West Portal – Closures and Big Machines

As everyone probably knows by now, West Portal tunnel is closed while they repair and replace the hundred-year-old lines.

The main staging area is West Portal, the commercial street. It’s a big mess. But a big intriguing mess. (And, we hasten to add, it’s open for business and the shops and restaurants are operating normally.)

We were fascinated by the huge, specialized machines parked everywhere in the first couple of blocks of West Portal.

And here are some more:

All in matching, very visible yellow, though each machine is different.

It’s all very much under control, and as long as you avoid Ulloa and Vicente and the stretch between, it’s not difficult to drive there or find parking.

 

But the stores sure could do with some support, so if you were thinking about shopping or dining there… please do. And if you have kids who are interested in huge machines and construction activity – it’s the perfect time to ogle the earthmovers!

 

 

– THE END –

Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday April 16th – Inner Sunset

Here’s an announcement from Barbara Oleksiw, who organizes great neighborhood events in the Inner Sunset. (Thanks, Barbara!):

Sunday, April 16, 2017 – 10a.m.to Noon
NW Corner of 6th & Irving, Inner Sunset,
ALL Welcome to the **FREE** Easter Egg Hunt, in the Inner Sunset.
Rain or Shine, 10 a.m. to Noon.

Hundreds and hundreds of hidden eggs waiting to be found.

Bring your basket, or use one of ours!

No age too young.

Humpback Whales in Pacifica

One of the delights of living where we do is being so close to wildlife. I don’t mean just the raccoons or the hawks – but actual whales! I’d been seeing Youtube video of humpback whales in Pacifica, barely 15 minutes south of us.

whale spout_4867

So I went out to Pacifica Pier around 4 p.m. on a sunny Saturday afternoon,  hoping that I’d maybe see a whale. I was disappointed to find access is truncated – the pier is shaped like a shallow L, but the short arm was closed off after a big storm damaged the parapet. (In the picture below, you can see the concrete slab of the wall has been pushed in by the waves. I wish they’d repair it!)

damaged pier 4784

In the fine weather, the Pier was crowded.  Lots of people were fishing, lots of others walking around. My hopes rose when I saw a couple of people armed with cameras with lenses as long as my forearm… maybe they were seeing whales? I only had my iPhone camera, but thought maybe I’d get some distant sightings.

I didn’t have to wait long. Almost immediately, I could see the puffs of whale-spouts in the distance, north of the pier.

whale spout of Pacifica Pier 4782
Humpback whale spout off Pacifica Pier

Soon I could even see the whales when they surfaced. Flocks of birds surrounded them. As they fed, the fish that escaped them fed the gulls and other sea-birds. After I’d been there an hour or so, I wanted to leave. Except, I couldn’t. Every time I started to leave, more whales swam by.

fishing poles and whale spouts Pacifica CA 4819

Finally, one came in so close, it was inside the surf line. Someone next to me was explaining to a friend that it was likely a calf, and the shallow water was easier to breathe in. It was almost alongside the pier. After a minute or two, it turned around and swam back out.

humpback whale pacifica 4846

 

Police and Guns on Clarendon – and Why

Our neighborhood doesn’t see much crime, so it was surprising when neighbor Florence Meyering posted on NextDoor that there were police on Clarendon Avenue with guns drawn! (This was on 23rd July 2016 around 5.30 p.m.)

Police on ClarendonAs I was driving on Clarendon/Twin Peaks Blvd, I saw police with guns out and police cars were arriving from everywhere. They were looking at the hill towards Mount Sutro Forest. Does anyone know what was going on and if they caught whomever were were after?” she posted, along with the picture above.

So I wrote to Park Station police, and they wrote back within a couple of days: “On that date and time, there was a carjacking that occurred. I believe officers were most likely responding to this incident. The suspect is in custody and the stolen vehicle returned to it’s rightful owner.”

All’s well that ends well.

