Blue Angels 2015
4 Angel Island in the light on an October Sunday morning.
Turkeys hiding on the next door neighbor’s roof two days before Thanksgiving
Blue Angels 2015
4 Angel Island in the light on an October Sunday morning.
Turkeys hiding on the next door neighbor’s roof two days before Thanksgiving
This loop is about 23 miles, a couple of hours at a 12 mile per hour pace, a little more at a more leisurely speed.
Pictures are numbered on the route map.
1. The Ohlone Greenway is named for the Ohlone Indians who once lived in the area, this trail doubles as a commuting corridor and a recreation destination for the cities of Berkeley, Albany and El Cerrito. While the Ohlone Greenway is certainly an urban trail, it weaves together a number of parks and green spaces, community gardens and interpretive kiosks to create a pleasurable and informative trail experience. The greenway’s smooth asphalt surface makes it suitable for a variety of users.
2. The City of Berkeley Eastshore Pedestrian Overcrossing was made to allow bicycles, pedestrians, and wheelchair users access to the Berkeley Marina, Eastshore State Park, and the city. Opened in 2002, the bridge was built at a cost of $6.4 million. The bridge created an ADA -compliant route between Berkeley and its Marina/waterfront park region. Prior to its construction, the only wheelchair accessible route was via an undercrossing 1 mile to the north. Bicycles and pedestrians could use a dark, hidden, and seldom-used path and stairwell that ran under and along the University Avenue freeway overpass.
The two 30-ft. tall sculptures were installed in October/November 2008, the work of Emeryville artist Scott Donahue, who won a national competition for the commission. Called “Berkeley’s Big People,” the fiberglass sculpture depicts, among other things, the university town’s proud culture of civil demonstrations. The other, on the west side of bridge closest to the marina, depicts East Bay leisure life: a bird watcher peering through binoculars, a jogger, a kite flier, and a boater. And there’s a disc-catching dog in mid-leap.
3. A long, narrow 9 holes out and 9 in. Water hazards (lake, ponds, streams) make it a ‘Pebble Beach’ course. Multiple tees and a practice basket. Great views of SF. Winds off bay can be treacherous.
4. UC Berkeley ranks number 3 in the US News & World Report list of the top 500 universities in the world
5. All the houses you can see in this picture are new since the 1991 fire.
6. El Cerrito Trail Trekkers helps support the Hillside Natural Area, including the Madera Open Space, which the city recently acquired linking the northern and southern areas into a unified open space park of over 100 acres. Last year the El Cerrito Open Space Campaign raised $100,000 to help buy the land. This year we are raising funds to restore habitat, control invasive plants and improve trails. Hillside Natural Area Trails
7. Berkeley artist Tyler Hoare first put up wooden replicas of the famous Peanuts characters in their airplanes, battling World War One flying aces, back in 1975. Hoare said he first got the idea when he himself was stuck in traffic on I-80, gazing out at the Bay.
For nearly four decades, Tyler Hoare has been adding a bit of whimsy to the East Bay waterfront with his salvaged wood creations: some 30 large sculptures including airplanes inspired in part by Snoopy comics; a submarine, a pirate ship, a viking ship, and a ‘King Tut ship’ with a gold-painted Egyptian-style figurehead; and, before most of the wood pilings in the water rotted away, spindly, rustic, 6-foot-tall sculptures Hoare calls his “post people”. Those sculptures are all gone now because the marsh is now part of McLaughlin Eastshore State Park.
8. Left to right: Presidio, Alcatraz Island, Golden Gate, Marin Headlands
9. The Berkeley Marina’s 52 acres of water and 1100 berths can accommodate vessels 16 feet to 110 feet in length. Surge and rough water are eliminated by an entrance breakwater. See the house boats in the background?
10. Golden Gate Fields was built just before World War II. The inaugural meet was on February 1, 1941. In the period just before the war, the track was used as the scene of the crime central to the plot of the movie Shadow of the Thin Man. With the onset of World War II, the United States Navy took over the property as the “Albany Naval Landing Force Equipment Depot” for storing hundreds of landing craft destined for use in the Pacific theater. After the war, Golden Gate Fields resumed horse racing.
Attendance at horse racing tracks has dwindled in recent years, especially with the growth of off-track betting. Golden Gate Fields is now the only horse racing track in the Bay Area and has races Thursday thru Sunday, except a couple summer months. In 2012, Golden Gate Fields bid for the new Lawrence Berkeley Lab Campus, but lost out to the Richmond Field Station.
