During our last monthly sea lion survey of the Fort Ross Sea Lion Rocks, FRC’s Director of Programs, Song Hunter, spotted the first tagged animal we’ve seen during one of our surveys! The animal was a California sea lion, and from the yellow tag we can tell this sea lion was tagged at San Miguel Island (the westernmost of California’s Channel Islands).
Luckily, Song was able to get a good photograph of the tagged animal, so that we could send the image to the Marine Mammal Laboratory (MML — a division of NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center). MML collects resighting photographs of California and Steller sea lions, which happens to be the two resident sea lion species at Fort Ross. See here the original photograph:
Below is a cropped and enlarged image of the original photograph. We’ve encircled the tagged sea lion, but you can see that these tags can be very easy to miss.
The Stanford-US Russia forum brings together Americans and Russians for a week-long conference at Stanford and in Washington, DC, where they share their collaborative research projects. But before the academics begin SURF kicks off at Fort Ross, where the students do community service, learn about their shared history at Fort Ross, and just soak up the glorious Sonoma Coast. It’s one of our favorite exchange programs and we are proud to contribute to this project. Thanks to Renova Fort Ross Foundation for underwriting SURF, and to all the FRC volunteers and board members who came out to lend a hand.
On Monday, March 26th, FRC Instructors Charon Vilnai and Hank Birnbaum completed our 3rd Marine Ecology Program of the year! A great return group from Point Arena Elementary with the wonderful teacher, Cristin Allen. We loved our time spent with this group of sweet and inquisitive parents and kids. The harbor seal watching is always a big hit, as well as getting hands on with all the small, yet abundant, life in the Rocky Intertidal Zone. Interested in learning more about our Marine Ecology Program? Contact Director of Programs, Song Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are certain plants, some unique to Sonoma County and some found throughout the world, that will tell you when spring has arrived. The willow trees that grow with such vigor near our waterways grow buds that swell and burst with bright yellow fuzzy catkins to mark the first day of spring.
Last Saturday Fort Ross welcomed the return of the season with our Kedry volunteers for their annual Spring Celebration. Kedry families came from around the Bay Area to re-create the festive “Verbnoye Voskresenie” (Pussy Willow, not Palm, Sunday) where holding hands and branches of willow catkins they walked from corner to corner of the compound touching every wall, tree, and person in their path with the fuzzy flowers as a symbolic way of reconnecting to spring, nature, and the traditions held by their ancestors long ago.
The walk was accompanied by traditional Russian/Slavic songs which filled the compound and took you back in time. Games and dances followed with more songs and traditional activities and crafts. The pechka, a brick oven located in the officers barracks, was lit and filled with delicious breads hand rolled by Kedry families. The ladies finished the afternoon with songs and textile crafts that included knitting and weaving demonstrations. It was a beautiful day to honor the connection between culture and nature and all that spring provides!
While traveling North from Bodega bay after a training with Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, we (Song Hunter and Charon Vilnai) witnessed a concentration of migrating whales like we had never seen before! Dozens must have been traveling along with us as we drive up beautiful Highway One.
All photos are from Fort Ross, looking west toward Sea Lion Rocks. Photos by Song Hunter
On March 10, 2018 I arrived at the historic Fort Ross Orchard on a foggy late-winter day, there was a chill in the air but the winds were calm. I heard cheerful sounds coming from the trees and as I followed the sounds I saw a group of friendly faces under a giant pear tree with branches stretching high into the air. Our dedicated orchard volunteers, led by Susy Rudy, greeted me and introduced me to Keith Park. Keith is a National Park Service horticulturalist, pruner, and arborist. He works at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez California, maintaining the orchard and other trees on the parks grounds. He was at Fort Ross to guide us in a pruning workshop.
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
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.
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.