Sunday, January 31, 2016

“The river country “      February 2016    updating Local Bay Area Wildlife photographs (All recent)
          We are finally getting the rain fall everyone wanted, hope it keeps going as long as possible. Creeks are full and mother lode lakes are filling quickly. Snow pack over 100 percent of normal for this time of year but we need much more. These are good times at this moment and our area wildlife is sure to benefit from all this rain.

           I have become attached to the Delta river areas in eastern Contra Costa simply because there are so many diverse species that can be viewed daily. Large raptors, geese, otters, sea lions and many others move back and forth through the areas between these recent rain storms. Sharing a few photographs of some of the action I have witnessed.  A couple of this month’s photos were taken inland in San Ramon and in the Livermore foothill areas (cedar waxwings and bobcat). Black phoebe pictured in Oakley, and is sort of a roommate as their nest is attached to the side of our house.
  River otter and sea lion sightings have increased on the rivers and sloughs this year for me; I followed one river otter swimming parallel along a levee road for a time, noticing the way the playful critter surfaced about every fifty yards or so. Finally positioned myself with sun at back where I thought it might come up.  A pleasant surprise when it surfaced, and I had no idea it would come up with a... 

(See below)   

Chasing many non-curious ferruginous hawks this winter, oh there’s plenty out there, but getting close has been a real challenge. The color phases are incredible; who designs this stuff? I put together a twenty picture slide show on the website for those interested in observing. Many of these have not been shown on this site before…

Hope you enjoy the photos…

cedar waxwings

river otter / largemouth bass


golden eagle


ferruginous hawk / dark phased

ferruginous hawk

river otter / largemouth bass

black phoebe

ferruginous hawk

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

“Eyes of the Predator” Bay area local wildlife January 2016

Sometimes it’s all in the eyes… Updated Bay Area Wildlife photos.

Raptors, coyote, bobcats, sea lion, river otter hunting in our bay area…
Happy New Year, and hope everyone is having the best of holidays
Male Northern Harrier



Red tailed hawk

Sea lion / Largemouth bass

Male Northern harrier

River otter / Green sunfish


Red tailed hawk

Coopers hawk
Thanks everyone for the interest !

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Catlins Creed    December 2015

    In honor of Native American Heritage month of November I wanted to recommend my favorite Native American books from George Catlin (adventurer / artist / author) written in 1844. See down below the photos. 
A great Turkey Vulture story by Maggie Rufo (Volunteer with RATS and The hungry owl project)

 Also I am thankful for those great people out there dedicated to wildlife who deserve another mention,

Please take a look at;

American Bittern

Northern Harrier

Red Tailed Hawk

Golden Eagle

Rock Wren

Ferruginous Hawk

Northern Harrier

Red Legged Frog

Golden Eagle

Northern Flicker

“Catlins Creed” An American Indian story     

             George Catlin wrote two volumes (two complete books) titled “Letters and notes on the manners, customs and conditions of North American Indians”. From 1832 to 1839 Catlin ventured among the Indians of North American Plains (48 tribes visited in the eight years of his adventure) during a time when they were enjoying their last years of freedom and dignity on their own land. During this time he visited, studied and documented his accounts of many native North American tribes. Catlin was an adventurer and thankfully a self-taught artist who provided a unique perspective into the times most of us know little about. His drawings, paintings and stories along the way provided a realistic “dances with wolves” adventure through the buffalo country during the horse culture years. Catlin includes his experiences with buffalo, wolves, grizzly bears and the “war eagle” an Indian name for the Western Golden Eagle.  Catlin was with one of the first columns of the cavalry who met the Comanche in their own country in the south west. The powerful Comanche’s were described in a long line of armed warrior horsemen far out numbering the visitors. He described the scene eloquently noting Spanish defectors mixed among the Comanche’s on horseback. The Calvary had come to locate a kidnapped boy believed to be with the Comanche or Kiowa. Concerned with communication issues and language barriers, the soldiers were surprised to find a black man who spoke perfect English.  This man and other blacks from the east have joined the Comanche living free to gather honor and respect from a society who held no prejudice. Comanche’s, Catlin noted, rode one horse and had their favorite horse on a leash for the possibility of extended ventures on the plains.

Catlin also visited the Mandan tribe prior to their demise. It was here he painted a paled skinned blonde woman who was Mandan. (Mint-Email photo) He noted others within this tribe with light colored hair and skin, hazel and blue eyes. He spoke of the brave, fierce honorable warriors dressed in spectacular fashion with cougar of bear skins, eagle feathers and war paint on their faces.  He also told of men who would not fight, assisted the women and wore the skins of docile small animals such as otters and mink. They were clean handsome well-dressed men though were not allowed by the tribe to be painted by Catlin. This older Indian tribe vanished within about five years of Catlin’s visit due to a small pox epidemic.