11. Albany Beach is part of Albany Waterfront Park. It is located across from the Albany Bulb and Golden Gate Fields racetrack.
The nearby Albany Bulb is transitioning from the City of Albany to the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park. In April 2014, more than two dozen homeless residents of the Albany Bulb received $3,000 from the city for agreeing to leave the site and remove all of their personal property. These are the key terms of a settlement agreement between the City of Albany and a group of housing advocates representing the Bulb’s homeless resident, effectively marking the end of the high-profile eviction battle.
Construction begins June 8, 2015 on a major rehabilitation project at the Albany shoreline. Portions of the park will be closed to the public until construction ends in November. 2015.
12. Cerrito Creek is one of the principal watercourses running out of the Berkeley Hills into San Francisco Bay in northern California. It is significant for its use as a boundary demarcation historically, as well as presently. In the early 19th century, it separated the vast Rancho San Antonio to the south from the Castro family’s Rancho San Pablo to the north.
Today, it marks part of the boundary between Alameda County and Contra Costa County. The main stem, running through a surprisingly deep canyon that separates Berkeley from Kensington, is joined below San Pablo Avenue by a fan of tributaries, their lower reaches mostly in storm-drain pipes. The largest of these is Middle or Blackberry Creek, a southern branch.
The creek is named for Albany Hill, formerly called Cerrito de San Antonio, a prominent isolated hill on the shoreline of San Francisco Bay in Albany. Cerrito Creek, joined by a fan of other small creeks, formerly meandered to the Bay through a large marsh just north of the hill.
With Alameda County settled more densely in the early 20th Century boom that followed the San Francisco Earthquake, the area just north of the county line at the creek became the home of jazz joints, gambling, and other pursuits requiring a light hand from the law. This lasted until a post-World-War-II reform movement in the City of El Cerrito.
The City of El Cerrito is committed to a long-term plan to “daylight” the still-culverted reaches of the creek at the south edge of El Cerrito Plaza, between San Pablo Avenue and the Ohlone Greenway. The cities of Albany and El Cerrito have adopted a long-term plan for a pedestrian-bicycle route mostly along the creek, connecting the Ohlone Greenway to the Bay Trail. This plan is gradually being carried out. Priority Conservation Area Application
Friends of Five Creeks established some natives and placed a litter can at the short reach exposed at the Ohlone Greenway, but these plantings have repeatedly been devastated by maintenance workers. Between Talbot and Kains, adjacent to the El Cerrito Plaza shopping center, a state grant to the City of El Cerrito led to the channelized creek being re-contoured in 2003, giving it a more natural flow pattern, native vegetation, and a creekside trail.
13. I haven’t visited every dog park in the world, but in my experience Point Isabel is the best. There are beautiful views of the Golden Gate and Marin County from this landscaped 23-acre park at the west end of Central Avenue in Richmond. This is one of the largest public off-leash dog parks in the nation with over 500,000 dog visits per year.
14. Baxter Creek, previously known as Stege Creek or Bishop Creek), is a three-branch creek in Richmond and El Cerrito,forming the Baxter Creek watershed. The creek has three sources and flows from the Berkeley Hills to Stege Marsh and the San Francisco Bay.
The creek has been largely culverted over the years since the Rancho San Pablo and the subdivided Bishop Ranch, then known as Bishop Creek, were urbanized. Residents missed the creek when it disappeared under the asphalt and formed Friends of Baxter Creek. This group has aided in the restoration of several portions of the creek. Baxter Creek Park, Poinsett Park, and Booker T. Anderson Park are now in a more natural riparian condition.
This segment of creek at Gateway Park in El Cerrito was restored in 2005 after citizens formed a group-Friends of Baxter Creek-to advocate for the purchase of the land from the Santa Fe Railroad, and its restoration. Baxter Creek Maintenance and Management Guide Green Team volunteer clean ups take place the first Saturday of every month from 10:00 – 12:30.
15. Stege Marsh, also known as the South Richmond marshes, is next to UC Berkeley’s Richmond field station.
The marsh is the delta at the mouth of Baxter Creek which drains from a watershed extending into the Berkeley Hills in El Cerrito. The marsh is opposite Meeker Slough from where Meeker Slough Creek drains into Campus Bay, which is a part of the Richmond Inner Harbor of the San Francisco Bay.
