Plant Trees SF Events 2011 Archive: 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018

Event

 
TO MY READERS:  I have opened a blog:  http://naturenewssf.blogspot.com/

It was intended to eventually replace these emailed newsletters.  However, I've received a number of expressions of regret (including from me) over discontinuing emails, so it is likely that I may do both.  Nothing will change until I feel comfortable on the blog.  I am trying to increase the frequency but shorten the content--good luck, Jake.

Until I become more proficient, all that is on blog site so far are the last eight issues of this newsletter, and without pictures.  I hope to paste pictures later.

1.   Correction of last newsletter's story about turtle egg collection in Costa Rica
2.   SF Bd of Supervisors hearing on proposed amending or repealing of Historic Preservation Commission THURSDAY 19 MAY
3.   AT&T utility boxes - Protest meeting to insist on EIR Monday 23 May
4.   70 State Parks at risk of permanent closure
5.   San Bruno Mountain Intergenerational Hike Sunday 22 May
6.   Beautiful art and live tiger swallowtail butterflies on display at 7th & Market St
7.   More WALC poetry - close your eyes, begin to listen
8.   California native plants in school gardens, Los Altos May 20
9.   Habitat Gardening with Native plants talk, San Carlos May 19
10. McLaren Park potpourri 
11.  More on Laurel Hill Playground historic native plant restoration
12.  Feedback:  Yosemite bears with rap sheets/more quail in GGP/GGP Under Siege?
13.  Good website for nature photos
14.  Doug's Mountain Journal - notes from a keen San Bruno Mountain observer


Fact of the week: Women now run West Bengal (Mamata Banerjee), Tamil Nadu (Jayalalithaa), Uttar Pradesh (Mayawati), Delhi (Sheila Dikshit), and of course the Indian president is also a woman, Pratibha Patil.

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1.  Hoax correction: The Truth about Sea Turtles and Egg Harvesting 
  
Dear Friend of the Sea Turtles,
  
Thank you so much for alerting the Sea Turtle Restoration Project to your concerns about the photos that you sent to us. 

These pictures have been resurfacing on the internet again and again over this past year. While the photos are genuine, the email describes them very inaccurately. 

I want to assure you that these pictures actually depict the only LEGAL, controlled harvest of sea turtle eggs, which takes place at Ostional, Costa Rica Wildlife Refuge. Please see below for the details of what’s really happening. You can also read the analysis by hoax-slayer.com. While not very technical, it is basically correct:http://www.hoax-slayer.com/costa-rica-turtle-eggs.shtml. <http://www.hoax-slayer.com/costa-rica-turtle-eggs.shtml>.
 
Please let your friends and email contacts know the accurate story about these photos. And to really help save sea turtles, I hope you will join the Sea Turtle Restoration Project!

I founded STRP in 1989 to protect sea turtles throughout their lifecycle. We work on beaches in Central America to stop REAL egg and turtle poaching, and have helped over 300,000 hatchlings make it to the sea. We worked in the Gulf of Mexico this year to STOP BP from burning sea turtles in oil “clean-up” operations. We’ve helped protect over 200,000 square miles in the Pacific from industrial fishing, the threat which poses the gravest threat to sea turtles’ survival.

I’d love your support and participation in these efforts, and all that we do. If you are not already a member, please go to www.seaturtles.org/donate to learn more and join our organization today.

Here’s what’s really happening in the pictures that you received and sent to me: 

The olive ridley turtles at this site (and at about 10 other beaches around the world) nests in a near simultaneous arrival over several days, which is called an arribada.  Ostional residents are permitted to collect and market the earliest nests, because later nesting sea turtle mothers accidentally destroy many of the earlier nests. Harvesting may actually increase overall hatching survival because there are less broken rotting eggs that create a soup of bacteria that can damage the eggs that are laid by turtles arriving late in the arribada. No harvesting of these late eggs is allowed. They are protected as they incubate and the hatchlings emerge to return to the sea.

