Monday, November 30, 2009

A Very Cool Trout Pond !


This is one of my favorite places to stay when we are in Sierra City Ca. it is called the Herringtons Sierra Pines resort... Right on hwy.49 up in the Tahoe National Forest at the base of the Sierra Buttes , about a 3 hour drive from here...As kids we all called it the Herringtons Trout Pond... Guaranteed that your kids will catch a whopper!!! But a lot of fun for anyone at any age especially if you have never experienced catching a fish...They even supply the fishing rod at no extra charge for you to use if need be... The least you will pay is $7.00 and the most is $20.00 per fish depending on the size...When my son was small I would take him fishing in the river and the lakes and if he didnt get one in the wild I would always guarantee him one from the pond as a last resort... This is a great place for first timer kids who have never experienced the feel of a whopper on the line...However the resort is closed until April...for more info click here  HERRINGTONS SIERRA PINES...

The Canterbury White Tailed Kite ?


Just a few feet lower than the low flying plane of Canterbury in the very same skies a nesting pair of the White Tailed Kite were also caught on video ... Very cool to see that these Raptors are thriving locally  right here in our local neighborhoods...Not surprising really as we have a lot of environment left around here for them to enjoy...big thanx to my anonymous reader for the video....

What Is A Raptor Perch ?


What is a Raptor perch? Well obviously it is a place for a Raptor which is a bird of prey to sit upon...In the Lime Ridge Open Space there have recently been many of these Raptor perches installed in the meadow... A Raptor perch has to be placed a certain  way to be of use to a bird of prey...The ends of the perch must face East to West ,,,The way that the sun rises and sets... This allows the birds excellent  hunting vision not to be hindered by the sun shinning in their eyes as it rises and sets... Also they are placed between 50 and 100 yards apart so that the raptor can hunt and dive down from one perch grabbing its prey and bringing it up to the next perch ...The perches that were installed in Concord were manufactured in Cotati by the Wild Wing Company ...For more on Raptor Perches and other great Wild Bird rodent solutions click HERE...

Who Has The Best Christmas Lights ?




The Best and brightest Christmas lights displays in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond are all posted on a really cool holiday website called "Lights Of The Valley" Here you can plan and map out your Christmas light holiday site seeing journey... You can also register your own light display to their site... (pictured above is Concords own Mr.Christmas at 5208 olive dr...)
ENJOY...and Happy Holidays!!!

Owl Gets Fried in Pittsburg


Last night in Pittsburg a power wire was downed in a neighborhood and residents were told to stay inside... Apparently an Owl was nesting or attempting to build a nest up on a power pole in the shredded metal up there and got himself electrocuted...A very large and very cooked dead Owl was found at the scene still clutching to some long shredds of metal he was going to use for his nest...A very graphic scene ...One hundred homes on Wedgewood ave. in Pittsburg are being told to shelter in place still at this hour...One mile of power line lies on the ground either behind or in front of these one hundred homes...A major inconvenience for residents there and a major loss for our local eco system ... Owls play a big role in keeping the rodent population down around there...(photo by kip ladage-- not this actual owl)KTVU has the whole story on video just ckick HERE to see it....

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Concord Salmon Run


I would be surprised to see how many of my readers would even remember this but Salmon used to and still do and are right now running in the creek  right under Willow Pass rd. and always have...Back in the 70s my Dad used to go down there with my brother and catch monster Salmon and Steelhead right there in the creek ...Sometimes I would go down there myself with a few friends as a teenager and we would have a blast chasing them up stream...Once while wading under the Willow Pass bridge in some shallow water I accidentally stepped on a very large Salmon that was resting in the gravel and he knocked my feet right out from under me and parted the water like a submarine all the way up the stream... Yes believe it or not right now is the  old Concord Salmon run...Illegal to catch em now of course but back when the  Salmon fishing run in Walnut Creek was the local sportsmans  secret you would see the Fishermen down there lining the creek banks  this time of year...Those were the Days!...For more information on the various Fishes that are native to Walnut and other local bay area creeks here is a LINK to an 11 page report from the National Marine Fisheries service...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Madonna 50 Cent

