Previous month:
May 2012
Next month:
July 2012

June 2012

Bay Nature Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Point Reyes National Seashore

What's so special about herds of tule elk, blooming carpets of goldfields, wide-open sandy beaches, colonies of breeding harbor seals, thick forests of bishop pine, and dramatic granitic headlands? They are several of the natural features at the Bay Area's most popular wilderness park, Point Reyes National Seashore, born 50 years ago with a signature from the pen of President John F. Kennedy.

Bay Nature Institute celebrates this milestone with the publication of Crowning Glories: Celebrating the Landscapes of Point Reyes, a 16-page insert in the July-September issue of Bay Nature magazine. The publication offers a unique introduction to the signature landscapes of this "island in time" on the western edge of the Bay Area, just an hour from downtown San Francisco.

Some of the Bay Area's most talented nature writers are assembled here, including award-winning natural science writer David Rains Wallace, Native American author Greg Sarris, naturalist (and Bay Nature blogger) Jules Evens, and naturalist and comedian Claire Peaslee. These writers pay homage to the biological richness of Drakes Estero and the raw beauty of the Outer Coast; share the tale of a Miwok outlaw whose ghost still haunts Tomales Point; and discover the subtle beauty of coastal scrub. Crowning Glories also features a centerfold map depicting the major habitats of Point Reyes, along with recommended hikes for exploring them.

"Crowning Glories" was produced with support from the Jiji Foundation and the Point Reyes National Seashore Association, and is being produced and distributed in partnership with the National Park Service. Other feature stories in the 72-page July-September issue of Bay Nature include:

Bohemia Ranch Goes Public—Sonoma's People-Powered Park: Read how a local landowner, two land trusts, and the local community came together over the course of two decades to preserve this beautiful and botanically significant Sonoma County gem.

Taming the Flames: Veteran Bay Area TV broadcaster (and park volunteer) Wendy Tokuda explores the East Bay Regional Park District's ambitious -- and controversial -- new plan to fight fire with fire to prevent a replay of the 1991 Oakland Fire.

The River Through Time: A tantalizing look at the past, present, and future of the Napa River, as unearthed by historical ecologist Robin Grossinger for his new book Napa River Historical Ecology Atlas.

Lessons From Mount Hamilton: New research done in the shadow of the highest peak around the Bay is teaching us how climate change is impacting our natural ecosystems and what we can do to help them adapt. Get the story from veteran environmental writer Glen Martin in the third in our "Dispatches from the Home Front" series on climate change in the Bay Area.

An Ecotopian Life: In one of the last interviews given before his death in April, noted Bay Area environmental pioneer and author Ernest "Chick" Callenbach talks about the genesis of his ecological worldview.

Cuckoo Wasps: The buzz on a gorgeous parasite.

Geometry in Nature: How to get kids excited about learning angles and shapes. Get them outside exploring the patterns in nature!

Launched in January 2001, Bay Nature is a full-color quarterly magazine dedicated to the informed and joyful exploration of the natural world of the Bay Area. It is available both by subscription and at bookstores, newsstands, and park visitor centers throughout the Bay Area. For more information, visit

Snowy Plovers Nest on Pescadero Beach South of Pacifica



For the first time in more than 20 years, endangered snowy plovers have nested on Pescadero State Beach, about 45 minutes south of Pacifica. Volunteers are monitoring and guarding the birds (one adult male and three chicks) with high hopes that the chicks will survive beachgoers and ravens, and make it to fledging age.

We went down to check them out on Saturday afternoon. These photo are the best I could do without stressing the birds. The male, a color-banded bird (RA-RO), was super vigilant, standing in a very alert position, giving alarm calls whenever gulls or ravens passed overhead. I like the photo of the chick at the end of the log, with its black eye, bill, and neck marking mimicking the dark chinks in the log. Its sand-colored back just disappears into the sand.

Paul Donahue

Sanchez Dog Park

It’s great to see dogs and their owners playing and having fun at the new Sanchez Dog Park in Linda Mar. If you go there, be sure to pick up a copy of the Dog Park Rules of Conduct and Etiquette. For more information, visit Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to sunset. Woof! Woof!