While biologists have not demonstrably proven that the egg harvesting improves hatchling success, we do know that the Ostional nesting turtle population is stable or growing at this site.  The justification for this program was also based on an economic analysis that suggested flooding the market w/these legally harvested eggs (sold at a low price controlled by the government) would decrease overall poaching throughout the country by bringing down the value of turtle eggs in the black market.
  
Todd Steiner, Founder and Director
Sea Turtle Restoration Project
Www.seaturtles.org

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2.  ALERT Re: Upholding Prop. J of 2008 that created the Historic Preservation Commission and Respecting Voter-Approved Initiatives

The draft ordinance is attached and it clearly raises statewide constitutional issues.

Please comment in person on Supervisor Scott Wiener's proposed Charter Amendment Allowing BOS Amendments to, or Repeals of, Initiative Ordinances and Declarations of Policy at:

Rules Committee Regular Meeting (Members: Supervisors Jane Kim, Sean Elsbernd, Mark Farrell)
Thursday, May 19, 2011 1:30 PM
City Hall, Committee Room 263

You can also email:  boardofsupervisors@sfgov.org

Be sure to include, "Oppose Charter Amendment Allowing BOS Repeal of Voter-Approved Initiatives [BOS File No. 110401]" in the Subject line.

Also see:
http://sfdocs.org/2011/04/07/supervisor-wieners-april-2011-newsletter

http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2011/04/proposal-would-let-supes-repeal-ballot-measures

http://sfappeal.com/news/2011/04/wiener-to-propose-allowing-board-to-amend-certain-voter-approved-laws.php

http://www.allvoices.com/news/8692279-scott-wiener-pushes-for-ability-to-change-voterapproved-measures

http://www.sfbg.com/bruce/2011/05/10/editorial-preserving-preservation-san-francisco

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3.  San Francisco Beautiful calls for Public Rally in Support of EIR

 
Despite environmental concerns, AT&T is pushing its plans to install 726 refrigerator-size, sound-emitting utility boxes on city sidewalks. The massive installation will proceed unless the Board of Supervisors votes to require an environmental impact report (EIR), scheduled for Tuesday, May 24.

To win this vote, we must counter AT&T's considerable lobbying pressure upon the Board.  The neighborhood coalition, including San Francisco Beautiful, is holding a:

 
DAY OF ACTION 
Monday, May 23 at Noon
Steps of City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA  94102

 
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4.  There are currently 70 state parks at risk of permanent closure this September, including San Francisco’s Candlestick Point State Recreation Area.  On May 13th the California Department of Parks and Recreation released a list of 70 state parks that will be permanently closed to the public as a direct result of the $22 million budget cut enacted by the Governor and the Legislature.  This full list of park closures includes 25% of California’s state park system and 40% of all state historic parks in CA.

According to the California State Parks Foundation, this is the first time in the 100 year history of California’s state park system that state park closures will be implemented.

Please send a letter to your legislators and the governor opposing these closures and showing your continued support for California’s state parks! Policymakers will be making additional decisions in the next weeks about the state park budget that may have further impacts to our state parks.


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5.  San Bruno Mountain Watch Presents An Intergenerational Hike 

 
Sharing an experience with someone you care about anchors the connections between generations. The natural world at your fingertips - or footsteps - lets you share your perceptions, and be surprised by the observations of those you walk with. 

Expand the horizons of your joint pleasures on a gentle hike at San Bruno Mountain, next to San Francisco Bay. The circular trail begins at the County Park's parking lot; it leads you to views of the summit ridge of the mountain, and overlooks the folds of Buckeye Canyon where a 5000 year old shell mound lies hidden. The trail circles around to provide views of Mt. Diablo and other peaks, and spectacular vistas of San Francisco. If you are a senior, invite grown or growing kids; if you're the growing kid, invite an elder.

