Park Wavelengths - January 2007
January 23, 2007
The full moon (the Light of Day Returns moon among the Osage people) rises next Thursday, February 1st with some daylight low tides:
From the trails crew, we are told that all trails have been cleared of downed trees by the trail crew except for Greenpicker where a large tree forces horse back riders to dismount and walk underneath. A fence is now across the Estero Trail about a 1.2 miles in; range management staff put it up to discourage cows from getting into the Estero. It has a gate that hikers/bikers may open and close to continue along the trail.
The warm weather brought out the first wildflowers!! Petite 'Milkmaids' or toothwort are already blooming, a small white flower found in shaded areas with a slight pink tone in the center and a small tuberous root. They are one of the first perennials out, though usually later in February.
It's totally hopping, well, lumbering, along in the north Drakes Beach colony of Elephant seals! Last weekend a young male beached itself near the Drakes Beach Visitor Center, carefully monitored by docents. Visitors at the Overlook viewed a variety of male behaviors - snorting, cruising along the water and trying to sneak up onto the beach where the alpha male could not see them!
Whalewatching has been hit and miss - many were seen over the King holiday weekend then windy weather prevented any sightings this past weekend. Typically, February is a drop off time with sightings increasing in March and April.
A free lecture by Andrew Chang of Bodega Marine lab is at the Red Barn Classroom is coming up on February 1st, 12 noon to 1:00 pm; 'Changing salinity determines patterns of estuarine community diversity.'
January 10, 2007
The new moon lights the sky on January 18 with some daylight low tides:
The new year begins! The annual visit of the gopher eating Great Blue Heron - it flew into the Morgan Horse ranch yesterday. Spawner surveys have been completed over the new years weekend and are continuing. Olema Creek had 44 live adult coho salmon and 20 new redds bringing the total to 55 confirmed redds! The first steelhead trout of the year was seen on New Years eve in the creek.
News from Chimney Rock: Northern Elephant seals have been basking in this sunshine of Drakes Beach with 26 pups reported visible from the Overlook. And no, the large bull elephant seal with the pink flipper tag and dye mark '1' is not a seal gone 'punk' style on Drakes Beach! Researchers use tags and hair dye and to mark the seals and to identify the movement of certain animals around the Point Reyes headlands area. D1 received his pink tag in the Farallons, was last seen January 4 , 2006 at Point Reyes and is back angling to become the dominant or alpha male of the colony. One of the flipper tagged females with a pup currently on Drakes Beach was originally tagged as a weaner in 2001 in the park and has been seen in 2005, 2006, and now 2007.
From the windlashed trails; all trails are open to hikers/horses; Horse Trail remains closed to horseback travel due to a downed fir. It is a 'granary' tree, the bark stuffed with acorns by acorn woodpeckers for winter snacking on the insects that feast on the acorn meat. Downed tree reports are always appreciated - but trail crew members need to know the kind of tree, the circumference as well as the location.
The 'Fungal Foray' returns on Saturday, January 20th to the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Mushroom hunters will meet at 9:00 am and return by 1:00pm with a display of specimens for public viewing! It is a helpful way to learn to identify various fungi. Arrive early for parking, a permit has also been issued that day for a training hike/bike at Bear Valley.
On Thursday, January 11, Marin County naturalists lead a hike 'Olema Valley to the Sea' from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm Meet promptly at the Ridge Trailhead on Mesa Road in Bolinas for a car shuttle; the cold clear weather predicted promises some spectacular views.
All park visitor centers will be open this holiday weekend and shuttles will operate on Monday if the weather is good.