Although this is an older post, it's a great birding reference and relevant to this time of year.
It's been a while since our last post with a flurry of tours and a busy beginning to the New Year! It has also been a wonderful time for learning and exploring! Recently we had the incredible opportunity to join other Beach Watch volunteers on a Bodega Bay birding expedition with birder extraordinaire & author of the Identification Guide To North American Birds (Parts I and II), Mr. Peter Pyle of the Institute for Bird Populations (IBP)!
Peter Pyle is the ultimate BIRDMAN and is an incredible wealth of knowledge - not to mention a great teacher and guide! His passion and patience truly inspires others to explore and learn more! I love this kind of energy and I latch onto it like a dog to a bone! We toured all along Bodega Bay - a wonderful area to see loads and loads of different bird species. Their numbers are overwhelming! To be among such a vast diversity of species is amazing… it makes you truly appreciate the special region in which we live.
Peter and the many great guides from the Farallones Marine Sanctuary provided us with great tips on identifying and aging bird species - both alive and deceased (for those of us that conduct the Beach Watch surveys). A short list of some of the species we saw: Whimbrel, Willet, Godwits, Sanderlings, Western Sandpiper, Dunlin, Eared Grebe, Horned Grebe, Western Grebe, Common Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Ruddy Duck, Common Golden Eye, Brant goose, all sorts of Gulls, Pelicans, Cormorants AND MORE! Here is a brief slide show of the day and below this I provide some helpful hints on identifying the common species (and winter species) we see here along our coast!
Are you interested in taking a class with Peter? His next class will be
Birding by Feather - Molt Workshops
See his web page for dates and details!
THE WILLIT: These guys run along the shoreline bobbing and stabbing at the sand. They have a long straight bill and long grey legs… but are most easily identified (whether in winter plummage or not) by the black and white wing bands when in flight.
Willet Adult in flight
THE WHIMBREL: This bird can be confused with the Long Billed Curlew (see pic of curlew following the picture of Whimbrel below). The best way to confirm it's a Whimbrel is by the distinctive stripes in plumage along the crown and through the eye. That's how I tell the difference!
Immature Description: Similar to adult, but back with light spots, crown stripe less distinct, breast more buff, and with finer streaking on neck and chest.
THE DUNLIN vs the SANDERLING (Winter Plumage) - We see these two birds during the winter months before they migrate to north to breed in the spring/summer. These two can be very confusing to distinguish. Making a mental note of a few helpful hints, though, can make all the difference. Below are comparison pictures of their non breeding plumage (what we will see during the winter months). Here are some tips:
DUNLIN vs SANDERLING - BREEDING PLUMAGE - the big thing to notice between these two - can you guess? It's the big black patch on the underside belly of the DUNLIN
WESTERN SANDPIPER: This is another that has a very similar winter plumage to that of the Dunlin & Sanderling…. so what's the difference? The WESTERN SANDPIPER has a smaller bill and is smaller in size than the DUNLIN…. also - always remember the "smudge" on the shoulder of the Sanderling (see above). This will help you distinguish between the WESTERN SANDPIPER and the SANDERLING as you look for them during the winter months along the shoreline.
Here is a great picture I found that shows the WESTERN SANDPIPER in front of a DUNLIN (in the back). Note: The bill of the DUNLIN is 2/3rds larger than the WESTERN SANDPIPER … and the Western Sandpiper is about 1/2 the body size…
Eared Grebe vs Horned Grebe (pronounced GR-EEEB) - these two are smaller than the Western Grebe and have a much smaller bill. They can be confusing to distinguish… so here are some tips…
In this picture below both are in winter plumage. The Eared Grebe is on the Right (back) and the Horned Grebe is on Left (front).
Eared Grebe Non-Breeding plumage ADULT
Here's another picture of the EARED GREBE - winter plumage - note how the rump is much fluffier than the horned..