The site was polluted by a UC Berkeley Field Station and a Zeneca sulfuric acid manufacturing center. Restoration is underway. The marsh is so polluted that the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board named it a “toxic hot spot” and one of the “top 10 most polluted” sites in the Bay Area in 1998
Also called a Blood Moon this eclipse lasted for about 1 hour and 12 minutes.
September’s full moon is also called a Blood Moon, because it presents the fourth and final eclipse of a lunar tetrad: four straight total eclipses of the moon, spaced at six lunar months (full moons) apart. Phew!
Eclipse Began: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 5:11 PM
Sunset: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 6:17 PM
Civil Twilight: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 6:44 PM
Moonrise: Sun, Sep 27. 2015 at 6:51 PM
Nautical Twilight: Sun, Sep 27 at 7:15 PM
Astronomical Twilight: Sun, Sep 27 at 7:45 PM
Maximum: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 7:47 PM
Eclipse Ended: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 10:22 PM
These Blue Gum eucalyptus in the El Cerrito Hillside Natural Area are not included in the $5.5 million FEMA funded fire mitigation plan approved for Oakland, UC Berkeley and the East Bay Regional Parks.
Oakland and UC Berkeley came up with similar proposals, both of which called for the wholesale removal of eucalyptus trees, a highly combustible nonnative species that was widely blamed for fanning the 1991 firestorm. Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, strongly backed these plans, while some neighborhood groups staunchly opposed them on the grounds that they amounted to clear-cutting. The East Bay Regional Park District, by contrast, settled on a plan to gradually thin the eucalyptus and other vegetation over time.
In March, FEMA announced the approval of $5.6 million in grants to UC Berkeley, the City of Oakland, and the East Bay Regional Park District. But in its approval of the funds, FEMA advised UC Berkeley and Oakland to adhere to the “thinning” method similar to the one proposed by the park district — rather than their clear-cutting plans.
The eucalyptus trees pose a larger risk in the hills than in other locations, because there are so many of them and they’re clustered together. It’s not just that the trees are “quite flammable,” but that the eucalyptus groves in the hills are so dense.
In dense forests with closed canopies, flames can jump through the treetops, propagating what’s known as a crown fire. Thinning the trees and therefore reducing the canopy, he said, would help reduce the risk of a crown fire in the hills.
The Sierra Club and the group Claremont Canyon Conservancy contend that the thinning plan won’t be nearly as effective as permanently removing and replacing the eucalyptus trees with native vegetation. Norman La Force of the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter, calls the thinning plan a “complete 180” from the earlier proposals. He noted the danger that eucalyptus trees pose in propagating fire, and questions why FEMA would not endorse removing more of the nonnative trees.
Although the Hills Conservation Network and the Sierra Club have opposite views about eucalyptus and the FEMA plan, both have filed lawsuits against the federal agency, raising issues of public transparency and alleging that FEMA didn’t fully consider other alternatives to the plan it put forth. Both groups said they’re concerned that the “unified methodology” is ambiguous and needs to be compared to more alternative proposals.
From El Cerrito Trail Trekker’s Description of the Ridge Trail: One of the most popular entrances to the Hillside Natural Area is at the end of King Court, at the meeting of King Drive. and Shevlin, just north of Moeser Ln. There begins the highest of the north-south trails, the Ridge Trail, #30 on our newTrail list.
With its higher elevation and more open vegetation, the Ridge Trail offers some of the most spectacular vistas available in the park. From King Ct, the trail follows the upper rim of the old quarry before turning north towards its finish at the end of Regency Ct. Before that it crosses the Navellier trail (#29), which has entrances at both its top and bottom. Because of this connectivity, the Ridge Trail is an important thoroughfare for people who live in the surrounding area.
Now that the Madera Property has become part of the Hillside Natural Area, it is even more important. Because just below the end of Regency Ct. is one of the main entrances to the Madera Open Space. The acquisition of this plot of land connects the northern and southern sections of the Hillside Natural Area.
Above the quarry at the end of Schmidt Lane
Contemplating the sunset
The labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. The path winds throughout and becomes a mirror for where we are in our lives. It touches our sorrows and releases our joys. Walk it with an open mind and an open heart.