Sunday May 22, 1:00 to 2:30 pm

San Bruno Mountain County Park parking lot 

Contact:  Ginny Anderson,  650-323-4494,  freyjand@comcast.net

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6.  From Amber Hasselbring:
I have been awarded a San Francisco Art Commission. Look for a bright red, 10 x 13' photo mural that illustrates the complete metamorphosis of the western tiger swallowtail butterfly and its relationship to the sycamore tree planted along San Francisco’s Market Street. 
Market Street at 7th Street through August 2011


The London plane is in the sycamore family, a hybrid between the oriental plane (Platanus orientalis) and the American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis). Today, as a result of the presence of this street tree, the western tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio rutulus) can be seen flying along Market Street. In early spring and late summer, western tiger swallowtail females fly among the corridor of sycamore trees, chemically sensing the larval food plant and laying eggs. Their larva then hatch and eat from the tree and make a chrysalis in in the canopy. Males can bee seen flying to mud puddles, where they extract salts for producing sperm. 

Also look for a take-a-way postcard with a Harriet Reinhard quote about the first SF butterfly count in 1984; quote courtesy of Liam O'Brien. 


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7.  WALC poetry

Have You Heard?
Elizabeth Villanueva

Trees breaking 
like a car crash 
Leaves whispering
when the wind blows
Acorns falling down
like teardrops 
Fire burning 
leaving only ashes to see
Water moving side to side
like a peaceful song

People take this for granted 
too busy with themselves 
They only see but don’t listen 
Every tree that breaks
is another broken dream
Every leaf’s whisper 
is your ancestors telling you something 
Every fallen acorn 
is lost hope 
Fire burning, leaving ashes 
tells you the consequences of your actions
Water moving side to side 
says you will always have options 

Close your eyes 
Begin to listen

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8.  Are you an educator or parent or volunteer interested in establishing a school garden at your local school? Join us for a series of short presentations and a panel discussion on using native plants in school gardens on Fri, May 20 at the Los Altos Library.

Friday, May 20, 7:00 PM
Los Altos Library Program Room
13 S. San Antonio Road, Los Altos

California Native Plants in School Gardens
Presentations by Claire Elliott, Vicki Moore and other guests, followed by a Panel Discussion

One of our chapter's goals this year is to form a School Garden committee to develop and share expertise and materials for educators, parents, and volunteers who wish to start school native plant gardens. So bring your ideas, experiences, and questions — we hope to have a lively discussion!

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9.  Habitat Gardening with Native Plants, a talk by Nancy Bauer
Thursday, May 19, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
San Carlos Library, 610 Elm Street, San Carlos. (650) 591-0341 x237.

Native plants provide incomparable habitat value to wildlife because they have coevolved for centuries and millennia. You can attract birds, bees, and butterflies by introducing native plants to your garden. Nancy Bauer has been teaching and writing about wildlife habitat gardening since 1998. She is the author of “The Habitat Garden Book: Wildlife Landscaping for the San Francisco Bay Region”. 
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10.  Save McLaren Park:  http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=5ff62aeea73f0bd950b2c268e&id=723e5b34da&e=f29cb98f71

(JS:  I draw your attention to the Keep McLaren Wild link at bottom of this message to get an inkling of consequences of conflicting recreational demands being made on our parks--in this case Disk Golf.)

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Neighbors and friends of McLaren Park,

Here's whole handful of ways for you to get into McLaren the next couple of months, from hunting butterflies to building trails to enjoying picnics and nature walks. But don't wait for us, get out and explore McLaren Park every chance you get, and tell us what you find!


Celebrate our work and enjoy our park...
McLaren Park Community Potluck
Sunday, May 22, Noon - 4 P.M.
Redwood Grove picnic area (north side of Shelley Drive Loop)
All friends and neighbors of McLaren Park (this means you!) are encouraged to join Friends of Crocker-Amazon Excelsior (FACE) for their annual picnic meeting. Help McLaren Park, Save McLaren Park, McLaren Park Collaborative, and other groups will be helping, too. Meet old friends, make new ones, and learn about what's happening in the park and surrounding neighborhoods.  

Birds! Bees! Views! Trees! Short nature walks leave at 1:00 and 3:00 P.M., and will take about half an hour -- just enough exercise to shake off that last bit of pie you snuck off with. Announcements about FACE activities, other groups, and upcoming events will take place throughout the afternoon. Bring a dish or some grillable food to share, as well as your favorite beverage. See you there! 


