Tag Archives: Berkeley wildlife
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 »
The burrowing owls that make their home at César Chávez Park on the Berkeley Marina every year are back.
Patrick Hickey, who works out in the pre-dawn hours most mornings at the park, says he has noticed a pair of the birds there for at least the past month.
“They sit right on the edge of the path perhaps three feet away. They always seem to flank the edge of the protected corner area,” he said. “They are quite small. They look at me but I say nothing and I keep moving. I think they realize I don’t want to mess with them. Or they are dangerously blasé!” … Continue reading »
Dog walkers who use South Park Drive in Tilden Park for the five months a year when it is closed to cars say recently erected signs that instruct them to keep their dogs on leash contradict a law drafted by the park district 13 years ago. They want the signs taken down and argue that the cyclists who use the stretch of road when it is free of cars constitute a bigger threat to the newts the road’s closure is intended to protect than dogs, whether on- or off-leash.
“There is no legal support for their action. They have acted in excess of their jurisdiction,” said attorney Rena Rickles speaking about the East Bay Regional Park District’s decision to put up the signs in November. Rickles is working pro bono for a group of disgruntled dog walkers more than 50 of whom took their concerns to an EBRPD board meeting on Thursday Dec. 19. … Continue reading »
Once you know what to look for, you might catch glimpses of California’s native bats, even around cities like Berkeley. I see bats near Tilden Park, flittering off into the dusk like tiny airborne scraps of leather. Others notice their pointy silhouettes in the light of the moon, sunset-painted sky, pond reflections, streetlights.
Field biologist Emilie Strauss holds fond memories of watching colonies of bats, fifteen years ago, when they flew out of exit holes in structures in and around UC Berkeley. One of their homes, fittingly, was the Life Sciences Building. … Continue reading »
By Ilana DeBare
The Oakland Christmas Bird Count set a new record on Sunday for number of species – thanks in part to a much-ballyhooed rare bird in a Berkeley backyard.
Over 230 birders fanned out across Oakland, Berkeley and other nearby towns in Golden Gate Audubon’s 73rd annual Christmas Bird Count , or CBC as it’s known.
Some started as early as 2 a.m. looking for owls. By sundown, they had counted a preliminary total of 184 species, breaking last year’s record of 183. … Continue reading »
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 »
[Editor's Note: Several local neighborhood groups have been buzzing recently about problems around their homes related to wildlife. One local resident, Phil Price, offered these tips based on experiences he and his wife, Juliet Lamont, have had in North Berkeley.]
By Phil Price
A few people in recent weeks have mentioned deer depredations and other issues with birds and wildlife causing problems with landscaping. My wife and I have a lot of experience with these issues.
About 15 years ago we removed all of the ivy, Himalayan blackberry and Algerian ivy that made up the understory of our backyard, and replaced it all with native plants. … Continue reading »
Wild turkeys are part and parcel of daily life in the city of Berkeley. Berkeleyside receives regular updates from our readers of sightings. Sometimes the birds come in pairs, sometimes in large flocks — rarely alone. And, it seems, there is nowhere they will not deign to roam. This past week we have received photos of turkeys on a traffic circle, on a roof, even at the doors of City Hall.
Hikers, runners, and bicyclists along Tilden Park’s popular Skyline Trail have been greeted by something new in the past several days: a large, white poster-board sign scribbled with an unusual warning.
“Rattlesnakes seen on this trail — use caution,” says the handwritten sign, mounted on an A-frame style roadblock on Upper Springs Trail where it cuts down from Skyline, dropping steeply to South Park Drive.
To many aficionados of the East Bay’s extensive network of trails, rattlesnake warnings might not seem unusual. Snake sightings in say, Black Diamond Mines or Sibley Volcanic Preserve are common, say naturalists at the East Bay Regional Park District, which manages both areas, as well as Tilden Park.
And occasional rattlesnake bites are reported in these drier, warmer areas, including one last year, said Emily Hopkins, public information officer for the park district.
But Tilden is another matter.
“I’ve been here 18 years, and personally, I’ve seen only one rattlesnake myself,” said Bill Kaminski, acting supervisor of Tilden. “They are here. But very infrequently do people run into them, or report them to us.” … Continue reading »
A wide variety of shorebirds winter in the San Francisco Bay waters, and in Berkeley in particular. A few, like the whimbrel (a type of curlew), migrate from as far away as the Arctic. Elaine Miller Bond, whose work on local wildlife we have been delighted to publish before, recently spent time photographing shorebirds at the Berkeley and Emeryville tidal zones and mudflats in the company of Rusty Scalf, a teacher and trip leader for the Audubon Society.
According to Scalf, these shorebirds have “high odometer readings.” Yet, for foraging, they rely heavily on the fragile, narrow, often muddy habitat between dry land and water — a zone that is increasingly imperiled by global climate change.
Here, we publish a selection of Miller Bond’s gorgeous photos with extended captions written by her describing the birds and their habits. … Continue reading »
On Wednesday, author and photographer Elaine Miller Bond captured this shot of an amazing spectacle down at the Berkeley Marina.
“There were many hundreds, probably thousands, of seabirds (mostly cormorants) flocked together, feeding on the water,” she said. “Within minutes, the entire flock had taken flight and landed here, on the old pilings at the far end of the Berkeley Pier. Though we humans no longer use these derelict planks, birds can certainly be seen, ‘sitting on the dock of the bay.’” … Continue reading »
We admit we are suckers for these adorable birds, so when regular Neil Mishalov sent us these two gorgeous pics, it didn’t take long to decide to share them with you, even though it was barely two weeks ago that we published another photo of this beautiful bird.
News of these special birds is spreading. New York Magazine recently included a visit to spot the burrowing owls as an “Insider’s Tip” in its Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan to Berkeley story. (They also recommended checking out Berkeleyside’s Nosh for East Bay food news, a point we couldn’t disagree with.) … Continue reading »
It’s not just us humans who get romantic around Valentine’s Day. Have you heard of newt love? UC Botanical Garden director and zoologist Paul Licht is intimately familiar with the mating habits of the two newt species – Taricha torosa (California newt) and Taricha granulosa (rough-skin newt) – that become amorous at this time of year. And it’s quite a sight (watch video, above).
According to the Botanical Garden, these small, dark-skinned amphibians hide in the underbrush and are rarely seen by humans, but, once the rains come, scores of them gravitate to the crystal-clear waters of the Japanese Pool. (Perhaps using the famous newt crossing in Tilden Park to get there.) … Continue reading »