to Warriors arena on San Francisco waterfront. [Curbed SF] Following San Francisco’s lead, San Mateo County supervisors are voting on banning plastic bags and setting a fee […]


Wildlife Scenes from Marshall Beach, Point Reyes

October 23, 2012 by

Marshall Beach Trail. October 12, 2012 “Life is a journey, not a destination.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson The  trailhead to Marshall Beach begins after driving a couple of miles along the L Ranch Rd., out through the northern edge of the bishop pine forest, across some open pastureland. Just beyond the forest edge the sandy soil […]


A ballot battle over San Francisco parks funding

October 22, 2012 by

It would seem a no-brainer in eco-minded San Francisco that a $195 million bond to spruce up city parks would get a thumbs up on election day. Which is why it’s surprising that environmental groups are against it.


Resting with the hummingbirds at Mount Umunhum

October 22, 2012 by

Rising 3,486 feet above Los Gatos in the South Bay, Mount Umunhum is throwing off its cloak of secrecy under the military to become the Bay Area’s newest destination peak.


Hearst Castle, a meteor and SF parks app

October 22, 2012 by

Hearst Castle waived more than $600,000 in private event entry fees to select groups even as state parks was crushed with budget shortfalls, and more nature news.


An Outdoor Bill of Rights for Kids

October 18, 2012 by

Some people work full time on behalf of environmental education. Carol Johnson works double-time. As both the Assistant General Manager of Public Affairs for the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) and the Executive Director of the Regional Parks Foundation, her hours are filled both with the “forest” and the “trees”, the big picture and […]


A Letter from Istanbul

October 18, 2012 by

Sean FitzHoward, winner of our 2012 Local Environmental Hero Award for Youth Engagement, recently wrote us about her experience aboard an oceanic research vessel over the summer. It was time well-spent! Dear David and Bay Nature Staff, I just wanted to share some pictures of my summer with you. For five  weeks this summer, I was […]


Moscone Center, sandbagging and the Yellow Pages

October 17, 2012 by

The Moscone Center achieves LEED status, a SF supervisor wants to change CEQA to avoid “sandbag” tactics, danger ahead for the Yellow Pages ban, and more.


Wacky Jacky still on the water, speaking up for the fish

October 16, 2012 by

Jacqueline Douglas has captaineered a fishing ship in the San Francisco Bay for 40 years, and is fighting to save salmon so they’re still left to fish.


Stilt vs. Avocet

October 16, 2012 by

Jack Laws lays it out on two of our most charismatic shorebirds: the black-necked stilt and the American avocet. Check it out!  


The Clarion Call of the Red-shouldered Hawk

October 16, 2012 by

Bird nesting, anybody will tell you, is a spring and summer event. And it makes sense that many birds nest when grass grows, branches bud, and bugs emerge. But to mangle a notorious quote, the noisiest nesting season I ever heard was December in the San Francisco Bay Area. And the noisiest creatures in my […]


Amy Meyer: “All our gains are temporary”

October 15, 2012 by

An interview with the “Mother of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.”


“Marine vomit,” coho fry and a malicious killing

October 15, 2012 by

“Marine vomit” turns up as a new, alarming invasive species in Drakes Estero, and other Monday nature news.


Can off-roading and nature coexist?

October 15, 2012 by

In the hills west of Livermore, off-roaders are hoping to expand their range into an area that land preservationists say is sensitive natural habitat.


Get started geocaching on EarthCache Day

October 14, 2012 by

Today, it turns out, is the sixth annual “EarthCache Day.” What the heck is that? It’s a natural-sciences-flavored version of geocaching—the increasingly popular practice of using portable GPS devices, or smart phones, to find special hidden boxes or other items hidden by other geocachers. A good day to start this occasional series of blog posts […]


Volunteers Stick to it at Suisun Marsh

October 12, 2012 by

On a 21-foot aluminum boat floating in Suisun Marsh, Amanda Schwabe heaves up the otter trawl as Cesar Morales coils the rope on deck. When Schwabe brings up the net, Captain Teejay O’Rear pours its contents into a shallow pan. In bibbed waders provided by UC Davis, O’Rear and three volunteers (myself included) reach into […]


Inspired by the Natural World

October 11, 2012 by

An interview with Frans Lanting, an internationally renowned wildlife photographer who moved to Santa Cruz 30 years ago and never looked back.


A new oasis in southeast San Francisco

October 11, 2012 by

In a polluted industrial area in southeast San Francisco, city agencies and naturalists are carving out a series of oases along the San Francisco Bay meant to bring back wildlife and visitors.


The Outer Point in Autumn

October 10, 2012 by

The Outer Point Reyes Peninsula is a Mecca for both birds and birdwatchers during autumn migration. And it’s a fine place to see elephant seals as well.


Home for wayward plastic bottles

October 10, 2012 by

Are you a beach trash-collector? Meet Richard James, who’s taken the chore to a whole new level and has a request to make of you.


Eastshore park renamed, Taylor Mountain and an edible schoolyard

October 10, 2012 by

“McLaughlin” added to Eastshore State Park in Berkeley to honor Save the Bay co-founder Sylvia McLaughlin


Following the money on GMO ballot measure

October 08, 2012 by

In California’s GMO ballot measure, out-of-state agribusiness is outspending supporters by more than 8 to 1 to defeat measure.


Snatch! The vultures vs. the hawk

October 08, 2012 by

In a battle among feathered titans over a delectable carcass, ask yourself: Can you truly feel bad for vultures?


GMOs, Sonoma parks and beavers

October 08, 2012 by

The GMO labeling ballot measure, if passed, could reverberate throughout rest of the country, and more Monday nature news.


Meet Mark Twain’s frog at Mori Point

October 08, 2012 by

Mori Point, along the coast in San Mateo County, is one of the smattering of locations where the fabled California red-leggeds live, the largest frogs in the West.


Right On Course with John Wade, Farallon Islands Patrol Skipper

October 04, 2012 by

John Wade is one of about 20 skippers who make up the Farallon Patrol for PRBO Conservation Science. Skippers offer their boats and volunteer their time to sail to the Farallon Islands, a shuttle and resupply the scientists who live and work on Southeast Farallon Island, a critical seabird and marine mammal breeding site. The […]


Mapping the future of the coast

October 04, 2012 by

Most of the people in the world–and most of their infrastructure–can be found in jurisdictions bordering the coast or coastal watersheds. The Bay Area is no exception. However, in this era of climate change, the benefits of living close to the shoreline are accompanied by the peril of rising sea levels and more frequent major […]


Climate Chronicles: A Sea Change for Seabirds on the Farallon Islands

October 04, 2012 by

You’ll likely smell them before you see them: A rich ammoniac scent engulfs our boat, and then they loom out of the fog – spires of naked rock, eerily lunar in configuration. And as they emerge, there’s an aural accompaniment: the cackles and squawks of hundreds of thousands of seabirds, with the bellows of thou-sands of pinnipeds […]


Bringing an Environmental School to Light

October 04, 2012 by

During her two years at the Environmental Protection Agency designing the first Energy Star programs, Cyane Dandridge lamented not being able to “see change happen” on the ground. So she found work closer to her heart, founding an environmental consulting firm dedicated to helping communities reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, then co-founding the first school […]


Art in the shade at the UC Botanical Garden

October 03, 2012 by

This Sunday, visit the UC Botanical Garden, see a remakable collection of installation art, and hear from artist Todd Gilens about the 100-foot-long mural he created on the side of a shade house.


A refund, Lenai and a great white diet

October 03, 2012 by

The group now running Henry Coe State Park want their money back after the scandal over hidden funds in State Parks Department, and more news.


In search of an elusive, yummy California native

October 03, 2012 by

Early fall is California huckleberry season, and the picking is good — if you know where to look and can brave the dangers of a huckleberry forest.


Limantour Beach to Five Brooks Pond—coyote leads the way.

October 02, 2012 by

Few coastlines are as pacifying as the broad sandy beach at Limantour in Point Reyes. Come along on a 14 mile hike across the peninsula.


Oakland getting more mini-parks

October 01, 2012 by

Oakland is expanding the number “parklets” to bring more green to urban residents.


Stamps, plastic bag ban and a hatchery

October 01, 2012 by

In Monday’s News Digest, San Francisco Bay saltponds are part of the “Earthscape” series on new U.S. postage stamps, and more.


Tiny dancers in the air

October 01, 2012 by

Now you see them, now you don’t. You’d think hummingbirds would be the hardest critters on Earth to photograph. Local writer Susan Taylor Brown cracked the nut with some pretty basic techniques.


A day out with the salmon

September 27, 2012 by

A bumper crop of chinook salmon this year brought out many fishermen, who haven’t been able to throw their lines in for four years.


Cousteau: Youth the answer to imperiled oceans

September 27, 2012 by

Jean-Michel Cousteau visits Marin’s Marine Mammal Center to deliver hope to visiting schoolchildren: “Educating youth is the best investment we can make.”


From the Redwoods to the Sea at Purisima Open Space Preserve

September 27, 2012 by

For over 130 years, Lobitos Ridge has been climbed only by cattle. So when we push open a stiff gate and ascend a steep pasture, tall grasses snap at our ankles. We sidestep old fences and prickly thistle. In a gentle swale, we admire a muddy stock pond, rich with tadpoles. It’s a sneak peek […]


Planet Fungi

September 27, 2012 by

It may be safely said that there are two kinds of people: those who notice mushrooms and those who don’t. Likewise, there are two kinds of noticers: the appreciative and the appalled. Retired East Bay Regional Park District naturalist Ron Russo sums up years of visitor reaction: “For the most part there’s a general disdain. […]


Long May They Run

September 27, 2012 by

Fisherman Michael Carl set out over the course of three seasons in search of the vanishing coho salmon of his home waters in the Santa Cruz Mountains.


Trail to the tip of the hummingbird’s bill at Tomales Point

September 26, 2012 by

Take a walk with Jules Evens to see tule elk and the reef at the northern tip of Point Reyes, surrounded on three sides by ocean.


Mussels, oysters and mosquitos

September 26, 2012 by

In your Wednesday Bay Nature News Digest, California Gov. Jerry Brown signs bills to stop the invasion of quagga mussels, and more.


The Farallon Islands: To be there is to understand wildness

September 26, 2012 by

The Farallon Islands off the San Francisco Bay may be small in scope but it ranks with the Serengeti in its significance to conservation.


“Global Frackdown” aims to educate, incite change

September 25, 2012 by

Bay Area residents gathered on Crissy Field for the “Global Frackdown,” a protest rally against the growing use of shale drilling that’s raised environmental concerns.


Walk along lower Lagunitas Creek

September 24, 2012 by

Birding and more along Lagunitas Creek, with Jules Evens and the naturalists-in-training from SPAWN.


Badgers pop up around Mount Diablo

September 24, 2012 by

Head out to Mount Diablo and if you’re lucky you may, just may, see a badger these days.


Rare plant persists in salty soils at Livermore preserve

September 24, 2012 by

In the highly alkaline, salty soils of Springtown Preserve near Livermore, few annuals can make it through the hot, dry summer months. But the Palmate bracted bird’s-beak has found a way.


Chevron, desal plants and parklets

September 24, 2012 by

It’s time for your Monday News Digest. EPA considers criminal charges against Chevron’s Richmond refinery, and more.


“Global Frackdown” rally in SF focuses on oil and gas in California

September 21, 2012 by

The state is considering new regs on fracking, which could create a new oil boom in California, in a swathe stretching form the Bay Area to Los Angeles.


