Tag Archives: Berkeley nature

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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Berkeley to kill squirrels, gophers to protect bay

A ground squirrel at Cesar Chavez Park. Photo: Bill Williams/Creative Commons
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In Berkeley, squirrels are in the cross fire.

In an attempt to make sure no toxins leak out of the old landfill under Cesar Chavez Park and leach into San Francisco Bay, Berkeley is hiring a pest control company to trap and kill hundreds of squirrels and gophers that make their home there.

It seems that when the squirrels and gophers do what comes naturally—digging holes or tunneling in the ground—they are getting perilously close to the clay cap that covers the landfill. If the rodents penetrate that barrier, dangerous toxins like gasoline, lead, iron, herbicides and pesticides, could leach into the bay. So the city needs to reduce the animal population to lessen the risk, according to city spokesman Matthai Chakko. … Continue reading »

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Photos: The rain in Berkeley, as seen by Berkeleysiders

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It rained on and off — but mostly on — all weekend and, according to the forecast, that is all we are likely to get, at least for a little while.

The precipitation prompted Berkeleysiders who braved the weather to shoot some great images and video.

Thank you for sharing them with us.
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First local sighting brings flocks of birders to Berkeley

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This weekend, hundreds of bird enthusiasts flocked to a quiet southside Berkeley neighborhood to catch a glimpse of a beautiful North American breeding bird that has never before been sighted in Alameda County.

The colorful Painted Redstart was still in the Elmwood neighborhood this morning, flitting between three large trees located on three adjacent streets.

Richmond-based graphic designer Lory Poulson, who came to the neighborhood with her partner Susan Gluck to investigate, said they heard the warbler before they saw it.

“It has a distinctive call that sounds like ‘too weet’ with the emphasis on the ‘weet,’” she said using her binoculars to scan a large birch tree on Lewiston Street where the pair had seen the Redstart just before 10 a.m.

The story started Wednesday last week when Katie Bertsche, a scientific illustrator who lives on Prince Street, spotted a flash of bright red in a poplar tree while sitting on her deck. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley cloud film offers chance for a soothing time-out

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Berkeley resident Bill Smock has made a short film about clouds. Specifically the clouds above us in Berkeley. Smock is quick to provide a caveat for prospective viewers, however: “The video is very slow and contemplative. It gets the lowest rating from viewers on the Cloud Appreciation Society website,” he said.

The film runs for ten minutes and includes a soundtrack crafted by Smock that is a melody of everyday Berkeley sounds, from freelance trash recyclers to passing cars broadcasting rap.

Caveat duly acknowledged, if you need some decompression time — a few minutes out of your busy schedule, perhaps, to breathe and to take stock — swirling, beautiful clouds may be just what the doctor ordered.

Except for a couple of shots taken from Tilden Park and Cesar Chavez Park, all of the clouds in the film were sighted from Smock’s house and yard on Carleton Street in West Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Blooming beautiful: Berkeley in the spring

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Robert Trachtenberg, a landscape designer who lives in Berkeley, is the owner of Garden Architecture. This photo essay is part of an occasional series in which Trachtenberg brings an educated eye to the beauty of the nature that surrounds us in Berkeley.

It has been several weeks since I took these photos as I was hoping to share these images as soon as possible but life is full of twists and turns. Once again I didn’t have to travel far to catch some magnificent little jewels in the garden. I share a spectacular all white garden designed by my neighbor, florist Devorah Nussenbaum. All the white flowers in this piece are in our garden. Lucky me!

Scroll down for more photographs and extended captions… … Continue reading »

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High temperatures, wind, prompt Berkeley red flag alert

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As the weather heats up — the National Weather Service is predicting that the temperature will hit 87 degrees by Thursday – officials have issued a Red Flag Warning for the East Bay Hills for Tuesday and Wednesday.

The wind is expected to pick up speed around 6:00 p.m. today, with heavy gusts of up to 50 mph possible by early Wednesday morning. The strong winds should last until 6 p.m. May 1.

The official fire season in Berkeley hasn’t started yet, but the fire department is taking extra precautions in anticipation of the heat and wind, according to Avery Webb, interim deputy fire chief and public information officer. Firefighters have been asked to check their wildland firefighting gear and put it in their vehicles, he said. … Continue reading »

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Lynxes of the bird world: Cooper’s hawks nest in Berkeley

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They’re secretive, stealthy and quick. Allen Fish, director of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, calls them “feisty.” Cooper’s hawks, he says, are “the lynxes of the bird world” that pounce on pigeons and swoop between buildings. And, though Cooper’s hawks are hard to find, we know, at first fleeting glance, that we’ve seen something wild and unusual.

Until about 15 years ago, these woodland hawks made rare appearances in cities like Berkeley, and nesting here was practically unheard of. This spring, however, Fish estimates that Cooper’s hawks are constructing between five and 15 nests across the developed areas of Berkeley and Albany (excluding the hills) — evidence of their great swooping strides towards overcoming their bad reputation as “chicken hawks.” … Continue reading »

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Awakenings: Early bloomers in Berkeley

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Robert Trachtenberg, a landscape designer who lives in Berkeley, is the owner of Garden Architecture. This photo essay is part of an occasional series in which Trachtenberg brings an educated eye to the beauty of the nature that surrounds us in Berkeley.

After a long hibernation and nearly a year to the day since the my father passed away I have been inspired again to document this burst of beautiful new spring blossoms. With a heavy heart and open eyes, it took a full year for me digest and grieve the loss of someone so important to me, to try to understand how he has impacted my life.

Now with each passing season I have a deeper appreciation for the precious cycles of life and for that I am so grateful.

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