Tag Archives: Berkeley nature

Photos: Berkeley’s magnolia trees in winter bloom

Photo: Antoine Wojdyla
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Antoine Wojdyla is a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley Lab and lives near the Fourth Street shopping district. He rides his bike to work and, recently, has taken a few detours to document the dozens of gorgeous magnolia trees that are in winter bloom in the city.

Being organized, he also compiled the locations of the trees into what he calls a “magnolia blotter,” and shared them with Berkeleyside (below).

“It makes a good counterpoint to the crime blotter,” he writes. … Continue reading »

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One of Berkeley’s largest trees to be cut down

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A giant Eucalyptus tree that presides over the swimming pool at King Middle School needs to be felled due to safety concerns, according to City of Berkeley tree experts.

The tree, which sports not one, but four massive trunks, and soars to an estimated 140 ft, is much loved by regulars at the pool, and news that it will be removed has come as a blow to many.

“There’s no outrage in this story, just sadness and admiration for a truly majestic tree that has reached its end,” said local resident Robert Collier. … Continue reading »

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Flying high again: Golden eagle returns to East Bay skies

Photo: Elaine Miller Bond
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Last September, while working on an article for Berkeleyside, I took a short trip to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek. My mission there was purely amphibious: to photograph western toads that the museum keeps on display.

The toads were cute, for sure.

But soon, my experience turned from amphibious to serendipitous.

For I was the lucky photographer who happened to be at the museum when a golden eagle was brought through its doors. … Continue reading »

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Why Acorn Woodpeckers are appearing in Berkeley

Acorn Woodpecker / Photo by Larry and Dena Hollowood, www.flickr.com/photos/larry_dena/
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By Bruce Mast

They are the clowns of the oak savannah — Acorn Woodpeckers — with their harlequin faces, gregarious habits, and off-kilter laughing calls that inspired Woody Woodpecker.

Here in the Bay Area, Acorn Woodpecker colonies are fairly common in the East Bay hills and the western slopes of Mount Diablo, particularly where there are concentrations of valley oaks. South of Livermore, they can be locally abundant in the Diablo range. They are rare in Tilden and Redwood Regional Parks, however, and practically unheard of west of the Hayward Fault.

So what’s up with the recent spate of Acorn Woodpecker sightings in urban San Francisco and the East Bay lowlands? … Continue reading »

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Going green: Frog conservation finds new HQ in Berkeley

Frog. Elaine Miller Bond4387.720pix
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For a long time, I’ve wanted to write an article on frogs for Berkeleyside. In fact, my first “kiss” came from a frog in Tilden Park. It jumped to my lips as I drank water from a fountain on a scorching-hot day at summer camp.

But that was the 1970s. Frogs were more common then. Loud throaty choruses of Pacific treefrogs kept me awake (in a good way) on spring nights, and tiny tadpoles wiggled through the algae-laden waters of a ditch along my street in Kensington. … Continue reading »

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Climate change spells trouble for Berkeley birds

Burrowing owl.
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Some of Berkeley’s most common and beloved birds could face extinction within the next 70 years due to climate change, according to an authoritative new study by National Audubon Society.

The study – released on Tuesday after seven years of research – predicts the effects of climate change on 588 species of North American birds.

It concludes that nationally, 314 species are at risk – nearly half of the continent’s bird species. Of those, 126 species could see severe population declines by 2050, and another 188 species face the same fate by 2080 if climate change continues on its current path.

For Berkeley and the Bay Area, the list of birds in climate trouble includes some species like Snowy Plovers and Least Terns that are already on state or federal lists of endangered/threatened species. … Continue reading »

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All aflutter: Berkeley insect lovers celebrate 40th year counting butterflies

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A hummingbird whirrs by, as a squirrel flicks its tail, flirting. A robin fluffs its feathers after bathing in the stream. Leopard lilies, columbines, even the cacti are in full summery bloom. But today, at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park, we’re here for the butterflies.

Alan Kaplan, an entomologist, educator, and retired Tilden Park ranger, meets me at the garden’s gate, where, already, I have spotted maybe five different types of butterfly, from a teensy so-called “blue” to a glamorous pipevine swallowtail.