From El Cerrito Trail Trekkers description of the Live Oak Trail The second of the two major north-south trails is the Live Oak Trail. The Hillside Natural Area is a popular dog-walking spot and the Live Oak trail is probably one of the best used routes.
From its start in a stand of eucalyptus trees, the trail then moves on to an open hillside, with two benches suitable for views, rest or just silent contemplation. Moving on, we pass under the eponymous oaks and into the first of two small canyons that contain branches of Wildwood Creek (or would, if we ever got any rain). The main channel of Wildwood Creek forms part of the boundary of the southern section of Hillside Natural Area, and higher up the creek can be seen in the Madera Open Space. Eventually these branches meet the main branch somewhere underground in the flats, and Wildwood is itself eventually joins Baxter Creek, which finds the bay in Richmond northwest of Point Isabel.
Between the two creek beds is another open hillside, and still another bench, and the trail reaches its end after the second creek, where it meets the steep Navellier trail (#29). Across Navellier trail the path continues, but now called the Douglas Trail (#27). Douglas trail exits the park at Douglas Dr., a circle off Potrero Ave.
On either side of the Navellier trail, new steps were installed in 2013 as part of an Eagle Scout project by Johnny Wu of Albany. This is fitting, since Live Oak and Douglas used to be referred to as the “Nature Trail.” Why? Because many years ago another Eagle Scout project laid out an interpretive trail along the route. Numbered posts can still be seen along the trails, and although the hillside has changed over time, you can still download the guide from the Trail Trekker website. The guide exists in two forms, a pamphlet that you and print out and take with you, and a longer 15 page report on the nature of the Hillside Natural Area, or at least as it was then. Maybe a future scout will produce a new one. Until then, Friends of Five Creeks have natural history links for the park on this page, and also have this page at inaturalist.org.
5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Meet at the End of Rifle Range Road
Come enjoy the last full moon of spring rising over the East Bay Hills. This five mile hike descends into the Canyon on the Rifle Range Road trail and then goes up the other side on the beautiful Havey Canyon trail which is shaded and full of native trees and shrubs. The route connects with Nimitz Way at the top for stunning Bay views and a short side trip to a look out and old Nike Missile site. Then back down Menzes trail in cattle country, back across Wildcat Creek Bridge and back up Rifle Range Road Trail.
I counted an 1100 foot elevation gain so this is a moderately strenuous hike. We go down one side of Wildcat canyon, up the other and back again. Google counts the hike as 1 hour 45 minutes, but that is a brisk pace. I did it in two hours with time for pictures. We’ll plan on a leisurely three hours with plenty of time for pictures, snacks and a scenic detour.
Large coast live oaks, bay laurels, and a scattering of bigleaf maples and madrones grow on the park’s east-facing slopes. North-facing hillsides support some beautiful, nearly pure stands of bay laurel, fringed with coast live oak. Moist chaparral of coyote brush, poison oak, elderberry, snowberry, bracken fern, and blackberry grow in thickets high on the north-facing slopes.
The Havey Canyon trail is shaded and full of native trees and shrubs. If wet, it will be a very muddy walk with a steep creek to cross, but not an issue this time of year.
Dogs are allowed off leash under voice command in Wildcat Canyon, but we would prefer only leashed dogs for this hike.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 290,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 12 days for that many people to see it.
Moeser Lane and Seaview Drive, El Cerrito. Turn onto Moeser Lane from San Pablo Ave and travel east approximately one mile (through one stop light after you are on Moeser).
The display is lit from Saturday, December 13, 2014 from 5 pm to 10 pm through Friday, December 26.
In June 1900, Sundar Lamba was born in Chak Shadi, a small village in Punjab, India. Both of his parents were born in Punjab, an extensive area in the northwest of India. Major rivers, the Indus, Ganges and the Iruande drained through vast regions, producing fertile soils for agriculture. Grains, sugar cane, Indian rubber and tobacco were some of the main products.
Sundar lived on a farm with his parents, five brothers and one sister. During a violent uprising, the family fled to Pakistan. One brother was killed. Another brother died in 1918, during World War 1.
As a boy, Sundar was sent to Moslem-Sikh schools. Because of the tropical-like climate and widespread agricultural possibilities, Sundar’s brother urged him to pursue a career in Pomology, the science of agriculture, growth and production. His intent was that Sundar would return to Punjab and spread his knowledge throughout the region. Sundar came to the University of California in Berkeley in 1921. In 1926 he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Pomology and in 1929 he received his Master of Science in Subtropical Horticulture. His return to Punjab did not go as he had expected and he soon came back to the United States.
