For red-legged frogs, add water
Building breeding ponds for the federally threatened California red-legged frogs requires more than digging a hole in the ground. For the past three summers, SLT staff and interns monitored groundwater levels at the Sears Point uplands to see how far it drops in wet and dry years. Our intent is to build ponds that remain wet long enough for the red-legged frogs to lay eggs and ultimately transform from tadpoles into frogs, while drying for at least a few weeks a year to exclude bullfrog breeding. Bullfrogs are a non-native predator on our native frogs. In October, we completed the three ponds — just in time for the arriving rains. It's going to be interesting to watch these ponds function. We hope to have frogs by spring!
Citizen science at Tolay Creek Ranch
For several years, Peter Colasanti and a team of experienced birders have made near-monthly visits to Tolay Creek Ranch to document which birds are visiting and inhabiting the landscape. This month, Andy Lacasse, Ruth Rudesill, Elaine Pruett, Gene Hunn and John Richards logged more than 74 species, including sightings of Prairie Falcon, Long-billed Dowitchers, Band-tailed Pigeon, Short-eared Owl, Rock (Stump) Wrens, Hermit and Varied Thrushes, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Horned Lark and a couple Black-throated-gray Warblers. Everyone was excited by the first-time sighting of the Prairie Falcon, a rare and sporadic visitor in Sonoma County. Your Land Trust greatly appreciates the contribution our special volunteers make to our work at Tolay Creek, the Jenner Headlands, the Estero Americano and our other preserves. Thank you to all our citizen scientists!
Damselfly research at the Estero Americano
Whenever possible, SLT makes its protected lands available as outdoor laboratories for academic research and internship credit. Most recently, Tania Pollak, a graduate student with the SFSU conservation biology program, has been studying damselflies at the Estero Americano Preserve. The San Francisco forktail damselfly (Ishcnura gemina) is endemic to the San Francisco Bay Area and is thought to have the most restricted range of any dragonfly or damselfly in the world. Based on recent research, the species range has declined dramatically in the past 20 years. Tania has been completing surveys of wetlands throughout the Bay Area to determine the extent that the species is still present in its historic range.
Sharing our hard-won experience with other land trusts
Stewardship staffers Georgiana Hale and Bob Neale made presentations at the national Land Trust Alliance (LTA) Rally in Salt Lake City earlier this month. Rally is an annual event that brings more than a thousand land trust staff and board members together to discuss land conservation issues of the day. Recognizing Sonoma Land Trust's growing expertise in managing conservation lands, LTA invited us to speak on "effective stewardship on any budget," at which we shared our lessons learned over the past few years. We were also invited to join the panel of experts for the Fee Land Stewardship Roundtable. Both presentations were well received and Bob and Georgiana came back energized and full of new ideas.
Forest Fuels Reduction at Little Black Mountain
Sunday, November 4, 10am–2pm
Little Black Mountain Preserve was donated to Sonoma Land Trust after being devastated by the Creighton Ridge fire of 1978. Since that time, we have done significant work to manage defensible space and safety issues while improving forest health. Join project manager Shanti Wright and other members of the Coast Ridge Community Forest to see the work on the ground and learn about resources available for forest management. This is a Level 3 outing.
Sonoma County Raptors: An Evening with Larry Broderick
Wednesday November 7, 7–8:30 pm, at REI Santa Rosa
Autumn is an ideal time of year to spot birds of prey. Thousands of falcons, hawks, eagles, osprey and kites soar on thermal updrafts as they make their annual migration south along the Pacific Coast. And this is an ideal opportunity to hear "raptor magnet" Larry Broderick give a presentation on Sonoma County's resident and migrating birds of prey. Larry will teach you how to identify these magnificent birds by observing their markings and behavior, and give you pointers on great birding destinations in Sonoma County and beyond. Whether you're a beginner or experienced birder, find out about exciting opportunities to learn in the field, such as Sonoma Land Trust's Raptor Hike Series, Jenner Headlands Hawk Watch, and more. Attendees will have the chance to win a free copy of "Hawks at a Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors" by Jerry Ligouri.
Honoring our executive director
Sonoma Land Trust's Ralph Benson was presented with the Pamela Wright Lloyd Environmental Stewardship Award at Conservation Corps North Bay's recent 30th Anniversary Gala. This prestigious award "is presented to a person or organization that has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to environmental stewardship and works toward passing on the knowledge, energy and promise to the next generation." Well deserved, Ralph!
More homes for burrowing owls
SLT interns and volunteers worked hard to install three new burrows for burrowing owls at the Sears Point uplands two weeks ago. Part of an enduring partnership with Sonoma Birding and the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, this effort builds on last year's attempt to establish a breeding colony of burrowing owls in Sonoma County. After the installation, some 40 workers and hikers were treated to an intimate viewing of the owl above minding his own business near last year's burrow installations. Thanks to Will Anderson for this photo.
Video of owl by Ken Collins
It must be June!
Three of our stewardship staff have gotten married this month, two of them to each other! Congratulations to newlyweds Shanti Wright and Brook Edwards, who have just returned from their honeymoon in Hawaii — and to Kara Doolin and her husband Chris Caselas, who have just left for their honeymoon in Belize. We couldn't be happier for these special couples as they embark on their new married lives.
A forest celebration
The Sonoma County Forest Conservation Working Group, of which Sonoma Land Trust is a member, is hosting a casual gathering on Saturday, November 10. Please join us from 4–6:30pm for a short walk in the forest, refreshments and more. The celebration will be held at the Swanhuyser's Log House in the Upper Salmon Creek Watershed. Contact Dee at 823-1839 or email@example.com to RSVP and obtain driving directions.
More info here
Erosion Control at
Estero Americano Preserve
Fri., Nov. 9, 10am–3pm
Join in an erosion control workday at the scenic Estero Americano Preserve near the town of Bodega. Together, we will winterize an erosion site by cleaning out water bars, installing straw wattles, planting native grasses and spreading native seed and straw mulch. Bring your picnic lunch and binoculars for the spectacular views and sights of soaring raptors along the way.
Riparian Restoration at
Stuart Creek Run
Sat., Nov. 10, 10am–2pm
Come lend a hand at Stuart Creek Run in Glen Ellen. Volunteers are needed to help remove invasive bamboo from along the creek that is encroaching upon the oak woodland areas and riparian habitat. Enjoy a picnic by the stream afterwards!