Help our kids play safely...
Crocker Amazon Playground Monthly Work Party
Saturday, June 4, 9:00 A.M. - Noon
Join Friends of Crocker-Amazon Excelsior (FACE) and other volunteers along with SF Recreation and Parks Department staff in cleaning, planting, painting, and otherwise improving this local hub of rough and tumble goodness.

For more information, contact Linda Litehiser at 415-585-8005 or eMail lharte@earthlink.net.


Experience our species diversity...
17th Annual San Francisco Butterfly Count
Monday, June 6, 9:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Mansell@Visitacion parking lot
McLaren Park is second only to the Presidio for butterfly species diversity within San Francisco's natural areas. The Butterfly Count is a fun way to learn about our local varieties while collecting valuable data about our environment -- in other words, it's citizen science at it's best. Lepidopterist and event coordinator Liam O'Brien tells us "it will be very thorough and will take you about all over. We will give you a "Butterflies of San Francisco" brochure and maps to show what you might find where. You'll have a blast!" Here you can review last year's results and here are articles from the Marina Times, SF Weekly, and Bay Nature.  

If you are interested in attending the McLaren count, please drop a note to ken@savemclarenpark.org. We'll gather at 9:30 A.M. with coffee and pastries but please bring your own lunch and water. If you would rather participate at another park in the City-wide count, meet at Randall Museum at 9:00 A.M. For more information, please contact liammail56@yahoo.com. A $3.00 fee from each participant will go towards butterfly conservation through the North American Butterfly Association. 


Join our Collaborative...
Working Together for a Better McLaren
Wednesday, June 15, 6:30-8:00 P.M.
Several Save McLaren Park volunteers attended the March 30 and May 2, 2011 meetings of the McLaren Park Collaborative. At the March meeting, the guest of honor was SF Rec and Park Planner Karen Mauney-Brodek who presented a follow up on last year's McLaren Needs Assessments meetings. She reported on the road work and sidewalk cuts/ramps being installed at the corner of Visitacion Ave and Mansell St, making the Philosopher's Way trail accessible to persons of different abilities. She also briefly discussed a few other topics such as more garbage cans being installed in the park, various drainage issues, and Help McLaren Park's procurement of a large grant for upgrading the Peru St. playground and the Gambier St. entrance to the park. 

 
At the May Collaborative meeting, participants met Robert Watkins, the new Recreation and Park Service Area #3 Manager (includes McLaren). He shared that each of the gardeners at McLaren is responsible for an overwhelming 80 acres! So, volunteers are appreciated to help with weeding, trash pick up, trail maintainance and to be watchful eyes/ears in keeping McLaren Park beautiful and safe. Robert Watkin's phone number is 415-468-1292.

Recently the Natural Areas committee enjoyed an informative get-acquainted hike in the park with Lisa Wayne and  Christopher Campbell of SFRPD's Natural Areas Program. We discussed threats to native vegetation such as invasive species, soil compaction and erosion, trampling and social trails, various classifications of Management Areas, volunteering and stewardship opportunities, the philosophy and mechanics of trail building, and disc golf, among many other topics. An upcoming meeting of the Infrastructure Committee will discuss installation of some new signage at entrances to the park, and explore other ideas for future improvements. 

To learn more about the McLaren Park Collaborative join their Facebook group. The next meeting will be Wednesday, June 15, 2011, 6-8:00 PM at a location soon to be announced. All are welcome.


Build and repair our trails...
Trailbuilding Weekend In McLaren Park
Friday - Sunday, July 22-24
Once again the stewardship organization V-O-CAL (Volunteers for Outdoor California) will spend a weekend helping SF Recreation & Parks Department build and repair several different sections of the park's trails, and you can help! Watch this video to see what V-O-CAL and 150 volunteers accomplished a couple of years ago in McLaren.  