Grasslands behind Sign Hill inspire conservation campaign

September 20, 2012 by

South San Francisco may be “THE INDUSTRIAL CITY,” as stated on the hillside overlooking the town of warehouses and industrial parks on the outskirts of SFO. But nestled alongside Sign Hill Park, which hosts the moniker, is a patch of land that’s remarkably wild for its location and among the last of its kind in […]


Mercury, pills and school buses

September 19, 2012 by

Wednesday’s nature news digest has arrived! Who’s the highest mercury polluter in Bay Area? A Cupertino lime mine, which released 260 lbs into air in 2011. Air regulators are cracking down. [KQED News Fix] If you believe the birds – who doesn’t? – this year will bring an early winter and plenty of rain and […]


Navigating cities: survival skills for the urban coyote

September 19, 2012 by

One recent sunny morning a young coyote lounged on the fairway of San Francisco’s Lincoln Park Golf Course, unphased by the whizzing golf balls and carts. Over the past decade coyotes have become part of the city’s scenery, including Lands End and the adjacent Lincoln Park Golf Course. “You mostly see them early in the […]


Sonoma parks turn to South Africa, elsewhere for funding ideas

September 17, 2012 by

What does South Africa and Sonoma County have in common? Both suffer from debilitating shortages of public funds for parks. In the aftermath of the California state parks crisis, parks advocates in Sonoma County are scouting around for enterprising ideas on how to create long term, sustainable revenue streams for five state parks that are […]


Canal neighborhood gets new community garden

September 17, 2012 by

San Rafael’s culturally diverse Canal neighborhood is well known for its bustling community centers and family owned businesses. But until now, the 5,000 residents who live here have lacked direct access to garden harvested produce. Earlier this month, residents gathered to celebrate the ground-breaking of the Canal community garden. “ I have lived in the Canal […]


Sea otters, coastal cleanup, and a love letter

September 17, 2012 by

Happy Monday! Here’s your nature news digest. Central coast sea otter population is plateauing. Could it be because of their specialized diet? [KQED] When Santa Rosa slashed parks budget, retiree became one park’s ad hoc gardener. [Santa Rosa Press Democrat] 50% of Coastal Cleanup trash picked up in SF was recycled. [San Francisco Chronicle] California […]


Critical habitat in SF to protect Franciscan manzanita

September 13, 2012 by

Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added the Franciscan manzanita to the federal endangered species list and proposed new critical habitat in San Francisco for this famous flowering shrub. The critical habitat designation, though only in draft form for public comment, is a first for San Francisco. “There is no other critical habitat […]


Tiny plastics pellets a big problem in coastal cleanup

September 12, 2012 by

On September 15, tens of thousands of volunteers will participate in California Coastal Cleanup Day, donning work gloves to gather up the tonnage of manmade debris along California’s coastal regions and inland waterways. They’ll certainly find the usual trash along the beach: cigarette filters, beverage bottles, candy wrappers, plastic utensils.  But even the most conscientious […]


State and Federal Officials Explain Plan to Avoid 12th Year of Steelhead Die-offs in Pescadero

September 11, 2012 by

On Wednesday, September 12, officials from several state and federal agencies will hold a public briefing to explain a new, if low-tech, effort to head off a twelfth straight year of fish kills at Pescadero Marsh State Beach. For the past 11 years, and 13 of the last 17, federally protected steelhead trout have died […]


Key to wildlife photography is knowing your subject

September 10, 2012 by

Sebastian Kennerknecht has eight shots in our upcoming October-December issue, more than any other photographer this time around. Partly that’s because he agreed to go out and shoot at the Farallon Islands for a story by Glen Martin about seabird nesting trends on that crucial nesting site. But the photo that really caught my eye […]


The green divide, a mermaid and hantavirus

September 10, 2012 by

Happy Monday news digest: Rich people have a lot more trees than poor people, according to research into “green” income inequality. The U.S. Forest Service and other groups are taking notice and trying to bridge the green divide so that trees are not only a form of decoration but part of the infrastructure fabric of […]


Does California manage “game” or “wildlife”?

September 06, 2012 by

What’s in a name? A new bill passed today in Sacramento changes the name of California Department Fish & Game to “Fish & Wildlife.” It may sound symbolic more than anything else. But the bill’s author, Assemblymember Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, believes it more accurately emphasizes the broader mission of the state agency, which is […]


MidPen brings cattle back to the land

September 06, 2012 by

The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District is embarking on it’s first major foray into managing rangelands with the planning of the Purisima-To-The-Sea trail, which connects the Santa Cruz mountains to Highway 1. The district has adopted a policy of  “conservation grazing” — using livestock to control the spread of invasive species, boost the natives, and prevent […]


A manzanita, Capitol disappointment and Jenner

September 05, 2012 by

Your Wednesday news digest: The Franciscan manzanita, discovered in the Doyle Drive project as the last remaining wild specimen of its species, is now listed as endangered. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service made the decision and in so doing designated 11 areas in San Francisco to protected land where the flowering bush could be […]


Photographer Ron Wolf falls into fungi

September 05, 2012 by

Early in our work on each issue of the magazine, we send out a call for photos to more than 400 local photographers and artists. The idea is maybe they have some images on file that fit with stories we have in the next issue. It always feels a bit like a leap of faith. […]


Lights out – it’s fall migration

September 04, 2012 by

Work in a tall building? Here’s something you can do this fall for birds. Get your building manager to participate in the Lights Out for Birds program to reduce the numbers of bird collisions into tall buildings during the fall migratory season, which has just begun. It’s as simple as closing the shades, or turning […]


Urban coyotes in our midst

September 04, 2012 by

Fabled as a wily shape-shifter and trickster, the coyote’s latest magic trick has been turning cities into habitat, and San Francisco is one of its latest acts. Coyotes may have evolved in the plains and deserts of Mexico and North America, but they’ve rapidly expanded their range and are now making new homes for themselves […]


Blue moon, sandhill cranes and oysters

August 31, 2012 by

Bringing you a bit of news on Friday. Happy Labor Day! It comes “once in a blue moon” — and that happens to be tonight. A rare blue moon will light up the sky. It won’t actually be blue. The lunar event means there are two full moons in the same calendar month. You’ll get […]


Planets on the Sand

August 31, 2012 by

The universe: sparse matter, mostly vacuum. Almost every year since 2004, Dave Grossman and Pat Mundy have installed a temporary scale model of the solar system on Stinson Beach to highlight the grand emptiness of much of the universe. Grossman and Mundy met as undergraduates at Berkeley where Grossman studied electrical engineering and computer science, […]


This Labor Day Weekend … Take a Hike!

August 30, 2012 by

It’s Labor Day weekend and you’ve stayed close to home to avoid the crowds and the traffic jams, so where can you go for a little nature adventure? The beach might be cold and foggy; inland might be too warm, with the grasses all brown and spiky. So where to go? Here, some handpicked hikes from the […]


Bobcat kitten, hantavirus and marijuana

August 29, 2012 by

Your Wednesday news digest. Enjoy! A bobcat kitten may be the most photogenic victim of the fire that’s been raging in the Plumas and Lassen national forests. The kitten followed firefighters after turning up dazed and with troubled vision. She’s now in recuperating with burned paws and infected eyes at the Tahoe Wildlife Rehab Center. [San Francisco […]


Vaux’s swift ‘tornado’ descends on Healdsburg school

August 29, 2012 by

What the Vaux swift lacks in size it makes up for in numbers. The smallest species of the swift family has chosen a chimney at a boarding school in Healdsburg as the spot to rest for a few days and tank up on insects before proceeding South for the winter. The swifts began arriving at Rio […]


Coyotes, honeybees and a “pole gardener”

August 27, 2012 by

Good morning! Your top nature news for Monday: Coyotes have been moving into a San Jose community, alarming the neighbors who are unused to sharing their habitat. The coyotes have reportedly killed domestic cats and have been howling in front yards. [San Jose Mercury News] Young ranchers are returning to farms in West Marin after […]


Setting the record straight on bats and rabies

August 24, 2012 by

As fascinating as bats are, they, like all wild creatures, come with a warning label. While rabies is far from on the rise among humans and domesticated animals in America, it still exists among wild animals, including bats. The recent discovery of five rabid bats in San Francisco’s Lake Merced neighborhood created a significant stir […]


Water desalination plants on the horizon

August 24, 2012 by

Water desalination may seem too costly and too riddled with complications to go anywhere fast. But that doesn’t mean water managers are giving up hope. Faced with an uncertain future of diminishing water supplies, officials are floating plans for 17 desalination plants in California, and an additional two in Baja, Mexico that would serve the […]


The Golden Gate, sea otters and hounding

August 24, 2012 by

Happy Friday! One of the busiest waters off the California coast – the ocean west of the Golden Gate Bridge – could become a marine sanctuary if the Obama administration has its way. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed expanding the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which stretches from the Marin Headlands […]


All Abuzz on Muddy Hollow Trail

August 24, 2012 by

“Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.”  —Mary Oliver See this hike mapped: Muddy Hollow Trail This short (1.5 mile), gentle walk follows the course of Muddy Hollow Creek from the parking lot at the trailhead downstream to the shoreline […]


Regional Parks Foundation

August 23, 2012 by

Some Bay Area kids have never seen a star in the sky or even know what a tree is. The Regional Parks Foundation is working to change that. We recently chatted with Nancy Baglietto, Director of Operations, Programs and Development about the programs supported by the Regional Parks Foundation, a sole-purpose Foundation in support of the […]


A bat-ty summer night out

August 23, 2012 by

Move over, birds. There is another flying – albeit more elusive– species drawing summer crowds. Warmer weather and longer twilights make it ideal to watch some of the coolest little critters in the Bay Area — bats! Here are the facts. There are 24 species of bats in California and they’ve nudged their way into […]


Humpbacks, floating islands and Occupiers

August 22, 2012 by

No way! This guy went out to photograph birds off the coast of San Luis Obispo, and check out the photographs he came back with. Proving that the krill bonanza along the Pacific Coast this year must be heaven for humpbacks and other whales [Huffington Post] Gov. Jerry Brown is joining business groups — including […]


Mosquitoes, spiders and hottest rain

August 20, 2012 by

Time for Monday’s News Digest West Nile-carrying mosquitoes are beginning to swarm. Conta Costa and Santa Clara Counties have begun fogging several cities with pyrethrin and are treating water in catch basins under sidewalk storm drains. The potential deadly disease is spread through mosquitoes, with birds as the incubator, before reaching humans. A Contra Costa […]


Lines of defense

August 20, 2012 by

Right after completing his undergraduate degree in biological sciences at UC Davis, Fresno-born Mike Lynes went to work out in the field. But after working as a scientist for several years, he realized that his skills and interests lay in the area of law. So he went back to school to study law at UC […]


Biophonies, radiation, and food labels

August 17, 2012 by

Nice weekend! Here’s your Friday news digest. As climate change ramps up, scientists are finding it’s not just temperature that impacts where a species moves. Precipitation is also important, and a species can be torn asunder with these two pressures, according to a UC Berkeley study of changes in bird ranges in Lassen Volcanic, Yosemite, […]


Out and about with California quail

August 17, 2012 by

The California quail is the inspiration for a San Francisco restaurant that just made America’s top new eating house —  the whimsically named State Bird Provisions. Fortunately, the official state bird is not actually on the menu because it numbers fewer than a dozen individuals in San Francisco today, given the loss of brush habitat […]


The world needs ‘Zombee’ hunters

August 16, 2012 by

‘Zombee’ season is about to peak in September, and zombee researchers are asking for help to track its spread. It’s Night of the Living Dead for honeybees infected with a nasty parasitic fly that makes the normally diurnal species go on suicidal night flights. The bees are often found gravitating toward bright lights, and acting […]


Effort renews to control invasive Asian kelp

August 15, 2012 by

A long, wavy greenish-brown kelp dangles off the docks at South Beach Marina by AT&T Park in San Francisco. It may seem like the seaweed belongs there, but it’s an invasive kelp from Asia, known as Undaria pinnatifida. It’s so ubiquitous that efforts to remove it at South Beach Marina have been virtually abandoned. “[The] […]


Reservoirs, beach cleanup, and sea lions with gunshot wounds

August 15, 2012 by

Glad to have you at Wednesday’s News Digest: UC Davis is America’s “coolest school,” says Sierra Magazine because of its climate change initiatives, including a student-run transit line, bike-friendly transportation, and the reuse of 70 percent of campus trash. Stanford University comes in third. [Sacramento Bee] Reservoirs in the West are drying up, and apparently […]


Oysters, great whites, and fire

August 13, 2012 by

Happy Monday! Here’s your Monday Bay Nature news digest. Don’t eat Drakes Bay oysters right now. The public health department shut down operations because three people came down with food poisoning after eating the oysters, the result of a serious bacteria, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, which occurs naturally at this time of year in coastal waters. Guess the old […]


Abbott’s Lagoon Photo Gallery

August 13, 2012 by

A visit to Abbott’s Lagoon always proves rewarding and never fails to offer a fresh experience. I’ve strolled down to the main lagoon dozens of times over the years and each visit is unique and memorable.


EcoFair Marin Returns!

