Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions, by Arthur M. Shapiro and Tim Manolis, UC Press, 2007, 359 pages, $18.95 www.ucpress.edu That butterflies are interesting comes as no surprise—they are charismatic, colorful, and often easy to spot. So it’s a simple task to convince us that butterflies are worth […]
Field Guide to Plant Galls of California and Other Western States, by Ron Russo, UC Press, 2007, 400 pages, $24.95 www.ucpress.edu Many authors would be hard-pressed to write a guide to plant galls that is not also an industrial-strength sleeping aid. But Ron Russo has managed exactly that in this expansion of his 1979 guide: […]
Most people know to watch out for mistletoe at holiday parties, but there's a lot more to this plant than that one-note holiday refrain.
The Landscaping Ideas of Jays: A Natural History of the Backyard Restoration Garden, by Judith Larner Lowry, UC Press, 2007, 292 pages, $24.95 www.ucpress.edu Most people don’t think of restoration gardening as an option for city dwellers. The plants that once inhabited our urbanized and suburbanized areas are usually nowhere in evidence amid acres of […]
Neptune’s Ark: From Ichthyosaurs to Orcas, by David Rains Wallace, UC Press, 2007, 313 pages, $27.50 www.ucpress.edu The thin continental margin that is today the Pacific coast of North America has changed quite a bit over the last half billion years. By turns sunbaked, icy, and tropical, it has played host to a wonderful and […]
Mention extinct species, and most people think of long-gone mastodons and saber-toothed tigers. But we know that some Bay Area species have disappeared in just the last 200 years. Or have they? Prompted by rediscoveries of lost species in Solano and Contra Costa counties, we decided to see what other missing flora and fauna might still be out there, awaiting a patient observer.
Botany | Wildlife
Wildflowers of Northern California’s Wine Country and North Coast Ranges, by Reny Parker, New Creek Ranch Press, 2007, 282 pages, $24.95 www.renyswildflowers.com Reny Parker is passionate about wildflowers. For 17 years, she has found and photographed them in their wild habitats around her home territory. Those images form the heart of her new pictorial and […]
Contrary to common notions of autumn as a season of dying back, our fall rains often herald new beginnings. That’s especially true this fall at Edgewood County Park and Natural Preserve in Redwood City. For the first time since 2002, caterpillars of the once-abundant but now rare bay checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha bayensis) will emerge […]
Geology | Wildlife
While living for a while on the Monterey Peninsula, I found myself drawn time and again from the cafes and shops of Pacific Grove down to the waters of Monterey Bay. Sometimes I would just sit on a bench and look for sea otters resting and feeding their pups in the undulating kelp beds. My time in Monterey was a small but privileged window into the wonderful diversity that makes the central coast of California one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world...
Climate Change | Stewardship | The Ocean | Wildlife
Thanks to the efforts of dozens of volunteers, a biologically rich watershed on the Russian River has become one of the newest additions to our state park system.
Botany | History | Stewardship | Water
When I stand on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach and look west, it’s difficult for me to comprehend that we humans can have any impact of consequence on a body of water that is so vast, let alone impacts that are life-threatening to marine organisms and, ultimately, to us. But we do. In all likelihood it […]
Climate Change | Stewardship | The Ocean | Wildlife
In February 2007, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey reintroduced H.R. 1187, a bill to expand the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries to include the entire Sonoma coast and parts of Mendocino, making those areas off-limits to oil drilling as well. Given that the seasonal ocean currents would drive oil spilled off the […]
I. LEARN MORE A. OUR NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARIES Encyclopedia of the SanctuariesOnline guide to over 100 marine species from each of the marine sanctuaries in the United States. Includes photos, streaming video, and important biological information for mammals, fish, birds, invertebrates, plants, and reptiles. * CORDELL BANK Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary – Official Site […]
From the early 1980s until his death in 1992, Bob Walker took photos that captured the beauty of the East Bay's wildlands, and his advocacy marshaled public support for protecting those landscapes, leading to the purchase of more than 30,000 acres for public open space. In fall 2007, a new book of Walker's work gave us the opportunity to revisit the luminous landscape photography of this local conservation hero.
