Author Archives: Marisela De Santa Anna

California Quail

February 22, 2024 The California Quail (Callipipla californica) is a common bird resident of the Willits Bypass Mitigation Lands. It is found in oak woodlands, riparian corridors, and in wetland habitats. This bird is about the size of a pigeon, nine and a half to ten and a half inches long and stands six to…

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Blooming Winter Willows

February 13, 2024 Today, I was out looking for signs of spring. Yes, it’s early, but there are signals that the seasons are changing. The days are getting longer, there is rain and warmth, and early flowers are beginning to bloom. There are not too many wildflowers on the Willits Bypass Mitigation Lands, but trees…

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Returning to Lichens

January 17, 2024 Once again, I want to talk about lichens. January is the best time to see these unusual organisms because the leaves are gone from the trees, and the rain brings them to life as they spread on the trunks and branches. California is home to over 2000 species of lichen. Lichens are…

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The Winter Solstice

January 3, 2024 While walking through the Willits Mitigation Lands in Little Lake Valley, I noticed a shift in the quality of light. The holidays have passed, and the winter solstice has arrived and gone. A few more minutes each day doesn’t seem to be a huge difference, but I see and feel it. On…

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Winter is Here 2023

It finally feels like we are entering winter here in the Willits Valley. The ground is saturated enough to fill our local creeks and the sound of flowing water is not only a welcome relief from the dryness of summer, but also soothing and gives me joy to hear it. With the end of 2023…

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Two Large New World Sparrows

November 21, 2023 As fall continues, leaves cover the ground, trees become silhouettes, bird nests are exposed, and it is much easier to see any bird in a tree. As I look around, the raptors that have migrated here from the northern plains are easy to spot which has me constantly surveying the treetops. Yesterday…

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More About Turkey Vultures

November 15, 2023 One of the birds that is resident here but seems to increase in number during the fall and winter months, is the large and magnificent Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura. This often-maligned bird is an essential and important member of our food web. Without scavengers, like the Turkey Vulture to clean up dead…

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More About Mosses

November 6th, 2023 This time of the year the Bryophytes begin to shine. Mosses, liverworts, and hornworts are all around us! Liverworts and mosses can get confused while the hornworts are quite distinctive. This blog will be about mosses and their role in the ecosystem. The oak woodland on the upland area of the Willits…

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Willits Mitigation Lands Nature Walk on Friday November 17th at 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. RSVP Marisela@mcrcd.org

Enjoy a day of moss hunting and birding on the Willits Bypass Mitigation Lands. We hope to see some migratory birds and possibly some Tule Elk herds! Please wear appropriate shoes for walking and if significant rain has fallen rain shoes/rubber boots might be needed. Bring snacks, lunch, and water. RSVP: text or email Marisela@mcrcd.org…

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Fall Sparrow Migration

October 24, 2023 As the seasons cycle through the Willits Little Lake Valley, it is time once again for the return of several species of sparrows that are only here in the fall and winter months. The White and Golden-crowned Sparrows have arrived in large numbers, along with Lincoln’s, Savannah, and Fox Sparrows. The Song…

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The Northern Broad-footed Mole

October 15th, 2023 While driving our small electric vehicle out in the valley to check on wildlife cameras, my colleague Rob and I observed a small mammal in the narrow grassy roadway. It was instant recognition because I had seen the same creature in my garden earlier in the summer. This was a Broad-footed mole,…

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