Park Wavelengths - February 2004
February 27, 2004
Naturalist Notebook: March 6th is a full moon at 3:14 pm. Hopi call it the Whispering Wind moon and the Passamaquody of Maine call it the Spring moon.
A couple of good daylight low tides are coming for tidepooling:
Safety First at the coast - storms have brought high surf; always watch the waves as you walk or tidepool!
Birders Delight: Brandt's are returning from western Mexico and have begun appearing in Drakes Estero; many of the small insect eating birds such as chickadees have bright yellow cheeks and breasts from willow pollen as they feed among the catkins. A couple of prairie falcons have been roaming between the Johnson's Oyster Farm area and Abbots Lagoon area. At the Lighthouse, between squalls of hail and rain yesterday, the peregrine falcon has been seen on the rocks on the left side of the stairs.
Rangers at Muir Woods report wildflowers blooming under the redwoods - fetid adders tongue, redwood sorrel, and trillium. Steelhead trout are lingering in the streams at the woods, also. Early wildflowers in the national seashore are the 4 petaled tiny, pinkish white milkmaids and lavender pinkish sea thrift. The southern facing slopes of the Chimney Rock peninsula, along the road to the Boathouse, are among the first displays - there you will see pale yellow wallflowers and few early orange red paintbrush.
Gray whale sightings have been scarce so far; weather is always a factor in whether they can be spotted. As we go into March and April, sightings should increase along the coast.
Storm report: Elephant seals appear to have survived the storm as the peak of the season has passed and there were not as many left to be affected by the waves and tidal surges. A long-line fishing boat sank off the Chimney Rock docks in the storm and park staff will be monitoring it to be sure no damage to park resources occurs. Storms have knocked down trees in many areas of the parks, please report downed trees at park visitor centers. The trail crew appreciates the following information: type of tree; size/diameter of tree; whether it can be bypassed by horses and hikers. This information will help them respond more quickly in clearing trails.
This is the last weekend for photographs on display by Robert Kennedy at the Bear Valley Visitor Center. A new display of wildflower drawings goes on display March 1st by Mill Valley artist Florentine O'Rourke.
Americorps crews stationed at Point Reyes continue projects - they have finished the Lifesaving Service cemetery restoration. The cemetery may be visited by turning off Sir Francis Drake Highway at the Coast Guard station. A gravel parking lot and trail markers are installed for a short hike to the grove of eucalyptus trees. Members of the Clausen Family, a ranching family at the original "Point Reyes" F ranch are buried there as well as surfmen assigned to the Great Beach station.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS:
April 24 - Spring Festival at Kule Loklo, Coast Miwok Cultural Exhibit, cosponsored with the park, the Federated Indians Graton Rancheria, and the Miwok Archaeological Preserve of Marin - 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.
May 8 - Stewart Udall, former Secretary of the Interior, will be speaking at Pt. Reyes Books, co sponsored with the Seashore Association.
February 12, 2004
Naturalist Notebook: Tidepooling days coming with the new moon this weekend:
Safest areas are Agate Beach County Park at the end of Elm and Overlook Roads; or Sculptured Beach near Limantour Beach. Safety First - always watch the water.
Elephant Seals are peaking! Park wide counts are 1011 total seals with 512 cows and 401 pups; 23 weaners. Viewing at Chimney Rock has been very active - the dominant males marked D26 and D2 have been busy defending their harems and mating!
The carcass of a pygmy sperm whale washed up on North Beach, about three miles north from the North Beach parking lot. In Japan, they are called uki-kujira "floating whales" because of their tendency to float on the surface. In the Lesser Antilles they are called rat porpoises because of their sharp bottom jaw teeth. They are not known to migrate; normally they live towrads the open ocean near the continental shelf.
A juvenile rough legged hawk has been soaring over the parking lot at Drakes Beach the last few weekends. Normally, this hawk nests up on the Arctic tundra and returns to the Central Valley. It is rarely seen on the coast. Rangers observed it "kiting" above the west ridge of the parking lot.
Butterflies in February? The unseasonably warm weather has brought out some butterflies Mourning Cloak (large 3" velvety brown with a yellow stripe and small blue dots along the wing edge) Spring Azures (small, 1 inch pale blue) and the more common Red Admirals. They feed on sap and nectars.
Wildflowers are on the way! Flowering currant, white milkmaids, and the daffodil patch near the hostel (remnant of the flower farms in this area before the park) are providing bright spots of color. Marin County Open Space is sponsoring a walk "Early Wildflowers of Chimney Rock " on February 18th 10:00 am -2:00 pm. Meet at the Chimney Rock parking lot.
Today, Thursday, February 11th, filming permits have been issued for Limantour Road and the Earthquake Trail. Expect delays on Limantour Road, traffic control will be in place.
For the holiday weekend, all visitor centers will be open for the three days Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Bear Valley Visitor center will be open 8:00 am to 5:00 pm; the Lighthouse 10:00 am -4:30 pm and Ken Patrick 9:00 am-5:00 pm (if shuttles operate) or 10:00 am-5:00 pm (poor weather/no shuttles).
The draft general management plan for Tomales Bay State Park is out for review. A public informational meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 24 from 6-8:00 pm at the Dance Palace Community Center, 5th and B Streets in Point Reyes Station. Review copies are at the Inverness and Point Reyes Libraries or on line www.parks.ca.gov.