MPAs are designated areas along and off the coast, within the three-mile limit of state waters, intended to protect critical marine habitats. There are three different levels of protection: State Marine Reserves are off limits to all extractive activities, including fishing and harvesting (of shellfish, seaweed, etc.). State Marine Parks allow recreational fishing, but don’t […]
Archive | The Ocean
Q: Are native bees suffering the same “colony collapse disorder” as honeybees? [Linda, San Ramon] A: Colony collapse disorder, or CCD, has gotten a lot of media attention, and with good reason. The western honeybee (Apis mellifera) is native to Europe, Africa, and western Asia and was brought from England to Virginia in 1622. The […]
Ask the Naturalist | Wildlife
In Schooner Bay, Drakes Bay Oyster Farm grows oysters and clams, producing 85 percent of the shellfish raised in Marin County. Point Reyes National Seashore, the company’s landlord, has long planned to close the farm when its 40-year lease expires in 2012, a move required before Drakes Estero can be added to the nearby Phillip […]
The Ocean | Wildlife
What's that pile of sticks over there? It could be the home of a dusky-footed woodrat. If you could see inside, you'd find a tidy little home complete with bedrooms, a pantry, and even a few latrines!
To us, the San Bruno elfin butterfly, with its one-inch wingspan, seems small, but to the ants that protected it during its larval stage, it must seem a giant. On rocky north-facing outcrops on San Bruno Mountain in South San Francisco, female elfins deposit their eggs in spring, coinciding with the flowering of stonecrop, its […]
Birds of Napa County, by Herman Heinzel, Heyday Books, 2006, 132 pages, $12.95 www.heydaybooks.com The common image of Napa County is a world of wine, fine cuisine, and row upon row of grapevines. But Herman Heinzel’s Birds of Napa County might make a few tourists trade in their wineglasses for binoculars. This ornately illustrated but […]
Forty miles northwest of San Francisco, the San Andreas Fault slips into the Pacific Ocean, creating Tomales Bay, the outlet for countless creeks and rills in rainy West Marin. But for over 100 years, fresh water from Lagunitas Creek has not flowed freely through the estuarine transition zone. Levees, tide gates, and culverts built at […]
Archive | Stewardship
Califauna: A Literary Field Guide, edited by Terry Beers and Emily Elrod, Heyday Books, 2007, 293 pages, $21.95 www.heydaybooks.com The bookworm interested in a true literary field guide to California wildlife need look no further than Califauna. Part anthology, part field guide, this Califaunal compendium spans a wide breadth of California writers whose subject matter […]
In July, the State Water Resources Control Board approved a plan to clean up mercury in San Francisco Bay, fulfilling a mandate set in 2002 when the Bay was placed on the impaired list under the Clean Water Act. According to Richard Looker of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Bay […]
Pollution | The Bay
The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area, by Richard A. Walker, University of Washington Press, 2007, 404 pages, $35 University of Washington Press In his new history of Bay Area conservation and environmentalism, Richard Walker repopulates familiar landscapes—from Point Reyes to Big Basin—with both their citizen champions and the […]
San Francisco Bay is also home to eelgrass beds, two-thirds of them in the shallow waters off the North Richmond Shoreline. And eelgrass is only one important component of the seven miles of shoreline between Point San Pablo and Point Pinole, which includes 500 acres of tidal marsh and 800 acres of mudflats that provide […]
Archive | The Bay | Wildlife
Designing California Native Gardens: The Plant Community Approach to Artful, Ecological Gardens, by Glenn Keator and Alrie Middlebrook, UC Press, 2007, 352 pages, $27.50 www.ucpress.edu The decades-long drought is definitely over. Though we still have to cope with the past winter’s rainfall shortage, gardeners have been practically showered with new books about gardening with California […]
Where in the Bay Area might you find both the smallest and the largest animals on the planet? In the ocean waters off our shore, where the upwelling of cold nutrient-rich water feeds a most spectacular gathering of wildlife, from tiny one-celled phytoplankton to 100-foot-long kelp strands to 85-foot-long blue whales. But despite the ocean’s […]
Between handing out crackers to those passengers still holding on and towelettes to those who had just succumbed, the cheerful lady in the pink fleece jacket was keeping pretty busy. I tried a cracker, but it was too late, and I gave in as well to the relentless swells. But great things come at a […]