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Meadow @ Raptor Ridge



While walking  at the Lime Ridge Open Space at the end of Kaski ln. today inside of 30 minutes I saw A Golden Eagle soaring over head and a Kite hunting in the grass and a Peregrine Falcon darted strait across my path and as I walked some more I saw a large Red Tailed Hawk take flight up from the ground  and no sooner did an American Kestrel begin to harass him darting and diving at him until he finally left the Kestrels area...The American Kestrel is also a Raptor and is of the smallest of the Falcon family... Its no wonder that five out of the twenty Raptor Perches placed by the county are right here in the Lime Ridge Open Space Meadow at the end of Kaski ln. The Lime /Shell Ridge Open Spaces  combined covers alot of territory and yet Most of the Raptor Perches seem to be installed here in Concord...Not surprising to those of us who  have ever been out there for a walk ...I actually spoke to a local hiker out on the trail there today who said he himself  had recently witnessed a Hawk perched atop of  one of the Raptor Perches  in the middle of the meadow as it dove down from the hunting perch and took a Ground Squirrel... So there you have it , The Raptor Perches are being used by Raptors ,so far so good...All in all your best chance walking place to see the different varieties of Birds of Prey that live and hunt on the ridge ...

20 New Raptor Perches Installed on Local Ridge Open Spaces



The local  residents on the surrounding borders of the Lime/Shell Ridge Open Space have been overwhelmed whith ground squirrels and other rodents...They reportedly have been shredding foliage and fruit trees in yards and digging burros on the trails that are a hazard for hikers  and cause erosion...Contra Costa County is hoping hawks and also Peregrine Falcons and other bird of prey such as the Kite and American Kestrel enjoy hunting from 20 new raptor perches installed in Concord and Walnut Creek open space areas...These 20 new Raptor Perche's should also provide some great photo opportunities for "SmokeysMountain" in the future.."If local red-tailed hawks, peregrine falcons and other birds of prey use the perches, open space neighbors could get some relief from a serious squirrel problem. Raptors love to feast on burrowing ground squirrels that have overrun Lime Ridge Open Space in Concord and Walnut Creek and Shell Ridge Open Space in Walnut Creek"...This may be helpful in some of the open space areas for smaller birds of prey such as the American Kestrel or the Kite but the Lime Ridge Pair of Red Tailed  seem to enjoy a much higher perch to hunt from as seen above...The perches came from The Wild Wing Company in Cotatti at a cost of roughly $4,000.00...2 of these photos are from the CCTimes  Fighting Squirrels with Raptors story... 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Round Valley Regional Preserve


Round Valley is way past Clayton out on Marsh Creek rd...Between Deervalley rd. and  Camino Diablo ...In the Winter when the creek is flowing  the view from the bridge is spectacular and the wildlife here is amazing...  Once home to California Indians, the land was farmed and ranched since the late 1800's, and a few pieces of historic farm equipment can still be seen across this region of the Diablo foothills preserve. Round Valley was sold to the East Bay Regional Park District in 1988... It gets extremely hot here in the summer, so you may want to visit on a fall morning when its much cooler... This is when the local Raptors are most active and you will most likely  get to see them hunting ....As is the case on many of the trails here in the Diablo/EastBay  Foothills you will see a sign warning you about the presence of the California Mountain Lion and instructions on what to do should you encounter one...Though Mountain Lion sightings are rare ,where ever there are deer there are Cougars ...You may however see a Coyote or a Deer or two which are much more commonly seen here...That is one of the things I love about the Diablo Valley/EastBay Hills all the wonderful wildlife that still lives right here among us...These trails are very quiet and serene and are a great place for a nice quiet walk with nature... Not that  long of a drive out Marsh Creek rd. for such a unique environment like the hills of Round Valley Regional Preserve...

John Muir and Mount Wanda


Mount Wanda and an adjacent homestead belonged to John Muir, and the naturalist and his family lived here from 1890 until Muir's death in 1914. Both properties, on the southern edge of Martinez, are now managed by the National Park Service. One hundred years ago this was a remote region that featured good access for Muir's trips to Yosemite. Now it's an oasis in a morass of urban sprawl. His home sits on the north side of CA 4, and Mount Wanda (named after one of his daughters), sits on the south side. From Mount Wanda's summit there are sweeping views of Mount Diablo and Northern Contra Costa County's rolling hills, as well as unobstructed vistas of industrial Martinez and some huge new homes on those surrounding hills. I suppose we should be thankful Mount Wanda has been preserved. Ascending on an unnamed fire roadThis 325 acre parcel could easily have been developed as "John Muir Estates." If you can turn a deaf ear to the noise, and look past the smokestacks, Mount Wanda is delightful. You can touch trees that stood during Muir's tenure, and gaze over grassy hills dotted with the same annual flower display he admired year after year... Start at the park and ride lot, and walk along the side of Franklin Canyon Road toward the railroad trestle. After about 200 feet, turn left just past the John Muir National Historic John Muir Nature TrailSite sign, walk up a few steps, turn left, and navigate the step over. An information signboard stands on the left...(entire post cut from Bahiker)...posted by Smokey...

