By-the-Wind Sailor

One delight of walking the shore is seeing what treasures have washed up with the tide.  Yesterday morning, we spotted several blue-gray colored oval shapes in the wrack. At first glance, I thought that a trove of rare blue beach glass was underfoot. On closer examination, I realized the sapphire blue-rimmed discs had translucent triangular sailsContinue reading “By-the-Wind Sailor”

Cactus Wren

Joshua Tree National Park is a treasure of geologic wonders that impress with each turn in the road. A bit of patience is required to spot animal residents.  We recently visited the park and saw this cactus wren. This species is a non-migratory song bird ranging from southeastern California to southern Arizona and New Mexico.Continue reading “Cactus Wren”

Pigeon Guillemot

During a recent walk on the commercial wharf in Monterey Bay, California, we spotted several pairs of pigeon guillemots near the sea lions. They are impossible to miss with their neon red legs, and sporty black and white feathers. A member of the auk family, and related to murres and puffins, pigeon guillemots are found fromContinue reading “Pigeon Guillemot”

Turning to Terns

NOTE: Identifying terns can be tricky, and for this post I am indebted to Chuck Almdale who graciously shared his knowledge.  After an absence of several months, and newly returned from their wintering grounds in Central America, the Elegant Terns are back at Zuma Beach. With their distinct tufted crest feathers and yellowy-orange beaks, theyContinue reading “Turning to Terns”

Consider the Mussel

With a hat tip to M.F.K. Fisher, author of “Consider the Oyster,” why do California mussel shells change color over their lifespans?   It’s not unusual to see dozens of half-inch long, pale gray striped shells on the littoral beach, along with a few adult shells. Typically, the shells have parted with their other halves. Mature mussel shellsContinue reading “Consider the Mussel”

Garden Snails

Overnight rain brought a hatching of garden snails.  Normally active at night and at dawn, perhaps the rain beckoned them in their whorled shells to saunter over sidewalks in search of groceries. Their iridescent paths and meditative pace have always delighted me when walking after a rain shower. Garden snails are non-native to California. It is believed they arrivedContinue reading “Garden Snails”

Northern Mockingbirds

Today, a guest post from Bob Yates. If I could interview a mockingbird after one of its concerts on a power line near me, I think my first question would be: “Who are your major influences?” Admission to these shows is free. They feature medleys from lower registers to high in the same breath, from CarusoContinue reading “Northern Mockingbirds”

Cooper’s Hawk

We’ve had a feeder up since Christmas, and are attracting lesser goldfinches, house finches, fox sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, juncos, mourning doves and California towhees. And now, their chittering attracted the attention of the neighborhood Cooper’s hawk population. We’d previously seen one standing at the edge of and in the birdbath, and they’re frequently observed perching on utility poles during ourContinue reading “Cooper’s Hawk”