August 13, 2012 by

Mark your calendars for September 9th! EcoFair Marin is back, and even better this year, with over 80 exhibits, do-it- yourself demonstrations and speakers, including author Van Jones, as keynote presenter.  Inspired by San Rafael’s Climate Action Plan and presented in partnership with Seven-Star, this community event celebrates Marin County’s rich heritage of innovative environmental stewardship. […]


A Visit from Jack Laws, Bird Man (and Artist)

August 13, 2012 by

It’s always a red-letter day at the Bay Nature office when we get a visit from Jack Laws (aka John Muir Laws, wildlife artist extraordinaire and the man behind the Naturalist’s Notebook in the back of every issue of Bay Nature). Jack was here to drop off his October page (stay tuned for the fight of […]


High Plains Drifters

August 10, 2012 by

My current beach reading has the usual ingredients: a steamy love triangle, a pitched battle between mortal enemies, and colorful characters cavorting in exotic locales. This is no dime-store novel, though, but an homage to the North American prairie entitled Prairie Spring (2009), and the only sand to be found is in prairie dog burrows. […]


Under new management: China Camp volunteers take the helm

August 10, 2012 by

After six months of fundraising, the nonprofit Friends of China Camp raised $250,000, enough money to take over operations of the cultural and historical landmark along the northwest shores of the San Francisco Bay. Just one day after assuming the state’s responsibilities, the news broke that the California Department of Parks and Recreation had stashed […]


Heat, surf and roadkill

August 10, 2012 by

Time for Friday’s news digest: It’s cooking this weekend. Get ready for triple-digit temperatures this weekend in some parts of the Bay Area as our first major heat wave descends. [San Jose Mercury News] Heat is something most Californians believe is happening to global temperatures. A poll finds that a strong majority of Californians – 79 […]


In state parks uproar, Benicia keeps its cool

August 09, 2012 by

While park advocates around the state expressed shock and anger over the discovery of a secret stash of $54 million in the state parks department, the city of Benicia kept its cool. “I was surprised there was that large a surplus,” said Mario Giuliani, Benicia’s manager of economic development.  “But that’s not enough money to […]


Nature for free, David’s best picks

August 09, 2012 by

For the sake of saving money or living more sustainably, the “staycation” is becoming ever more popular. But what can you do to have fun when keeping close to home? Holly Kernan of KALW 91.7 FM explains on her daily radio show Your Call the many websites listing free things to do in San Francisco. […]


Rare bluebird sightings bring happiness in a Berkeley park

August 08, 2012 by

Birds are singing. Children are laughing and playing in patches of sunlight. And I am strolling through large fields of grass here at Berkeley’s San Pablo Park, aiming my camera at flocks of finches, sparrows — anything with wings — looking for flashes of sapphire blue. “Are you here for the bluebirds?” asks a friendly […]


Hatcheries cause salmon boom and bust

August 08, 2012 by

You’ve probably heard about Northern California’s bumper crop of salmon this year. Fishermen are going nuts, hauling in their catch before noon. And it may seem like great news for the survival of this struggling species. But hold down your enthusiasm. About 90 percent of those fish are from state hatcheries, which means they are […]


Paths with a purpose

August 07, 2012 by

On Sunday, La Loma Path was added to the network of approximately 140 walkways that meander between houses and streets in the Berkeley hills. The network of green passageways make a perfect outing when there’s no time to head to Tilden or Wildcat Canyon. The bramble of unruly plants are refreshingly wild compared to the […]


Phalaropes descend on Rodeo Lagoon

August 07, 2012 by

Rodeo Lagoon in the Marin Headlands is the place to go right now to watch a rare migratory shorebird that enacts a fascinating swap in gender roles. In late July into the first half of August, red-necked phalaropes descend on the eastern end of the lagoon to tank up on tiny crustaceans and insects. The 8-inch […]


Summer’s bounty, on land and in water

August 06, 2012 by

If you went to the farmer’s market this weekend, as I did, you probably saw the summer bounty in full swing. Lots of peppers and melons, peaches and zucchini. And of course, tomatoes piled in heaps. The rest of the country doesn’t seem to be faring quite as well under the worst drought in 50 […]


Up close and personal with clappers

August 06, 2012 by

The California clapper rail may not be the most distinguished of birds, at least on appearance. Except for the flash of bright orange in its beak, this saltmarsh critter-eater is a mottled gray-brown, about the size of a chicken. But what it lacks in pizzazz, it seems to make up for in personality. Clappers, as […]


In the Fog Drip at Point Reyes

August 04, 2012 by

“To find new things, take the path you took yesterday.” —John Burroughs I was thinking about John Burroughs, “the Grand Old Man of Nature,” as I walked the trails that climb from Bear Valley up to Inverness Ridge. Although I’ve covered this terrain in years past, today it seems new, freshened. Maybe I’ve never been […]


Orcas, sanddabs and hungry goats

August 03, 2012 by

Let this photo of a gray kit fox inspire you to take to the trails this weekend and discover some little treasure of nature that will make your heart sing. For more on photographer Jen Joynt’s recent adventure with the fox, check out her blog. In the meantime, here’s a brief line-up of today’s nature […]


Scoring nature in San Francisco

August 03, 2012 by

You may have heard of Walk Score, the walkability index that everyone from real estate agents to smart growth advocates use to assess how pedestrian friendly the area is around a specific address. Well, joining the ratings stage now is Street Nature Score, which is attempting to do the same sort of thing but with […]


Leatherback turtles back in earnest

August 02, 2012 by

Pacific Leatherback Turtles have been spotted in the coastal waters south of San Francisco earlier than ever before. Sightings of sea turtles are rapidly approaching last years’ 23, with 17 showing off their thick shells so far, and it’s earlier than their usual arrival time in August. “That’s pretty amazing. There’s still a lot that […]


A walk among butterflies

August 01, 2012 by

I never quite know what I might find when I set out with my camera, my binoculars, and my wandering eyes.  Recently, I headed out in Tilden Nature Area, one of my regular haunts, hoping to find fun wildlife to photograph. And I did, although not quite what I was expecting.  About a quarter mile […]


Water, water everywhere

August 01, 2012 by

California has been suddenly thrown into one of its perennial water wars, this time with a revived proposal to build a pair of 37-mile tunnels under the Delta to transport water to users and farmers across the state. If you’ve been following the news, it’s a a bit of an environmental crapshoot. The tunnels are […]


Fixing State Parks without the “scandal”

July 31, 2012 by

It’s certainly not hard to apply words like “outrageous” and “appalling” to the current scandal surrounding $54 million dollars in funding for state parks that had gone unspent and undiscovered for over ten years. But it’s not going to do our beleagured parks any good to engage in overheated rhetoric about corrupt and incompetent government […]


Hey, who spruced up this place?

July 29, 2012 by

Welcome to the new! We’ve just relaunched this site in a big way, and we’re pretty excited about what you’ll find here: A brand-new interactive trailfinder with 100 trails and maps, photos, and basic information on more than 400 local parks. We have about 100 more trails lined up in the queue to get into the […]


Pelicans, state parks, drought & more

July 23, 2012 by

Welcome to Bay Nature’s first News Digest post. We’ll be updating you regularly on the top nature news reported in the Bay Area with the hopes that you’ll feel connected to what’s going on around here. We do this by reading and culling news stories from dozens and dozens of sources each day, something we […]


Building’s artificial wetlands mimic nature

July 22, 2012 by

Inside the artificial wetlands of the San Francisco PUC’s new headquarters.


Save Mount Diablo cofounder dies

July 20, 2012 by

The co-founder of the influential nonprofit conservation group Save Mount Diablo,  Arthur D. Bonwell, died at 85 at his home in Concord, California. The trained electrical engineer for Dupont made a second career in conservation, recognizing that the state was doing little to protect the lands in and around Mount Diablo. In 1971, he co-founded […]


Richmond closing gaps in SF Bay Trail

July 20, 2012 by

The city of Richmond is making progress is closing gaps along the San Francisco Bay Trail that have been practically inaccessible to the public. A key 1-mile linkage under the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge will allow pedestrians and bicyclists to get to Point Molate and the rest of the Point San Pablo Peninsula without having to […]


Downtown parks get higher profile

July 20, 2012 by

Downtown San Francisco doesn’t typically spring to mind when planning an outdoor excursion. But get past the crowded streets and there’s a multitude of lovely open spaces, replete with honest to goodness foliage. In fact, the city boasts a large number of privately owned, publicly open spaces (also known as POPOS), providing a haven from […]


Tree trekker breaks records finding ‘extreme’ trees

July 20, 2012 by

Recent high-school graduate Zane Moore is sitting — or rather towering — with the masters of tall tree finders. This summer Moore, 18, embarked on a mission to measure and record the locations of some of the tallest trees in the world: the coastal redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains. After traipsing day in and […]


Walking The Bay Trail

July 19, 2012 by

After years working in office buildings, marketing executive Corinne DeBra was ready to get outside – and get outside she did! In 2009 she launched a walk around the entire perimeter of San Francisco Bay – logging 1,000 miles. Two years later, she decided to do it again.


Point Reyes: On the Edge

July 16, 2012 by

You always know essentially where to find it: just aim yourself toward the western horizon, and go. At the road’s end, the trail’s end, the far end of that last dune-trudge or bluff-scramble, it’s there: a great conjunction of land, sky, and sea. North America meets Pacific Ocean.


The River Through Time

July 13, 2012 by

There’s a lot more to the Napa Valley than wineries and fancy food. Look closely and the landscape reveals clues to a past full of greater ecological complexity, from beaver ponds to vast freshwater marshes. New research into that history may point the way to a more biodiverse future.


Swallowtail butterflies thrive along SF’s gritty streets

July 13, 2012 by

San Francisco residents are well-acquainted with the seagulls and pigeons in their midst. Take a closer at the green spaces amid the cityscape and you’ll notice one of most beautifully understated wild residents: the swallowtail butterfly.


Poison oak has a good side, too

July 12, 2012 by

It may be hard to believe, but poison oak is not the bogeyman of the forest. As a California native plant, many an animal has sought nourishment or shelter in its “leaves of three,” immune to the toxic oil that plagues humans. This versatile plant, a member of the cashew family, may never get over its inherent antagonistic relationship with hikers and gardeners, it may be nevertheless worth a nod of respect.


Bohemia Ranch Goes Public

July 11, 2012 by

A remarkable Sonoma County landscape is finally preserved, protecting redwoods, Sargent cypress, serpentine grasslands, and a beloved waterfall.


Taming the Flames

July 10, 2012 by

The 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm left no doubt that big fires happen in the East Bay. Now, the East Bay Regional Park District is fighting fire with fire at Redwood Regional Park, one part of a massive effort to reduce fire danger across thousands of acres in the East Bay Hills.


Alcatraz Island is a renowned prison — but a horticultural gem?

July 06, 2012 by

From afar, this windswept island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay appears so rugged that you’d expect to find only century plans and eucalyptus. But Alcatraz is alive with color.


Fearless with Feathers

July 05, 2012 by

Rich Stallcup is viewed by the ornithological community as a “legend in his own time” for the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and for his commitment to education and conservation. He is one of the founders of Point Reyes Bird Observatory (now PRBO Conservation Science). We spoke with Stallcup about his largely self-taught background in ornithology and about PRBO’s work.


Point Reyes: Palomarin to Bear Valley

July 04, 2012 by

Last night, for the first time in their 132-year rivalry, the San Francisco Giants swept the L.A. Dodgers with a shutout. This morning my granddaughter, Kalia, took her first steps and the Supreme Court upheld “Obamacare.” To celebrate, I decided to take a long “walkabout.”


State parks win reprieve but face uncertain future

July 03, 2012 by

This past week I received a flurry of excited emails from Robert Hanna, the great great grandson of John Muir, who has possessed a fierce determination to keep open every state park in California slated for closure. On Friday he celebrated victory at the State Capitol in Sacramento after learning that all but one of the 70 parks on the closure list will stay open.


Crowning Glories: 50 Years of Point Reyes

July 02, 2012 by

Point Reyes for millennia provided rich habitat to a diversity of plant and animal species. Its discovery and settlement by Europeans and then Americans altered the landscape, but not irretrievably. And thanks to some determined visionaries, the peninsula and its habitats were protected 50 years ago.


Owl in the Hole

July 01, 2012 by

Meet the ambassadors of grasslands — among the few birds you’ll meet that live in holes in the ground. As Jack Laws shows, they’re charming as all get out.  


Point Reyes: Renewed by Fire

July 01, 2012 by

When I started visiting Point Reyes in the 1970s, the landscape from Limantour Beach up to the crest of Inverness Ridge had a special appeal. I had spent my early childhood in the New England countryside in the 1940s, so vestiges of the pre-Seashore ranching days made me nostalgic–homestead sites, dammed lakes, fence lines, timothy hay growing in old fields. On the other hand, watching the wild ecosystem come back, with its brush rabbits, jackrabbits, quail, hawks, and bobcats, was endlessly fascinating.


Lessons from the Mountain

July 01, 2012 by

The looming bulk of Mount Hamilton is a familiar sight to anyone driving Highway 101 through the Santa Clara Valley. At 4,196 feet, it’s the tallest peak visible from the shores of San Francisco Bay. This is the most expansive wild landscape in the Bay Area: roughly 700,000 acres of public parks, university and conservancy reserves, and private ranches. Now it’s also become a living laboratory for studying the affects of climate change.


Point Reyes: Fidel’s Place

July 01, 2012 by

Three days after the Indian–I’ll call him Fidel–avenged the assault on his wife and slayed the young rancher who’d committed the horrible deed, the posse of vigilantes pursuing him found him, not near the small settlement of Marshall, but across Tomales Bay on a ridge; and not in a thicket of coyote bush and low-growing fir where he might’ve hidden, but in the middle of an open grassland.