Most folks we talk to didn't find out about the 2009 project until it was all over, and many of the volunteers came in from out of town (not that there's anything wrong with that).  This time, let's all pitch in and show V-O-CAL what us locals can do!  You can sign up for a single day or the whole weekend, and you can even sign up for a campsite on Friday or Saturday night and wake up to a spectacular City view.  

On Saturday and Sunday breakfast and lunch are provided, and Saturday evening there will be entertainment and a scrumptous outdoor dinner. Bring boots, work gloves and water. More information and a registration form is available here.  Don't delay, sign up today!
Keep McLaren Wild!

Questions, comments, or observations about what's happening in the Natural Areas of McLaren Park? 

Send us an email
or leave a message at the SMP Google Voicemail number, 650-516-7657

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11.  (Addendum:  I missed posting this in last newsletter, when talking about the Laurel Hill Playground historic native plant restoration)

Dear Mr. Sigg,
I was directed to you by a member of the Neighborhood Parks Council, Sunya Ojure, in that you may be able to assist in email-blasting the workdays for native plant restoration at Laurel Hill Playground located at the corner of Euclid and Collins.  Here's a link describing the project:
http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-10-10/home-and-garden/24119331_1_native-plants-franciscan-manzanita -rose-hillson

I hope to have a dedication ceremony after this project is fully completed and I'm trying to get funding for purchasing plants so if people want to send me emails that they are supportive of this project, I can include them in my grant proposal.  Less and less native plant habitat is left but I think lately, thanks to groups like CNPS, more people have finally realized the benefits and beauty of native plants!  Thanks again for your invaluable support!

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12.  Feedback

Elise Bodtke:
> My favorite Einstein quote.
>  Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.  --Albert Einstein
Thank god it's only an illusion.

Karl Cohen:
> I SENT A FRIEND who loves long Sierra hike one of you items.  He wrote back, "Lovely.  Indeed the adventure of a lifetime. Pate Valley is where they helicoptor
> the bad park bears out to from Yosemite. I‚ve heard stories about people getting caught there and staying up all night with torches of limbs of trees on fire to keep from being mauled by bears.  Yes indeed, not a dull step.
> I‚d pass.
> W"
Yah, I know, Karl.  We do lose a few hikers every year in Pate Valley to those hungry bears with rap sheets.  Pity.  But there's always zealous ones to replace them next year--you know these environmentalists who want to tear down dams and restore flowing rivers--there's just no stopping them.  The pine-bough torches do save a few of them, but somebody has to stay awake to keep them burning, and sometimes they do go out.  That's when the bears move in.  So you're wise not to volunteer for this wild-eyed crusade.  But you have to admire their determination.

Somehow that reminds me of a cartoon by a well-know cartoonist, but I can't remember which one.  (It wasn't Tom Toles, but it might be Gary Larson.)  Two bears in the foreground, a single file of hikers in the background.  One bear to another:  "Bet you can't eat just one."
> Sounds like a wonderful adventure.  I first slept on the ground at gl;acer point in 1963 and watched bears sniff around looking for food that night.   Now I'm paralized from a stroke and cant hike far. Otherwised I'd love to join your group.
>
> Love your newsletter.  It is quite valuable to the community.

Gloria Koch-Gonzalez:
> Jake and Noreen, Quail are regularly seen by gardeners on the Stow Lake slopes, the Rhododendron Dell and the National Aids Memorial Grove. The
> Christmas bird count  came up with 13 quail, if I remember right.  I am heartened by even these small numbers, remembering that until the coyotes arrived to eat the cats, and park staff began managing habitat more consciously, there were no quail left in the city.  The park has a history of actively managing for select wildlife. Up until the late nineteen-fifties or early sixties, there were 2 hunters on the payroll, whose job was to shoot the notorious bird egg eaters, including ravens, skunks, fox and raccoons.  Let's also remember that in the old days, quail were fed at different spots throughout the park. Raymond Clary, in The Making of Golden Gate Park, The Early Years, wrote that there were more than 1,500 quail in the park He tells the story of an old man "The Hermitkeeper" who every day fed grain to
> a large flock at 7th Ave.