Still, there are rules for counting butterflies in nature. So Kaplan gives me the rundown of the day’s event — the Fourth of July Butterfly Count (currently run by the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) — held for its fortieth continuous year in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Friends in high places: Peregrine falcons soar above us

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Not long ago, Berkeleyside reader Patrick Hickey kindly sent in a photo of a beautiful bird of prey, perched on a tall building near his home in downtown Berkeley. I had my own suspicions (and sense of elation) over what kind of bird it might be. Then Rusty Scalf, teacher and trip leader for the Golden Gate Audubon Society, confirmed it: the bird was a peregrine falcon — the fastest animal on Earth. In California, not long ago, it was also one of the most endangered. … Continue reading »

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Nature

Update: Unhappy ending for crow rescued in Berkeley

Crows in flight. Before they took to the air, they were calling to one another and hanging out in pairs in bare trees. Location: Fairfax. Photo: Elaine Miller Bond
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A city animal control officer rescued an injured crow Thursday afternoon after it got tangled in a piece of string and stuck in a tree 40 feet off the ground in West Berkeley.

Workers in an office building called the city Thursday at roughly 2:10 p.m. after noticing the bird struggling but unable to take flight, said John Kindle, an animal control officer for the city.

The Berkeley Fire Department responded to the scene, at 700 Heinz St., along with Kindle, to assess the situation.

When Kindle arrived, he used binoculars to take a closer look. He saw the crow high up in the tree with what appeared to be string tied to a branch and wrapped around one of its claws. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley woman terrorized by giant rat, or what exactly?

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It may have been April Fool’s day, but there was nothing funny about the fright Berkeley resident April Gilbert got when she spotted what she thought was a giant white rat right outside her window on Monday.

“I initially thought it was a gigantic — as in 15 to 20 lbs — white rat,” said Gilbert who lives on Russell Street. “It came up very close to my office window and sat looking at me for several minutes before waddling off along my fence. I felt a bit traumatized by the experience, especially on my namesake day, but managed to take some photos of it with my phone.” … Continue reading »

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Exploding Berkeley redwood felled after lightning strike

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A clean-up operation was underway today after a giant redwood tree in North-West Berkeley exploded after being struck by lightning during a storm on Monday, sending large chunks of wood flying all over the neighborhood. Nearby homes and cars sustained damage, and some witnesses said wood debris landed as far as two blocks away from the site of the tree at 1430 Holly Street (at Buena Avenue).

Fortunately nobody was injured during the dramatic incident, although during the same storm lightning struck 31-year-old Emily Davis as she was crossing Adeline Street about two miles south of the site of the tree. … Continue reading »

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Counting crows: Why are there so many in Berkeley?

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“Why are there so many darn crows in Berkeley these days?”

We get that question a lot at Berkeleyside, and Golden Gate Audubon gets it too.

It’s not just Berkeley. Crows are on the increase throughout the Bay Area, as are their larger and deeper-voiced cousins, ravens.

Back in the 1980s, Golden Gate Audubon members typically found between 30 and 90 American Crows each year in our Oakland Christmas Bird Count, which includes Berkeley. We typically found fewer than ten Common Ravens.

Since 2010, however, the count has turned up over 1,100 crows and 170 to 300 ravens each year. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley neighbors mourn loss of their ‘gathering’ tree

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A fresh hole in the middle of the street. Sadness. Disappointment. Anger. Such is the story of a small street in far north Berkeley.

On Thursday Feb. 20, city workers removed an injured Coast Live Oak from Menlo Place in the city’s Thousand Oaks district, between Colusa Avenue and the Alameda. The tree, at least five decades old, and probably more, grew from the center of the street near the intersection with Santa Rosa Avenue, with traffic navigating around it.

Or trying to.

After a truck hit the tree in December, severing a major limb, city officials deemed it too sick and weak for salvation, and a public hazard. This, in spite of an impassioned campaign by neighbors to save the oak. … Continue reading »

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