Wildflowers of San Pedro Valley Park

San Pedro Valley Park volunteers have produced a beautiful full-color brochure of the 35 varieties of wildflowers that grow in the 1,150-acre county park. The photographs are accompanied by the flowers’ English and Latin names, growing seasons, sizes, and park locations. The park is two miles inland from Linda Mar State Beach. San Pedro Creek’s middle and south forks run year-round through the park, fed by springs and approximately 28 inches of winter rain, plus coastal fog in the summer. The creek supports a population of steelhead trout, and the park itself is home to hawks, owls, bobcats, coyotes, deer, and other fauna. Flora include Coast live oak woodland, coastal scrub, maritime chaparral, riparian woodland, grassland meadows, and non-native bluegum eucalyptus trees. Wildflower brochures are available at the park visitor center.

Aviation News from Evan

I have some new stuff to share, but first I have sad news to report. My friend Burt Newmark passed away June 11. I'll always remember Burt as a great guy with lots of stories and a lot of fun to be with. You can read my interview with him here:

I have two new airshow reviews with photos:

My dad has been really busy with doing videos. He spent a week at the Reno Pylon Racing Seminar with cameras on race planes. Check out these videos!

He also did a new edit of the pinup girls!


Surf's Up: Pacifica Welcomes the New Surf Spot Restaurant

Pacifica signmaker Todd Bray created this beauty to adorn the new Surf Spot restaurant in Rockaway Beach near Sea Bowl. Business is booming at Pacifica's newest eatery. “The Surf Spot has darn good chili, though the serving size is a bit skimpy. I mean, come on, it’s just chili, so supersize, please. And be sure to ask for onions and cheese on top,” says Pacifica Riptide food critic Juan Mayburrito.

Summertime and the Living Is Easy

Red-shouldered hawk perched at the edge of the marsh right by our house. This species is one of the most common raptors in the Pacifica area, nesting in eucalyptus trees.
Black oystercatcher is one of a pair nesting on a sea stack off Rockaway Headland. It was standing guard on the mainland shore when we found it. Though the offshore nest is inaccessible to land mammals like me, in typical oystercatcher fashion, the bird tried to lure me away, squatting down like it was sitting on a nest. After this photo session, the bird flew back out to the sea stack to rejoin its mate and their two downy young.
Seed pods of Nuttall's milk vetch, a plant of very exposed, seaward-facing slopes on the headland.
Dramatic lighting at sunset atop Rockaway Headland.

Paul Donahue

Pacifica Photographer Erik Piro Runner-Up in Santa Cruz Contest

Participants in the Santa Cruz County Visitors Council’s “Cruziest” photo contest showed they know how to “cruz” with a camera. The contest, which ran from May 1 to May 20, asked entrants to upload the photo that they thought depicts the essence of Santa Cruz in a single shot. Three winners were chosen, two by popular vote and one editor’s choice, and will receive vacation prize packages to visit Santa Cruz, California’s favorite beachside destination.
Second-place winner Erik Piro of Pacifica won with a photo (above) taken on Main Beach.  The shot features volleyball enthusiasts enjoying a day on the courts in the sun, with the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf in the background. Piro’s photo earned him a two-night stay at the Comfort Inn Santa Cruz, four all-day Beach Boardwalk passes, and a gift certificate for Capitola Village.
The Santa Cruz County Visitors Council is hosting another photo contest that asks participants to enter the photo that best depicts their perfect summer. The “Perfect Summer” photo contest accepts submissions until Saturday, June 30, and voting continues through July 8. For more information about the photo contests, or to enter, visit

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Expands Critical Habitat for Snowy Plover

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on June 18 designated approximately 24,527 acres of coastal habitat in Washington, Oregon, and California as critical habitat for the Pacific Coast population of the western snowy plover, a small shorebird protected as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The designation revises USFWS's 2005 critical habitat designation for the species.

Designated critical habitat includes unique and increasingly rare coastal beach-dune ecosystem habitat along the Pacific Coast essential to the survival and recovery of the plover. The final designation represents a reduction from the 28,379 acres initially proposed by USFWS in 2011, but an increase from the 12,150 acres designated in 2005. A total of 47 units have been designated in California, nine in Oregon, and four in Washington.

