Wed 15 Apr 2009
Windstorm destruction. The historic house where Dave Dinsmore lives on Nicasio Square has withstood more than a couple of blows over the years from speeding southbound vehicles. Coming at the end of a long straightaway into town, Nicasio Valley Road’s 90-degree turn in front of the house has sent nighttime speeders flying off the road and into the fence and porch. This week, however, the blow came from a gale that sent half a tree crashing down onto the porch’s roof. No doubt the resilient residence will recover from this blow too.
West Marin’s gales of Spring are back. In response to last week’s posting about Google’s inaccurate current-weather reports for Point Reyes Station, reader Linda Sturdivant phoned me around 3 p.m. Tuesday to talk about the weather.
Linda, who lives on Portola Avenue in neighboring Inverness Park, was concerned about the gathering windstorm, for she could hear limbs cracking in the bishop pine canopy over her home. Linda’s partner Terry Gray told me he too was concerned and then went outside to move his pickup truck. A large branch had broken and momentarily was caught in other branches, but it was hanging over the truck.
When the winds finally knocked the broken limb to the ground, Terry later told me, it turned out to be about 13 feet long and about 10 inches in diameter at the break. That’s enough to dent the roof of a truck’s cab or break a windshield or both.
Less fortunate were at least one or two birds that apparently could not get out of the way in time when branches snapped — or flew into something while trying to escape the chaos. Leo Gilberti of Woodacre, who was doing some cleanup work for Linda Wednesday, found two dead little birds on the ground outside her home.
One had a broken neck, which can happen when a bird flies into a window pane, but the right side of the other bird’s chest was crushed although there were no puncture wounds.
Point Reyes Station naturalist Jules Evans has tentatively identified the birds as pine siskins based on this bird’s “cleft tail, streaked breast, and finch-like bill.” I had emailed Jules the photo above, which he viewed on his handheld BlackBerry, leading him to caution that the bird was “kind of hard to ID on my phone.”
As it did elsewhere in West Marin, Tuesday’s gale brought down limbs all along Portola Avenue in Inverness Park, keeping part of the road closed throughout Wednesday.
Although gales blow through West Marin every spring, I’m not particularly fond of them. Wildlife and livestock obviously aren’t either.
Life looked pretty tranquil for cows along the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road until this week’s windstorm.
Reflected in the windows of neighbors Dan and Mary Huntsmans’ potting shed, a cat that could never have perched on their gatepost in this week’s gale could sit there nonchalantly last week.
In a gale, there is no such thing as “straight as the crow flies.” These feathered flying machines may not be as fast as fighter jets, but they’re even more maneuverable. Once the gusts built up, the crow approach to the birdbath on my deck resembled dogfight maneuvers more than a landing pattern.