Wild Kingdom: Videos of Coyote vs. Snake Battle on Bernal Hill

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Late last night, your Bernalwood editor saw a coyote ambling down the middle of the road as I was driving along the south side of Bernal Hill.  He seemed very comfortable there.  But that’s nothing compared to what a few Bernal neighbors saw on Monday morning around the same location: An epic battle between a coyote and a snake.

Here’s an amazing video of the battle, shared by Neighbor Santiago:

Neighbor Bruce saw it too, from a slightly different angle. He says:

We came upon the Bernal Coyote (or he came upon us) just after 9am on Monday morning, on Bernal Heights Blvd., close to the stairs that descend to Gates St.

Here’s a video of the coyote hunting a mid-morning snake snack. It’s little bit of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom right here in Bernal!

Finally! Clear, Up-Close Portraits of a Bernal Coyote

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We’ve known for some time that coyotes have settled in Bernal Heights and become our new neighbors. Yet while coyote sightings are now a frequent occurrence, so far many of the photos of the coyotes that we’ve seen have suffered from the Bigfoot Problem — the images have been distant and somewhat grainy.

Over the weekend Bernal neighbor and ace photographer Cristiano Valli tackled that by capturing some of the most stunning and intimate portraits of our coyote-neighbors that we’ve seen thus far. He says:

“[This coyote] lives in the backyard of the cool house on Stoneman at Shotwell. He’s terrified most of the time. Aggressive if cornered. Cute like hell.”

Here are a few more of Neighbor Cristiano’s portraits of our coyote neighbors.

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PHOTOS: Cristiano Valli on Instagram

Aggressive Coyote on Bernal Hill Charges Neighbor Walking Dog

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Bernalwood has received several reports of coyote sightings in northeast Bernal Heights during the last few days, and most of them have been charming. But today, Neighbor Jeff writes about a more aggressive encounter along Bernal Heights Boulevard that took place early this morning:

Wanted to report that the coyote living on Bernal Hill attempted an attack this morning at 5:30.

I was walking my dog along Bernal Heights Boulevard when I spotted the coyote standing on the hilltop watching us. As we continued toward Folsom St., the coyote followed us along the ridge, then sprinted down the hill and charged us.

I stopped and turned to face it as it held its ground about 15 feet away.

I then started to yell at it very loudly to try and scare it off. My third yell had some success as it scampered across the road and jumped the road barrier. But then it jumped over the barrier and charged us again. This time coming up about 10 feet away from us and getting ready to pounce.

At that point, a car came down the road and conveniently scared it away.

We were very lucky.

My dog is a 130 lb Mastiff, so this would not have been easy pickings for the coyote. It was incredibly bold and aggressive.

IMAGE: Coyote on grassy slope on Alabama just below Bernal Heights Boulevard, March 8, 2016. Photo by Judy Ko.

Coyote Becomes Next Door Neighbor in Northeast Bernal Heights

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Neighbor Adrian lives in northeast Bernal, near the eastern side of the Miller-Dogpatch Community Garden. Last week, he was surprised to discover that a coyote had moved in next door.

It’s unclear if this is the same coyote that was spotted in the northeast corner of Bernal Hill last month, but Neighbor Adrian reports:

I saw a couple of articles regarding the coyote sightings on Bernal Hill.  I was hoping to see the wild animal around the hill, since we are up there all the time with our dogs. However, to our surprise, we didn’t have to go to far; It seems a coyote has moved in to an empty lot in front of our home!

Our next door neighbor sent me a text on Thursday to let me know there was a sighting of a coyote near us and to be careful with our dogs. (We have two small dogs) Next thing, on Saturday while on the street with our dogs, we saw the coyote for the first time. He just looked at us and retreated behind the trees and bushes.

On Monday I went check again, and there he was looking back at us, not moving or making any noise — just looking…  which was kind of creepy!

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I’m sharing a couple of pictures of the new neighbor. Although they are not very clear (seeing the coyote is more like finding Waldo), it shows how close he is to home .

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Neighbor Adrian

Sightings Continue as Coyote Takes Up Residence Around Bernal Hill

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Since a coyote was first spotted on Bernal Hill last Monday, there have been more reports of sightings. For now, it seems as if the coyote has taken up residence here, primarily in the northeast portion of the hilltop. We are honored.

Neighbor Carolyn shared some photos of the coyote, taken this morning:

My husband and I were walking our dog around Bernal this AM (7:45-8:15) and saw the coyote! It really was an incredible sight to see. The coyote was walking around the hill from the northwest-northeast side.

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However, Neighbor Ben says he has a bad feeling about this:

Coyote was back this morning. Monday it seemed to be staying up towards the top of the ridges, but today was moving up and down the hill crossing the road several times. This attracted a lot more attention from the dogs, including a larger pit-mix that chased it in a manner that didn’t look very playful.

I think the dog population is a lot higher than when we had coyotes here ten years ago. Based on today’s events it doesn’t seem like a stable situation.