Below is the breeding plumage of the Eared Grebe (Left) and Horned Grebe (on the RIght)
Arena Theater Ocean Film Festival this coming Saturday, April 9th beginning at 2PM! Screenings at 2PM, 4PM and 7PM
Screenings at 2PM, 4PM & 7PM
GOTO www.arenatheater.org and click on COMMUNITY EVENTS for tickets
ARENA THEATER OCEAN FILM FESTIVAL
Saturday, April 9th2:00 p.m. Family/Kids Animated Films - $5
All three screenings feature different films. Attend all with a $50 VIP Pass which includes local merchant discounts!
VIP Passes - $50 per person, Includes all screenings, discounted admission to Point Arena Lighthouse and other local merchant discounts. If purchased online before Thursday, VIP Passes may be picked up in Gualala at the Visitor's Center located at 39150 S. Hwy 1(west side) in the Forte Gualala building.
For Family & Kids: At nearby Point Arena Library, the festival will offer FREE ocean exhibits and children's activities Saturday from 11am to 4pm, with special presentations and free raffles for kids from 2:30 to 4pm.
214 Main Street
Point Arena, CA
All Saturday screening tickets are available in advance at
www.arenatheater.org or at the door.
On Saturday Evening, 215 Main Wine Bar sponsors a special Festival Reception with featured filmmakers. All Adult Festival Participants are invited to attend. Come meet the film directors. Donations are welcomed at the door and raffle tickets will be available.
On Sunday Morning, to complement the Film Festival, the Greater Farallones Association and California State Parks will conduct a naturalist-led "Wildflowers & Whales" Walk at Salt Point State Park, starting at 10:00 a.m.
Sunday Wildflower & Whale Walk*
*Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for $20 Walk tickets sold separately or call (415) 561-6625 x 315 for further information about ALL of these events.
Ocean-themed Indie Films; Festival Reception; Family Activities; Q&A with Filmmakers and Marine Life Experts; Great Raffle Prizes! Proceeds benefit the non-profit Greater Farallones Association's ocean education and science programs in Sonoma and Mendocino counties.
Happy New Year! 2015 has started off with great success and our new Rack Flyers are now available!!!
The front of each flyer has our signature eye catching photo from one of our tour experiences and the backside provides wonderful overviews of our most popular tours along with testimonials from our guests.
Be a part of our progress! Contact us for your free Unbeaten Path rack flyers and let's make 2015 a year to remember!! We look forward to working with each of you!
Unbeaten Path participates in first ever Beach Watch training program along Mendo Coast with Farallones Marine Sancturary!
I was a recent participant in the Beach Watch training program in connection with the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association and it was an experience I will never forget. I cannot say enough about this program and how fortunate I am to be a part of this team. The devotion of the FMSA training staff was inspirational to say the least and the volunteers who participated were an outstanding wealth of information!
I spend so much of my time observing and touring the Mendonoma Coast that when I heard of the Beach Watch program I knew instantly that this would be a great way for me to personally contribute and give back to this special and significant region of the world. The Beach Watch program was an intensive 4 days (with more training to come). It was also a weekend of giving and receiving which is everything my tours with Unbeaten Path represent to me. I am honored and proud to have been part of this training as well as the ongoing efforts to survey, protect, and understand this coast. I have been assigned Walk On Beach and will be surveying this section of the coast on a monthly basis!
Click here to learn more about the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association!
Below is an excerpt of an article from The Independent Coast Observer (ICO) about the Beach Watch program and was written by Beach Watch volunteer and ICO reporter, Meg Kailikole. Thank you, Meg!
Twenty-two local volunteers were the first graduates of the Mendonoma Coast Beach Watch program sponsored by the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association in partnership with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, completing an intensive four-day training session from Nov. 6 - Nov. 9th. Graduates learned how to conduct a shoreline survey, to properly collect and record data on live and dead birds and marine mammals, as well as document human activity.
The data collected by Beach Watch volunteers provides a long tern database of information used by scientists and natural resource managers to study and help manage and protect natural habitats and wildlife …
Since 1993 Beach Watch has monitored 150 miles of California Shoreline from Bodega Head through Año Nuevo State Park Reserve in San Mateo County, collecting data on the abundance and distribution of wildlife and human use on 142 beach segments and adjacent waters. According to Kirsten Lindquist of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association, the program is expanding from Bodega Head to Manchester Beach in Mendocino County, adding 61 miles and 16 new beach segments to its survey area. …
Connecting People to Place! Unbeaten Path Tours partners with Susan Routledge & Barking Rocks Studio for a Tour De Force!
