December 11, 2018

Nobody goes into land conservation expecting to keep their hands clean.

ACR staff and volunteers will tell you stewarding our preserves is dirty, sweaty and backbreaking work. But they’re not complaining.

It’s also very satisfying to tear out invasive plants, replant native flora and undo other man-made habitat damage.

These unglamorous but important jobs dovetail perfectly with our more far-reaching research efforts.

In other words, ACR’s success depends on a symbiotic relationship between habitat restoration and ecological research. Each supports the other.
We strive for ecologically healthy preserves so wildlife can flourish here. When the habitat is rich with food, water and shelter, it attracts egrets and the other animals we study.


November 28, 2018

To a Great Egret, Tomales Bay is full of food, but that food is not always available. Every two weeks, around the new and full moons, the lowest tides and the greatest foraging opportunity coincide with the early morning, making breakfast on the bay an easy affair. During low tides, hundreds of acres of intertidal eelgrass are exposed, allowing egrets to stab at herring during spawning events or to hunt pipe fish, which try to wrap themselves around the egret’s bill to avoid being swallowed. As the tide cycle shifts and morning tides become higher, the eelgrass is exposed for fewer hours per day, reducing foraging opportunities on the bay. During these times, egrets switch to inland ponds and creeks to hunt small fish or walk the surrounding pastures in groups to capture rodents. ...

October 18, 2018

Mountain lion collaring activities are in high gear this fall, with any given week finding the team staking out a potential study subject in the Sonoma Valley, in the hills of Healdsburg or further north near Hopland. One of the most beneficial pieces of equipment in use is our cage trap that employs electronic sensors to trigger the trap when an animal the height of a mountain lion walks through.

Designed by lead researcher Quinton Martins and Keysight marketing director Neil Martin, the cage has seen several beneficial modifications over the past couple of years, including the use of netting rather than metal in the doors to reduce risk of injury to the lions.

In the photos above, the jackrabbit freely walks through the trap at about 4:00am, allowing researchers to...

October 12, 2018

We are pleased to announce that the Farley Family Charitable Foundation has granted $660,000 to Audubon Canyon Ranch, over the next two years, to develop our Fire Forward initiative into a vital resource for the region.

The Foundation has already contributed generously to ACR’s Living with Lions project, and this new gift reflects the Foundation's interest in our work to build a future of fire-adapted landscapes and communities, as well as contribute to the science of fire ecology. Tim Farley, son of the foundation’s founders Jim and Nancy Farley of Chicago, watched the Nuns Fire lap very close to his property on Sonoma Mountain, nearly destroying all he had. “This was a wake-up call to me and the entire community,” said Tim. “My family foundation has a clear interest in...

October 03, 2018

ACR mountain lion researcher Quinton Martins and veterinarian Winston Vickers were invited by WildFutures to share their work and insights in a webinar setting. They discussed the threats these animals face as a result of human population growth, habitat loss and fragmentation, effects of fire, and conflicts with livestock and pets.

The complete webinar, including audience questions, is included in this video file:

The Wildlife Webinar Series, hosted by WildFutures, includes the live presentations, recorded archives, pre-webinar interviews, and follow-up Q&A's, all on our...

August 29, 2018

Shorebirds are returning to the Bay Area for the winter, having spent the spring and summer nesting season as far north as the Arctic. Here Least Sandpiper and Red-necked Phalarope forage in the wetland habitat at ACR’s Toms Point Preserve. Tomales Bay is designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. Every...
August 17, 2018

Support Living with Lions, a community conservation project studying mountain lion populations in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties. Donate now >

July 30, 2018

The Living with Lions team is sad to announce that P6, a sub-adult mountain lion collared as part of our study was killed in Kenwood by a landowner who requested a depredation permit from California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The depredation or “take” permit was issued by CDFW after the lion killed one of a handful of goats kept on the vineyard property. This marks the second lion in nine months to be removed from the ecosystem by request from a landowner for destroying livestock.

P6, born on March 27, 2017, became an local celeb as one of three kittens born to her mom, P1, the project’s first research subject. The ten-day-old triplets, incredibly well hidden in Pampas grass less than a hundred yards from a home in Glen Ellen, provided our community with a heart-warming...

June 11, 2018

As any field researcher knows, failed attempts are just part of the work flow for most projects! We try, we fail, we adjust methods, we try again. After a spring season of several near misses—and a couple of face-plants in the salt marsh muck—trying to capture additional Great Egrets for our GPS study, we are very excited to report to you that our team recently has captured two adults, both with breeding plumage, at Toms Point, Tomales Bay. The captures and tagging went very smoothly. After release, the birds took off and flew out of view toward the Walker Creek delta, their lightweight solar GPS backpacks collecting a range of movement and behavioral data.

June 04, 2018

Our guest naturalist, Len Blumin, posts about a recent expedition to find and photograph dragonflies along Pine Flat Road, Healdsburg.

I recently heard about the Black Petaltail, an unusual dragonfly found by [fellow naturalist] Alan Wight in a restoration area along upper Pine Flat Road, above ACR's Modini Mayacamas Preserves. The species has a wide range in the Pacific Northwest, as far south as Sonoma, but is nowhere common. A cool weather forecast convinced me to give it a try.

Driving up Pine Flat I was distracted by the plethora of wildflowers in bloom. Along the roadside I slowed to talk to a couple that was peering into a wet roadside gully. They asked if I was interested dragonflies. I was! The pair was none other than Kathy and Dave Biggs—well-known teachers and...