PHOTOS: Coyote on Bernal Hill by Neighbor Carolyn, taken on Jan. 27, 2016

Spirit Animal Alert!! Coyote Sighting on Bernal Hill

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Yesterday, the Bernalwood Office of Wildlife Affairs received several confirmed reports of a coyote sighting from multiple locations on Bernal Hill. The photo above was taken on Bernal Hill yesterday by @nataliacosa, and it’s so amazing.

Neighbor Jim captured a photo of the coyote  on the hill at 10:15 am, “just above the art rock,”  he says. (Specifically, it looks like the slope on the northeast face that riders at Ski Bernalwood call “Buckeye.”)

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And here’s what Neighbor Chris saw at about 9 am, near the quarry on the southwest side:

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Now, if we can set aside spirit animals and natural wonder for a moment… it’s time for a Public Safety Announcement. The coyote on Bernal Hill is awe-inspiring, but it also means humans with dogs — and especially, small dogs — should be vigilant.  We encourage you to re-read these important tips from a local coyote whisperer on how to navigate coyote-canine encounters.

UPDATE: Neighbor Jengis documented another coyote sighting today, Jan. 26, at about 10:20 am around “the wilds near Waltham and Alabama”:

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Sunday: Join Your Neighbors for a Seasonal, Celebratory Bernal Hill Cleanup

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For tens of thousands of years, the wizened druids who once populated our lands marked the arrival of the rains and the season of thanks by joining together on our hill to manicure the terrain and make it more beautiful.

This Sunday, Nov. 22, Neighbor Brian Cronin invites you to carry on this hallowed tradition by participating in a volunteer clean-up on Bernal Hill:

Hello neighbors,

The Bernal Hill Engreening Clean Up is this Sunday, November 22nd, from 9:30 am-noonish.

A group of your neighbors will be on the Hill this Sunday to spruce it up before the budding grass becomes too tall to see, and the rains become thick! Join forces with your lovely neighbors to give Bernal Hill some much needed TLC by cleaning up trash and debris. Weather should be bright and clear!

  • Meet at the bulletin boards on the SOUTH SIDE of Bernal Heights Park (closest intersection is Bernal Heights Blvd. and Anderson St.) or the NORTH SIDE of Bernal Heights Park at the Folsom gate, at 9:30am.
  • Bring all the stuff you need to be sun smart and comfortable: snacks, water, sunscreen, sunhat and gloves, and maybe a coffee cup as some neighbors have promised to bring coffee!
  • Bring shovels and brooms, if you have them, to push eroded material back off the walking path, and other tools such as pickers to get the job done more easily.
  • Wear boots if you plan on wading through the ivy below Bernal Heights Blvd. to dig out the booze warrens and summer hovels.
  • There will be some garbage bags, and nitrile gloves. But consider bringing your own bags and gloves (such as canvas work gloves) as we may not have enough.
  • All ages welcome. Parents, you’re responsible for monitoring your children and making sure they don’t stray onto steep slopes or grab broken glass.
  • When you’re done, bring your bags to the garbage bins near your original meeting places by the bulletin boards. DPW will do an extra garbage pickup the following day.

Thank you for helping keep Bernal Hill beautiful, and we look forward to seeing you there!

PHOTO: Bernal Hill, 2012 by the Bernalwood Air Force

Seasonal Transition Alert! Bernal Hill Engreening Officially Underway

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With the blessed arrival of some early season rains, it was just a matter of time before Bernal Hill began its annual transition from Brown Mode to Green Mode.

This morning, a proclamation from Neighbor Veronica made it official:

The Engreenening has begun!

Indeed! Neighbor Veronica also shared these photos of Bernal Hill’s verdant new peachfuzz to verify the transformation that’s now underway.

Hail the rains! Hail the green!

PHOTOS: Neighbor Veronica

Bernal Neighbors Baffled by Big Bird of Prey

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Over the weekend Bernalwood received several reports that a rather large bird of prey  had been seen loitering in several Bernal Heights back yards. It began when this big bird was spotted in the backyard of Neighbor @Mop_Head, who speculated that the creature might be a Peregrine Falcon.

On Sunday, Neighbor Erin spotted a similar bird near College Avenue:

Over on Facebook, there were many theories. Perhaps it’s a juvenile red-tailed hawk? Or a coopers hawk? Or maybe a kestrel?

So what kind of critter is it? To answer that, Bernalwood shared the photos with ace birdwatcher Neighbor John, who theorizes:

A little hard to tell, but I’d say it is a juvenile Coopers Hawk. It’s a bit difficult to tell the size and a super similar looking hawk, though smaller is a Sharp Shinned.

Both are reasonably common around here. It would be great to think that this might be one of the two Red Tails that fledged from the nest on the north side of Bernal a month or two ago, but it’s too small and doesn’t have the right markings. For me the key is the dark stripe on the underside of its neck. Peregrines have a mostly white neck. As Coopers get older they add a rufous color to their necks and shoulders. And, as with all hawks, seeing them in flight is key to identification.