 

FREE Inner Sunset Easter-Egg Hunt, Sunday March 27, 2016

Barbara Oleksiw, our favorite organizer of fun FREE events for neighbors, writes:

kitten doggy thumbnailFREE Inner Sunset Easter-Egg Hunt, Easter Sunday, March 27th, 10 a.m. to Noon.

We’re again expecting the Easter Bunny to hide gazillions of colorful eggs
in our backyard.

easter eggsWe hope you’ll come hunt…or come watch the excitement.
We’re at the NW corner of 6th & Irving, San Francisco 94122

Gates open at 10a.m, but there’ll be plenty of supplies for those coming later.
Bring your own basket … or use one of ours. All welcome.

What’s Happening with the Coyotes?

coyote looking at dog, San Francisco
Coyote looking at dog, San Francisco, Aug 2011

A couple of days ago, neighbor Greg Flowers posted this on our Nextdoor site. (It’s reproduced here with permission.)

COYOTE SCARE

“After my experience last night, I plan to behave much differently when I am met by a coyote (or two) on the Sutro trails or on our neighborhood sidewalks. My usual MO is to respect its space and maybe snap a few photos of it as past encounters have been limited to in the woods of Mt. Sutro, and they usually run away.

“I took my dog out last night for a walk around the neighborhood around 10:45p following Christopher Dr east. As we were passing 15 Christopher, there was a rustle in the bushes and my dog lunged into the darkness. I pulled him back and we continued a few steps and then I saw it was indeed a coyote. It crossed the street into the woods and we made it to Clarendon before I turned and saw there were now two coyotes stalking us.

“Now I’m concerned and my dog is very interested in playing or giving chase. I tried to make myself look big and menacing, yelled a bit and made like I was going to charge them but they continued toward us so I then made the mistake of turning and continuing down Clarendon to get to Oak Park, looking over my shoulder constantly. No cars or people were out at this time and the fog + blood moon combo + coyotes stalking me really affected my nerves. The coyote in front crossed Clarendon as if it was planning to circle around to surround us and so when I got to Oak Park we turned the corner and sprinted all the way back to Christopher and Oak Park til we got home. That wasn’t the smartest choice but they didn’t follow me back into the neighborhood which was a huge relief.

“I’m posting this as a learning experience for myself and hoping it will help raise the awareness about the coyote presence around these parts. The closest I let them get to us was about 20 yards and my dog is 60lbs and these coyotes appeared larger than him. Because they were unaffected by my dog’s size and my scare tactic, I looked online and found this explanation of how to ‘haze’ coyotes so that they will fear humans again: Coyote Hazing: Guidelines for Discouraging Neighborhood Coyotes

“Hopefully we can make a neighborhood effort toward keeping coyotes, all our pets, and ourselves safe and that starts with coyotes maintaining a healthy fear of humans.”

A COYOTE WATCHER’S OBSERVATIONS

As readers of this site know, I’m a believer in coyote coexistence. This report was concerning, especially in the context of recent reports in which coyotes attacked dogs (one fatally) at Pine Lake (behind Stern Grove), a popular dog-play area.  So I reached out to Janet Kessler, the Jane Goodall of San Francisco’s coyotes. She’s been studying our coyotes for years, and maintains a great blog, CoyoteYipps.com where she puts up her observations. Why were we suddenly getting this bold behavior?

“There seems to be a change in their behavior going on, but I’m told that it’s not due to habituation, it’s due to the drought. All urban coyotes are habituated by definition, yet they still keep a healthy distance (can’t use habituated and wary at the same time). For dogs, it’s a different story — and it’s going to be the same story whether a coyote is habituated to humans or not. Habituation to humans has nothing to do with coyotes approaching dogs — especially when they are curious about them.

“[Greg] did the right thing by moving away from the coyote — that’s how you diffuse a situation and maintain control — you are simply not going to engage. If a coyote follows… he’s just checking out your dog, gauging whether it’s a threat to be worried about, and making sure it is a safe distance away.