Using the best available scientific information, USFWS determined that the plover requires additional critical habitat to offset anticipated adverse effects of rising sea level due to climate change, and to reflect increased understanding of the important role that unoccupied habitat can provide for the conservation and recovery of imperiled species. In addition, it reflects the incorporation of newer scientific data about habitat use by the western snowy plover and improved mapping methods that allow USFWS to more accurately assess intertidal zone habitat along the water’s edge.

Critical habitat is a term in the ESA that identifies geographic areas containing features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species, and which may require special management considerations or protection. Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership, establish a refuge or preserve and has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits. It is also used to notify other federal agencies of areas that must be given special consideration when they are planning, implementing, or funding activities that may affect designated critical habitat.

The Pacific Coast western snowy plover is a small shorebird with pale brown to gray upper parts, gray to black legs and bill, and dark patches on the forehead, behind the eyes, and on either side of the upper breast. The birds nest on the mainland coast, peninsulas, offshore islands, bays, estuaries, salt ponds, and rivers of the Pacific Coast from southern Washington to southern Baja California, Mexico. They are distinct from western snowy plovers that breed inland.

It is estimated that about 2,500 Pacific Coast western snowy plovers breed along the Pacific Coast from early March to late September. Prior to 1970 the coastal population was thought to have nested at more than 50 locations along the coast. Today, only 28 major nesting areas remain. In addition to loss of nesting habitat due to development, the size of the Pacific Coast western snowy plover population has also declined.

Human activity on beaches, such as walking, jogging, walking pets, operating off-road vehicles, and horseback riding, during the plover breeding season can inadvertently cause destruction of eggs and chicks. Encroachment of exotic European beach grass into nesting areas and predation are other primary factors in the decline of the Pacific Coast western snowy plover.

Since the species was protected as threatened, many local groups have voluntarily worked to protect plovers and their breeding areas, and to help educate the beach-using public about the bird’s needs. In many areas, beach users have cooperated with local interests to improve the breeding situation for plovers. USFWS excluded about 3,797 acres in parts of Washington, Oregon, and California from revised critical habitat based on partnerships with Tribes, approved Habitat Conservation Plans, or other management plans in place that provide a conservation benefit to the western snowy plover.

USFWS will continue to work closely with interested parties to implement actions to protect and conserve the plover’s habitat and increase breeding success. Our priority is to make implementation of the Act less complex, less contentious and more effective. We seek to accelerate recovery of threatened and endangered species across the nation, while making it easier for people to coexist with these species.

A final economic analysis, also released today, identifies the potential incremental cost of the critical habitat designation at approximately $266,000 over a 20-year timeframe (based on a 7 percent discount rate). More than 70 percent of the estimated impacts are related to military activities on Vandenberg Air Force Base, which did not have an Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan (INRMP) in place at the time USFWS published the proposed critical habitat rule. Vandenberg has now completed an INRMP, and is exempted from the revised final critical habitat designation.

The Endangered Species Act provides a critical safety net for America’s native wildlife like the Pacific Coast western snowy plover. This landmark conservation law has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species across the nation and promoted the recovery of many others.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit Connect with our Facebook page at, follow our tweets at, watch our YouTube Channel at and download photos from our Flickr page at

Technology Addiction a Global Social Disease

By Tammerlin Drummond, Oakland Tribune Columnist

I just returned from a short vacation to Mexico and Belize. I wanted to get away from it all. No ringing cellphone. No blizzard of daily emails.

An old friend teaches economics at a university in Belize. One afternoon, I sat in on one of her lectures. I was stunned to see, sitting next to me in full view of the professor, a student engrossed in Facebook. Even near the jungle where jaguars snatch people's dogs, there was no escaping technology run amok.

Were her parents paying her tuition? If so, her college "education" was an utter waste of their money.

I noticed similarly distracted behavior when I visited Fremont High School in Oakland a few weeks back to talk to some of the students there about journalism. One boy was sitting in the back of the room with headphones on, rocking out to the beat.

How on Earth can you learn anything when you're spending all of your time in class glued to social media? Chatting with friends, checking status updates, browsing through pictures and playing games? Or fiddling with a cellphone?