Wildflowers and a View at Milagra Ridge

July 01, 2012 by

Looking for wildflowers and a view? Milagra Ridge delivers. Located off of Skyline in Pacifica, Milagra Ridge offers a sanctuary for many native species.


Point Reyes: Taken by Surprise

July 01, 2012 by

The shrublands of the Point Reyes National Seashore, which include the northern coastal scrub and maritime chaparral, hooked me long ago with their vibrant charms. Found on slopes within the influence of the sea, they hug the land as tightly as a knitted sweater, shrugging off the challenges of wind, salt spray, and fog.


Point Reyes: Fingers of the Sea

July 01, 2012 by

Dawn. Spring tide. Fog shrouds the estuary. A shore-cast tree trunk–contorted, branching skyward–rests in the shallows. On its twisted branches roost a half-dozen cormorants, some with wings outstretched or akimbo, others standing upright, necks coiled into graceful question marks. That congregation, silhouetted by the morning light, suspended on the rising tide between the pewter sky and the mercurial bay, conjures a prehistoric diorama, a world awaiting sunlight parables.


Kids Tracking Climate, in Real Time

July 01, 2012 by

Maybe you take the bus to work or abandon the gas pedal on Bike to Work Day, but how do you know whether you and your neighbors are making a difference in your community?


Biggest Local Land Invertebrate? The Tarantula

July 01, 2012 by

Q: What’s the largest underground-dwelling invertebrate in the Bay Area? How does it live?


Long Views at Long Ridge Open Space Preserve

July 01, 2012 by

Part of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, this preserve features 13 miles of trails on 2,035 acres along the upper west side of the Santa Cruz Mountains.


A Natural Geometry Class

July 01, 2012 by

Walk any Bay Area trail and your kids might marvel at the views, the wildlife, or the gurgling of a creek–but the variety of geometrical shapes? That takes a junior nerd or somebody interested in making abstract classroom ideas concrete.


Tesla: Offroad expansion, park, or both?

July 01, 2012 by

The latest on a long-running debate over a possible expansion of the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area into a valley near Livermore.


River Otters on the Rebound

July 01, 2012 by

Hungry river otters are popping up around the Bay Area in places where they haven’t been seen in a while. Have fun watching them, but guard your chickens!


Happy Plants on New Presidio Dunes

July 01, 2012 by

Recent dune restoration at the southwestern edge of the Presidio has worked wonders for native plants.


First-ever Solano County flora in the works

July 01, 2012 by

Two local botanists are at work on a multi-year project to create the first-ever Solano County flora — a record of all the native plants that grow there.


Alameda Terns Finally Get A Refuge

July 01, 2012 by

After years of discussion, agitation, and debate, a final deal is in the works to make a permanent Alameda Wildlife Refuge for the endangered California least terns that nest on a former naval base.


A New Take on Sibley Preserve

July 01, 2012 by

Every day, east of Highway 24’s Caldecott Tunnel, thousands of commuters hurtle–or crawl–past a fine swath of the East Bay’s glorious greenbelt, where just off the highway, the north trailhead of Sibley Volcanic Preserve invites exploration.


Beachcombers Hunt Plastic, and Data

July 01, 2012 by

It’s early on a weekday morning, and Chris Pincetich is sifting through a small pile of debris on Stinson Beach. He’s at the high-water mark, called the wrack line. That’s where buoyant ocean flotsam gets stuck as the tide goes out. As we walk along, he stops and points out how plastic strapping looks a lot like weathered eelgrass. Pincetich isn’t your ordinary beachcomber. He’s a scientist trying to compile a local data set for a global problem: marine plastic pollution.


Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopian Life

July 01, 2012 by

As we prepared this article in April 2012, we were saddened to learn that environmental pioneer Ernest Callenbach passed away at home in Berkeley with his family at his side. We’re honored to publish this interview with the author of “Ecoptia” and other seminal books.


Letter from the Publisher

July 01, 2012 by

Point Reyes, the spectacular park that turns 50 this year, is also the reason I decided to stay in the Bay Area after coming for a visit decades ago.


The Cuckoo Wasp: A Gorgeous Parasite

July 01, 2012 by

A cuckoo wasp is one of those remarkable animals that appears for just a few seconds and makes you wonder what the heck you just saw. Fast-moving and no larger than a skinny housefly, these wasps stand out nonetheless: They glow an outrageous iridescent blue-green, as if illuminated from within.


Minus tides expose wilderness below the waves

June 28, 2012 by

Point Reyes Peninsula is rimmed along its rocky sections with a living fringe so diverse and wildly colorful – so dense with phenomenal creatures – that when the tides recede there’s a gravitational pull to go there and explore. Tidepools are literally the wilderness next door, yet accessible only when the moon and sun conspire to exert extra pull on the Earth’s oceanic sheath, thereby exposing the coastline. May through July is one of the two periods in the year when extreme low tides occur.


A “digital naturalist” studies climate change

June 27, 2012 by

Mike Hamilton, director of the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve on Mount Hamilton, describes himself as a “digital naturalist.” He’s wired the reserve’s 3,260 acres with sensors, sent up drone helicopters, and even set up a “Robosquirrel” in an effort to find out how climate change is impacting the region’s ecosystem.


HELiOS Project: Helping Schools Go Solar

June 27, 2012 by

What better place than at school to get going on solar? The HELiOS project is making it happen for Bay Area schools.


A campaign to save California’s coastal prairie

June 25, 2012 by

With golden summer hillsides and enticing mosaics of forest and field, the grasslands of California are iconic. Yet few people realize that some of those grasslands are actually coastal prairie, one of the most diverse—and most endangered—ecosystems in the world.Today less than 5 percent of this vibrant habitat remains comparatively intact. Much has been lost to more than a century of fire suppression, development, tilling and invasion by non-native species.


A West Marin Walkabout

June 22, 2012 by

Jules Evens has lived next to the Point Reyes National Seashore for most of his four decades in the Bay Area. With the park’s 50th anniversary at hand, Jules decided to honor this milestone by trekking every one of of the Seashore’s 154 miles of trails on foot.


Western gray squirrels, the forest thumpers

June 22, 2012 by

Tree squirrels can seem marginal in cities. But in the bishop pine forests at Point Reyes National Seashore, Western gray squirrels are the only animals known to open pine cones and disperse the seeds. They are bold, sizable, and entirely wild — unlike their urban cousins. And their sheer bravado shows what a spirited creature a squirrel can be.


Can the Bay Area grow in population and be sustainable?

June 21, 2012 by

As the Bay Area struggles to meet sustainability goals, double-digit population growth presents a clear challenge to reducing the region’s ecological footprint. Residents must use resources more efficiently to counteract the addition of more than a million new residents. In many ways, it mirrors a challenge the planet is facing. Can population growth in San Francisco and the Bay Area be sustainable?


Nabokov’s Blues along the Estero Trail

June 20, 2012 by

Searching for butterflies at Point Reyes–and finding them! Hike along with Jules Evens on a 7.5 mile loop with planty of winged beauty.


A shrubland lover lives here

June 18, 2012 by

Chaparral and scrublands are often overlooked, dismissed even, as valuable habitat in places like Point Reyes National Seashore. But the unassuming assemblage of low-lying shrubs and herbs are the right tools for the job in many difficult landscape situations, and hold a beauty of their own. Perhaps it’s time to rethink scrublands as a rightful native habitat, good in the wild and garden.


An Iron Man for transit advocates

June 18, 2012 by

128 miles. 12,000 feet elevation gain. 17-plus hours of exercise. 3 mountain summits. 3 transit agencies. Add to that temperatures well into the triple digits in some places, and you’ve got the makings of a great story.That’s about all you need to know to get an impression of how grueling the event known as Alt. Ride (formerly the Triple Threat) was this year.


Letter from the Publisher

June 15, 2012 by

As I write this note at the beginning of March, we’re enjoying our sixth weekend in a row without rain, spanning a period that’s generally the height of the Bay Area’s rainy season. For those of us who work all week and like to play outside on the weekends, this is great . . . […]


Bay Area has ticks, and Lyme disease

June 15, 2012 by

Locals to the Bay Area often don’t think for a moment about the hazards of ticks when exploring nature. But maybe they should. Ticks carry Lyme disease, a debilitating condition caused by a bacterial infection ticks pick up from biting deer and mice. “If you don’t mind looking like a nerd, tuck pants into socks,” said a UC Berkeley entomologist.


Faulty water system pulls Russian Gulch off closure list

June 14, 2012 by

A mechanical breakdown could, oddly enough, be one of the reasons Russian Gulch State Park comes off the state parks closure list just before a July 1 shutdown.


Why do pelicans fly so low?

June 12, 2012 by

Learn a few secrets of efficiency from the majestic pelican.


A Breeze among wildflowers

June 11, 2012 by

Breeze has been building mountain bikes for 40 years, and he remembers friendlier days when cyclists and hikers peacefully coexisted.


Cargo Ships Keep Bringing Invasives to the Bay

June 07, 2012 by

A recent study has proven the obvious: San Francisco Bay is a major conduit for invasive species. And the biggest culprit? Cargo ships and their ballast water. Environmentalists are now pushing for new treatment requirements to stem the tide of alien species.


Discovering Past Landscapes with Robin Grossinger

June 06, 2012 by

Robin Grossinger directs San Francisco Estuary Institute’s Historical Ecology Program. Grossinger’s team uses hundreds of historical texts, photographs, and survey maps to depict what the Bay Area used to look like to help inform present and future stewardship, including several extensive restoration projects around the region.


Olema Valley Trail: Texiera Ranch to Five Brooks. (4.7 miles one-way)

June 06, 2012 by

Stinging nettles and horsetail, plus lots of wildflowers, on the trail at Point Reyes.


Lawmakers scramble to avert park closures

June 04, 2012 by

With state park closures only a month away, California lawmakers are scrambling to send long-lasting aid to the state park system and keep the gates open.


A Naturalist’s Vow at Point Reyes: Obedience to Awareness

June 02, 2012 by

Jules Evens continues his year-long trek on all the trails of Point Reyes. this time out, it’s the Bayview Trail, short on views but long on wildlife and the interesting ecological processes of the bishop pine forest, much of which burned in the 1995 Vision Fire.


Top 10 Bay Area nature apps

May 31, 2012 by

If you plan on getting outdoors this summer, you’ll probably be bringing your smart phone with you. Forgo the hefty guidebooks and consider tapping into some of the great mobile apps out there. We reviewed our Top 10 for the Bay Area so you’ll be ready to identify that flash of wing through the trees, ramble around Golden Gate Park without getting lost, or kayak the San Francisco Bay with real-time current updates.


Youth Engagement Award: Sean FitzHoward

May 30, 2012 by

Sean FitzHoward has a head start on contributing to local conservation. At 16, the high school junior has already completed an internship with The Bay Institute. Now she’s volunteering with the California Academy of Sciences. She also founded and runs the Protect the Bay Club at San Francisco’s Lowell High School. We caught up with her at Crissy Field to talk about her passion for local environmental action.


Conservation Action Award: Ellie Cohen

May 30, 2012 by

Ellie Cohen became president and CEO of what is now PRBO Conservation Science in 1999. Under her leadership, the organization has grown from the local Point Reyes Bird Observatory, founded in 1965, to a hemisphere-scale operation, conducting bird-focused applied ecosystem studies on land and at sea. PRBO uses its wealth of data and partnerships to assess and reduce the impacts of changes in climate and land use on ecosystem health.


Bird watching — there’s an app for that!

May 29, 2012 by

It used to be that you needed guidebooks and an experienced friend to get up to speed on identifying a flash of wing through the trees. These days, however, newbie birders can become instant experts with technological tools like mobile apps. But how does technology change the nature of bird-watching? And what are the ethics pitfalls when finding a bird is so easy?


In the Splash Zone at Point Reyes

May 26, 2012 by

In his quest to hike every trail at Point Reyes, Jules Evens takes a short walk rich in wildlife sightings, from butterflies to black oystercatchers.


Berkeley as edible city: A new guide to urban foraging

May 25, 2012 by

The Bucharest native says that right now there is a great variety of trees and shrubs growing in Berkeley, and even some “bottled water” crops like lemons and rosemary that you should never, ever, buy at the store. They are so plentiful, it simply makes no sense. Ionescu-Zanetti create Edible Cities, a crowd-sourced site that maps food for foraging.


Speaking of Sonoma Mountain

May 25, 2012 by

Nancy Shelby, director of the theater group Word for Word Performing Arts Company, is taking on the work of Native American storyteller Greg Sarris. In a new piece, they explore the legends and history of Sonoma Mountain. Shelby says theater goes back to the village coming together in an exploration of what it means to be human.


