Beach Watch Survey – April 9, 2018

Last Monday’s Beach Watch Survey was an especially active one, with many new species (to us – Charon and myself) and a few very unusual sightings!

Each time we go out we feel giddy with excitement, like kids on a treasure hunt.  ‘What do you think we’ll see today?!’

Each survey we try to beat our previous record of species observed.

 

-Article & Photos by Song Hunter

The spring wildflowers were in full bloom, blossoms of every color everywhere we walked. Douglas Iris {Iris douglasiana} above.

Scarlet Pimpernel {Anagallis arvensis}

This survey we observed 66 Caspian Terns {Hydroprogne caspia} – which was the first time we’d seen them along our beach – Fort Ross Clam Beach – 855.

Grey Fox {Urocyon cinereoargenteus} relieving itself in the Call Picnic area 😀

When we first saw this, we thought we were witnessing a plane crash!  Later, looking through the pictures it looks as though it may be a fueling situation?  Still, pretty amazing to witness.

Cream Cups {Platystemon californicus}

After confirming with the Cal Academy team – Sue Pemberton – this is a dead male California Sea Lion {Zalophus californianus}

Ceanothus

Our first official (photographed) Bald Eagle! {Haliaeetus leucocephalus}

Common Ravens {Corvus corax}

 


Grey Whales, Stellers, and Mergansers, Oh My!

Can you guess what made these holes?

During our last Beach Watch survey of Fort Ross State Historic Park, Charon Vilnai and I (Song Hunter) were lucky to see a few less common/seasonal species (to FRSHP) and a few very common species up close and personal!

All photos were taken February 9, 2018 by Song Hunter

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Spring Has Sprung!

Fields of Sour Grass {Oxalis pes-caprae}

Well, it seems to be Spring all of a sudden here at Fort Ross, never mind it's just the beginning of February!  Regardless, it's been simply stunning here all week. Balmy, near 70 degrees without our typical Spring winds.  The ocean is still and calm, without a whitecap in sight. The Harbor Seals are hauled out in Fort Ross Cove, warming up in the sun and all the bugs and birds are out in full force.  In a word, it's perfect. 

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Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl {Athene cunicularia} Photo by Jamie Hall

This owl was observed for the third time on December 14, 2017 by Jamie Hall, Charon Vilnai, and Song Hunter on their monthly Beach Watch survey at Fort Ross State Historic Park

Information from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Owls are unmistakable birds, and that goes double for a long-legged owl that hunts on the ground during the day. Burrowing Owls are small, sandy colored owls with bright-yellow eyes. They live underground in burrows they’ve dug themselves or taken over from a prairie dog, ground squirrel, or tortoise. They live in grasslands, deserts, and other open habitats, where they hunt mainly insects and rodents. Their numbers have declined sharply with human alteration of their habitat and the decline of prairie dogs and ground squirrels.

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Welcome!

Photo by Song Hunter

Welcome to the Fort Ross Conservancy Blog!  We hope you enjoy this collection of observations made the dedicated and enthusiastic staff.  Each one of us is a passionate naturalist, finding joy, beauty and importance in every moment we get to spend outdoors here at the park and the surrounding Sonoma County.