Saxon Holt:
>> 2.  Editorial:  Golden Gate Park Under Siege?
>
> In the category of good people can disagree I am finally taking pen to paper (keyboard to e-mail) to point out that one of the biggest reasons GGP is in decline is not simply a lack of money and resources for maintenance, but the pressure of population and heavy use of the park.  To expect a Park plan of 140 years ago to apply today is unrealistic and is not going to serve the needs of today's visitor, who is much more likely to want some commercial service.  By commercial service, I would mean anything you seem to think has "nibbled away" at the original vision, not just the museums and fee added gardens, but services from playgrounds to boat rides that might not fit the original vision to "banish all thoughts of urban objects".
> GGP is not some sort of Preserve.  Indeed, perhaps Hall's vision of "a series of sylvan and pastoral views" should never have been imposed on the native dunes and coastal scrub communities so that current City dwellers don't get a warped sense of what we do to make our cities more livable.  But alas, cities do grow, population expects services, and needs change.
> I think GGP desperately needs more of its own money to meet the needs of the people who use the park and who expect it to be safe, beautiful, and fun.  We are fooling ourselves if we expect City budgets to increase without some sort of revenue and the "commercialization" of the park, which is a realistic way to let those who use the park help pay for it.
> "Commercialization" is a brutal word in certain circles.  Those who object to any commercial use of the park seem to think the current trend toward user fees at the Bot Garden or improved services at Stow Lake somehow mean the park is about to be closed to the public at large or Disneyland is next.  C'mon.  Let's pick our battles and influence the compromises that must be made.
> We know GGP needs more money for infrastructure.  Revenue sources are extremely limited and we should not hope that will change, so let's tap into the pockets of some of those that come and use the park, all the while being SURE that the money is used in the Park and not just for the commercial services or other citywide recreation, but for the wonderful free and open spaces that we must always fight for.
>
> Thanks for the Nature News Jake.  Very useful and I applaud your work.
Thanks for your thoughts on the subject, Saxon.  

No one would argue with you about the changing needs of the time and why the Olmsted/Hall vision couldn't survive intact.  Surviving intact and being ignored or forgotten are different things.  You need a guiding vision, and this was a beautiful one thoroughly grounded in reality.  I bemoan less the vision's compromise than its de facto abandonment.  It's hardly even a memory.

Changing circumstances do not require using park roads for auto commuters* or for building a giant parking garage, foisting institutions like the de Young Museum or Academy on it, an endless string of mass events, a water recycling plant, artificial turf, and, and, and...  

And money?  How you spend your money reflects your values.  Mayor Newsom appointed a general manager and a Commission president with instructions to make the parks bring in revenue, and that is happening.  Golden Gate Park will be very different; we may regret being so casual with the Olmsted/Hall vision.

I attended the hearings leading up to the master plan of 1998, at which time the self-important Jack Immendorf was president of the Rec-Park Commission.  He was physically huge, with an ego to match (cf. Arnold Schwarzenegger).  When I reminded him that a certain proposal was against City policy, his stentorian response:  "That's what we're here for, to change policy."  We all know that policy** is not law, especially in this city--but to change it without notice on a 4-3 vote?


*  When I was a gardener in Strybing Arboretum I was spared the sight and sound of auto commute traffic.  However, I had to maintain outside the fence on South Drive also.  Bumper-to-bumper traffic during the commute hours exhausted me and frazzled my nerves.  I couldn't take it anymore and I had to revise my schedule so that I worked out there when the traffic was merely heavy, rather than bumper-to-bumper.  (The "South Drive" was deliberate, if second nature for me:  Hall insisted that park features not be named for people, so I say Main Drive and South Drive rather than JFK and MLK.)  

**  One take on policy:  What is a policy?  You’re supposed to be able to sit on it and twirl and not feel anything.

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13.  Alice Polesky:
A lovely photo I found on my favorite eye candy site, Weather Underground:  http://www.wunderground.com/

You can find a weather station near you and get weather details, but my favorite thing, if you scroll down to "Community" is a link to the photos, mainly of nature, in different galleries/categories, displayed as thumbnails, which you can click on to enlarge.

http://www.wunderground.com/wximage/

Addictive --- especially for nature lovers!

