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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Birds and Marine Mammals of CA Channel Islands

western gulls follow the boat
California's Channel Islands are a haven for wildlife. Take an Earth Minute (or nearly two) for a few highlights of a 12-hour pelagic wildlife trip.


We went out between Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands. Past Santa Rosa Island and turned south down to San Nicolas Island.

San Nicolas Island
San Nicolas Island is the location of the young adult novel "Island of the Blue Dolphin." (See what San Nicolas Island looks like).

We returned by way of Santa Barbara Island. This small island with its large rocky outcroppings is an important nesting site for sea birds. The last few years, changing climate and water currents have brought unexpected visitors to this rocky outpost.

brown booby below with western gull above it
We were looking for this bird - a brown booby (Sula leucogaster). 

Note: its large size in comparison to the western gull; the brown coloration on the head with a white body; large pointed beak; slim brown wings with a pointed shape. Boobies are plunge divers and their sleek shape helps them catch fish under the water's surface. Usually boobies only travel as far north as the coast of Baja, but the last few years they have become regular visitors, especially to the Channel Islands.

On this July 12th trip we saw:

Bird notables:
  • 3 South Polar skua
  • Sooty, pink-footed, flesh-footed and black vented shearwaters
  • Leach's, black, and ashy storm-petrels
  • brown boobies
  • California sea lions
  • long-beaked common dolphin (~800; including juveniles)
  • short-beaked common dolphin (~1000; including juveniles)
  • Risso's dolphin (~11; including 2 juveniles)
  • bottlenosed dolphin (~15)
  • humpback whales (6)
  • Minke whale (1)
  • Brutus whale (1)
  • fin whales (~3)
  • blue whales (2-3)
the sea was completely flat; the white caps are all common dolphins on the move
At one point the herd of long-beaked common dolphins headed toward was so large that they made a line of white-caps on the water because they were all headed in the same direction: toward the feeding humpback whales. The birds were headed there too.

We even saw a sunfish or mola mola. Protecting our California coastline is important. A diversity of animal species come here because there is food and safety. Our wild neighbors depend on this protected marine environment. Experience our coastal wildlife, it is amazing!

More about CA Channel Islands
Meet a Channel Island Fox
Spring Visit to Santa Cruz Island
Summer Visit to Santa Cruz Island 
Gray Whales and Dolphins off Channel Islands 
Kelp Forest 

Brown booby in Australia 

For more Earth Minutes with Wildlife

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Listen to the Rocky Surf at Glacier Bay, Alaska

A peaceful moment - June 21st, 2013 - the summer solstice,  the longest day of the year... 
Listen to the high quality audio recording of the rocky surf at Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska...

mnnnn  cooling! 


Glacier Bay National Park outside of Gustavus has beautiful vistas and boat trips into the fjords of southern Alaska. 

The shore teems with life.
Waiting for an after midnight sunset!

visit us at

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Wild Sulphur-crested Cockatoos on the Defense

Earth Minutes are happening all around you. Sometimes you just have to listen and eavesdrop on encounters between other creatures.

In the forest at Kakadu National Park in Northern Australia, a group of sulphur-crested cockatoos (Cacatua galerita) are squawking. They raise their yellow-plumed crests and extend their wings to appear larger and threatening. High in the trees, they are having an Earth Minute. Something is causing them to be defensive. Is it a predator?


common brushtail possum in the "Y" of the dead tree
The common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula arnhemensis) poses no threat to the cockatoos. This small marsupial is a plant-eater like the parrots. Most likely, the cockatoos were returning to a favorite nesting cavity in the dead tree and found the possum had moved in. I'm sure the cockatoos thought the possum was a rude squatter. Equally, the possum seemed to feel it had awoken to a nightmare.

Hear a group of birds making a lot of noise? Investigate. You might experience an Earth Minute of your own.

Also Take a Wildlife Cruise on the Yellow Water, Kakadu (birds and saltwater crocodiles)

Earth Minutes with Wildlife

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Summer Visit to Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, CA

Scorpion Anchorage, Santa Cruz Island
Take a 1-Minute escape to California's Channel Islands and experience the combination of land and sea that makes Channel Islands National Park a true California get away.


Santa Cruz Island is home to a variety of plants and animals found no where else in the world. 

The Santa Cruz Island fox (Urocyon litteralis santacruzae) is an endangered species and is successfully recovering from near extinction.

Plants are also special here. The candleholder dudleya (Dudleya candelabrum) is found only on the northern Channel Islands. It is a kind of plant known commonly as a "live-forever." These succulents can stay dormant through extended periods of drought and then revive when rainfall returns. An excellent adaptation for survival on the Channel Islands.

See Santa Cruz Island in Spring

Get up close with a Channel Island fox
More about the endangered Channel Island fox

More California locations and wildlife

Friday, July 3, 2015

Arroyo Seco - Angeles National Forest - a little water for a thirsty world

Switzer Picnic Area in Angeles National Forest has a beautiful hiking path (Gabrieleno trail) along the tree lined stream bed of the Arroyo Seco. 

The Arroyo Seco or "dry stream" is an important watershed in southern California.

Although this stream can be seasonal, the plant and animal community it supports needs the moisture under the rocky bed all through the year.

Listen to the stream on the last week of spring.


A good place to bird, too!

Fee: Adventure Pass required for vehicles.

Elevation: 3,300 feet

From the 210 Freeway exit at Angeles Crest Highway (Hwy 2) and head north about 9.5 miles to the picnic area on the right.

"While on a trail or in and around campgrounds and picnic areas, dogs must be kept on a leash. In addition, your dog must wear a collar with current tags at all times, as state and county laws apply on National Forest System lands."


For more wild spots near Los Angeles, visit us here  at