Happy Thanksgiving


Homeless for the Holidays ?


HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE ! I am re-posting this story as it is a true one...
Not all of Concords homeless are like the 13 drunkards of Claycord... I think its important for us all to remember that it is easy to become hardened to the homeless of Concord by the sights we all see around the Claycord area...i am referring to the 13 Drunkards of course ...Those guys have been harassing and loitering for years and years but they do not represent the homeless population in Concord...Though they do not have homes most of them,,,they are something else entirely...No, here is the face of Concord's homeless ...Just a guy trying to stay out of sight as he pushes and drags everything he has in the world up and down a local street here in Concord.   I don't know his story,but I do know that it is important not to forget the less fortunate as we head into the Holiday Season this year..So let's all not  let the 13 Drunkards cloud the Issue ... Homeless people exist here in our city and i do not have a solution to this problem...However Kindness and Generosity to those who actually are genuinely in need goes a long way... Remember , its getting colder at night.....Smokey...

Bear Warnings for ThanksGiving at Yosemite This Week


Each year during the Thanksgiving Vacation Week the Yosemite National Park gets very very crowded with lots of  visitors for the holiday week off...However over the years the Parks Bear population have noticed this phenomenon as well and seem to be out in even greater numbers than usual during this period... The Park Rangers are letting the Visitors know to be aware of this fact and to be extra cautious in cleaning up all food as well as securing it in the lockers...I myself have witnessed a very large cinnamon colored bear in 1996 at Curry Village pealing back the roof of a mini van as if it were a Sardine can..(bear photo by natgeo)...KTVU.com has a related story...   .

Check out the Top 10 trails in your area

In Celebration of our 200th posting here are the top 10 trails in the Diablo Valley/East Bay area from TRAILS.Com

Mount Diablo State Park - Mitchell Canyon
Alhambra Creek to Briones Peak
Juniper / Summit Loop
Mount Diablo / Mitchell Canyon to Devils Elbow
Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve: Stewartville Loop
Bear Creek Cruise
Upper San Leandro Reservoir: King Canyon Loop
Joaquin Miller Park
Strawberry Canyon Fire Trail
Anthony Chabot Regional Park Mountain Bike

Celebrating our 200th Posting on SmokeysMountain !!!


That's right everyone!!! SmokeysMountain has just posted our 200th post...The last two months have been full of wildlife stories and local openspace photos from all around the valley here and even some good restaurant reviews and some other local stories as well...Big thanks to all of our readers out there.!!!   This month I have also recruited a great sports writer / photographer who goes by the name   "A's SmokeScreen A's"  and I am looking forward to some great postings in the next Hundred ...Hope you all have a Great Day! and HAPPY THANKSGIVING VACATION !!! God Bless....!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Trip to Italy?



Wanting to go to Italy for some good Italian food but cant quite fit that into the budget? Yes same here. Alas there is some small hope for getting that good Italian food with out a plane ticket. Tucked nicely into Danville's downtown area is a little place called Piatti. Piatti is a four star Italian restaurant without the four star price. I took a pretty lady there on friday night for dinner for two and was pleasanty suprized. The crowd is an older crowd as is much of danville but very livly and full for a friday night. As you walk through the front door there is a bar located to the right side with sports playing on the plasma, Not your typical low light lets get drunk type of sports bar in a restraunt but a very upperclass nice bar. In front of you and all the way back and to the left is the tables all garnished with plants and a very purposefull and well thought out lighting arrangement. With your own light pointed directly down on the center of your table even though crowed you feel secluded in your own area. We were lucky enough to get our own two person table just out of arms reach from the fireplace. Three drinks, two appitizers, two main courses and two desserts and the tab was just under 80 dollars. I enjoyed a delicious minstrone duck soup, angel hair pasta with garlic, basil and tomato sauce and a delightful tiramisu. All in all it was a fantastic evening and easy on the pocketbook.

