Last month's bird walk, led by Dave Quady and me, was a quiet affair—only fourteen species were observed over six hours of birding (minus 90 minutes for breakfast). That's an all time low for our winter bird walks, likely due to lack of rain (only one significant rainfall since spring) and strong dry winds the preceding week. Nevertheless our group of birders—four for the early morning owl walk and six for the after breakfast bird walk—enjoyed each others' company while we waited . . .
Tim Wallace considers himself a “Yes man”—not a person that caves into other people's demands, but the kind that says, “Yes” to life.
Tim just celebrated 15 years (on and off—mostly on) as president of the Claremont Canyon Conservancy, "Working with volunteers we have helped make the canyon more fire-safe, more natural, and more accessible by trails.”
Tim has been involved with natural resources all his life: first as rancher and logger, then later in academics. He has been at UC Berkeley since 1963. "I've worked at the White House on agricultural matters and was Director of California's Department of Food and Agriculture. I've done consulting abroad in Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Far East, and New Zealand and Australia."
Saturday, May 18, 2002 was the dedication of the Ralph Samuel bench at the Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve. Ralph was the District’s Land Acquisition Specialist from 1979 to 1986. Hulet Hornbeck, Land Department Chief, originally hired him to acquire the privately owned lots that were included in the Claremont Canyon Preserve.
A new study conducted by the East Bay Regional Park District reveals the presence of mountain lions (“Big Cats”), an elusive apex predator utilizing the wilderness ridegtop above the Caldecott Tunnel to transit between the open spaces north and south of the tunnel. The study, expanded earlier this year to include the Caldecott Tunnel Corridor, is led by veteran Park District wildlife ecologist and science consultant Steve Bobzie
At the invitation of the Conservancy, in 2009 members of the California Lichen Society surveyed lichens at sixteen sites in Claremont Canyon. Read a report of the survey in the Conservancy’s Fall 2009 Newsletter. In all, 81 lichen species were identified. The results of the survey . . .
For the last two years rainy weather forced us to cancel the Conservancy’s winter bird walk. More of the same seemed likely this year when we had plenty of rain during the preceding week. But the forecast for Sunday looked promising
Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve is hosting a research project focused on the Alameda whipsnake (Masticophis lateralis euryxanthus), also sometimes referred to as the Alameda striped racer (Coluber lateralis euryxanthus). This elusive and speedy snake is protected at the state and federal level and may be found in the park.
One day last fall we received an email asking if any of us at the Conservancy knew about an art piece composed entirely on location high along the ridge of Claremont Canyon.
The welcome rains of this winter and spring have renewed the natural beauty of Claremont Canyon . . . the EIS for the three grants was approved by FEMA and is now considered complete on the federal end. The next step . . .
There are many ways to keep abreast of the goings-on in Claremont Canyon—and also in its surrounding neighborhoods. If you are interested mainly in the wildlands of Claremont Canyon and the activities of the Claremont Canyon Conservancy, including our hikes, stewardship projects, trail upkeep, and wildfire safety, we have a monthly one-page newsletter that we send out by email to our members and anyone else who signs up for the service.
Once again, December's birdwalk led by Dave Quady produced a nice selection of expected species. Five of us gathered at 4:30am to listen for owls. We were joined by four others for daylight birding.
In 1989, my family and I moved into our new home on a steep, narrow road that dead-ended in a marvelous wildland park. Our lot was the last on the street and was itself effectively a wild garden with a shady front yard of live oak trees and a sunny back hill covered with grass and forbs.
We began at 5 a.m. at the foot of Gelston Street with the temperature hovering in the mid-40s and the marine layer's ceiling only a few hundred feet overhead. No great horned owls were audible, so American robins were first to break the silence.
INVITE YOUR BUDDIES TO GO BIRDING with you in Claremont Canyon and you may be met with excuses. Most serious birders don’t spend time in Claremont Canyon, believing the effort to find birds unlikely to pay off.
In an amazing vocal performance, three species of owls were heard in Claremont Canyon before dawn on Saturday, December 11. Led by Dave Quady, an owl expert and aficionado, a dozen participants in a Conservancy birding field trip heard the following:
A half a dozen of us were fortunate to accompany Lech last Saturday on a botanical exploration of coastal scrub-grassland interface areas on the south facing slope. We first met mid-canyon along Claremont Avenue at the Telegraph Canyon Trail where we left off a couple of cars.
A DOZEN CONSERVANCY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS visited the Pacifica Foundation site of the KPFA Radio Towers overlooking Gwin and Claremont Canyons, with Jake Sigg, long-time advocate of native plant restoration in the Bay Area and author of the widely read “Nature News from Jake Sigg.” Jake helped us identify native plants and provided insights on the landscape, a naturally rough and exposed knoll overlooking much of the bay area to the west and Mount Diablo and the inner valley to the east.
SOMETIMES IMPORTANT THINGS end up in unexpected places. In 1895 several 400-pound cast iron boundary markers were placed along the ridgetop boundary between Alameda County and Contra Costa County. One was positioned right at the top of Claremont Canyon, close to what we know as “Four Corners,” the intersection of Grizzly Peak Boulevard and Claremont Avenue/Fish Ranch Road.
ALTHOUGH WE ARE NOW IN THE MIDST of a comprehensive project to collect an audio history of Claremont Canyon, the beginnings sprang from a casual curiosity about the early days in the canyon. Our board member, Tamia Marg, who spent her childhood there remembered “Tappy” Marron, whose family built the house that the Park District now occupies at the end of Gelston Road.
A year or two ago I was greatly influenced by a couple of books (“Bowling Alone” and “Better Together”) by a Harvard scholar named Robert D. Putnam. He makes the case that decreasing involvement in community life is bad for individuals and ultimately bad for the world—a gross oversimplification on my part. But, as one who tends to sit at the computer by myself rather than do anything in the community, I knew Putnam’s message was aimed at people like me