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14.  (Doug Allshouse is founder of Friends of San Bruno Mountain, and he publishes an irregular newsletter which includes as a regular feature a Doug's Mountain Journal, which always has little details you don't find elsewhere.  This is a good sample.  JS)
Doug’s mountain journal
A chronicle about natural history on San Bruno Mountain
Spring 2011

 
The spring of 2010 produced a surprise the likes of which we will likely never witness again. In late June a vagrant eastern bird arrived and was discovered by my friend Herb on Sunday afternoon. Unbeknownst to me I heard this bird on Monday morning and its distinctive “mew” call, a sound that I had not heard in 46 years. I grew up in Ohio and was familiar with the Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis), but there he was singing in front of me. I finally spoke with Herb Monday late morning. On Tuesday I heard it again in the same spot. I walked about 150 yards on the Old Guadalupe Trail and heard it again. Long story short, there were 2 male catbirds singing at the same time. The odds of one being here is phenomenal, but 2—astronomical!! Luckily it was foggy all week so many birders in Norcal came to the park and were not disappointed. We also added the Orchard Oriole (Icteris spurius) to the bird list last year thanks to Jeff Fairclough and Laurie Graham. Our species count stands at 195.
As I was walking home on the Old Guadalupe Trail on the morning of March 9, 2011 a Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) stopped in front of me and said, “Top o’ the morning to ya Doug” and disappeared into an acacia. Aha, I thought, the spring migration is ON! And the Wilson’s (Wilsonia pusilla) and Orange-crowned Warblers (Vermivora celata ) didn’t let me down as I heard one of each the morning of March 31 on the lower Day Camp Road. But I got a nice surprise about a hundred yards further when, lo and behold, there stood a female Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) knee-deep in ditch water feeding. She squatted as though she wanted to fly but I made no threat to her and she quickly dismissed me as just another rude distraction to her breaking her fast. In the last week the male Wilsons’ are singing everywhere, waiting for their potential mates to arrive so they can get down to business. 
Just outside the park by Village in the Park I spotted a female Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) being chased by 4 males. Cowbirds evolved with the bison on the Great Plains, constantly moving with the herds, and such activity created a very strange behavior: they ceased making nests. Instead they lay an egg in nests of other birds hoping to dupe the unsuspecting parents into raising their young. It’s a rather strange (but depressing) sight to see a warbler towing along a scruffy brown bird more than twice its size, and it wonders why it can’t fill the darn thing up with insects. 
Last fall meteorologists were perplexed about the possible effects of a mild La Nina. Normally this condition portends dry conditions in our area. The prediction was that northern CA could be dry- to normal- to wet; talk about covering your bases. In late October we got off to a good start and that continued throughout November and December. The brakes were applied in January, but picked up again in February and we now have the third-largest snow pack ever recorded. There was water flowing in ditches and creeks not witnessed in a few years. April Brook, a healthy seep that flows year-round, breached the earthen bridge on the Summit Trail and washed out the trail. The drainage pipe couldn’t handle the volume, and we did get a couple storms that dumped close to an inch of rain in a short amount of time. 
The early deluges produced a lot of non-native grass. It also brought some premature blooms of milkmaids (Cardamine californica integrifolia), buttercups (Ranunculus californicus), suncups (Camissonia ovata), footsteps-of-spring (Sanicula arctopoides), checkerbloom (Sidalcea malvaeflora), and johnnie tuck (Triphysaria eriantha rosea). Two recent hikes on the Ridge Trail produced 109 native plants; sorry no room to list them all and would you really want to read them all if I did? I didn’t think so. And we saw 11 butterfly species including lots of Green Hairstreaks (Callophrys dumetorum) and Mission Blues (Icaria icarioides missionensis).
This is the best time of year to get out and see the wildflower show on the mountain. It is pretty spectacular this year and, due to rain and a cold winter, the show should last into May.

See you on the mountain..Doug
For updates and info, contact scott at planttrees dot org.