Sundar met Dorothy Cotelle Clarke at UCB, where she was pursuing a career in Spanish. They married in 1934. Dorothy continued her studies and became a professor of Spanish at Berkeley.
Sundar and Dorothy had three daughters: Zilpha Tedforda Shadi (Mrs George Roland Paganelli), Ramona Rhea Shadi (Mrs William Walter Miller) and Verna Carol Shadi. They built and lived in their home on the Arlington in El Cerrito. The girls attended local schools and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley.
Sundar Shadi became a citizen in 1948. Although he didn’t pursue his profession as a pomotologist, he did continue his interest in the science. He published research about subtropical horticulture and became an elected member of professional honor sciences: Phi Sigma Biological Society and the Society of Subtropical Horticulturists.
When he retired, he was able to spend more time with the thousands of flowers he loved at the family home at on the Arlington, in El Cerrito, and start what would turn into a virtuoso seasonal sculpture garden.
“It began with a single star in 1950, his daughter said, then it grew year by year. He loved doing it, and it gave him something to do in the fall when his flowers were not in bloom.” And while Shadi knew plants, he didn’t know how to make models of creatures and buildings, especially those that could withstand the rain and chill of an El Cerrito winter. He found that a wooden frame covered in chicken wire formed a good foundation. For the outer layer, he tried various materials, including plaster of Paris and papier-mâché. He even tried concrete for some sheep, Rich Bartke said, and eventually seemed to favor stucco.
One missing element that surprises many people when they are told about it is that there is no manger, no nativity scene with baby Jesus. Many people will swear to having seen one in the display, but there’s never been one. The absence of the nativity scene was a kind of ecumenical compromise.
There are other countries in the world that enjoy divinely inspired natural landscapes, but Costa Rica boasts a higher biodiversity than Europe and the United States combined. Its small size also means that travelling from cloud forest to coastline and from summit to savanna is quick, easy and a matter of course.
The Pacuare River, or the Río Pacuare,and flows approximately 108 km to the Caribbean. It is a popular location for white water rafting, whitewater kayaking and riverboarding. The rainforests that surround the river are home to exotic animal species such as jaguars, monkeys, ocelots, and a very large number of birds. Also it was considered one of the 5 nicest rivers to practice rafting.
In January, the water wasn’t at its highest, but there were a fair number of rocks.
This Lower Section of class III and IV whitewater is the part of the Pacuare River that is most famous. Flowing approximately 23 miles (and dropping approximately 1200 feet) from Finca La Cruz to the town of Siquirres. The run can be done in a single day trip or as long as a three day trip. The highlights of this section include the whitewater rapids and the waterfalls that flow into the river in the Huacas River Gorge. The rapids include Upper and Lower Huacas (class IV), Double Drop (class III), Cimarones (class IV) as well as multiple others.
The three-toed sloth is active during the day, unlike the nocturnal two-toed sloth, and so is seen more often. This sloth only eats leaves from trees and lianas, but may feed on fifty individual trees of up to thirty species, eating leaves of different ages. Sloths live, feed, mate, and reproduce near the upper levels of the forest canopy. They move to a new tree often enough to balance their diet, or about once every 1.5 days. Home ranges of different individuals may overlap considerably and females tend to be more social than males, but usually one adult (or female with young) will occupy a tree at any given time. Sloths may use different food sources depending upon what their mothers taught them to eat.
Though large for an arboreal mammal, the three-toed sloth must also be light for its size to live in the treetops, so it has reduced muscle mass. They also have an enormous gut capacity-nearly 30% of their body weight! The sloth’s diet of leaves is digested very slowly, so they need a large capacity. Sloths consume a significant amount of leaf material in a forest (about 2% of total annual leaf production in Panama). They have a slow metabolism, though, so they have thick fur to insulate them when their body temperature drops at night; their temperature peaks during the day when they bask in the sunlight.
About once a week, the sloth descends from its lofty living space, digs a small hole with its stubby tail, defecates and urinates in the hole, then covers it with leaves using its hind legs and return to its preferred heights. This ordeal lasts less than 30 minutes, but during this time the sloth is vulnerable to predators. While mortality of young sloths is high, individuals that survive to adulthood suffer low mortality rates; they are recorded to live as long as 9 to 11 years, and are thought to live as many as 20 to 30 in the wild.
