Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for May, 2011

Mallard ducklings out for a stroll with camera-shy Mama Mallard

Ducklings follow their mama, obscured by a bush, during a visit to the Valley Times building in Pleasanton, Calif., on Thursday, May 26, 2011. (Cindi Christie/Staff)
1duckies cindi christie

These little web-footed friends visited the Pleasanton office today. Mama is obscured by the bush.
Cindi Christie, Assistant Photo Editor, Bay Area News Group, Valley Times, Pleasanton, California

Nothing cuter than mallard ducklings out for a stroll to visit their local newspaper office with Mama Mallard. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
Under: ducklings, Ducks | No Comments »

Native bees play important role in pollinating plants

Bumble bee pollinating flower. Photo by Mike Gordon, Walnut Creek, CA
1bumblebee mike gordon wc

I captured this photo of a bumble bee collecting pollen in my Oxalis flowers that are growing wild in my yard in Walnut Creek. I hope this is a good sign that maybe the honey bees will follow.
Mike Gordon, Walnut Creek, California


Native bees play a vital role in pollinating the flowers and vegetables that are so important to us humans. A role that is even MORE critical now that the honey bees are in decline. Here are a couple of websites where you can learn more about native bees and their importance and what you (we) can do to help cultivate these special insects:




Go bees! /Gary

Posted on Friday, May 27th, 2011
Under: bees | No Comments »

Danville’s Doggie Night street fair, 5-8 p.m. tonight


Danville’s Doggie Night street (pet!) fair is tonight from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Lots of fun for you and your 4-legged doggie friends.

The action begins at Molly’s Pup-Purr-ee, 425 Hartz Ave., Danville … and continues on to pet-related businesses around Downtown Danville.

Dog owners are invited to bring their 4-legged friends to local businesses for free dog treats and “canine couture.” Meet pet sitters, photographers, trainers, veterinarians, and other pet-related experts. More details at

*** Be sure and stop by and chat at the Maddie’s Fund booth to find out more about the upcoming Marchmaker Adoptathon on the weekend of June 4 and 5. Looking for a new pet? That’s definitely the weekend for you to get it. It’ll blow your mind! /Gary

Posted on Thursday, May 26th, 2011
Under: Maddie's Fund, Pets | No Comments »

African photo safari: Check out these great photos!

Leopard eating. Photo by Jim Dickie, Livermore, CA
1africa jim dickie livermore

We spent 21 days in Tanzania, Africa, a couple of years ago and what a fantastic experience it was seeing so many animals in their natural environment. We thought you might enjoy some of my favorite photos from our African trip.
Jim Dickie, Livermore, California
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 26th, 2011
Under: Africa, African lion | No Comments »

Turkey vultures waiting for me to go through a gate

Turkey vultures waiting at the gate. Photo by Mari James.
2vulture mari james

Saw these guys while out hiking at Black Diamond Mines.  All day I was hoping to get a good photo of the hawks and bald eagle I had seen flying overhead.  I came around the corner near the end of my hike at the top of Manhattan Canyon and there these 3 were waiting on the gate for me.
Mari James, Contra Costa County, California (S.F. Bay Area)

Humm. If I found three turkey vultures perched on a gate, waiting for me to go through that gate … I’d give some very careful thought about whether I REALLY wanted to go through that gate … or not. /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
Under: Turkey vultures | 1 Comment »

Rocky the Maine coon cat — plant sitting

Rocky Main coon cat, plant sitting. Photo by John Kent
1rocky maine coon john kent cyberspace

This is Rocky, our 2-year-old, 25 pound Main coon cat … plant sitting.
John Kent, cyberspace

I like a cat who likes to take care of the house plants! /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
Under: Cats | 2 Comments »

Hawk peeks over top of nest while incubating eggs

Swainson’s hawk in nest. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1swainsonsnest dave harper oakley

I get many requests from readers wanting to know what hawk nests look like.

Check out the Swainson’s hawk nest above. Note mama hawk just peeking over the top of the nest while she’s incubating her eggs. Red-tailed hawks, similar in size to the Swainson’s, construct their nests out of an identical-size mix of sticks, leaves, grass, etc. /Gary

Posted on Monday, May 23rd, 2011
Under: Bird nests, Hawks, nesting, Red-tailed hawk | No Comments »

Pushy little blackbird chases BIG hawk away from nest area

Blackbird chases Swainson’s hawk. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1blkbird hawk dave harper oakley

“Hey! Get out of my airspace,” said the blackbird to the Swainson’s hawk.

Blackbirds are tough little characters, especially when they are protecting their nest areas. That protection appears to include the airspace directly over where the nest is located … as this Swainson’s hawk is finding out the hard way.

The hawk may be bigger than the blackbird, but it’s not as maneuverable. As far as the blackbird is concerned, there’s also a bit of safety in numbers. When one blackbird goes on the attack, the others come running … er … flying. The blackbirds, being MUCH smaller and lighter, can’t really do any damage to the hawk, but in nature, animals rarely come to actual physical blows. It’s all about posturing and image. Just ask any blackbird. /Gary

Posted on Friday, May 20th, 2011
Under: Birds, Blackbirds, Hawks | No Comments »

Big muddy pawprints appear to be from a big raccoon

Raccoon paw print. Photo by Eve Goode, Concord, CA
1coonprint2 eve goode concord

Attached are photos of muddy animal paw prints I found on the cement floor of my open patio. It rained last night. I live in Concord and I am surrounded by single family homes separated by 6 ft. fences. I have no pets. The size alone of this paw is a little intimidating to me. A dollar bill is six inches long. I darkened the contrast of some of these photos. The right paw is clearly visible but the left one is madly smudged. What do you think? What kind of local wildlife would have these large size paws?
Eve Goode, Concord, California

Looks to me to be the back footprint of a large raccoon. These characters that live here with us in suburbia — feeding out of our garbage cans, eating pet food we leave out for our dogs and cats on the patio, fruit and veggies out of our gardens — can get pretty big on that diet, maybe 30-40 pounds. /Gary

Raccoon paw print. Photo by Eve Goode, Concord, CA
1coonprint eve goode concord

Posted on Thursday, May 19th, 2011
Under: Raccoons | 1 Comment »

Gasp! Can it really, finally, be spring?

A swallowtail sipping a flower. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1swallowtail dave harper oakley

Oh, my! Does the above photo — recently taken locally in the S.F. Bay Area —  really mean it’s finally spring? Dare we hope?

The tomatoes my wife and I planted a week ago are just standing there in the middle of one of our garden boxes, shivering.

Cross your fingers! (Sorry, tomatoes!) /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
Under: Butterflies, Spring | No Comments »