To eat, and to be eaten at Arrowhead Marsh

May 24, 2012 by

When I’m hungry I usually go to a place where someone brings me a plate of hot food. Birds, on the other hand, actually work for theirs.You may think you work too, but when was the last time your food escaped or scratched back? It’s a jungle out there and predators exist in the guise of a pretty bird standing on long legs, or performing amazing aerial acrobatics.


Upside to a down economy: less pressure on open space

May 23, 2012 by

One of the impacts of the economic recession over the last few years has been less interest in developing the Bay Area’s remaining open space.A new report released on Tuesday by Greenbelt Alliance finds that a down real estate market, combined with public policies to restrict growth, has led to a 20 percent drop in the amount of Bay Area land “at risk” for development, compared to six years ago.An estimated 77,300 acres is no longer in the immediate cross-hairs of developers and suburban planners, according to At Risk: The Bay Area Greenbelt 2012. And some 3 million acres total are now protected.


Eight Miles at Point Reyes for a Warbler, with Bonus Damselflies and More

May 22, 2012 by

Jules Evens heads out on an eight-mile loop, timed with the nesting, and singing, of some of Point Reyes’s least-common warblers. Follow along and see what else he finds!


Amongst marshes, a salty past

May 18, 2012 by

The Hayward regional shoreline consists of over a thousand acres of marshes and seasonal wetlands. At low tide sandpipers and black stilts wander about the mud flats searching for food, while cyclists and runners exercise along a 5-mile trail.It’s hard to imagine that more than a hundred years ago, mounds of salt covered these same Hayward marshes like a fresh blanket of snow. The salt attracted harvesters, going way back to the original inhabitants.


Berkeleyans closer to selling backyard produce

May 18, 2012 by

Berkeley’s zoning codes have prohibited the sale of backyard produce. But after an effort mounted by the green thumbs of the city, the planning commission unanimously passed the Edible Garden Initiative. Next step: City Council.


Solar spectacle on horizon

May 17, 2012 by

A partial solar eclipse will be lighting up Bay Area skies early Sunday evening, and as luck would have it the weather is supposed to cooperate.Between 5:16pm and 7:40 pm, the moon will pass in front of the sun in an alignment not seen in 18 years. During the annular solar eclipse, the moon will form a “black hole” in the center of the sun with sunbeams shooting out from the sides.


Botanical sleuths scour Mount Tamalpais

May 16, 2012 by

Working off historical records of rare plant locations, plant “hunters” on Mount Tamalpais are scouring the mountain in search of the illusive Mason’s ceanothus shrub and other botanical novelties. The goal: update the location and numbers of California rare plants in the California Natural Diversity Database.


Bat Rays in San Francisco Bay

May 15, 2012 by

What’s the cutest fish in the sea? To some biologists, it’s the bat ray, which cruises along the floor of local bays and estuaries, chomping on clams and other creatures. Maybe it’s time to make bottom-feeder a term of endearment! Springtime is breeding time for these friendly fish.


Paddling to the sea

May 14, 2012 by

Jessie Raeder was an energetic high school student when a bitter dispute erupted over the use of chemicals to eradicate pike in Lake Davis in favor of native trout. Nowadays she’s director of Paddle to the Sea, a month long “paddle-a-thon” that begins in June and runs the 241-mile length the Tuolumne River from the Sierras to the San Francisco Bay. The goal: raise awareness and money for the river’s benefactor, the Tuolumne River Trust.


For the love of mom

May 11, 2012 by

Humans may be the only animals who celebrate Mother’s Day. But there’s no doubt that babies of other species are just as attached to their mamas, at least until they grow up. I like to think they also get a warm, fuzzy feeling when they think of the female who risked life and limb to bring them into the world and raise them fit enough to prosper. Happy Mother’s Day to California mamas of all feathers and fur, fins and … yes, even those with exoskeletons.


Owls, their owlet and the Berkeley masses

May 10, 2012 by

Over the course of two short months, great horned owls hatched and raised an owlet on a trail in Claremont Canyon in Berkeley. A “bird’s eye” view of the nest made it possible for passersby to get an intimate look at the owlet’s transformation from hatchling to fledgling. But as the popularity of the nesting owls grew, so did the ethical questions. How can so many people enjoy nature without doing it harm?


All Hail Hulet Hornbeck

May 09, 2012 by

The Bay Area lost a giant of park-building with the passing of Hulet Hornbeck, who presided over the creation of 49,000 acres of parkland at the East Bay Regional Park District.


How Sausal Creek made Oakland

May 07, 2012 by

How do you develop a booming Oakland when there’s a big creek in your way? Bury it underground, cement it over, channel it with culverts, and turn it into a gravel quarry. Sounds like a plan, right?Sausal Creek has undoubtedly taken a lot of abuse. But one thing must be said: Oakland owes much of its economy to the roughly 3-mile creek that meanders from its headwaters in the Oakland Hills to the San Francisco Bay.


Wanted: Sand for Endangered Butterfly

May 03, 2012 by

The imperiled Lange’s metalmark butterfly lives only on a small stretch of remnant dunes near Antioch. Managers of the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge hope to create precious new habitat, while a captive-breeding program keeps the butterflies just short of extinction.


Occupiers restart debate on future of Gill Tract

May 02, 2012 by

On a typical spring day in early May at the Gill Tract, UC Berkeley agriculture researchers would be busy preparing for the summer research season.But this year, in a fenced-off field that usually grows experimental crops, a temporary encampment has sprung up. A group of students and others associated with the Occupy movement have rototilled the soil and planted their own vision of the future of farming.


First to the finish line: Jack London State Park

May 02, 2012 by

For the past 35 years, Valley of the Moon Natural History Association has been helping greet and educate visitors at the Jack London State Historic Park in Sonoma County.As of May 1, however, it’s taken charge of the whole park: 1,400 acres, 10,000 artifacts, and more than a dozen historic buildings.


Safe Fishing with Kids for the Bay

May 01, 2012 by

Thanks to the nonprofit Kids for the Bay, each year a few thousand kids learn firsthand why those “Drains to Bay” stencils on storm grates are so important — and why eating fish from San Francisco Bay may not always be a good idea.


Depicting conservation success stories

April 27, 2012 by

It’s easy to get depressed about the loss of biodiversity when every day, it seems, some new species pops up on a watch list like a death toll. But there are success stories that offer rays of hope in a world beset by climate change and habitat destruction. A new art exhibit opening on May 1 at the Tilden environmental education center in Berkeley showcases species that have made it back from the brink of extinction.


Imaginations from the sky

April 26, 2012 by

Originally working in packaged design, Robyn Hodess became a landscape painter after a cross country plane ride sparked her imagination. Her landscapes look like they exist, somewhere, but are actually all from her head. She’s come to see nature differently: “Before, I was looking at it very closely, ‘Oh, look at the bud.’ … Now I’m saying, ‘What are the textures in the world? What are the colors in the world?'”


Despite promise of developer funds, Candlestick Point will close

April 25, 2012 by

Candlestick Point State Recreation Area in southeast San Francisco is California’s first urban state park, and offers city-dwellers a slice of nature along the Bay. State budget cuts landed it on the list of park closures, even though a massive redevelopment project next door promises to deliver $50 million to Candlestick.


The Grass Really Is Greener

April 24, 2012 by

A project in West Marin shows how ranchers, and a whole lot of compost, can help mitigate climate change.


Conservatives attack Franciscan manzanita

April 20, 2012 by

The last remaining specimen of Franciscan manzanita is happily basking in the sun in an undisclosed location in the Presidio, apparently unaware that conservative talk radio has it out for its survival. Fanning the flames on government spending, shock-jocks are calling its 2010 rescue the “untold story of the year.”


Angel Island gets TLC for Earth Day

April 19, 2012 by

Over 150 volunteers crammed onto a ferry that set sail from Tiburon in honor of upcoming Earth Day this Sunday.Their destination? The hiker’s paradise of Angel Island. With a backdrop of clear skies and a light breeze, the crew on Saturday joined the California State Parks Foundation’s (CSPF) effort to clean up and restore 17 of the state’s neglected parks.


Rural Refuge in the Redwoods

April 19, 2012 by

For residents and businesses in the Anderson Valley, 845-acre Hendy Woods State Park has an importance far beyond its size. It’s one of few public open spaces in this mostly rural region, and now residents are doing their best to make a plan to keep the park open.


Birding with Kids

April 18, 2012 by

With dinosaurs roaming your backyard on a daily basis, why NOT get out there with your kids and start watching those birds?


Exhausted pelican makes surprise visit to UC Berkeley

April 17, 2012 by

Brown pelicans don’t often look for collegiate settings to make landings. But one weakened and disoriented female showed up in front of Sproul Hall recently and provided dinner-going passerbys with a reason to pause until a trained wildlife responder by chance appeared and took the bird under her wing. A campus police officer muttered: “This was definitely not covered at the academy.”


McGrath’s Army Takes Back the Beach

April 17, 2012 by

McGrath State Beach has plenty of visitors and plenty of revenue. So how did it end up on the closure list? The park’s sewer line was broken, and the state couldn’t afford to fix it. But the local community rallied around the park, raised the money to fix the sewer, and now the park will stay open.


An Easter morning hike in Point Reyes’s Church of Nature

April 17, 2012 by

Hiking along Drakes Estero, Jules Evens meditates on eelgrass, sea geese, and the footprint of humanity in a wild place.


Saving Mono Lake State Reserve

April 16, 2012 by

If any landscape can be called iconic, Mono Lake surely makes the cut. But with no revenue, the state park here faced closure–until John Muir’s great-great-grandson joined with local park supporters to rescue the park. With a new parking fee in place, the park is safe, for now.


River of Words, Home to Roost at Saint Mary’s

April 16, 2012 by

Poet Robert Hass awakened a lifelong love of nature while a student at Saint Mary’s College. Now, River of Words, the art and poetry program he cofounded, has found a home at the college.


The Rare Santa Cruz Sandhills and the People who Love Them

April 13, 2012 by

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, some passionate folks look after rare plants and animals in a unique habitat defined by sand but threatened by mining, development, and fragmentation.


Caching nature

April 13, 2012 by

Lee Van Der Bokke is a world-class geocacher – someone who hides, and searches for, “caches”—hidden containers of different sizes that are tagged and located using GPS (global positioning system) or mobile devices. He says they’re a great way to get people — young and old — exploring nature.


Relishing the Fog at Point Reyes

April 12, 2012 by

On an overcast day after spring rains, Jules Evens encounters the expected–a banana slug in a lush Douglas fir forest–and the unexpected–a shrew-mole–on a 4-mile hike along Inverness Ridge as part of his Point Reyes Walkabout.


The Otter and the Perch

April 11, 2012 by

River otters have been wildlife stars at Jewel Lake in Tilden Regional Park off and on over the last year. But did you know they’re chowing down on rare fish?


Foraging 101

April 10, 2012 by

Want to forage in a local park? Chances are it’s not allowed, but some parks do allow limited gathering of edible berries and mushrooms. In January 2012, we gathered up the rules from a couple of dozen agencies. But caveat emptor: they may have changed since then.


Lifeline from the Feds

April 10, 2012 by

Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Marin is a popular destination for many of the millions of people who live within a short drive of this secluded redwood forest. With the park facing closure, the National Park Service stepped in to pay park operating costs.


Good News for the Carmel River

April 09, 2012 by

After 130 years of tough times, the Carmel River is finally catching a break from a few big restoration projects.


Second chances: A golden eagle returned to the wild

April 09, 2012 by

Local wildlife photographer Jen Joynt observed the release of a rehabilitated golden eagle at Las Trampas Regional Wilderness in San Ramon. The eagle was likely hit by a car in October and suffered a fractured wing. Its successful recovery means it can return to the wild.


Irises, paintbrush and more in bloom at Point reyes

April 08, 2012 by

Jules Evens clocks another 5 miles of his 154-mile adventure through Point Reyes, this time with Douglas irises and other wildflowers coming into bloom. Another great hike you can take at Point Reyes!


A School Garden is Born in Marin

April 07, 2012 by

After a decade of stalled efforts and 18 months of negotiations, students at Drakes High School in San Anselmo installed a large school garden that will be used by several special programs at the public high school.


Orphaned babies get helping hand

April 06, 2012 by

Springtime is the season for babies. They’re busy emerging into the world by whatever method they come — by hatch or by birth. With their arrival, some of the youngsters will also need help. The Lindsay Wildlife Museum’s rehabilitation center in Walnut Creek has about 200 babies under its wing right now and expects the number to shoot up even higher in the next couple weeks.


Reclaiming the Richmond Shoreline

April 05, 2012 by

At the northwestern edge of Richmond, near Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, a modest bayshore wetland stands ready to emerge from decades of neglect. Thanks to the residents of nearby Parchester Village and staff of the East Bay Regional Park District, Breuner Marsh will become precious public recreation land and a refuge for sensitive species imperiled by sea level rise.


