Sunday, November 27, 2016

                       BAY AREA LOCAL WILDLIFE DECEMBER 2016
The Bay Area is home for a decent number of golden eagles. Featuring flight shots of the eagles and some of the other characters which inhabit the same country. This round includes some close ups of other predatory adversaries known to be here. Fall and winter is an excellent time to view eagles and others in the lower hills and meadows.  
  
These are some of the tendencies I have have noticed over the years about the golden eagle; 
Many people never get a close look at the golden. These birds are shy, never curious, and make it a point to keep at great distances from people. They prefer remote mountain or foothill areas, open grass lands, and edges of forested areas. Having said that, There are times when I have seen them over cities and highways. These are rare occasions  in comparison to most other raptors.

These large raptors require a lot of open country to hunt, giving them the ability to cut down prey unable to get into high brush or forested structure for cover. They are formidable fliers for their size, and are tough ground fighters, at times running short distances to complete take downs.

What gives the golden away when identifying them in the field is their sheer size and the slow wing beats when in flight. Usually, unlike the vultures, eagles are steady in flight, many times on flat wings, not the visual "V"shape in air the vultures display. If you get close there is little doubt.

Golden eagle in Byron

Bobcat @ Los Vaqueros Watershed

Ferruginous Hawk east CC County

Golden Eagle Diablo Range

Black Tail Buck @ Los Vaqueros Watershed

Red Fox Eastern CC County

Female Osprey @ Los Vaqueros Watershed

Male Northern Harrier eastern CC County

Ferruginous Hawk N/O Bethel Island

War Eagle
Some of the early Native plains indians called them the war eagle. Sometimes they preform airal power dives. Get so high they are litterally out of sight, form themselves into the shape of an arrow and dive. At times over one hundred miles per hour after prey below, or maybe just to mess with a family member.  

Sunday, October 30, 2016

November 2016 Updating Bay Area Wildlife photographs

            Our fall season is upon us with welcome rainfall and cooler tempatures. Its migratory time as well for many bird species, its a special time to get out and enjoy natures sutle color and lighting changes. In the raptor world, The ferruginous hawks will be along soon. Already, I have captured one below about two weeks after the swainson hawks cleared out to return South.. "Nature has a way of keeping our bay area interesting in many different ways".
The black tail deer are now in their rut season, I will continue to chase. Just can't get the monster buck I know is out there, perhaps by next month...

Update on the burrowing owl front, this information was put out by the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society, thought I would share the information. Along with the spring discing practice in eastern Contra Costa, this is another issue the burrowing owls are dealing with... see below
Anna's hummingbird. Slowing turning my yard into wildlife habitat in Oakley...
Kestrel taken in Knightsen


First ferruginous in Byron

Black tail buck @ Los Vaqueros South end Alameda CO.

Red tail in CC County

burrowing owl in Brentwood.

Coyote in Lafayette hills.

natures air force dragon fly going after mosquito's to set things right...

Red tail Eastern CC County...

Northern Harrier, bad sun angle I realize, but they are amazing... along with golden eagles, these are the least curious creatures to capture. Always avoid us humans, once in awhile they slip up...
R.A.T.S (Raptors Are The Solution) and myself  have a soft spot for burrowing owls. These great little animals are under siege, being evicted from their burrows for development in California. If you can spare a minute to contact Governor Jerry Brown at 916/445-2841 and or write a letter expressing your thoughts, please do so. A sample letter from the Burrowing Owl Preservation Society, one of our partner groups, is copied below (you can just cut and paste).
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 445-2841
Call to Action
Stop Evicting burrowing owls from their shelters
Burrowing owls are dependent on burrows for survival at all times of year. Burrowing owls use burrows for nesting, roosting, protection from extreme weather, and to evade predators. Yet, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) routinely allows owls to be evicted from their burrows.
CDFW calls this practice “passive relocation”. When development is planned on land where owls are living, CDFW allows biologists (hired by developers) to install one-way doors in burrow openings. After an owl exits a burrow, it cannot get back in to its shelter. One-way doors are placed on, not only the occupied burrows, but every available burrow on the project site. There are no burrows for the owl to use. “Passive relocation” is eviction. Evicting owls is inhumane.
Evictions continue despite CDFW acknowledgement that owls are likely harmed when they are evicted. CDFW’s 2012 Staff Report on Burrowing Owl Mitigation (Staff Report )contains a section titled “Burrow Exclusion and Closure” describing what happens to evicted owls: “Eviction of burrowing owls is a potentially significant impact under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act)… The long-term demographic consequences of these techniques have not been thoroughly evaluated, and the fate of evicted or excluded burrowing owls has not been systematically studied. Because burrowing owls are dependent on burrows at all times of the year for survival and/or reproduction, evicting them from nesting, roosting, and satellite burrows may lead to indirect impacts or take. Temporary or permanent closure of burrows may result in significant loss of burrows and habitat for reproduction and other life history requirements. Depending on the proximity and availability of alternate habitat, loss of access to burrows will likely result in varying levels of increased stress on burrowing owls and could depress reproduction, increase predation, increase energetic costs, and introduce risks posed by having to find and compete for available burrows.”
What’s more, burrow exclusion and closure violates California Code of Regulations 14 CCR § 251.1 § 251.1.Harassment of Animals. “Except as otherwise authorized in these regulations or in the Fish and Game Code, no person shall harass, herd or drive any game or nongame bird or mammal or furbearing mammal. For the purposes of this section, harass is defined as an intentional act which disrupts an animal's normal behavior patterns, which includes, but is not limited to, breeding, feeding or sheltering.”
Further, CDFW does not know how often or how many owls are evicted. CDFW admits they are unable to review all CEQA documents. The CEQA biological assessment would identify owls on a development site which are destined to be evicted. CDFW approves evictions without requiring the evicted owls be banded or monitored or that the biologist evicting owls is qualified.
Multiple data sources (including the Institute for Bird Populations’ 1990- 1993 and 2006-2007 state wide censuses) over decades have consistently demonstrated the burrowing owl population continues to decline. It is our opinion that evictions allowed by CDFW have contributed to this decline.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