For the first time ever in the state of California, Unbeaten Path has partnered with renowned artist, Susan Routledge, and her Barking Rocks Studio & former Millard Sheets estate for a Tour De Force you will never forget!
Connecting People to Place, this exclusive tour provides private access to the work of renowned artist, Susan Routledge, and one of the most magnificent sections of the southern Mendocino coastline not normally accessible to the public. Tour with Susan as she takes you through her personal art gallery and working studio, view her custom art demonstration and tour areas of the estate as well as some of the works & collections of Millard Sheets! Please see our media brochure for further details. This is a one-of-kind tour for art, architecture, nature enthusiasts and Millard Sheets fans alike! WOW! Advanced reservations required for group bookings only (6 people min). Contact Unbeaten Path Tours by Telephone: 707 888 6121 or email us directly email@example.com
This is a truly moving, powerful and sensational tour. We are very pleased to be working with Susan and her Barking Rocks Studio. A total honor.
Protect the Field Station in Stornetta National Monument
Recently, members of our local Gateway Committee in Point Arena, CA, that works with BLM to provide input and to ensure city involvement in the development and management of our recently dedicated Stornetta California Coastal National Monument, attended the Mendocino Lake College Board of Trustees meeting last Wednesday to represent their view regarding the sale of the Point Arena Field Station to BLM and why this field station should be permanently protected! Their statement can be seen in the editorial sections of our local newspaper and we encourage you to support this measure. Below is the Gateway group's formal statement and opinion regarding the preservation of the Point Arena Field Station.
Save the Point Arena Field Station by Preserving it in the California Coastal National Monument
We too want to save the Point Arena Field Station and appreciate that it is a unique and valuable resource that should be permanently protected. That’s why it should become part of the California Coastal National Monument, joining the Point Arena –Stornetta Unit as a federally recognized national treasure.
For over two years the sale of the former LORAN station that is now surrounded by the national monument has been discussed with those of us who are partners with Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on the California Coastal National Monument Point Arena Gateway Group. The buildings at the station are in serious need of repair and the rehabilitation costs are estimated at between one and two million dollars. Mendocino-Lake College District, finding even maintenance expenses in this exposed coastal environment to be a serious drain on its budget, actually initiated the proposed sale to BLM.
Everyone agrees that the state-owned tide pools of the station’s cove must remain inaccessible to the public. BLM has offered to protect this area with fencing and signage identifying it as a Special Study Area and closed to the public (as some areas of the Point Arena Unit are currently protected). Furthermore, the college is considering “reserving” access to the tide pools, legally blocking public access under trespass statute.
The valuable research and long term studies will be allowed to continue as a condition of the sale.
Additionally, several options have been identified that would reserve some of the buildings such as the classroom/lab building and the houses. This would reduce the $1.5 million sale price to some extent, although considering the poor condition of the buildings, they may be more a liability than a value.
An appraisal is now underway to take into account these various options. The college has determined that $40 to $50 thousand a year will be necessary to maintain the buildings once they are renovated. Even this expense is considerable for a facility that serves between 11 to 100 district college students a year. We hope that other academic institutions that use the facility will help defray these costs and allow the buildings to be preserved for education, research, field trips and for a full-time caretaker.
We would hate to see the college lose this opportunity to save and maintain this facility. The $1.5 million Land and Water Conservation Fund allocation will expire in December of this year. This funding will not come our way again. These funds were secured because of the national monument designation and all the outreach, advocacy and publicity that went into this effort. Furthermore a key decision-maker in the allocation of these funds, who helped make the acquisition of the Point Arena Lands possible, is retiring this year.
We urge the Friends of Point Arena Field Station and the College Board of Trustees to work quickly toward closing a sale agreement that would: Save the pristine tide pools; Retain the education and research; Provide funding to restore the necessary structures.