Nesting peregrine falcons sign of species’ success

April 04, 2012 by

City dwellers got a taste of live-action wildlife on Friday, when three out of four peregrine falcon eggs hatched in San Francisco.Perched in a nesting box high on a ledge of PG&E’s headquarters building in the financial district, the hatchlings are the newest members of the Bay Area’s steadily growing peregrine falcon population.


Bees, Coyotes, and More at Point Reyes: Laguna Ranch Loop

April 04, 2012 by

Jules Evens continues his quest to hike every trail at Point Reyes National Seashore. Here, he traces a route where he once encountered a mountain lion. This time, the wildlife is a bit tamer, but no less beautiful: red-legged frogs, native bees, wildflowers, and a coyote howl to finish it off.


The Forager’s Dilemma

April 02, 2012 by

Just a century ago, foraging for wild foods would have been unremarkable–part of daily life for many people. That’s not true today, but foraging is making a comeback, with ever more people interested in finding food in the wild. But with a growing population and diminishing natural resources, is this sustainable? We head out with local foragers and ask about the ethics of foraging in a metropolis.


The Hole Story

April 01, 2012 by

Mole or gopher? Jack Laws gives us the hole story!


The Parks and the People

April 01, 2012 by

Some 70 state parks were scheduled to be closed on July 1, 2012. But determined action by park-loving citizens around the state has succeeded in getting some parks removed from that list and has opened a discussion of the relationship between public parks and the people they serve. We visit four parks around the state to see what the future might hold for our beloved, but beleaguered, state parks.


State Parks Crisis: Get Involved!

April 01, 2012 by

We’ve rounded up the key links you need to plug into the movement to save California’s state parks.


The Unnatural Beauty of Salt Ponds

March 30, 2012 by

Water – its origins, its conservation, its scarcity – shapes the art of South Bay multimedia artist Linda Gass.


A streak of silver in state parks cloud

March 30, 2012 by

In the first few months after California announced its park closures in May 2011, park advocates were stunned and outraged. The state was tearing down 25 percent of a world-renowned system—70 parks in all. Almost a year later, the state parks closure cloud still looms, big and black. But dozens of small victories and individual acts of courage are adding a silver lining.


A blogger’s mission to save state parks

March 28, 2012 by

It started out as a patriotic effort to show fellow citizens what they didn’t know they were missing before it was gone. But in her mission to visit and blog about every California state park on the closure list, Lucy D’Mot also discovered some things about herself. “I feel like maybe I missed my calling earlier in life, to be a little more out in the outdoors,” she said.


Japanese tsunami debris arriving, but not a deluge

March 26, 2012 by

It’s been just over a year since the devastating earthquake and tsunami wiped away coastal towns in Japan. As communities rebuild and mourn the loss of loved ones, a portion of the 25 million tons of wreckage is now swirling around the ocean and making its way to California shores.It’s a unique research opportunity for scientists who have never before seen such a sudden, massive deposit of ocean debris from a one-time event.


Solutions for some state parks on closure list

March 23, 2012 by

In its haste to eliminate $22 million from its budget, the California parks department took aim at 70 state parks, one-quarter of the system. The strategy: sacrifice a few to save the many. But as citizens got involved to keep their favorite parks from closing, some interesting scenarios have been revealed. Some parks only needed a small shot in the arm, easily given with some simple revenue-generating schemes. Cut first, think later seemed to be the way state officials proceeded in the dark hours of budget cuts.


Spotted owls lose turf war at Muir Woods

March 22, 2012 by

If you’re fortunate to be hiking Muir Woods at sunset, be sure to keep your ears open and eyes peeled. You may just encounter one of the parks more stealthy inhabitants.On any of the park’s many trails, you may hear the low-pitched “ho-ho-hooo,” of a horned owl, or the distinctive “who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all” hooting of the barred owl. But one owl species remains conspicuously quiet — the northern spotted owl.


A whale of a view

March 21, 2012 by

It’s been a great season to view California gray whales off the Northern California coast this year. There have been a number of unusual sightings in the San Francisco Bay. But for the best chances to view these 35-ton, graceful giants on their annual migration is at Point Reyes National Seashore. Grab your binoculars, check the weather, and hit the cape.


State park advocates hit capitol halls

March 19, 2012 by

California state parks advocates are hitting the halls of the Capitol on Tuesday to remind lawmakers that they won’t go away, even though many parks are closing come July. There is no savior bill for state parks on the horizon, not in a year when tax hikes and state budget deficits are on the table. Still, the conversation about the future of California’s 279 park system must continue, said Jerry Emory, spokesperson for the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF).


The Pinnacle of Point Reyes: Mount Wittenberg

March 15, 2012 by

Hike to the top of Point Reyes, and learn more local bird lore, as Jules Evens continues his quest to hike every trail at Point Reyes National Seashore in 2012.


Weaving Art and Nature: Charles Kennard

March 15, 2012 by

From weaving handcrafted ornamental beehives to restoring watersheds, Charles Kennard is an eclectic environmentalist who brings his artistic sensibilities to his conservation efforts.


Charles Kennard: Eclectic Environmentalist

March 15, 2012 by

From taking photos to weaving ornamental beehives and tule boats, Charles Kennard’s art is inspired by nature.


A Wiggle in Time

March 14, 2012 by

If you ride your bike in San Francisco, chances are you have discovered The Wiggle, and you’re probably thankful you did. The meandering one-mile route from Duboce Ave to Fell St. saves cyclists from notoriously steep hills as they make their way from downtown to western neighborhoods.There’s a reason why the riding is easy. The bike route was a once stream bed in a place called San Souci Valley, now thoroughly transformed into the Victorian-dotted neighborhoods of Duboce Triangle and the Lower Haight.


A bird’s eye view of new wind turbines in Altamont Pass

March 09, 2012 by

Wind power companies are taking a bird’s eye view in siting new turbines in the Altamont Pass.As a major re-powering effort gets underway to replace 50-year-old windmills with fewer and larger ones, the companies are making use of new techniques in risk mapping to avoid the numbers of raptor deaths that have become part of the political fabric of the Altamont Wind Resource Area.


Blitzers Search for SOD

March 08, 2012 by

A project out of UC Berkeley recruits citizen scientists to help track the spread of sudden oak death. They do it every spring, and the more people take part, the better the chance we can protect precious oaks from a deadly pathogen.


Up close with Berkeley’s wildlife at Tilden Regional Park

March 07, 2012 by

Photographer Elaine Miller Bond didn’t have far to go to take these beautiful photographs of a coyote and a red-shouldered hawk. They were shot right here in Tilden Regional Park late last year. Read her descriptions of the encounters:


Mixing with the Birds on the Olema Trail, Point Reyes

March 05, 2012 by

Hike along with Jules Evens on the Olema Trail at Point Reyes, where he encounters a few mixed flocks of songbirds, some early spring wildflowers, and more.


Rodent bait a danger to wildlife

March 05, 2012 by

Got rats? As appealing as it may seem to have your rodent intruders done away with the drop of a few blue pellets, the city of San Francisco is telling its citizens: “Don’t take the Bait.”The campaign seeks to turn public opinion away from best-selling rat and mouse poisons for the sake of wildlife and the environment. The trouble is that the poison-infused rodents eventually become toxic prey to any creature higher up on the food chain. Stick to the classic snap trap, officials say.


Bay Area Ridge Trail faces uncertain future

March 02, 2012 by

The vision to create a 550-mile trail around the San Francisco Bay is threatened by state park closures scheduled for this summer, trail advocates say.The Bay Area Ridge Trail may not be the target of California state budget cuts, but because it runs through four state parks that are on the chopping block, advocates are worried about its future. As the July 1 deadline approaches on state park closures, the trail advocates say it’s still unclear how trail access, maintenance, and public safety will be handled, as well as what happens to long term prospects for connecting new trails to the loop.


Green film festivals showcase local flavor

February 29, 2012 by

It’s showtime. What better way to spend a blustery day in early March than to visit the two green film festivals in San Francisco? This year’s line-up features a number of films from Bay Area filmmakers and ones that touch on local topics. Among them is Bay Area filmmaker Jon Shenk’s “The Island President” about how the recently ousted leader of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, is trying to save his country from being the first obliterated by sea level rise. In an interview, Shenk explains why all coastal cities — including Bay Area cities — should take what’s happening in the Maldives to heart.


Yes, there is such a thing as a free lunch

February 27, 2012 by

A group of renegade agricultural activists is challenging the notion that nothing comes for free by grafting fruit-bearing branches onto trees lining city streets.Over the past year, the Guerrilla Grafters – a diverse group of volunteers who started in San Francisco – has been splicing fruit-bearing branches onto ornamental fruit trees around the city in an effort to grow apples, cherries, pears, and other fresh produce that urban residence can enjoy for free.


SF Bay Model reopens after facelift

February 24, 2012 by

The San Francisco Bay model is running wet again, now that the dust has settled on a nearly 2-year renovation project. The scale replica of the bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta system has been largely out of the public eye — and dry — as construction crews upgraded the building and installed new exhibits and solar panels. Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which runs the 1.5 acre model on a sea-front building in Sausalito, is welcoming visitors again, starting with a grand re-opening celebration on Saturday.


Walking the Rift Zone at Point Reyes

February 22, 2012 by

Take a four-mile stroll with Jules Evens through a landscaped shaped by enormous geological forces — and full of wildlife, native plants, and a more than a few puzzles.


On touching a sea squirt, and other adventures with nature

February 22, 2012 by

Inspired by a teaching stint with inner-city kids 20 years ago, English-born teacher Mandi Billinge founded an organization that gives thousands of Bay Area children their first hands-on experience with nature.


Back to the Land at Hidden Villa

February 21, 2012 by

Whether you’re looking for lessons in seed saving or hikes in nature, you’ll find them in the hills above Los Altos at Hidden Villa, which was home to the region’s first youth hostel and interracial summer camp.


What it takes to win land battles — a “badgerly” spirit

February 20, 2012 by

In west Petaluma, a hilly, treeless plot of land will be declared the Paula Lane Nature Preserve next month because of the tenacious work of local residents who were inspired by an equally tenacious creature — the American badger.


Burrowing owls, and docents, return to Berkeley marina

February 17, 2012 by

This year, five burrowing owls have been documented at the Berkeley marina. The small ground-dwelling birds spend much of the day sitting alertly near their burrows, astonishingly close to all those humans with dogs, kites and strollers.


Keeping Clapper Rails High and Dry

February 16, 2012 by

New artificial islands at Oakland’s Arrowhead Marsh provide some welcome refuge for endangered clapper rails. But can they be expanded into enough other habitats to keep the birds safe from rising sea levels?


Circles in the sand

February 13, 2012 by

Now you see it. Now you don’t. Jim Denevan creates art –very large art — out of the most ephemeral media: patterns in sand which will wash away with the tide, tracings in the earth that will disappear with the first rain, etchings upon icy lakes that must melt with the coming of spring. Beach aficionados know him as “that surfer dude,” but his artwork is reminiscent of masters like Christo and Goldsworthy.


Experts, amateurs pair up to build real-time field guide

February 10, 2012 by

Scientists and citizen scientists may share a love of nature, but they have few tools to exchange information. A new online tool called the Bay Area Bio-Atlas seeks to deepen those links in an effort to provide a real-time field guide to the region’s flora and fauna.


Butterflies, Pelicans, and Bobcats at Point Reyes

February 06, 2012 by

As part of his Point Reyes Walkabout, Jules Evens covers 10 miles on the Estero Trail, spots a bobcat, and logs a record-early sighting of a common butterfly, possibly thanks to climate change.


Cool as a Cucumber

February 06, 2012 by

What’s cool as a cucumber, bitter as the biblical waters of Marah, and so well-rooted in the Bay Area that pulling it up is futile?


Legislating for nature

February 03, 2012 by

Berkeley Assemblymember Nancy Skinner muses about an early internship gathering park data, how local governments are leading the world on environmental issues, and why she wants to make reflective roofs as popular as recycling.


Presidio’s forest resists the sands of time

February 02, 2012 by

The Presidio in San Francisco is a forested oasis, home to around 300 bird species. But once upon a time, the park was coastal dunes with nutrient-poor, shifting soils. Just how the Presidio was transformed is a story of one man’s grand ambitions that are still playing out today, as stewards of the Presidio struggle to maintain a forest as an historic landmark.


EMS for injured wildlife

January 31, 2012 by

Stunned bobcats, entangled geese, sea-foamed birds – sound like the makings of a horror film? These are just a few of the creatures given a new chance at life by WildRescue, a Bay Area organization that delivers wildlife in distress to animal health clinics.


Let It Rain: Two Short Strolls at Point Reyes

January 30, 2012 by

Now that the winter rains have finally found us here along the central California coast, my attention focuses on finding weather windows for walks in the wild. During a gentle shower, or a just after a stormy squall, the forests and fields are freshened and it’s a fine time to take to the trail.


