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Archive for May, 2010

Western grebe carries chick on its back in Del Valle Lake

Western grebe carries chick on its back. Photo by Bill Delameter, Livermore, CA
wgrebe, bill delameter, livermore

I often hike by Del Valle Lake and when I’m not too lazy, I lug along my camera and telephoto lens.  I had heard that Western Grebes will carry their chicks on their backs, but I had never seen it until recently.  I took my camera the next day and was lucky enough to photograph this family of two adults and two chicks.  In the attached photo, dad is bringing a fish to the chicks who are eager for lunch.
Bill Delameter, Livermore, Calif.

Nothing like a FREE ride on the way to a FREE lunch. Nice shot! /Gary

Posted on Friday, May 28th, 2010
Under: Western grebe | No Comments »

Spiny lizard & Gambel’s quail keeping an eye out for each other

Spiny lizard, Gambel’s quail, Phoenix, AZ. (Richard Davis-Minter, Pacheco, CA)
Richard Davis-Minter, Pacheco

Here is a shot I took about 4 weeks ago at my Phoenix, Arizona, home. They seem to be quite comfortable sitting next to each other.
Richard Davis-Minter Pacheco, CA

Just a couple of old desert friends (a spiny lizard and a male Gambel’s quail) sharing a handy lookout spot where they can keep an eye out for predators and good things to eat at the same time. Life is good. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, May 27th, 2010
Under: Gambel's quail, Spiny lizard | No Comments »

Gulf Leak Meter Widget by PBS NEWSHOUR to include live oil spill video

Oiled brown pelican. Photo by Flickr user IBRRC used under a Creative Commons License.
oiled brown pelican by IBRRC

I just received the following very interesting news release:

(Arlington, VA – May 24) The PBS NEWSHOUR today unveiled an updated version of its popular Gulf Leak Meter widget. The original widget has been modified to include a live video feed of the oil leaking into the waters off the Gulf Coast.

PBS NewsHour’s oil widget ( was originally released on May 9, offering readers the opportunity to choose among several scenarios based on BP’s and other experts’ best guesses of the spill’s size. The NewsHour continues to update the widget to include more perspectives on how much oil might be flowing from the leak and on May 17, factored in ( BP’s report of some success in siphoning 2,000 barrels of oil per day from the leaking well.
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Posted on Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
Under: Oil, Oil Spills | No Comments »

Skunk spray your pet? Here’s an easy formula to get rid of the smell

Backyard skunk by Lois Bogue, Benicia, CA

I’m getting a lot of requests for this “Skunk Off” recipe to help people clean skunk spray off of  dogs that have encountered those little stinkers in their backyards this spring.

Stick this formula on your refrigerator door so it will be handy in case you ever need it. It’s easy to make and as I said, it chemically neutralizes that very bad smell.

TAKE: 1 quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (from a pharmacy); ¼-cup baking soda; 1 teaspoon liquid soap (I use Dawn). Mix it all together and wash the sprayed animal, massaging it in for about 5 minutes, keeping the mixture out of its eyes, nose and mouth. Rinse thoroughly with tap water.

Don’t bottle this stuff. The mix causes a mild chemical reaction and it could escape into a BIG mess if confined in a bottle.

Based on feedback from hundreds of users, this recipe, as listed, is a suitable quantity for a small dog. Double the above amount for medium-size dogs. Triple it for large dogs.

It’s amazingly effective. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
Under: Skunks | 1 Comment »

Shasta alligator lizard & Mossbrae Falls, what a beautiful pair!

Shasta alligator lizard. Photo by Lindy & Dan Fay, Alamo, CA
lindy & dan fay, alamo1

Dear Gary:
While exploring waterfalls in the McCloud/Mt. Shasta area of California, we came across this beautiful Shasta Alligator Lizard.  The photo doesn’t do it justice, but gives an idea.  Both the yellow and the blue were much more brilliant that the photo shows.
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Posted on Monday, May 24th, 2010
Under: Alligator lizard | No Comments »

A fox family is living under our house! Here are some neat photos.

Gray fox cub. Photo by Lila Lippow, Martinez, CA
fox4 lila lippow, mtz

Hi Gary:
I’m hoping you can help me.  I live in the Alhambra Valley of Martinez.  About 2 months ago I realized I had a fox living under the house, and shortly after that I found that there were babies also.  I now have a mother and 4 little ones running all over the yard!

The babies are darling, and I don’t want them to be moved.  It is easy enough to just let them have the part of the yard that goes down to the creek, although I’m a little concerned about what sort of damage they might do under the house, seeing that they are pretty destructive in the yard!
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Posted on Friday, May 21st, 2010
Under: Foxes, Gray foxes | 3 Comments »

Gulf Oil Spill: 7 experts steer oil spill conversation into fresh waters

NASA satellite photo of Gulf oil spill, taken May 17, 2010. Photo by Flickr user NASA Goddard Photo & Video used under a Creative Commons License
NASA oil2

In an effort to broaden the conversation about the horrific Gulf Coast oil spill, seven Fellows of the Post Carbon Institute in Santa Rosa, CA, offer their perspectives on largely under-reported aspects and outcomes of the disaster.

I think you’ll find the following comments to be QUITE interesting. /Gary
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Posted on Thursday, May 20th, 2010
Under: Ocean, Oil, Oil Spills | No Comments »

Endangered gray bats are dying from deadly White-nose fungus

Endangered gray bat (Bat Conservation International)
gray bat

Dear Gary:
White-nose Syndrome
It is with great sorrow that I report the White-nose Syndrome fungus has been found on gray bats. Friday, we received word that five bats tested positive in a genetic test for the White-nose Syndrome fungus outside a cave in Shannon County, Missouri-one of only a handful of gray bat hibernacula.

Gray bats are very near and dear to Bat Conservation International’s heart. For decades, we have worked to recover the declining gray bat populations and the species was well on the road to being removed from the Federal Endangered Species List.

That was until White-nose Syndrome showed up in New York four years ago.
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Posted on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
Under: Bats, Fungi | 2 Comments »

Frog & Turtle Alert: Your e-mails and calls urgently needed now!

Freshwater turtle. Photo by Flickr user zevotron used under a Creative Commons License
turtle zevotron

Dear Gary:

The Mandate of the State Fish & Game Commission is to protect the state’s natural resources. Toward that end, the Commission voted twice (5:0 in March) and (3:0 in May) to no longer issue permits to import live frogs and turtles for the live animal markets. Sadly, the battle is not over.
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Posted on Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
Under: Fish and Game, Frogs, Live Animal Markets, Turtles | 2 Comments »

BP controls information on how much oil is REALLY leaking into gulf

Satellite photo gulf oil slick. (NASA Goddard Photo and Video)
NASA Goddard Photo and Video

These quotes were in a story about the gulf oil spill in the New York Times on Sunday (May 16):

“Scientists studying video of the gushing oil well have tentatively calculated that it could be flowing at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. But the government, working from satellite images of the ocean surface, has calculated a flow rate of only 5,000 barrels a day.

“BP has resisted entreaties from scientists that they be allowed to use sophisticated instruments at the ocean floor that would give a far more accurate picture of how much oil is really gushing from the well.

“‘The answer is no to that,’ a BP spokesman, Tom Mueller, said Saturday. ‘It is not relevant to the response effort, and it might even detract from the response effort.'”
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Posted on Monday, May 17th, 2010
Under: Oil, Oil Spills | 2 Comments »