Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

East Coast people, first, let me be honest: yes, we’re all giggling about your 5.8 earthquake on this coast.  And no, it isn’t fair, but you probably laugh at our occasional funnel clouds.

Second, it’s still very important to go report what you observed if you felt the earthquake; use this USGS link:

USGS: Did You Feel It?

Why? Because it helps geologists map exact earthquake soil response for specific types of seismic waves, and it helps engineers assess actual and potential damage. I makes everyone safer in the long run.

Even with itty-bitty little quakes…  (Kidding!)


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Under the 101 Bridge, copyright Ruth Moon 2009

This month, Ruth Moon takes us to visit “the unknown Waterfront” as part of her Eureka Discovery Walks.  She says:

Called the ‘Unknown’ Waterfront, because this stretch of the bay’s waterfront is actually not visible or accessible along much of the way, this walk features several stunning views and some interesting back trails. We’ll visit the only official section, other than the Boardwalk, of the Waterfront Walk that is envisioned to eventually span Eureka’s waterfront from north to south. We’ll see  what are some of the obstacles to making that vision a reality.

The walk starts at 9:30 AM this Saturday, November 21, in front of the Adorni Center (1011 Waterfront Drive, near the corner of L Street).

I really like Ruth’s tours.  They are free and very informative, and you get a bit of not-too-strenuous exercise.  Whether I can attend will depend on the weather, as I’m recovering from a cold and strep throat, but I hope to be there.

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Baxter-2-modifiedMy husband, a friend, and I spent a 3-day weekend at Baxter Environmental Camp in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  We left Friday night and came back Monday afternoon.

Along with some of the other environmental camp sites like Hamilton Barn, also at Humboldt Redwoods State Park, and Dry Lagoon at Humboldt Lagoons State Park, this just made it onto my list of favourite camping spots in Northern California.

We had a wonderful time, complete privacy, and old-growth redwoods all around us.  We visited the Pioneer Cemetary and walked the Bull Creek Trail North (except for the last short eastern segment which was blocked by a fallen tree and forced us to turn around a bit early.)  We did some photography as well, though i don’t know whether I’ll have any good images.  And we had the most fantastic camp meals.

All this to say…

Don’t let the California State Parks close!!!

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Spiders at the Zoo

Black Widow (Latrodectus hesperus), by backpackphotography -- Creative Commons license: Attribution 2.0 GenericSequoia Park Zoo is inviting members today, Thursday, April 30 from 3:30 – 5:30 pm for the grand opening of the Spectacular Spiders exhibit, located in the Sequoia Park Zoo Barnyard. This members-only event features treats, face painting, beverages, and a souvenir. See a Black widow up close, climb on a web, and discover fascinating facts about these mysterious creatures.

The exhibit will be open to the general public starting this weekend.

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Bay Rhythym, by Jay BrownYesterday, my husband and I spent the afternoon at the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary for a little photography and a little bird-watching. We stopped at the Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center and discovered that artist Jay Brown was exhibiting some of his works there and was holding an Artist’s Reception.

We had a chance to look at the Works on Paper exhibit and have an excellent chat with Mr. Brown. Several pieces showed roughly the same landscape in completely different weather and lighting conditions; Mr. Brown says that’s the view he gets from his home in Manila.

Mr. Brown uses several different media for his art, such as watercolours, gouache, acrylic, pen, pencils, and a variety of paper types and textures. He also frames his paintings himself. He has a fascination for interesting cloud formation and lighting effects. I really loved the exhibit, and my two favourite pieces were “Invasion” and “Minus Tide Plus Fog”.

Go enjoy the exhibit!

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NASA, AS17-148-2272, taken from Apollo 17 mission on December 7, 1972, at 5:39 a.m. ESTWe live on a beautiful, fragile yet amazingly resilient world, which we celebrate on April 22.  It’s the third planet from our star, the sun, formed over four and half billion  years ago from accreting stellar matter, along with the rest of our system.  Life developed rapidly on the new planet, taking merely half a billion year or so, maybe a little more, but took another two billion before jumping to a multicellular arrangement.  All the time, it has branched and multiplied, trying all sorts of crazy strategies to get the edge in survival.  The whole system is an intricately interconnected web stretched around a lovely blue marble.

To the right is the most famous photo ever taken of our world, NASA’s image no. AS17-148-2272, taken from the Apollo 17 mission on December 7, 1972, at 5:39 a.m. EST.  We’re more used to see it reversed, with the South Pole at the bottom.   It was the the first clear image of an illuminated face of Earth we ever received — this was a new trajectory never used before by an Apollo mission — and is sometimes described as the most reproduced image of all times.  (That’s an unverifiable claim, but it’s true that this is a widely known, iconic image.  I posted the South-Pole-up version rather than the more familiar reversed version to remind myself that up and down, north and south, are entirely relative to our frame of reference.

I think I’m going to go listen to Vangelis’ Albedo 0.39 now.

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Here are a few sites I want to gush about, as educational resources, as entertainment, and as serious technical and scientific resources. Not only can they be used in the classroom, or browsed for the sheer enchantment of discovery, but they are pure gold for for professionals in the environmental fields as well.

NatureServe Explorer

A huge online database of species, NatureServe Explorer is a collaboration between natural heritage programs and conservation data centers operating in all 50 U.S. states, 11 Canadian provinces and territories, and 20 member programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. The database provides information on the conservation status of species throughout the territory covered, their vulnerability, ecology and life history, etc., and provides techinal references to learn more.


The visual tool Lifemapper is the work of a University of Kansas team with support from all over the world. It uses an advanced geographical database to display where species are found and documented, and to predict where we might expect to find them. This tool also allows users to create Google Earth maps with the data. Note: You need to supply the scientific (Latin) name of the species to search.


The Integrated Taxonomic Information System, or ITIS, provides taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world. ITIS is a cooperatice project between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. Hey, here is a good place to look up scientific names so you can query Lifemapper!

PLANTS Database

Created and maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the PLANTS national database contains life history, range, and taxonomic information, photos, native/non-native status, and much more. It can be searched using either common names or scientific names.


Another product of international scientific cooperation, the FishBase information system provides images, life history, distribution, taxonomic status, and much more for over 31,000 fish species. It can be searched using either common names or scientific names.


Much more subdued, regional, and low-tech, BirdWeb is nonetheless a work of love and excellence, offering carefully gathered information and on-the-ground observations. It’s the work of the Seattle branch of the Audubon Society, and the information it contains is useful for a large part of our ecoregion.

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