Images of activism

January 27, 2012 by

Petaluma photographer Scott Hess never shied from a debate about conservation. He’s hiked, admittedly illicitly, around Lafferty Ranch to reveal the property’s hidden beauty, and once snapped pinups of “ecobabes” for a calendar on climate change. In this Q&A, Hess explains how his activism and photography intersect, and the pitfalls of doing what you love most.


For Jay Holcomb, Every Bird Matters

January 25, 2012 by

The Director Emeritus of International Bird Rescue reflects on 40 years of helping oiled and injured birds and wildlife.


A tale of two species, and a lagoon

January 24, 2012 by

Sharp Park is at the center of a controversy over whether golfing can coexist with endangered species. The Pacifica course, which overlooks the ocean, is a unique coastal freshwater ecosystem with a lagoon that’s great for the California red-legged frog and San Francisco garter snake. But if you want to keep the fairways open to business, much of that water has to be pumped away.


Taking Care of Baby Salmon

January 23, 2012 by

Proponents of the Yolo Bypass Floodplain Fishery Enhancement Project are starting small but thinking big. During the first year of the pilot project, scientists will test whether raising juvenile chinook salmon on flooded rice fields in the Yolo Bypass will help the fish get stronger and bigger before being flushed down to San Francisco Bay and out to the Pacific.


Exploring the Bay Area’s “Islands of Wildness”

January 20, 2012 by

A seasoned climber, hiker, outdoorsman, and lifelong world traveler, Craig Anderson could have remained an “itinerant geographer and outdoor guide”. Instead, he moved to Sonoma County fifteen years ago, signed up to work for a brand-new nonprofit called LandPaths, and stayed.


Elephant seals occupy area beaches

January 19, 2012 by

Thousands of elephant seals have colonized beaches to partake in annual, combative mating rituals. The mass of beached blubber is not just a tourist spectacle. It also draws the attention of non-human species that come to dine off the rare bump in food supply. About 10 percent of the pups born are casualties of the fighting males.


A Nature Quest on Corona Heights

January 18, 2012 by

Next time you and your kids head outdoors, you can combine fun, games, and learning to make that hike into a kid-centric adventure! We give it a try in San Francisco.


Benicia wants to run state park on California’s dime

January 17, 2012 by

The cash-strapped city of Benicia has come up with a novel way to keep its local state recreation area open and off the list of California park closures: get the state to foot the bill. The city says it can operate the 500-acre park at less than half the state’s budget.


A Bobcat Day in Bear Valley

January 16, 2012 by

The Bear Valley trail, heading southwest from Park Headquarters to the coast, is one of the emblematic walks, and the most traveled trail, on the Point Reyes Peninsula. Jules covers about 10 miles and encounters a bobcat, an alligator lizard, early-blooming milkmaids, and very late-blooming Indian paintbrush.


Taking the Measure of Climate Change At Corte Madera Marsh

January 12, 2012 by

To launch our new series on climate change in the Bay Area, we follow a group of researchers as they scan the bottom, poke the mud, and gauge the tides at Marin’s Corte Madera Marsh, in the first comprehensive, interdisciplinary effort to understand how the Bay Area’s tidal wetlands will respond to rising sea levels.


Deadline Looms for Solano’s Rockville Trails

January 10, 2012 by

With the clock ticking toward a February deadline, the nonprofit Solano Land Trust is working to purchase 1,500 acres of land known as Rockville Trails in Solano County. Recently, a lawsuit put a stop to development plans and allowed the land trust to buy 330 acres of the property, with an option to purchase the remaining 1,170 acres for $15.5 million by February 28, 2012.


East Palo Alto turns trash into treasure

January 09, 2012 by

A toxic waste dump may seem an unlikely place to stroll around and enjoy the San Francisco Bay. But East Palo Alto is restoring and capping such a site in order to give the public access to the water for the first time. The restoration project will also restore marshlands for struggling species like the clapper rail and salt mouse harvest mouse.


From the Inside Out

January 06, 2012 by

Workers digging the new fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel are getting a once-in-a-lifetime view of one of the defining features of the East Bay: the range of hills that runs from San Pablo Bay south to Fremont. By visiting just a few accessible sites aboveground, you can find clues that tell the story of how these hills rose from their humble origins as deep ocean sediments and volcanic flows to the iconic fault-riddled hillsides of today.


Bay Nature Magazine Honors 2012 Local Environmental Heroes

January 05, 2012 by

Each year, Bay Nature Institute honors several individuals who are making outstanding contributions to the understanding and stewardship of the natural world of the Bay Area. Here are this year’s winners.


Great year to view monarch butterflies

January 05, 2012 by

Monarchs may be the most celebrated and regal of the Lepidoptera, and they’re hitting record highs in the Bay Area. Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont is estimating their numbers at 4,200, which is 10 times the normal count. Grab your binoculars.


50 Years of Point Reyes, 154 Miles of Trails!

January 04, 2012 by

This New Year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of Point Reyes National Seashore, yet another brilliant example of “America’s Best Idea.” To acknowledge and honor this milestone, I have set a personal goal to walk all of the 154 miles of designated trails within the Seashore during 2012, one step at a time.


Setting Out: 2012 Point Reyes Walkabout

January 03, 2012 by

Jules starts with Muir and runs into a badger as he sets out on his adventure to hike every trail at Point Reyes this year. Stay tuned for more!


Rice in Winter: The Pacific Flyway Treat

January 02, 2012 by

Artist Jack Laws headed out for some great birdwatching among the rice fields of the Sacramento Valley — and you can too!


A Little Help from Our Friends

January 01, 2012 by

In spring 2011, the bad news about California’s state parks hit: 70 parks were slated for closure by July 2012, including 18 in the Bay Area. Since then, volunteers, nonprofits, and public agencies have mobilized to contain the damage. At Henry Coe State Park, donations will keep the park running with existing staff. In Sonoma, closure loomed for five parks and groups have joined forces to create new models of park operation.


Bay Area Conservancy Turns 15, but Running Out of Funds

January 01, 2012 by

The Bay Area program of the California Coastal Conservancy has been protecting critical open space landscapes and wetlands around the region for 15 years now. However, the program’s anniversary is bittersweet: The sense of accomplishment from having played a central role in conserving 80,500 acres of valuable habitats and recreational open space is tempered by the knowledge that the program could soon run out of money.


Containing an Invasive Weed at Thornewood Preserve

January 01, 2012 by

Thornewood Open Space Preserve above the town of Woodside isn’t easy to find–unless you’re a weed. This area is the only site in California where the plant has been found, but this invasive perennial bunchgrass native to Eurasia and North Africa has infested 10,000 acres in Oregon. A project from the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District aims to make sure that doesn’t happen here.


Killer Algae on Sonoma Coast

January 01, 2012 by

In late August, environmental scientist Laura Rogers-Bennett was driving back to Bodega Bay after conducting ocean surveys in Mendocino when she saw “dark-coffee-colored water” north of Salt Point State Park. Within days, dead sea stars, abalones, urchins, and chitons were piling up on area beaches.


Remembering David Yearsley, Champion of the Petaluma River

January 01, 2012 by

Bay Nature mourns the untimely passing of David Yearsley, the founder and executive director of the Friends of the Petaluma River, in September 2011.


Hidden Villa Memories

January 01, 2012 by

Jean Rusmore first visited Hidden Villa as a college student in 1942, and she’s been going ever since.


Letter from the Publisher

January 01, 2012 by

As I write this on Thanksgiving weekend, I have many things to be grateful for. For example: On Thanksgiving morning, I watched a huge raft of cormorants take off from the surface of the Bay in front of Angel Island. But behind such moments and places of great beauty, several dark clouds are gathering.


What’s the secret of nectar?

January 01, 2012 by

Q: When I see bees and hummingbirds feasting on even tiny flowers, I wonder if each flower replenishes the nectar supply, or is it a one-time offering?


Farming for the community

December 29, 2011 by

A Petaluma farm is adapting the methods of farming popularized in The Omnivore’s Dilemma to the West Coast climate. The animals work all year round, preparing the soil in the fields for the spring planting.


How water has shaped our lives

December 27, 2011 by

The Los Altos History Museum puts a local spin on California’s epic tale of water in a new exhibit. Shaped by Water guides visitors past an artesian well to art installations depicting today’s water use. Did you know the average Santa Clara County resident uses 153 gallons of water a day?


The Bay Area’s “Mr. Kite”

December 23, 2011 by

For kite aerial photographer Kris Benton, capturing images from the air is “more than just a hobby” – it’s a way to record the history of a landscape.


Where the wild birds live

December 22, 2011 by

It may not be the most bucolic locale, but Alameda County’s backyard, parks, and city scapes are nesting spots for 175 bird species. A decade effort to track them down has resulted in the Alameda County Breeding Bird Atlas, released this week.


Sustainable Christmas trees sprouting up

December 21, 2011 by

In the past, a consumer had mainly two choices: real or artificial. Another voice has joined the debate over the “best” Christmas tree. “Sustainable” trees have hit holiday stands to become a viable option for green consumers. But what does the label “sustainable” mean and are these trees worth the premium price?


Reporter’s Notebook: Two birders, a Few Wastewater Ponds, 104 Species of Birds

December 19, 2011 by

How do you see 104 species of birds in one day at a wastewater pond? Ride along on a Christmas Bird Count with PRBO Conservation ornithologist Rich Stallcup and partner Heather Cameron.


Marin passes new tree cutting ordinance

December 16, 2011 by

The new Marin ordinance restricts the number of trees residents can cut down a year from five to two. But salmon advocates say it doesn’t go far enough in protecting mature trees that are crucial to fish habitat.


Christmas Bird Count is serious citizen science

December 14, 2011 by

Some say it’s a “military style” operation, and surely the level of expertise in the field can be intimidating. But the Christmas Bird Count is also great fun for normally solitary birders and a chance to grow the next generation of naturalists.


Big solar on ice in Alameda County

December 12, 2011 by

After one solar company proposed covering 2,000 acres of open space in eastern Alameda County, county planning officials are preparing a new solar policy that will take into account environmental concerns like the loss of wildlife habitat. The debate is the latest in a series of clashes nationwide between green power and conservation.


Uncovering Nature’s Treasures with David Wimpfheimer

December 09, 2011 by

From whale-watching expeditions to wildflower forays to the annual Christmas Bird Count, naturalist David Wimpfheimer takes great pleasure in leading people on what he likes to call natural “treasure hunts.”


Yes, the Bay Area has scorpions. Watch your fingers and toes.

December 07, 2011 by

Scorpions don’t just inhabit bleak desert landscapes. The Bay Area has four local species of scorpion, as one butterfly enthusiast discovered on an expedition to Albany Hill one crisp November day.


Supes to decide on Sharp Park today; then to Mayor’s office

December 06, 2011 by

The San Francisco garter snake and its food of choice, the California red-legged frog, may get new landlords at their wetland home, the San Francisco-owned Sharp Park in Pacifica, if the board of supervisors passes legislation today that would clear the way for a transfer of its management to the National Park Service.


Pinnacles tests out tribe’s fire tradition

December 05, 2011 by

When Europeans arrived at what is now Pinnacles National Monument, the land was not exactly a “pristine” or “untouched” vision of nature, but rather a managed ecosystem that itself had become dependent on fires set by the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. Scientists are studying the traditional fire practices to help the ecosystem build greater resilience to major disturbances like climate change.


Fake grass in Golden Gate Park worries bird advocates

December 01, 2011 by

The Beach Chalet Athletic Fields may not seem like an ecological oasis, but environmentalists are fighting a San Francisco plan to replace natural grass with artificial turf. They say the move would turn foraging grounds into the ecological equivalent of a parking lot. City officials say the fake grass is needed to help it meet growing recreational needs.


Holiday seasons come and go, but not the Canada geese

November 25, 2011 by

Nothing heralds autumn and the holiday season like the evocative sound of geese, honking their way South on a blast of Arctic air. But many Canada geese now skip the annual migration and set up permanent shop in the Bay Area by taking advantage of the abundant food and absence of predators. That’s requiring some wildlife managers to come up with creative ways to remove these feathered friends.


Talking turkey with naturalist David Lukas

November 23, 2011 by

To David Lukas, a freelance naturalist and author who lives just outside of Yosemite National Park, observing plants and animals in their native habitats is as essential as breathing or eating.


Students explore origins of popular Thanksgiving dish

November 23, 2011 by

Making the most of a popular Thanksgiving dish and Native American agricultural traditions, students at Frank Havens School planted a “Three Sisters” garden. The fifth-graders planted squash, corn and beans together – known as succotash — in an effort to demonstrate how the plants help each other grow without the need of chemicals and how, when combined, provide complete nutrition.


Looking for that special Tat? Bay Area Millennials inked with endangered species

November 22, 2011 by

The name of the project is Tatzoo. The game is a good-natured competition among Bay Area Millennials concerned about local endangered species, and not afraid to show it — permanently.


