Park Wavelengths - February 2008
February 28, 2008
The rising new moon on March 7th brings a few afternoon low tides:
Peregrine falcons have been seen in aerial mating displays over the Lighthouse Visitor center. The population of peregrines in the park is another hopeful sign of the possibility of recovery - they join the tule elk and northern elephant seals as species who suffered drastic population damage and now appear to be healthy. Not so hopeful at this time is the coho salmon. Park biologists believe that poor ocean conditions have affected the coho salmon population which showed a decline of 80% in most creeks in this area. Coho smolts migrating out to the ocean in 2006 faced a famine. They rely on coastal upwelling during late spring to bring cool nutrient rich water to the surface; when this did not occur, many could not find food and did not survive to make their return home in 2008.
Wildflowers continue to bloom in the park especially on the outer point - bog lilies at Abbots Lagoon, the rare yellow Point Reyes Castilleja (sp.) Paintbrush at Chimney Rock; the exotic heather farm above Muir Beach has caught the eye of many northbound travelers. Exotic daffodils, left from the bulb farm at the Hostel area, are in lovely shape this year.
Annual seal protection closures begin on Saturday March 1st - Drakes Estero and South Blue Gums Beach in Tomales Bay are closed until June 30th as harbor seals return to give birth to their pups. These are the smaller seals in the neighborhood who are here year round, commonly seen in Bolinas Lagoon and swimming offshore. It is typical for a pup to be left unattended while the parent searches for food in the water so a reminder, do not approach marine mammals and attempt to pick them up or feed them etc. Notify park visitor centers and staff who will check on the animals.
Over the past two months there have been 4 car break ins at North Beach parking lot. The hours vary but a reminder to leave valuables at home or carry them with you. Don't leave anything in sight that may tempt a break in - cameras, backpacks wallets should be completely out of sight.
New permanent exhibits on Sir Francis Drakes voyage around the world and his respite at Point Reyes have been installed in the courtyard at the Ken Patrick Visitor Center.
February 22, 2008
Forwarded to Park Wavelengths - Sorry about the very late notice
February 20, 2008
Forwarded to Park Wavelengths - regret the late notice.
February 11, 2008
The full moon, the Budding or Ripening Moon among the Nez Perce, rises next week in total eclipse which will be visible from all over the country and can be viewed in West Marin early on Wednesday evening, February 20th. If it is clear, we should be able to see it approximately 7:00 pm ish. Some daylight afternoon low tides accompany the full moon:
Northern Elephant seal numbers continue to be healthy with just over 250 visible from the Chimney Rock Overlook; pups are easy to spot and there has been lot's of mating activity for viewing. A number of minke whales have been spotted from the Lighthouse, these are the smallest and most abundant of the rorqual whales (coming from the Norwegian word "rorhval" for "furrow") which all have pleats or folds of skin under their jaws which allow them to expand their mouths. Minkes have a small fin on their back which makes them easy to pick out from gray whales who have "knuckles" or ridges on their back and no fins.
Touches of spring everywhere; the small pinkish white Milkmaids in shady areas along Sir Francis Drake Highway have been joined by pink Checkerbloom or Mallow and one Chocolate Lily, Fritillaria, glimpsed at Chimney Rock!
Winter storms have exposed the engine block of the 1913 shipwreck Pomo on Limantour Beach; sand will recover it by summer.
The Tour of California bike race traverses Highway 1 in West Marin on Monday February 18 and there may be some traffic delays. It is scheduled to enter Stinson Beach approximately 11:45 am and then Point Reyes Station approximately 12:15 depending on the speed of the riders. In past years, parking areas have been closed off along Highway 1 with rolling intersection closures by Highway Patrol. Travel early or late, find a nice picnic spot for midday!
All park visitor centers will be open Monday, February 18, Presidents Holiday weekend and if the weather is clear, shuttles will be operating.