October 2016 Bay Area Local Wildlife "Point Reyes Tule Elk in trouble between ranchers and conservationists" I returned to Point Reyes and could not locate nearly as many elk as I have in the past. Once home, I found this link on line...
Hopefully, these issues will be settled soon. For wildlife Point Reyes is still worth the long ride. The roads out there need maintenance in a bad way. They are in terrible condition as well as being narrow. On weekends there are many bicyclists, be careful and patient.  In my trip to Point Reyes I saw  Elk, Whales spotted from South beach area, coyotes, deer and many birds of prey. Photos really did not work out so well as bad lighting, terrible angles and perhaps slow reactions on my part contributed. But that's what I love about nature photography, "you can not set up anything," you can only react to what they will allow." Makes me respect them more...
*Cropped photo above was taken on Oct. 1st. Close as I could get to the only heard I could find.

Back to other bay area animals viewed recently in our bay area, starting with the eyes of the osprey.
Osprey taken at Los Vaqueros Alameda end of reservoir.

Carpenter bee on Passion vine in Brentwood. Thanks Michael for pointing out" That's not a bumble bee, that bee is covered in pollen."  

Gold finch at San Pablo reservoir

White tailed kite in Oakley

Osprey taken at Clifton Ct. Byron

Black tail youngster at Point Reyes

Golden eagle in eastern CC County

Swainson hawk (youngster) from the group I watch in Byron area. Have a good flight south buddy!

Black tail youngster in the Alhambra Valley area W/O Martinez

Gulf Fritillary butterfly. Always wanted a photo of this never landing butterfly in my yard. Finally found the motherlode at a 300 ft. out of control passion vine on a cyclone fence in Brentwood. As they swarmed in the hundreds, one landed on a plant away from the passion vine...  

Sunday, September 4, 2016


“High and Dry times” September 2016 Updated wildlife photos from the Bay Area.

Goodbye to the Swains! Up high to fly south soon, our dry hills now golden as we wait for rain.

A tale of two red tails featured in profile photos. The first is a youngster who flew right up to me as I was taken pictures of a northern harrier way out there who had no interest in coming close. Youngster had no problem with me standing next her or him, maybe because he found me. I don’t know to be honest.

    The fourth photo is of another red tail mentioned earlier in this blog. This was a grizzled old timer who refused to fear anyone anymore. Soiled wing tips from dragging on the ground, gray around the eyes and a beak that had seen younger days. As I stood next to him or her, it dove a couple times for mice and even landed on my car. I called animal control upon finding this bird, though quickly realizing this was just an old timer living out the end of its life cycle. The animal control officer and I both took photos before leaving the bird alone. The Ironic part of the story is that both experiences took place in the same area near Byron Airfield in eastern CC County…
Red tailed hawk youngster

Western burrowing owls This picture a different look from an older shoot. I haven't been able to find larger colonies like I used to...
This group was part of a Brentwood colony no longer there. Hopefully moved to a safer location.  

Black tail buck. Don't like the back ground, though I went with it anyway. Love these big guys, this one behind a barn near Camino Tassajara...

Red tail hawk Old timer taken in 2008 or so...

Western Pond turtle
"Last time I fall asleep on high tide"

Bobcat Another from an older shoot on Morgan Territory.

Swainson hawk youngster. Funny with the swains, eyes visible and clear when young, turn very dark and deep set when older. Guess good sunglasses are required for that migration...

Red fox crossed Vasco in front of me during busy traffic, we both took a chance as I shouldn't stop on that highway. The fox made it safely back across and headed for the hills.

Swainson adult near my home in Oakley. Followed this one for years, still she screamed vehemently...

Western coyote,
nothing better than a happy song dog on the trail...

Monday, August 1, 2016


Bay Area Local Wildlife photos August 2016

        Updated wildlife pictures with photos of animals taken here in our Bay Area.  Lately, I have had some luck crossing paths with a few coyotes in the North Los Vaqueros watershed and Marsh Creek areas. They roam the dry hills and canyons during daylight hours hunting the elusive ground squirrels. The numerous little runners were not born yesterday; they possess audible alarm calls and amazing team survival skills. Yet there are youngsters in the field, and songs dogs know it. I have always respected the Song dog. Attitudes these days are slowly changing thanks to expanding knowledge of wildlife and groups like project coyote…


            Coyotes are listed as a varmint, many humans have little respect. Coyotes are aware the only way to deal with us is to change locations, avoid battle and utilize the ability to cut and run. I honestly believe thru my experiences, and with many conversations with area ranchers, coyote caused damage among livestock tend to be over rated,  I believe their benefit as rodent control out ways the harm they cause.  

     The coyote is as wild and beautiful as this rugged country before him and it could not be the same without him. The increased watershed and park lands have assisted the coyote by providing safe lands to hunt and raise their young without being constantly used for target practice…  

Repeating an old Lakota Sioux proverb,

“The Buffalo will disappear, then man shall be gone and there will be total darkness. And in that darkness the unmistakable call of the song dog will be heard.”   
 
American Kestrel

White Pelican

Red Fox

Western Coyotes

Anna's hummingbird

Western Coyote

Western Burrowing owl

Red Tailed Hawk

Red Fox- new look from an older shoot

Western Coyote