Do You Know This Bird?

Windy Hill Mystery Bird

Windy Hill Mystery Bird

This weekend I finally got half-decent photos of the white bird that hunts near the top of Windy Hill Open Space Preserve.    This photo and video below were taken near the top of Spring Ridge Trail on a very still evening.

Please comment or send me email if you think you might know what kind of bird this is.

Predator’s Day on Windy Hill: Hawks and Coyotes

Here’s a couple notes to catch up on the hiking scene.   Yesterday, we saw a relaxing coyote and circling red-tailed hawks at Windy Hill Open Space.   No sign of my mysterious black and white dihedral-winged hunters.

The coyote froze in its tracks as we came around the corner for the last long pull up Spring Trail.   After perceiving no threat, it lay down in the tall brown grass and rolled.   As we approached up the trail, it oh-so-casually decided to get up and investigate the smells on the far shoulder of the hill.

Returning down the hill, we spotted two circling hawks.  One sped to attack speed and dive-bombed the oak tree but came away with empty claws.

Another beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Come Hike Tanbark Trail in Little Basin Sept 28

Please join me this Sunday for a hike on the lovely Tanbark Trail among the redwoods in Little Basin.  I’ll be bringing up the rear of this leisurely 2 mile jaunt with a Sempervirens group.   You get to see the beauty of Little Basin before it becomes a state park.  Right now, the only way to get in is to come on one of these hikes — or join Sempervirens, POST, or HP.    The hike is free, parking is $6 per car.  Click here to sign up and get more details.

Hiking Windy Hill

Last weekend in Windy Hill Open Space Preserve we saw a baby rattlesnake, two birds of prey, rabbits, lizards, and stellar (blue) jays.  I’m on a personal mission to identify the birds — one may be a young golden eagle, the other a ferruginous hawk.  I’m inspired to find out even though I’ve never been much of a birder before.  We also saw the oak-studded golden hills of the open space and panoramic views of Portola Valley (follow link to see view in 2nd pic).   Its very dry now as we near the end of summer and it hasn’t rained in months and months.   Here’s a pic from last spring:

Oak at Base of Windy Hill

Oak at Base of Windy Hill

Critter notes: Continue reading

Millcreek Canyon Hike

This is the first of three posts for yesterday’s diverse activities in Salt Lake City.  We started things off with a short hike in nearby Millcreek Canyon in Wasatch National Forest.

One of the nicest things about Salt Lake City is the proximity of the mountains.  A quick surf of the web showed a fine-looking hike up Alexander Basin in Millcreek Canyon.   Happily Garmin made it easy to find the way — plotting a new course after finding freeway ramps closed and bringing us back by way of Jamba Juice…but I get ahead of the story.  

Continue reading

Grand Canyon Journal


Rafting the Grand Canyon
Rafting the Grand Canyon

Back in Sept 2004 I was lucky enough to raft the Colorado River in a private group of 16 people, including several world class river runners.  Shortly after, I began recording my experiences in an online journal.  Life got in the way and the journal remains a work in progress.  Today I moved it to the same web host as this blog.   As I make further updates to the journal I will post notices on this blog so that readers can get the benefit of the RSS feed.

Elegant Sheep Moth

Yesterday at Little Basin hiking with Sempervirens docents, we came across an interesting moth.   At the time, we didn’t know what it was.

Elegant Sheep Moth on Sempervirens Hike

Elegant Sheep Moth on Sempervirens Hike

Today docent Karen DeMello identified the moth.  She writes:

What a great day yesterday at Little Basin!  This morning I’ve been poking around the internet to find a photo of the moth that we saw yesterday.  If you scroll 1/3rd down this page, it’s in the middle and called “Elegant Sheep Moth”. 

See what I mean — these docents know their stuff and are dedicated to constantly building their knowledge!

Sempervirens Fund

Today I trained as a docent for the Sempervirens Fund.   Now I am an official ambassador of the redwood forest!  At least in title — I am humbled by the knowledge, skill and dedication of the Sempervirens leaders and aspire to represent the wildlife, lands, and fund as well as they do.  Docents lead hikes through the forest to help people get to know and enjoy the land, which is the first step towards preserving the land.

Sempervirens is a member-supported land trust, meaning that member contributions go to buy land that is protected from human destruction and ultimately turned into state parks.   Founded in 1900, Sempervirens has a terrific track record including Big Basin, Castle Rock, and Butano state parks.

From the day I heard of it 20 years ago, I’ve felt strongly that this is the best approach to conservation:  Buy the land and set it aside.   Call me a cowardly capitalist but I believe in property rights for land owners and rather than fight a messy battle over what other people can do with their land, I’d sooner raise the money to buy the land and then we’re the owners, we call the shots.

My efforts are puny by themselves, but together with thousands of members, we are able to buy and enjoy massive properties, even in the expensive Bay Area.

Enjoyment is a prime motivator for setting aside the land, especially for me.  I don’t have kids, don’t have a concern for future generations to enjoy the place.   What I do have is a relationship and a liking for the forest itself and its for that reason that I work to protect it.

One of the neat things about being a Sempervirens docent is that I have access to land and trails that are not currently open to the public.   Pristine, beautiful, sacred places.  Also members have access to Little Basin which used to be HP’s private corporate campground in the Santa Cruz mountains, next to Big Basin.

If you want to go for a hike, give me a shout!

Better yet, sign up for a Sempervirens Fund Hike.