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In the Shadow of Giants

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The hills above Oakland once held some of the largest redwoods ever seen, one estimated at 31 feet in diameter. Ten million years ago, such trees towered over much of North America. Nothing in this long history prepared them for the coming of men, armed with axes and saws, who felled all of Oakland’s redwoods in just 15 years. But even second- and third-growth redwood forests hold their charms, not to mention the subtle suggestions of the forests they can once again become. And you don’t have to go too far from downtown Oakland to find them.

Dredging up an Avian Oasis

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What do you get when you scoop up 250,000 cubic yards of muck from the Petaluma River? Prime shorebird habitat, of course. Unlikely as it may seem, Shollenberger Park is a place where birders have spotted 150 bird species, from nesting avocets and stilts to harriers and egrets. And a new addition to the park will make it one of the largest publicly accessible stretches of wetlands in the Bay Area.

Saving El Palo Alto

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Imagine a landmark so prominent that anyone looking south from San Francisco or north from San Jose could spot it. Spanish missionary Padre Pedro Font wrote in his diary in March 1776: “I beheld in the distance a tree of … Read more

Indian Paintbrush

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It turns out that some of the Bay Area’s showiest wildflowers are also parasites that draw water and nutrients from their neighbors.

Serpentine Splendor

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Tucked into less than a square mile of land next to a freeway, the Peninsula’s Edgewood Park is a showcase for stunning wildflower diversity, all the result of our region’s unique geology.

The Courtship of Herons

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All around the Bay Area in spring, herons and egrets begin their annual transformation from mostly solitary top predators to birds gathered in crowded breeding colonies. Local photographer Philip Greene has spent years following the whole subtle and spectacular process by which these large birds break down their resistance to social communion: the changing color of bills and legs, the growth of flowing nuptial plumage, and the complex gestures and dances that make up the fine art of getting to know one another.

Purple Needlegrass Takes Root in the Capitol

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David Amme, author of “Grassland Heritage” in Bay Nature’s April-June 2004 issue, called purple needlegrass “the undisputed candidate for official state grass.” Now that may soon become literally as well as figuratively true: State Sen. Michael Machado, D-Linden, is sponsoring … Read more

Cal Academy Ant Exhibit

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On May 1, the California Academy of Sciences will open its new (temporary) doors at 875 Howard Street in downtown San Francisco. As it rebuilds its Golden Gate Park location, more than 85 percent of the animals from the permanent … Read more

Mount Diablo Audubon Christmas Count Results

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The Mount Diablo Audubon Society’s 51st annual Christmas Bird Count, which took place on December 14, 2003, benefited from sunnier weather and better visibility than the previous year. About 60 volunteer bird counters spotted more than 51,000 birds representing 148 … Read more

International Migratory Bird Day 2004

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Birds will again be studied—and celebrated—at the International Migratory Bird Day festival at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, May 8, in Alviso (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). The free event will include naturalist-led bird … Read more