In October 2013, surfer Adán Rivera was attacked by a crocodile on Tamarindo Beach, and he lived to tell the story. But that story has a different protagonist than you might expect – the reptile.
“The crocodile had as much a right to be there as I did, if not more,” Rivera said in an interview with The Tico Times a few days after the incident. He seemed miffed that there had been a question of whether authorities would remove the animal, and recounted the incident as if it were merely a temporary setback.
The attack took place on the morning of Oct. 13, when the experienced Spanish surfer was teaching his girlfriend, Natali Latite, how to ride a wave at the popular beach town in northwestern Guanacaste Province. In chest-deep water, Rivera propelled Latite into an oncoming swell and waited for her to swim back. That was when Latite noticed the crocodile and panicked.
“She yelled to me, and I turned and saw the animal,” Rivera said. “I began trying to sneak away without drawing attention, but the croc saw me, grabbed my finger and scratched my shoulder a bit. Then it swam off.”
That’s a very low-key version of the story The Tico Times heard from surf instructor Luis Sequeira, an apparent witness to the attack, who also claimed to have saved Rivera by scaring the crocodile away. But Rivera says he never saw or spoke with Sequeira. Two Swiss surfers whom Sequeira also claims to have saved have not responded to requests for an interview.
Regardless, an injured Rivera checked in to Clínica San Gabriel in Villa Real, where Dr. Gabriel Muñoz patched him up and told to stay out of the water to avoid infection. Rivera and Latite then switched hotels and stuck to land tours, waiting for Muñoz’s permission to surf again. That’s when Rivera became outspoken on the crocodile’s right to inhabit its own territory. The apparent crocodile aficionado also speculated as to why the animal might have attacked, downplaying the danger.
“It wasn’t that big, maybe [6.5 feet] long and not very heavy,” Rivera said. I think it was young and didn’t have much experience hunting. … It was just confused.”
Costa Rica lies squarely in the tropics, at a crossroads connecting North and South America. This “rich coast” country, is bordered to the east by the warm Caribbean, and the Atlantic Ocean, and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. In between these coasts, lie lowland jungles, mountain forest draped in mosses, alpine tundra, and dry forest–and all adorned with anurans (frogs and toads that is). Costa Rica hosts 133 species of frogs and toads placed into 8 families
In forests, ponds, swamps, and other ecosystems around the world, amphibians are dying at rates never before observed. The reasons are many: habitat destruction, pollution from pesticides, climate change, invasive species, and the emergence of a deadly and infectious fungal disease. More than 200 species have gone silent, while scientists estimate one third of the more than 6,500 known species are at risk of extinction. Species are disappearing even before they are described by scientists — a study published in Proceedings of the Nation Academy of Sciences last year found that 5 of the 30 species known to have gone extinct in Panama’s Omar Torrijos National Park since 1998 were unknown to science.
But the news gets worse. Chytridiomycosis — which is caused by a microscopic fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) that lives in water and soil — is spreading, metastasizing across Central and South America, Africa, and Australia. Amphibians are even experiencing rapid decline in habitats unmarred by the pathogen, pesticides, or direct human influence. Research in Costa Rica has recorded a 70 percent decline in amphibians over the past 35 years in pristine habitats, suggesting that climate shifts are taking a toll. – See more at: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0428-amphibian_rescue.html#sthash.CEAAXSCg.dpuf
Tortuguero National Park is situated in extreme northeast of the country, reached only by airplane or boat. The park has a large variety of biological diversity due to the existence within the reserve of eleven different habitats, including rainforest, mangrove forests, swamps, beaches, and lagoons. Located in a tropical climate, it is very humid, and receives up to 250 inches (6,400 mm) of rain a year.
The area protected by Tortuguero (turtle catcher) National Park was an archipelago of volcanic islands until alluvial sediments from the interior mountains, filled in the spaces and formed a network of marshy islands. Sand piled up where the river deposited land met the sea, and the turtle nesting beaches of Tortuguero formed. The exceptionally high rainfall, and rich environment where the freshwater meets the sea makes the beaches, canals, lagoons and wetlands of Tortuguero areas of exceptional biodiversity, and opportunity for nature lovers.