Of the Northern Cheyenne Catlin stated “there is no finer race of men than these in North America, and none superior in stature, excepting the Osages, stating the average Cheyenne man were over six feet tall.”  

     George Catlin, who lived for eight years among the Native American tribes, was quoted in 1841 “All history of the subject goes to prove that, when first visited by civilized people, the American Indians have been found friendly and hospitable- from the days of Christopher Columbus to the Lewis and Clark expedition”…and so also have a great many other travelers, including myself. Catlin goes on, “Nowhere to my knowledge, have they stolen a six-pense worth of my property, though in their country there are no laws to punish for theft. I have visited forty-eight different tribes, and I feel authorized to say the North American Indian in his native state is honest, faithful, brave… and an honorable and religious being.”

Copied below is Catlin’s Creed from Ed McGaa’s outstanding book “Native Wisdom”

 Catlins Creed:           by George Catlin
I love a people who have always made me welcome to the best they had.
I love a people who are honest without laws, who have no jails and no poorhouses.
I love a people who keep the commandments without ever having read them or heard them preached from a pulpit.
 love a people who never swear, who never take the name of God in vain.
I love a people who love their neighbors as they love themselves.
I love a people who worship God without a bible; for I believe God loves them also.
I love a people whose religion is all the same, and who are free from religious animosities. 
I love a people who have never raised a hand against me, or stolen my property, where there was no law to punish for either.
I love a people who have never fought a battle with white men, except on their own ground.
I love and don’t fear mankind Where God has made and left them, for there they are children.
I love a people who live and keep what is their own without locks and keys.
I love all people who do the best they can.
And oh, how I love a people who don’t live for the love of money.
            When his journey was over he met his wife in New Orleans. He arrived with his small canoe type boat he utilized during the eight years of travel to navigate through the many rivers and lakes to meet the native tribes. The Natives stored and carried his boat for him at times.
             In his first night in New Orleans back among his countrymen with his journey now completed, Catlin’s canoe was stolen.   

Sunday, November 1, 2015

“Anna’s Fury”   November 2015

Featuring recent wildlife photos taken here in the bay area. Anna’s hummingbirds are prevalent in all areas of the bay area. In the springtime they are vulnerable to predators while nesting and raising their young. Once late summer comes around they are top dogs harassing everything from large mammals to birds of prey, and most notably each other.  Watching them at the South end of Los Vaqueros reservoir can be at times concerning based on the sheer numbers of hummers racing thru the skies. This is in part generated from well-designed landscaping highlighted by a myriad of hummingbird preferred plants generating numerous birds buzzing in all directions. Girls chasing boys, boy’s chasing girls, some defending territory, some invading territory, some bee lining towards the hills, others returning, some taking breaks in the trees, others bolting out after a buddy or foe.  Who knows what all this is about?  All the while maneuvering thru the air much like fighter pilots chasing each other while dodging trees, fences and humans. They are without a doubt the masters of multi-tasking. 

The photos of the hummers don’t tell the story, but show a few of the culprits up close. Other wild animals pictured in our bay area, a few leftovers from earlier encounters.


Great horned owl

Blue heron / Perch

Red tailed hawk



Tule elk


Black tailed male

P.S. The perch got away...
Thanks, Dave Harper

Monday, October 5, 2015

“Season of the Warrior” October 2015 Bay Area local wildlife

                                I was able to capture photos of the Black tail deer and Tule elk rut season. Establishing their harems of females and fighting off challengers enables the species to breed with the strongest of genes intact. In the Tule elk reserve at Tamales bay near Point Reyes this means defending from 10 to 20 or more females. Despite some bad lighting in a few of these photos, I was able to capture two separate leaders and some of their ladies. The bugling sounds from the male fill the sky this time of year. Any others attempting to gain access close to the group is taking their lives in their own hands. (Including humans, and I was warned years ago by game wardens) It’s amazing to witness this reserve, I would recommend any interested to take a day trip at to Tamales bay and enjoy the views. There are also photos of the some of the others living among the country of the warriors…

   Wanted to give a thumbs up to R.A.T.S (Raptors Are The Solution) who had their open house last week. I had a great time meeting all the outstanding people behind the scenes who are making the world aware of the hazards of using rat poisons. They are a selfless group interested in preserving our wildlife. Please check out their website to see the accomplishments, challenges and educational information relating to protecting wild animals including Raptors.

P.S. I have changed the higheagle website slide show to “Summer of Swains” a fast forward look at the mighty swainson hawks who have returned down south by now for winter. Please click the link and adjust slightly for the photos…