A's-SmokeScreen-A's

..Heres the link to PIATTI . COM

The Briones Loop


A ridge runs through the steep, grass-covered hills and wooded canyons of Briones Regional Park. This loop offers a peripheral view of both sides of the ridge. Wide dirt roads take you up one side of the park, down the other, and back up again. There are some killer climbs, but they are rather short-lived. The payoff is long downhill runs. This is a good place to build strength. There are plenty more trails to come back and explore once you get the lay of the land...(this and many other great hikes can be found @ Trails.com)

Waterfalls on Mt.Diablo ?


Donner Canyon and Waterfalls,@
Mount Diablo State Park, I found a great hike at BaHiker.com...This is a pretty cool site click HERE to read about the hike up to the Falls @ Donner canyon...

Wolverines in California ?



Does the California Wolverine exist in our Northern Mountains.?...A series of wolverine photos taken in the Tahoe National Forest on March 16, 2008 by a remote sensor camera.  This represents a third wolverine location where a wolverine was photographed... The area being focused on is just north of Truckee...This is a Quote from the Chief of Fish and Games wildlife division“These confirmations of wolverine in the Tahoe region have prompted us to dust off previous survey plans for the entire Sierra Nevada that were not implemented because of the uncertainty in detecting the species,” said Eric Loft, chief of DFG's Wildlife Branch. “The news has already generated numerous, previously unreported, sightings of wolverine from the public that should be followed up and may help guide planning for additional surveys.”  Here is a WOLVERINE VIDEO

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mountain Lion Obsession


Ok you all know how interested Smokey is in the Local  Cougar population,and Nooo I am not talking about good looking older women...I am referring to the California Mountain Lions right here in the bay area..... Particularly around the Briones Reservoir area where they are seen often...I guess you could say that things that can Kill and Eat you have always fascinated me!....Current estimates of the California population run from four to six thousand; presumably the density is similar throughout the West. If you spend any time in the great outdoors in this half of the country, even if you've never seen them, they've seen you. Of course, they typically would rather eat deer, but it's more than a little disturbing that the relatively small number of interactions is a result of their choice, not ours.
I agree that mountain lions are beautiful animals - you'd have to be a fool not to see that the fearful symmetry of the great cats sets them at the pinnacle of predator evolution at this point in Earth's history. Their unwavering focus on predation extends from their nervous system and musculature straight down to their hemoglobin, specially engineered to allow quick-release bursts of oxygen for explosive speed and power (and in the kind of biochemical arms race we often see in evolution, ungulates have developed the same trick). But the cliches of savage nature's grace won't reassure you very much when you're going for a little walk with your four year old and you see one. It's odd to think that, like Africa, we still have enough powerful land predators to pose a threat to lone humans, and mountain lions are definitely around. I have seen two in a four year period, the first within 32 miles of the San Francisco city limits, the other within five miles. There have since been confirmed sightings even closer to the city than that, and five weeks ago my wife and I saw a classic track in mud on a trail in East Bay public watershed land within less than two miles of the Oakland city limits (not our photo - from sierraphotography.com):

        This is  cut from an article I found on one of the Blogs That I follow here's the link to the rest of the story on  MDK10 ...and here is another Cool Cougar Post
none of the photos in this post are by "Smokey"...

East Bay MUD Trails cost $$$


Apparently  East Bay Mud Trails are not free.? The Briones trails have always been a favorite of mine and as a kid I hiked around up there a lot... The Briones Reservoir is just a short hike from the Hampton Staging area and it is a really nice hike too click on the link above and see a great map of the area from Everytrail.com complete with a slideshow of this beautiful hidden lake...It has been a while since Ive hiked into Briones though , so today I decided to do a little research on the trail maps for that area online...I found out something interesting in the process...Did you know that EBMUD requires a "Trail Use Permit" which they sell for $10,$20,or $30 dollars depending on the length of  time you would like to purchase access to their trails for...One day Trail use Permits are available for $2.50...   I makes sense that they would charge a fee to access the trails that they maintain for us but I  had never heard of any of the open spaces requiring a Trail Use Permit..

Walking Places

One of our local treasures right here in our local valley area here is Heather Farms Park...Always a great place to go for a walk, especially in the morning there...The peaceful scenery of the pond trails make it a really nice environment for walking...Many of you who like to go out for a walk already know this but if you are a person who enjoys walking and  you haven't tried trekking around the Fountain ponds at Heather Farms Park  then you should go check out this peaceful local Walking spot...