The main attraction of Tortuguero National Park is the turtles. Green Sea, leatherback, and Hawksbill turtles nest on the beaches here. Green Sea Turtles neared extinction due to hunting of the adults for meat (they are easy prey when they mass to nest) for turtle soup, and poaching of eggs for their supposed aphrodisiac qualities.
It’s possible to see stragglers laying eggs during the day, but the mass arrivals (arribadas) occur at night usually under a waning moon. You will need a guide to visit the beaches at night (no one is allowed on the beach unaccompanied after 6:00 pm). When you and your guide walk out onto the beach under the starlight to watch the turtles struggle up the beach, dig their nests and lay their eggs, think about their future.
If you are exceptionally lucky, you might chance to see an even more spectacular event, the newly hatched turtles race to the sea. There is some overlap of the nesting and hatching seasons for the different varieties of turtles. The eggs incubate in the warm sand for 7 to 10 weeks before the babies hatch, dig their way to the surface and make the long dark scuttle from the nest well above the high tide mark, across the beach to the surf.
The extensive network of freshwater creeks and lagoons behind the beaches of Tortuguero are home to seven species of river turtles, Spectacled Caiman, Southern River Otters, a number of crustaceans, and over 50 species of freshwater fish. If you take a trip on a tour boat, or paddle a canoe through the freshwater canals you are also likely to see Spider, Howler and Capuchin Monkeys and dozens of species of birds. If you are lucky you might spot an endangered West Indian Manatee.
Native to the forests of Central America and the extreme north-western portion of South America, the white-headed capuchin is important to rainforest ecology for its role in dispersing seeds and pollen.
Among the best known monkeys, the white-headed capuchin is recognized as the typical companion to the organ grinder. In recent years the species has become popular in North American media. It is a highly intelligent monkey and has been trained to assist paraplegic persons. It is a medium-sized monkey, weighing up to 3.9 kg (8.6 lb). It is mostly black, but with a pink face and white on much of the front part of the body, giving it its common name. It has a distinctive prehensile tail that is often carried coiled up and is used to help support the monkey when it is feeding beneath a branch.
In the wild, the white-headed capuchin is versatile, living in many different types of forest, and eating many different types of food, including fruit, other plant material, invertebrates, and small vertebrates. It lives in troops that can exceed 20 animals and include both males and females. It is noted for its tool use, including rubbing plants over its body in an apparent use of herbal medicine, and also using tools as weapons and for getting to food. It is a long-lived monkey, with a maximum recorded age of over 54 years.
2013 research from the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry found that spectacled caimans (Caiman crocodilus) near banana plantations were significantly thinner, and had higher pesticide concentrations in their blood, than caimans in more remote locations. (Watch a video about banana farms in Costa Rica.)
“The animals are very, very thin—about 50 percent thinner than those away from the plantations,” said study co-author Peter Ross, an aquatic ecotoxicologist and associate professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.
It’s unclear whether the pesticides are directly toxic to the caimans or are impacting their health indirectly by diminishing the quality and abundance of their food supply.
Ross thinks the latter scenario is more likely given the moderate pesticide concentrations he and his colleagues found. Since all of the pesticides detected were insecticides, the chemicals could be knocking out the bottom of the food chain. This would affect the fish that eat the insects, resulting in caimans having to search farther for food and use more energy to try to find the few fish that remain.
The emerald toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus) is a near-passerine bird occurring in mountainous regions from Mexico, through Central America to northern Venezuela and along the Andes as far south as central Bolivia.
The emerald toucanet is a generally common in humid forest and woodland, mainly at higher elevations. The 3–4 white eggs are laid in an unlined hole in a tree, usually an old woodpecker nest, but sometimes a natural cavity.
The emerald toucanet is a popular pet toucan. It is affectionate when hand-fed and loves to play and interact with its owner. Emerald toucanets are as quick to learn tricks as cockatoos. They are active and need a large cage for their size, including perches that they can hop back and forth on. They also require a high-fruit diet, without which they are susceptible to a disease of excessive iron storage that is similar to hemochromatosis in humans.
Monteverde iconic cloud forest was first settled by a community of Quakers who sought to protect their invaluable watershed. Home to such rare fauna as the resplendent quetzal, which is the Maya bird of paradise, Monteverde is partly responsible for Costa Rica’s international fame as an ecotourism hot spot where you can be inspired about the possibilities of organic farming and alternative energy sources.
