Gary Hanauer says this one (above) is a "male Anna's hummingbird—a common, year-round resident in California, and the only type of Western hummer with a song (squeaky, metallic-sounding). The females don't sing."
Dan Underhill reports from East Sharp Park: "The coyotes were carrying on at a great rate up on Milagra Ridge tonight. I like hearing them, but small dogs need to not be off leash up there. Just a reminder to those with small dogs." Other Pacificans are hearing coyote songs at night from all the ridges up and down this town of hills and valleys.
19:24 SPCA Case 140207199 Occurred at Fassler Av/Roberts Rd, Pacifica. MOUNTAIN LION SIGHTING // SB ON FASSLER // PER COUNTY, THEY WILL NOT RESPOND UNLESS PPD INVESTIGATES THE SIGHTING FIRST Disposition: Gone On Arrival As reported to the Pacifica PD
Why did the chicken cross the road? Why, to get on Pacifica Riptide, of course.
"There's a lost chicken in our front yard. It's been around since at least last night. It appears to have some of its back feathers torn out. The feral cats are intimidated by it. Anybody lose a chicken?" (Rockaway Beach news item posted by Peter Loeb @ nextdoor.com and forwarded by Alan Wald)
Peter updates us now: "Through NextDoor, I discovered that there are several people in the Rockaway valley who have chickens, but all of them counted their chickens and none were missing. I contacted one of the chicken-keepers, and she and her neighbors came down to catch the chicken. They called themselves the Chicken Whisperers. The chicken went to a good chicken foster home, but we never did find the owner of a lost chicken. If anybody is still missing a chicken, I know where it is."
(Posted by John Maybury, Pacifica Riptide, Pacifica, California)
Paul Donahue writes: "The Wavecrest fields in Half Moon Bay support a large wintering population of raptors. I saw white-tailed kites, northern harriers, and Cooper's hawks, but this immature red-shouldered hawk (above) was the only raptor that cooperated. Several killdeer (below) were around the parking area."
Ochre sea star is the species of starfish that used to be common in the rocky intertidal zone around Pacifica. Despite their English name, these starfish come in a range of colors: ochre, lavender, orange, brick red.
In the vertical stratification of intertidal invertebrates along the rocky shore, these sea stars are normally found in the zone just below the band of California mussels. As the sea stars prey heavily on the mussels, their vertical distribution more or less defines the lower limit of the band of mussels.
Ochre sea stars used to be so common that at this time of year, several wintering glaucous-winged gulls specialized in feeding on them, spending most of their day seeking them out and then trying to swallow them.
Recently, a mysterious starfish die-off has hit many areas along the West Coast of North America, from Alaska to Southern California, killing ochre sea stars as well as other species. The die-off is caused by something called sea star wasting syndrome, but the pathogen causing this wasting and die-off is still unknown.
As I had not seen any reports from the Pacifica area, I took advantage of low tide December 5 to walk around the rocky shore of Rockaway Headland to see if our local ochre sea stars have been impacted by the mysterious die-off.
Unfortunately, I found that they have. I checked many large rocks that I know used to be covered with dozens and dozens of these starfish, but despite searching along a couple of hundred meters of shoreline, I was unable to find a single sea star.
The top photo (above) shows what it used to look like, with ochre sea stars crowded along the lower edge of the band of California mussels. This photo was taken two years ago. The bottom photo was taken December 5, 2013 in the same general area. The lower edge of the band of California mussels is still well defined, showing where the sea stars used to be, but not a single sea star is to be seen anywhere.
State Senate Bill 132, a mountain lion public safety bill introduced by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo/Santa Clara), takes effect New Year’s Day 2014. The legislation authorizes the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to use only nonlethal procedures when responding to reports of mountain lions near residences when the wild cats do not involve an imminent threat to human life. It also authorizes the department to partner with wildlife groups and nonprofits to resolve these situations.
Senator Hill introduced SB 132 after two mountain lion cubs were fatally shot on December 1, 2012, in Half Moon Bay. State game wardens and San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies were unable to shoo the cubs from the neighborhood to nearby Burleigh Murray Ranch State Park, and regulations did not permit officers to pursue other options.
Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) officials initially said the female siblings weighed 25 to 30 pounds. But necropsies showed they were only about 4 months old, weighed 13 to 14 pounds, and were starving and unlikely to survive in the wild without their mother.
The incident in Half Moon Bay and another mountain lion shooting in Redwood City in 2011 were unfortunate examples of the lack of flexibility in regulations pertaining to DFW’s response when mountain lions venture into populated areas
SB 132, signed by Governor Brown on September 6, provides DFW with additional resources to deal with wayward mountain lions. Coauthored by Assemblymen Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) and Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco), the bill also requires that nonlethal procedures be used when DFW responds to a mountain lion that has not been designated as an imminent threat to public health or safety.
Among the options included in “nonlethal procedures” are capturing, pursuing, anesthetizing, marking, transporting, hazing, releasing, providing veterinary care to, and rehabilitating mountain lions.
“SB 132 strikes the right balance when protecting humans and wildlife,” Hill says. “Wardens still have the ability to kill mountain lions when the public is at risk. But this legislation gives wardens the flexibility and resources to better deal with the increasing number of mountain lion encounters throughout the state.”
Hill’s legislation allows DFW to partner with wildlife rescue and rehabilitation groups, veterinarians, zoos, colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations throughout the state that have the capability and experience to assist with mountain lion incidents.
Peninsula Humane Society, for example, rescues and rehabilitates injured and orphaned wildlife. Last year, the organization saved 1,450 wild animals in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties.