Park Wavelengths - January 2004
January 29, 2004
Naturalist Notebook: The full moon rises on Friday, February 6th. Choctaw people refer to it as the "small hunger moon", a time when little game or fresh plant food is available. It brings some daylight tidepooling periods:
To clarify previous information - the Chimney Rock tidepooling area is closed because of the elephant seals. This area, located next to the Historic Boathouse is a popular spot for single male seals to haul out and is fenced off in December at the arrival of the first seals and remains closed until the seals are gone in March. The Chimney Rock trail area is open for hiking as well as the road. The road is closed weekends and holidays when the shuttle is operating. Tidepooling is safest at Agate Beach County Park (Duxbury Reef) at the end of Elm and Overlook In Bolinas or walking to Sculptured Beach near Limantour. Safety First - always watch the water and waves, as they can creep up quickly.
Hundreds of red throated loons may be seen off the Great Beach. On Tomales Bay, near Chicken Ranch Beach, Thayers Gulls, the rarest of the eight species of gulls seen locally, may be seen - also all kinds of ducks have been gobbling up herring eggs! Hikers on Chimney Rock today, saw a peregrine feasting on a bird; hike out and look to the northwest, from the fence at the end of the trail - a rocky outcropping with white droppings appears to be a regular perch.
This group of hikers also observed lots of activity in the elephant seal colony - it is the peak season, most of pups born, being nursed and mating beginning. The park wide count is 656 so far, 184 pups and 386 cows. Gray whale numbers are low, we are in the typical lull period when most have arrived in Baja and sightings will increase in March and April with the northern return trip. Shuttle busses will operate on weekends in clear weather.
Warm weather is opening a few early flowers - four petaled pinkish white "milkmaids" are among the first and few pink sea thrift.
Moss Landing Marine lab has been out on Tomales Bay collecting scat at seal haul out sites for analysis.
Volunteers have been removing over 1,000 broom plants along the Estero Trail to restore the wetland hollow in that area! If you are interested in clearing ice plant and other non-native species, contact John O'Brien at the park (415) 464-5231. A habitat restoration day is planned for Saturday, February 7.
Heavy equipment/excavators are scheduled to begin coastal dune restoration work near Abbots Lagoon on this Monday, February 2nd. They will be removing non-native beach grass as part of a larger project to restore the natural dune pattern. Carpenters are also scheduled to begin repairs at the historic Pierce Ranch on buildings damaged by winter storms.
The park recently received a donation of historic photographs and personal journals from the Menzies Family who once maintained a summer cabin along the Bear Valley Trail.
The comment period for the General Management Plan concepts has been extended until February 20th. New park wavelengths members may respond to this email for a copy of the planning document.
January 13, 2004
Naturalist Notebook: January 21st is the New Moon - also the Chinese New year. The Chinese calendar is calculated from the longitude of eastern China, 15 hours earlier than Pacific Time so technically it is January 22nd! Venus continues as the bright evening star on the western horizon.
Good daylight tidepooling:
Please be careful on slippery rocks and do not remove any tidepool creatures. Safest locations are Agate Beach County Park/Duxbury Reef near Bolinas off Overlook and Elm Roads or hiking to Sculptured Beach on Limantour Beach. Chimney Rock is closed due to elephant seals - a large male was observed Thursday with his proboscis (big nose) hanging over the gate!
Birding excitement caused by a Summer tanager reported at the Morgan Horse Ranch and a pair of Eurasian Widgeons on the Bolinas Lagoon. Huge 'Rafts' of ducks appear as dark spots on Tomales Bay - these are surf scoters, buffleheads, and greater scaups possibly following herring fry or eggs.
Elephant seals are noisily celebrating their time ashore! Over 70 animals are visible from Chimney Rock Overlook and sporadic reports of additional animals at South Beach and along Drakes Beach. A solitary male has made repeated 'landings' along Drakes Beach during high tides. Always remember to stay 100 yards away. if the animal raises its head towards you - that's too close!. Grey whales are beginning to be seen in large numbers, rangers at the Lighthouse reported a steady 4-5 per hour, approximately 20-25 per day. The sperm whale carcass has moved into Drakes Estero where it appears as an oily sheen on the water, sharks and birds are scavenging it daily. It may be move out of the Estero with high tides next week.
Marin Conservation corps crews have been working on local projects - removing eucalyptus trees in the Palomarin area and creekside stabilization along Lagunitas Creek near Devils Gulch.
New exhibit in the Bear Valley Visitor Center through February - Photography by Robert Kennedy, College of Marin educator.
Monday is a federal holiday, honoring Dr. Martin Luther King - all park visitor centers will be open - Bear Valley from 8:00 am - 5:00; Lighthouse 10:00 am - 4;30 pm and Drakes Beach 10:00 am - 5:00 pm. Shuttles will be operating if the weather is clear.