More important, why do teachers tolerate such rude behavior when it's right in their faces?

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned cellphones from New York's public schools in 2007.

Bloomberg argued -- correctly -- that cellphones are a distraction in the classroom and that some students use them to cheat on tests. Parents and students went ballistic, but an appellate court upheld the Department of Education's right to enforce the ban.

If a student so much as brings a cellphone onto school grounds and is detected by school officials, the device is confiscated.

That might be a little harsh. But something needs to be done to rein in classroom cellphone use that has nothing to do with learning.

Another friend who teaches at Howard University in Washington, D.C., complains that her students can't write.

By that she means they are incapable of putting together a simple sentence. Composition is becoming extinct. Yet when it comes to texting, her students have got the fastest thumbs going.

To my knowledge, there is no career where that particular skill in and of itself will take one very far.

My point is not that technology is bad. Facebook can be an extremely useful social tool. I use it to keep up with friends -- particularly those who live far away. I enjoy seeing and sharing photographs. Cellphones obviously serve a useful function. If your car breaks down at night on a remote highway, you want to be able to call for help. Smartphones are also being used in some school districts for learning.

What's disturbing, however, is that so many people are addicted to social media and electronic devices. It's become a social disease.

A teenage boy and girl who were on a date were sitting at a table across from me in a restaurant. Both were hunched over their cellphones, typing rapid-fire during their entire meal.

They had no interaction whatsoever with one another.

I am always encountering people walking near Lake Merritt who are completely oblivious to their surroundings because they are so caught up in their cellphone conversations. It's hard to tell the people shouting into their cellphones from the many mentally ill people engaged in equally loud imaginary conversations.

I know people who will go on vacation to some far-flung part of the world, and the first thing they do after they check into their hotel room is log in to Facebook.

What is the point of paying all that money on plane fare, hotel and food if you're going to spend the bulk of your time sitting in your room posting trivia?

What kind of society are we becoming where people spend so much of their time in a virtual world or jabbering on cellphones?

If it's this way today, I shudder to think what things will be like 20 years from now.

Tammerlin Drummond is a columnist for the Bay Area News Group. Her column runs Tuesdays and Sundays. This column appeared June 4, 2012. Contact her at or follow her at

Pacifica's Backyard: Coast Range Wildlife

Pacifica photographer Paul Donahue explores the Open Space Preserves: Windy Hill, Skyline Ridge, and El Corte de Madera. He says, "Despite being not far from a large metropolitan area, we're blessed in this area in having many large blocks of the Santa Cruz Mountains protected in a series of interconnecting Open Space Preserves and state parks." Here are Paul's recent pictures from the preserves:

Male Spotted Towhee
Male California Quail
Turkey Vulture
Western Scrub Jay in Coyote Bush
Western Fence Lizard
Chalcedon Checkerspot butterfly) sipping nectar from Yerba Santa blossoms
Buckeye butterfly on a thistle
Libellula saturata, Flame Skimmer
Yellow Mariposa Lily

Pacifica Welcomes Roger Glenn Latin Jazz Ensemble

Left to right: Derek Rolando, Phil Thompson, Roger Glenn, Bob Karty, Ray Obiedo, David Belove.


New Pacifica resident Roger Glenn, master musician and entertainer on the flute, sax, and vibraphone, and son of the late Tyree Glenn (one of 57 notable jazz musicians in the historic photo “A Great Day in Harlem”), brought his Roger Glenn Latin Jazz Ensemble (with special guest Ray Obiedo on guitar) to Mildred Owen Concert Hall in Pacifica on June 9, presented by Pacifica Performances. Roger has performed and toured with jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Mongo Santamaria, Rosemary Clooney, and Herbie Mann. Roger’s flute playing is featured on the Grammy award-winning album La Onda Va Bien with Cal Tjader, as well as many notable recordings by Donald Byrd, Peaches and Herb, Bobby Hutcherson, and Mongo Santamaria. This show features Roger’s original compositions from his soon-to-be released CD In the Moment. For further information, please contact Roger Glenn at 650-355-3444 or email For a more extensive bio, visit or on Facebook.