UPDATE: 3 August, 1 pm: Neighbor John and his bird-spotting son Eddie shot this photo this morning on the hill.  John says:

Eddie and I saw a hawk on our walk this morning, both in flight and in the tree above the Gates steps on the south side of the hill (see attached photo), and the young birder is “very clear” that it is a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk:

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Neighbor Tamara reports that she spotted this bird on the hill two days ago:

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PHOTOS: Top, @MOP_HEAD; below, @ecmesser

New Map Reveals the Lost Waterways of Bernal Heights

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In his amazing new Seep City map of San Francisco’s lost creeks, springs and waterways, natural history researcher Joel Pomerantz reveals the places where groundwater once flowed in Bernal Heights.

Here’s the story it tells:

[On the map] today’s land forms are shown with 5-foot-interval contour lines. At this level of detail, we can easily see where human activity has filled extensive portions of the bay and where streets, highways, reservoirs and railroad grades cut into hills.

Our city had significantly more water before it was developed. Consequently, most of the water shown is from historical sources. The purple squiggles are bedrock springs found today. Natural and artificial lakes present today are outlined in white. Creeks of today are highlighted yellow.

Only a couple creeks still flow on the surface today. Finding them can be a challenge without this map. Some are virtually unknown.

The detail is remarkable. Here’s a close crop of northeast Bernal, with Precita Creek running along the upper part of the map and draining into the intricate Islais Creek watershed (where Bayshore stands today). Notice also the two active springs on the northern slope of Bernal Hill:

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And when you pull back to look at the city as a whole, you see how Bernal fits in to a much larger ecosystem:

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Want a copy of Joel’s maptastic creation? Visit his Kickstarter page, where you can order a map in your favorite size.

IMAGES: Courtesy of Joel Pomerantz

Thursday: Bernal Brothers Exhibit Awesome, Big-Format Wilderness Photography

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Neighbor Tim Mullen and his brother Mike are in the large-format photographic printing business, and tomorrow evening, May 14, he and his brother are hosting an exhibit of some California wilderness photos. Naturally, you are so invited:

Tim Mullen of the 200 block of Elsie Street here, writing to let you know of an event taking place on Thursday, May 14 that may be of interest to Bernalites.

I’m half of the Mullen Brothers Imaging team that made the historic photos that were on display at Pinhole Coffee. The other half of this team, Brother Mike, is working on the massive task of photo-documenting all of the lakes of Desolation Wilderness (just West of Lake Tahoe). There are hundreds of lakes there, both named and un-named. The project focusses on the natural beauty of this pristine wilderness, but also touches on the ideas of solitude in a state of 34 million people and the very timely issue of water scarcity.

On May 14, from 6 to 9 PM, our company Mullen Brothers Imaging will host a gallery exhibition of many of the images collected to date. Out gallery is at 2040 Oakdale Ave. in 94110.

PHOTO: Mullen Brothers Imaging

Spotter’s Report: Which of These Bernal Birds Is the Mostest Cutest?

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Neigbor John and his 7 year-old son Eddie have been out bird-watching again, and they bring us this update on some of the avians they’ve spotted recently around Bernal Heights:

Getting good focus on the birds is really hard, as they move around a lot, and the plants have a tendency to attract the auto zoom. But we have great birds on the hill, and this is one way to share them.

Here are three super cool birds all found in less than fifteen minutes in the pine trees just up Bernal Heights Boulevard near the gate on the north side of the hill.

The first is a Nutthall’s Woodpecker. We are more familiar with the Ladder Backed Woodpecker, but it generally doesn’t come this far north and the red is a bit further back on the head of the Nutthall’s, which you can clearly see here. There must be a ton of bugs in the dead trunk just up from the live pines as this woodpecker was pecking ferociously:

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The Pygmy Nuthatch and Chestnut Backed Chickadee are in a dead heat for cutest bird on the hill. Here’s the Pygmy Nuthatch:

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Birds standing still in the nice light is a highly unnatural act, and the cutest birds seem to be the most shy. Here’s the Chestnut Backed Chickadee:

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It looks like we also have a pair of Red Tailed Hawks nesting on the hill. If you look closely, you can see nesting material in the hawk’s beak. I hope we can look forward to a few months of serious hawk activity:

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PHOTOS: Neighbor John and Neighbor Eddie

An Introduction to Our Local Sparrows, as Spotted Recently on Bernal Hill

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Neigbor John and his 7 year-old son Eddie live on Lundys. They’re heavy into bird-watching, and they inform us that Bernal Heights is actually a rather lively place to spy the local avians.

Neighbor John tells Bernalwood:

Here are three photos I took while bird watching with Eddie this morning. Within 100 yards on the south slope of Bernal Heights Blvd. we saw all three of the varieties of sparrows that can be seen on the hill.

The White Crowned Sparrow is obvious, with the distinctive white stripes on its head. They are currently in their “first winter” plumage:

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The second is the Golden Crown Sparrow, also in the first winter plumage. While you can clearly see the gold color on its head, the color will brighten as we head into spring:

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The House Sparrow is actually an ally of the finches. It has a distinctive, if boring, slate gray scalp, which is more than made up for with the black breast and colorful brown back:

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One of the lessons we are learning from bird watching with Eddie is to take joy in watching common birds. And, when you look closely, they have interesting stories as well!

PHOTOS: Neighbor John and Eddie