High tech robots may launch new era in ocean exploration

November 18, 2011 by

Four surfboard-sized vehicles set sail off the coast of the San Francisco Bay on Thursday in an attempt to break world records in ocean exploration and robotics. The “wave gliders” will, if successful, traverse the longest distance of any unmanned ocean craft as they cross the Pacific Ocean.


Beyond the Bounty at Food Landscape Forum

November 17, 2011 by

Panelists at a sold-out forum on November 16 talked about their farming and farm-education enterprises on the San Mateo Coast, San Francisco, West Marin, and Santa Rosa. From food sovereignty to occupying your foodshed, check out the highlights.


On the Hunt with Dominik Mosur, Record-setting Birder

November 15, 2011 by

Dominik Mosur takes birds very seriously. He’s out daily birding around San Francisco, and he even works with injured birds and other wildlife at the Randall Museum. And now he’s officially SF’s champion birder: He’s already broken the one-year record of species sightings, and he’s got almost two months to keeping racking up species.


Twilight hiking reveals nature’s night owls

November 11, 2011 by

To some, daylight saving time means losing an hour of sunshine. But to Crissy Field Park Ranger Fatima Colindres, it means more opportunities to explore the night. Twilight walks are among the park’s most popular activities, and Colindres treks with groups under the dark sky twice a month.


Jewish farm brings spirit to the art of cultivation

November 10, 2011 by

Urban Adamah is a one-acre farm and Jewish environmental education center that recently opened in West Berkeley, just a stone’s throw from Interstate 80. Named for the Hebrew word for “earth,” Urban Adamah provides local food banks and community organizations with fresh produce while accommodating 500 visitors a month.


Paddle with the Salmon on the Tuolumne

November 08, 2011 by

A remarkable event happens every year along the Tuolumne River, but sadly, very few people know about it: Chinook salmon run up the river to their spawning grounds, and the canoes of the Tuolumne River Trust are there to meet them. You could join them this weekend.


Humpbacks Make Rare Near-Shore Visit in Santa Cruz

November 01, 2011 by

A pod of humpback whales, about two or three families, adults with a few calves, have been dazzling whale-watchers since about October 18, as they feed in Monterrey Bay about a quarter of a mile from Santa Cruz Harbor. Calm waters, warm weather and an abundance of food like sardines, anchovies and other baitfish have produced the ideal whale visit.


Tunnels for Tiger Salamanders

October 31, 2011 by

This winter, the traffic bottlenecks around Santa Rosa might be a little easier to manage–at least if you happen to be a California tiger salamander. Santa Rosa’s population of tiger salamanders, declared endangered in 2000, will be able for the first time to get to breeding ponds through several special tunnels installed underneath busy roads.


BayWood Artists Exhibition Benefits Save the Bay

October 28, 2011 by

The BayWood Artists, a group of plein air painters who often hold art sales to benefit local environmental groups, are dedicating their current show at the Bay Model in Sausalito to Save the Bay, which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year.


Got Quakes on the Mind?

October 28, 2011 by

With a handful of very noticeable earthquakes jolting the East Bay, we’re getting a lot of questions about quakes — do small ones release strain? Or foretell the Big One? We get the word from one of UC Berkeley’s top seismologists.


Steering the Ship of Wetlands Conservation

October 28, 2011 by

Beth Huning’s current position as Coordinator of the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture isn’t her first role in the field of wetlands conservation, but it certainly is one that brings together her passion for birds, her commitment to environmental protection, and her ability to work well with people representing many different constituencies. That’s essential when running a consortium of over 26 groups focused on San Francisco Bay’s tidal wetlands. Just this month the Joint Venture celebrated its 15th anniversary.


SPAWN: Time to Get Ready for Salmon!

October 27, 2011 by

With last year’s wet winter and this fall’s early rains in October, time is short for the staff and volunteers of the Salmon Protection and Restoration Network (SPAWN), who are working hard on several projects aimed at helping the Lagunitas Creek run of coho salmon — the largest remaining wild coho run in the state.


Insecta-Palooza Takes the Creepy out of Lots of Crawlies

October 26, 2011 by

With Halloween right around the corner, it’s only natural to think of cobwebs and hairy creatures lurking in dark places. Just the thought of these creepy, crawling, eight-legged, web tangling, multi-eyed arachnids can frighten even the toughest individuals. Even yours truly. Luckily, the third installment of Sonoma State University’s Insecta-Palooza is here to remind us that these crawlers aren’t so creepy after all.


Construction Begins on Largest Restoration in San Pablo Bay Refuge

October 25, 2011 by

At first glance, Cullinan Ranch isn’t much to look at. Bound by Dutchman Slough to the north and Highway 37 to the south, the Solano County property consists of 1,500 acres of low-lying fields. But this former farmland is about to become the largest restored marsh in the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.


Twinkle, Twinkle, Winter Star

October 21, 2011 by

Winter is a great time to head out and look at the night sky. In between storms, of course. And the Bay Area has lots of groups ready to help you and your kids get excited about stars!


A Muddy Race at Mount Hamilton

October 21, 2011 by

On October 9, 805 teams of two, 100 individuals, and 220 children, along with hundreds of volunteers from local civic organizations, a crack team of event organizers, and thousands of cheering fans gathered at Joseph D. Grant County Park in the Mount Hamilton area of San Jose. They came to run. They came to bike. They came to get dirty.


Oakland’s Claremont Canyon, 20 Years After the Fire

October 19, 2011 by

Two decades ago, parts of Claremont Canyon burned in one of the largest wildfires the Bay Area has ever seen. Since then, neighbors have steadily worked to make themselves at home in a fire-prone landscape.


Bay Area Nature 100 Years Ago, Through the Eyes of Painter William Keith

October 17, 2011 by

The Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art is honoring California landscape painter William Keith a century after his death with 150 paintings from the college’s permanent collection. “The Comprehensive Keith: A Centennial Tribute,” on view through December 18, 2011, includes dozens of Bay Area views, from Pacheco Pass to San Anselmo. Some are startlingly familiar. Others are lost to roads and subdivisions. All will help you see local nature with new eyes.


Bringing Light to Dragonfly Creek

October 14, 2011 by

Workers at the Presidio are working to restore a stretch of creek that’s been buried for nearly a century. Soon enough, Dragonfly Creek should, once again, be alive with its namesake insects.


Acorn Woodpeckers, So Happy Together

October 14, 2011 by

Would you believe that acorn woodpeckers have the most complex social relationships of any animal with a backbone? One expert says so. Watch the birds for a while, and you just might agree!


For Debi Shearwater, Every Year is a “Big Year”

October 13, 2011 by

The proprietor of Shearwater Journeys, Debi’s renowned pelagic tours give birders and non-birders alike rare glimpses of seabirds and ocean wildlife.


Should National Parks Allow Air Tours?

October 12, 2011 by

Two air tour operators got a provisional green light for low-flying air tours over the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes. Meanwhile, a long-term Air Tour Management Plan is in the works. As the October 21 public comment deadline approaches, some environmentalists say air tours have no place in parks, while tour operators say they offer access to people who might not otherwise see the parks.


Citizens’ Domain in Napa

October 11, 2011 by

This park near downtown Napa has been run by volunteers for decades. A model for cash-strapped parks? Great views and extensive trails make it worth a visit to find out.


New Climate Model Zooms in on North Bay

October 07, 2011 by

Global climate models are critical to understanding climate change, but they don’t tell us anything about changing temperatures and other surface level changes in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is what we need to know to plan for our future. A new model for the North Bay creates a closeup view critical for watershed managers. And soon the model will expand to cover all of California, 18 acres at a time.


Planned Wilderness

October 06, 2011 by

In eastern Contra Costa and Alameda counties, an ambitious vision for protecting big pieces of remaining open space is taking shape: From Black Diamond Mines and Mount Diablo to Brushy Peak and Sunol, several major agreements promise to replace ad hoc mitigation projects with a broader canvas of protected and connected habitat.


Fur Seals Making a Comeback on the Farallones

October 05, 2011 by

Recent surveys on the Farallones show that the islands’ cute, feisty fur seals continue to make a comeback, more than a century after the West Coast population was hunted nearly to extinction.


Tag, You’re It!

October 04, 2011 by

The hawk trackers of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory go way beyond birding: These citizen scientists take to the highways and back roads, following radio-tagged birds that may roam just to the next valley, or all the way to Mexico. Along the way, the hawk trackers have contributed much to our knowledge of these well-traveled birds.


In Half Moon Bay, Three More Miles for Coastal Trail

October 01, 2011 by

The Peninsula Open Space Trust has opened three more miles of the California Coastal Trail, which someday may run the entire 1,200-mile length of the coast. For now, there’s a great hike to be had between ocean cliffs and farm fields south of Half Moon Bay.


Marsh Restoration Running Aground Under Power Lines

October 01, 2011 by

A substantial wetlands restoration project over at Hill Slough in Solano County is the latest such effort to clash with federal regulations about power lines and sailboats.


State of the Birds: People Are a Threat, and Promise

October 01, 2011 by

A new report on the state of bird populations shows mixed results for Bay Area populations. People continue to be the biggest threat, with habitat loss and other pressures, and the biggest hope, in the form of major and minor restoration projects all around the Bay.


Trawling for Plastic in SF Bay

October 01, 2011 by

Researchers plan to head out this winter looking for micro-plastic in the Bay. Their first-ever trawl last winter turned up concentrations that actually weren’t as bad as some recorded in other waterways. But that might just mean we’re sending more plastic to the Pacific.


Letter from the Publisher

October 01, 2011 by

If it’s a Saturday morning, you’re more than likely to find me doing one of two things: visiting some wild place for nature-related recreation or biking to the Berkeley Farmers’ Market. The melee of colors and the medley of shapes of the fruits and vegetables, the diversity and energy of the shoppers, the opportunity to […]


Cultivating Community in Santa Rosa

October 01, 2011 by

Bayer Farm brings open space and food security to a section of Santa Rosa that needs more of both. With help from the nonprofit Landpaths, people in the Roseland neighborhood are helping each other plant and harvest food, and community.


Getting to Market in Sunol

October 01, 2011 by

In the Sunol Valley, beyond the subdivisions of Pleasanton, Fred Hempel grows tomatoes alongside other farmers growing figs, strawberries, and more. It’s all part of an unusual experiment in micro-farming unfolding under the leadership of Sustainable Agriculture Education on land owned by the San Francisco water department.


Keeping it in the Family in Rio Vista

October 01, 2011 by

For more than a century, Jeanne McCormack’s family has grown grain and raised livestock on a few thousand acres near Rio Vista. But she and her husband Al Medvitz didn’t take a straight line to ranching. Instead, they detoured through Africa and Asia. Now, they’re in it for the long haul.


Urban Farms to Open Range

October 01, 2011 by

Even though foodie culture is an ever-growing phenomenon in the Bay Area, it’s still surprising to many that nearly half the land in our region is dedicated to ranching or farming.


You Are What You Eat

October 01, 2011 by

The Darwin’s emerald moth is a neat trick of evolution: The larvae change color depending on what they eat. And they do it visually — but them in the dark and they fail to match their host plants.


Book Review: A Coast to Explore: Coastal Geology and Ecology of Central California

October 01, 2011 by

By Miles O. Hayes and Jacqueline Michel, Pandion Books, distributed by Heyday, 2010, 352 pages, $29.95. It’s hard to argue with the claim by the South Carolina-based authors of A Coast to Explore that “the shoreline of Central California is without a doubt the most beautiful in all the ‘lower forty-eight’ states.” And with that, […]


Book Review: Best Hikes with Kids: San Francisco Bay Area

October 01, 2011 by

By Laure Latham, The Mountaineers Books, 2011, 364 pages, $19.95. Hiking with kids can seem daunting, but Laure Latham is an expert. Her new book is filled with ways to turn what can sometimes feel like a forced march into a fun outing, and every hiker will find inspiration in her lively trail descriptions. She […]


Book Review: Mount Diablo: The Extraordinary Life and Landscapes of a California Treasure

October 01, 2011 by

Photos by Stephen Joseph, text by Linda Rimac Colberg, Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, 2010, 266 pages, $50. Photographer Stephen Joseph has amassed a wide-ranging body of work–from a project to photograph Bay Area farms (see his photos in this issue) to images of John Muir’s plant specimens (on display at the Oakland Museum). But the […]


Book Review: Natural History of San Francisco Bay

October 01, 2011 by

By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto and Kathleen M. Wong, 2011, UC Press, 352 pages, $24.95 paperback, $65 hardcover. The latest installment of the UC Press Natural History series (number 102!) comes from frequent Bay Nature contributors Ariel Rubissow Okamoto and Kathleen Wong. Like many “guides” in the series, this one is carefu