Which Costa Rica Zipline is the best? Comparing 6 popular canopy tours in Arenal and Monteverde.
No crowds, chocolate colored beaches, and great surf best describe the beaches of Esterillos. You may never see another person as you stroll down the beaches where palms and almond trees line the forest edge and the clear blue waters invite you to go for a swim. This serene, contiguous stretch of beach is made up of Esterillos Oeste to the west and Esterillos Este to the east, appropriately, where you will find plenty of accommodations laced throughout
In 2011, Manuel Antonio was listed by Forbes among the world’s 12 most beautiful national parks. This park has one of the most impressive landscapes of the world and has several coves with many white sand beaches and lush foliage amidst great mountains and forests that reach the beaches. Additionally, it is located in the tropical forest. It has a large land and marine biodiversity with beautiful coral reefs.
Although Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica’s smallest national park, the diversity of wildlife in its 6.83 km2 (3 sq mi) is unequaled with 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds.
Locals will often point one lizard out as ‘iguana’, and another as ‘garrobo’, with complete assurance, though the untrained eye might see no obvious difference. So is this just a matter of two names for the same creature, or are they different species altogether?
In fact, they are distinct species, though both are called iguana in English, and both belong to the Iguanidae family. The one referred to as iguana in Spanish is the Green Iguana (Iguana iguana). As the name suggests, this full-scale lizard – up to 6ft long! – can sport a distinctive lime-green hue, though Costa Rica’s residents can also be seen in bright rusty tones as well, or graduated shades of green, blue, yellow and orange.
The garrobo, in contrast, includes two species: Ctenosaura similis and Ctenosaura quinquecarinata, known respectively as the Black Spinytail Iguana and the Club Tail Iguana.
They are distinguished by thick, scaly tails, and dark bands across the body, though their coloring can also vary from nearly black, to tan, peach, mossy green and grey-blue. The Costa Rican Black Spinytail holds the record of the world’s fastest lizard, clocking an impressive 21.5 mph, and is considerably larger (up to 4ft) than the Club Tail, which only grows to a foot in length.
Marino Ballena National Park is named after the Humpback Whales that migrate here each year from December to April to mate before returning to the frigid waters to the north. Playas Uvita and Ballena are relatively unvisited stretches of white and golden sand. Green marine iguanas (iguana verde) bask in the sun between dives to feed on the algae growing on the rocks and coral. Between the beaches are areas of mangrove habitat.
The largest coral reef on the Pacific Coast of Central America forms a crescent necklace with the three small islands known as Las Tres Hermanas (three sisters) and Ballena island as the center piece. The park stretches from the southern end of Playa Hermosa to the northern end of Playa Piñuela and about 9 miles (15 km) seaward.
With perhaps the most consistent waves in Costa Rica, Playa Dominical is a haven for surfers. Swimming, however, can be dangerous due to the strong riptides that are found throughout the 2.5 mile (4 km) strip of beach.
The pleasant town of Dominical is relatively small but offers the beach-lover a wide variety of nearby beaches to choose from. Playa Dominicalito is just south of Dominical and is a great spot for beginner surfers and swimmers. At Punta Dominical, on the southern end of Playa Dominicalito, you’ll see the lush green land merge with the rich blue Ocean. It is a great spot to watch the ocean’s waves crash onto the rocky shore below and see a near perfect sunset almost year round. Other activities include treks to nearby waterfalls including the Nauyaca Waterfalls (7.5 mi from Dominical on Hwy 243), canopy tours, horseback riding, deep sea fishing, sea kayaking, scuba diving and snorkeling.
The artwork, titled “Berkeley Big People” by artist Scott Donahue was dedicated in 2008. Visible from about a mile in either direction, the 30-foot-tall fiberglass sculpture is the largest and most expensive piece of public art ever commissioned in the city.
“It’s monumental in scale, in money, in visibility,” said Mary Ann Merker, the city’s civic arts coordinator and the project manager. “It’s our way of welcoming people to Berkeley. It’s exquisitely done – but if some people don’t like it, that’s OK, too.”
Caltrans officials are among those who have been less than thrilled with the project. The agency initially was concerned that the sculpture, standing over Aquatic Park, would distract drivers and might topple in the wind.