Let’s go forward to make this happen – Save the Point Arena Field Station!
Leslie Dahlhoff, Point Arena
Merita Whatley, Point Arena
Lori Hubbart, Point Arena
Susan Moon, Point Arena
Good Monday to you all and we hope all is well. The Unbeaten Path has been a very busy bee these past weeks. Here are some of the highlights and their details below:
First and foremost, one of our beloved locals, Jeanne Jackson, has released her first book and it is selling like gangBUSTERS! Her book is called "Mendonoma Sightings Throughout the Year" with incredible photography, interesting "fun facts" about nature in our region and much, much more. It is an incredible compilation of her work with our local paper, the Independent Coast Observer, over the past ten years. This is a great book and a real treasure. Unbeaten Path is glad to have had their review of her book quoted by our local book store Four Eyed Frog Books - Join Four Eyed Frogs this Father's Day, June 14th, 3pm-4pm for a personalized book signing!
After the Mendocino Wildflower Show this weekend I was inspired to hike the redwood forest to look for some of my favorite forest dwelling wildflowers and plants. Today we feature the Trail Plant (also called Pathfinder Plant), or Adenocaulon bicolor. When their dark green, triangular leaves are disturbed or turned over their bright, white under-leaf is displayed and one can easily follow the trail of another passing through the woods or mark their own way with it's leaves. How cool is that??
The trail plant is a perennial that regenerates each year, forming what appears to be a low hovering mat of leaves in the shadowed areas under trees and along fallen logs or trails. Their big leaves allow moisture to collect under them along the forest floor and duff which helps to decompose organic matter. In addition to their leaves, there is a single slender stem that shoots up to about three feet tall that extends out to tiny white flowers that make their appearance from June to September. The tiny fruit that grows at the end of the stem have tiny hairs that cling to pant legs to be transported through the forests.
The Spring weather has been PERFECT to make for a memorable and incredible tour this Memorial Day Weekend. Our Stornetta Tour offers a very peaceful and special area where one can reflect on the honor and sacrifice of those that served to protect us. Please see our Stornetta Tour details below. In addition to a memorable tour there are many things to do in our local area this weekend. Here are some of our top picks for things this to do during the holiday weekend:
AND, OF COURSE … wonderful walk in nature with a knowledgable guide that can show you all the best spots for a memorable and ever lasting experience! Book your Stornetta Tour TODAY with the Unbeaten Path.
YOU, TOO! Can be a part of our highly valued customer testimonials. Take a tour and see for yourself! Visit our Hiking Tours Page for more testimonials!
STORNETTA LANDS TOUR
(voted a top destination to visit in the world by New Your Times!)
Located just north of Bowling Ball Beach and the town of Point Arena in Mendocino County, Stornetta is a very special place abundant in significant natural resources, including important wildlife habitats, several riparian corridors, extensive wetlands, cypress groves, meadows and sand dunes. WOW! The coastal cliffs and sea stacks (as shown in picture below) make for great photography and breathtaking views! View seals, whales, sea birds and more! A wonderful and protected environment we are very fortunate visit!
See our Hiking Tours page to view more details about this very special hiking tour! Get your boots on because this is a must see!
Today I celebrate our dearest love of a pug, Mr. Knuckles - my little harlequin eyes! He will have lived a mere 9 years and 3 months but his life was mighty. We will help this loving lunk of a pug pass to the heavens today and I am and will be forever grateful to the Gods that brought this incredible creature into our life. He was always happy, devoted, giving of hugs, a worry wort and always so loving.
I thank you, Knuckles, from the bottom of my heart for always taking the time to show dinner guests a pair of my undergarments that you snatched from the laundry bin - always sure to remind me never to be too proud! You helped me be REAL!
We will miss your kisses, hugs and the way you would mouth our hands when we came home after a long day… your mouth hugs will forever be missed. Thank you for protecting your sister, Bubble. She always did look up to you.
Our sadness is selfish because you gave us so much happiness. All we can give you in return is our loving embrace while you pass peacefully in our arms.
Madge Malone in her blogging zone!