Marbled Murrelet

August 14, 2013 by · Comments Off on Marbled Murrelet 

Marbled Murrelet, The Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) is a small seabird from the North Pacific. It is a member of the auk family. It nests in old-growth forests or on the ground at higher latitudes where trees cannot grow. Its habit of nesting in trees was suspected but not documented until a tree-climber found a chick in 1974, making it one of the last North American bird species to have its nest described. The Marbled Murrelet has declined in number since humans began logging its nest trees in the latter half of the 19th century. The decline of the Marbled Murrelet and its association with old-growth forests, at least in the southern part of its range, have made it a flagship species in the forest preservation movement. In Canada (north of 50° North Latitude) and Alaska, the declines are not so obvious because populations are much larger and the survey techniques have not had sufficient power to detect changes.

The Marbled Murrelet is a small (25 cm), chunky auk with a slender black bill. It has pointed wings and plumage that varies by season. The non-breeding plumage is typically white underneath with a black crown, nape, wings and back. The bird closely resembles its closest relative, the Long-billed Murrelet. In fact, these species were considered conspecific up until 1998. They are virtually identical. In breeding plumage, both have a brown mottled body and face. The Long-billed has a pale white throat, lacking in the Marbled. In winter plumage, the Marbled Murrelet has a white neck collar, absent in Long-billed. The Marbled Murrelet is shorter billed and slightly smaller than the Long-billed Murrelet.

Winter In Yosemite National Park

December 1, 2012 by · Comments Off on Winter In Yosemite National Park 

Winter In Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Falls, Bridal Veil Fall, and other waterfalls in Yosemite Valley were flowing again Monday after a series of storms over the weekend produced just under two inches of rain, park officials said. The rainfall got Yosemite Falls, which has been dry for several months due to an exceptionally dry year, flowing again for the first time since mid-July.

According to park officials, the region has endured one of the driest years on record, and the driest winter since 2007. The lack of precipitation had halted the flow in the park’s majestic falls.

“To see Bridal Veil Fall going so strong is such a beautiful sight”, said Don Neubacher, Yosemite National Park Superintendent. “After such a dry period, seeing the waterfalls flowing again is spectacular”.

Snow levels remained high over the weekend, at about the 8,000 foot level.

The park experienced the most significant storm of the season so far, which helped saturate extremely dry soils. The level of the Merced River, measured at the Happy Isles Gauging Station, had dipped to below four cubic feet per second (cfs) in October, park officials said.

The low level is very rare, officials said, and signified just how low the flow of Merced River had dropped. The storm system over the weekend has not had a huge effect on the level of the Merced River.