Sanderlings pictured at Pacifica State Beach (above) have just arrived from the Arctic tundra, where they breed during the summer. Desperately tired and hungry after their 2,000-mile journey, they settle on the sand and follow the waves in and out, digging for sand crabs that make up most of their diet. Any off-leash dog chasing them relentlessly, as did this husky mix on a recent Friday afternoon, cuts down on their chances for survival. To help reverse the serious decline in shorebird populations, we humans can extend our seasonal goodwill to all species sharing the beach with us and let them rest and feed in peace.
A mountain lion was reported 100 feet from the 1000 block of San Carlos Avenue in El Granada. The animal was seen December 23 at approximately 5:20 p.m. in open space, but it retreated toward a more rural area. Sheriff's deputies responded and conducted an area check but were unable to locate the animal. Use caution. Here are some important safety tips for you to remember regarding mountain lions. While it would be rare for a mountain lion to approach humans, you can follow a few simple rules to keep yourself and your family safe:
• Do not feed deer. It is illegal in California and it will attract mountain lions.
• If you see a mountain lion, DO NOT APPROACH IT, especially one that is feeding or with offspring. Most mountain lions will try to avoid confrontation.
• Avoid hiking or jogging through wooded areas when mountain lions are most active—dawn, dusk, or at night.
• Keep a close watch on small children when hiking or traveling in or about wooded areas.
• If you encounter a mountain lion, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms and opening your jacket wide; throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.
• Keep all pets and pet food INDOORS at night. Even the largest domesticated dogs and cats can be prey for a mountain lion.
• For more information about mountain lions: www.keepmewild.org
Become a San Francisco Bay ACS Chapter Naturalist! February 4, 2016 naturalist classes are now taking sign-ups. Classes fill very quickly, so be sure to sign up right away by emailing Lynette R. Koftinow at email@example.com. Sponsored by San Francisco Bay Chapter, American Cetacean Society:
Stephen Ludwig writes: "I bought two pairs (both sizes) of Gophinators in 2009. The device basically chokes them (most, sometimes only a leg gets caught and you have to knock them dead). The only downside is that you have to learn how to set the trap, which requires hand strength to set the spring action. I've never hurt myself or other animals; you have to set it into the earth and I put a metal stake in front of any semi-open hole. Sometimes the cats will beat me to the trap and haul it all away (somewhere else I can recover it) so they can eat in peace. The cats have also helped me pinpoint activity. It may seem cruel, but so are poisons. I live at the edge of a large hillside, so the supply of gophers seemed endless at first. As soon as I got rid of one, another would inherit the tunnels. If they escape the trap, they learn and become harder to catch (sometimes up to 10 trials). My first two years I lost count after killing 50 (a year) and now it's only less than 10 a year. I don't kill the moles. I never wanted to get into this but I had to do something. Watch and learn on YouTube; search for Stephen Albano. His website and store:
Valerie Frizzell from Vallemar posted on NextDoor neighborhood forum: "I just want to make sure that everyone understands that there is a link between the coyote sightings and missing cats. Not all cats stay gone; we have noticed some are making it back home, so there is hope. It is possible that the cats that make it home were chased by the coyotes, managed to escape them and eventually found their way back home. Due to drought, coyotes are hunting cats more now than ever, nightly in all neighborhoods. I am advising that everyone either keep cats in or allow them out only between 10 a.m. or later and dusk if they are able to run fast, hide, or fend off coyotes. This is to alert anyone who has not heard about what is happening with the coyotes or seen them in their neighborhood yet. We want to save as many cats as possible during this drought. I know many people are still unaware that Pacifica and many other areas are not safe for cats outdoors as it used to be; please let everyone know ASAP. Thank you!"
Butterflies were flying this week in our garden on Milagra Ridge. Swallowtails (top three on Jupiter's beard) and monarchs (bottom two on butterfly bush) took center stage. Monarchs in particular have declined in numbers due to habitat loss and GMO-related causes. Planting milkweed and nectar-producing plants helps them during migration. (Leo Leon photos)