“We’re seeing more coyotes because of the drought. Because of the drought, there are fewer gophers and voles in the coyotes’ home range, so they are expanding that range as they hunt for their favorite foods. However, as they hunt in new areas, they will opportunistically take free roaming cats.”

This is also a concern; I know some people in Forest Knolls do have outdoor or indoor-outdoor cats. I think it’s also important for people with small dogs to be especially careful. Coyotes may see them as rivals or as prey, and they’re much more vulnerable. Humane Society guidelines recommend keeping cats indoors, and not letting small dogs off-leash in the backyard at night. Here’s their article: Coyotes, Pets and Community Cats.

From Janet Kessler: “And, yes, coyotes have been approaching dogs, much more than we’ve seen before. Walk away always, and keep walking (never run) away from the coyote, even if he follows.

There’s more useful information on the CoyoteYipps website, here: CoyoteYipps.com

It also has some great photographs and observations of coyote behavior.

Seeking the Supermoon Eclipse

Like people everywhere in the city, in fact, across the world, I went looking for the supermoon eclipse last evening. The moon was going to rise, red and already eclipsed, around 7 p.m. – a “blood moon.”  Totality would be7.47 p.m.

I thought the best place to watch would be Twin Peaks, and at 6.45 pm, that’s where I headed from the Portola Avenue side. But I got there to find a line of cars jammed all the way up Twin Peaks Boulevard. I did a U-turn, carefully avoiding a skunk. (It got safely across the road. All the cars in both directions waited for it.)

Time to go to Plan B: leave my car at home, and walk up to Tank Hill.

pics31 001 tank hill 7.35 pmClearly, a lot of people had the same thought. I’d never seen it so crowded, not on the 4th of July, not during the Blue Angels performance. Many had come much better prepared than I, with telephoto lenses as long as my forearm, rugs, chairs, and reflective clothing.

pics31 005 tank hill 7.37 pmWe were all a little worried. The fog was prowling around the western side of the city, and knowing San Francisco, could blow in any minute.

pics31 008 fog rolling in from the west 7.38 pmEveryone watched the eastern sky intently. “Did we get the wrong night,” I heard someone joke. “Maybe we should have read the science pages instead of the news.”

I was unsure how much we’d actually see, whether the haze low on the horizon would turn into a vision-blocking fog.

Waiting for the supermoon eclipse 7.39 pmSomeone raised a shout, and everyone looked for the moon. No sign of it. “Just a bunch of people trying to get a buzz going,” commented one of the would-be spectators.

Quite suddenly at 7.47 p.m. there it was, a dull red disk visible through the trees. Just in time for the peak of the totality.

supermoon eclipse 7.47 pmPeople gazed at it. Some took pictures, including me.

supermoon eclipse 7.51 pm

Next to me, a man holding a dog said, “I hope you have a telephoto on that.” I didn’t, but I would get some pictures anyway, I said. They won’t be great, not like the real photographers photos, but they’ll record the event. We chatted briefly about eclipses past.

watching the supermoon eclipseThe crowd thinned out. Parents with small children left quickly. The kids had seen the moon, understood the color was different, and they were ready to play or go. So did a lot of people who’d driven in. They wanted to leave before more traffic jams started up.

still watching supermoon eclipseHere’s how it looked at one minute past 8 p.m. (still through the trees).

supermoon eclipse 8.01 pmI left, too, a little later. From the foot of the Tank Hill steps, I got a clear view of the moon. This was a picture at 8.22 pm.

eclipsed supermoon 8.22 pmAn hour later, I went for a walk. The fog had started blowing in, but the moon was visible. It looked like a traditional eclipse now, a crescent that could be mistaken for a waning moon.

And even later than that, the eclipse was over and the fog was crawling over Twin Peaks.

fog over twin peaks 27 sept 2015It was beginning to drift down to the Bay.

fog by the bay sept 27 2015Overhead, the full supermoon was back to normal.

full supermoon 11.55 sept 27 2015