• The Point Reyes Beach as viewed from the Point Reyes Headlands

    Point Reyes

    National Seashore California

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Park Wavelengths - February 2003

 

February 18, 2003

Naturalist's Notebook: The great winter day time low tides continue February 25 to March 1:

Tuesday, February 25 1:04 pm -0.2 feet
Wednesday, February 26 2:08 pm -0.4 feet
Thursday, February 27 2:58 pm -0.5 feet
Friday, February 28 3:40 pm -0.5 feet
Saturday, March 1 4:18 pm -0.4 feet

Duxbury Reef in Agate Beach County Park near Bolinas and Sculptured Beach near Limantour Beach are the most accessible areas. Saturday and Sunday March 1st and 2nd have high 6 foot+ morning tides 9:30 -10:00 which mean the beaches will appear very small. Drakes Beach has very little sand for walking during these high tides, we recommend waiting till afternoon on those days for beach access at Drakes Beach. A new laminated photo identity card for tidepool life has been added for sale at Bear Valley Visitor Center.

Large numbers of California sea lions have been seen off Drakes Beach and the Great Beach, the working theory is they are following herring and anchovy schools. Typically, we haven't seen large numbers in the water. They have been mistaken for dolphins because they like to jump in and out of the water, raising their flippers or thermoregulating.

Elephant Seal populations continue to decline though there is a great deal of activity in the Chimney Rock colony as the males are continually sparring over females. Pacific gray whales have not been seen in any numbers over the past few weeks. The small group of transplanted tule elk, five females has been a regular sight at the top of Drakes Beach Road.

Spring is in the air with more and more wildflowers blooming each day if the warm temperatures continue. Chimney Rock is a good place to see a wide variety of flowers in a small area while Abbots Lagoon and Tomales Point will have large displays of poppies and lupines later in the season. At Chimney Rock, tiny white milkmaids are in abundance as well as "5 spot" or nemophila (a very pale lavender with five blue spots on the petals). A few purple Douglas Iris are at the end of the Chimney Rock trail. Along the paved road to the Historic Boathouse some pale yellow flowers, wallflowers have begun - they are one of the few wildflowers with a fragrance. While it is tempting to want to pick wildflowers - leave them for others to enjoy.

Park partner Point Reyes Bird Observatory has forwarded the following information to us:

How to Help Birds During the Breeding Season.

The nesting cycle for many birds in coastal California is afoot! Although the majority of birds in West Marin nest between March and July, resident species such as Anna's Hummingbird and White tailed kite, began nesting as early as January. As you may be aware, most birds have a limited window of time for raising their young. The best way to help birds raise their young is to be mindful that during the breeding season nests are virtually everywhere there are birds! We [PRBO] recommend the following actions during the breeding season:

-Leave understory vegetation whenever possible for nesting songbirds.
-Set aside no-mow zones and leave brush piles to improve bird cover and foraging area, and begin mowing before birds are attracted to the area and begin nesting
-Minimize disturbance by ceasing brush and dead limb cutting, mowing, and trail clearing and tree felling during the peak of breeding season March-July.
-Reduce feral cat populations, keep pets on leash in wild areas. Be mindful of any alarm calls and displays (i.e., repeated sharp chirping or alert posture) that birds make when one is too close to their nest.)

Melissa Pitkin 868-1221 ext.307

Park Programs:

Saturdays and Sundays:

  • 2:00 pm at the Historic Boathouse - a slide talk on the Lifesaving Service
  • 3:00 pm at the Historic Boathouse - a slide talk on the Elephant Seals

Every Saturday - 2:00 pm - Earthquake Talk meets at Bear Valley Visitor Center.

Every Sunday - 3:00 pm - Kule Loklo Tour, Coast Miwok exhibit, meets at Bear Valley Visitor Center.

A special talk on navigation is available at the Ken Patrick Visitor Center on Sunday at 4:00 pm.

Mark your calendar: April 26th is the annual Strawberry Festival at Kule Loklo.

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February 6, 2003

Naturalists Notebook: The winter low tides and tidepooling continue with good low tides with a full moon:

Thursday, February 13 2:54 pm -0.3 feet
Friday, February 14 3:33 pm -0.7 feet
Saturday, February 15 4:11 pm -1.0 feet
Sunday, February 16 4:48 pm -0.9 feet

Agate Beach County Park in Bolinas and Sculptured Beach on the south end of Limantour Beach provide excellent opportunities. The El Nino weather pattern has made the winter tides appear quite dramatic, more of the rock formations have been exposed at Drakes beach for example. At the high tide most of Drakes Beach "disappears" as does the end of Limantour Spit.

The Pacific gray whale migration has entered the lull period with few whales sighted, more sightings will occur as we move into mid-March. Last weekend orcas were seen from the Lighthouse feeding/following a large movement of sea lions. Orcas are generally found in the Monterey Bay area, they tend to stay in deep underwater canyons and move from underneath - upward to catch prey. They range north from Monterey to the Lighthouse area with sightings a couple of times a year at Point Reyes. The Lighthouse steps remain closed on the weekdays though the observation deck remains open.

The elephant seal colony is at its peak. Two harems have formed at the Chimney Rock colony with two alpha (dominant males) separated along the beach. Lots of activities may be observed, male jousting, pups nursing, sand flipping to cool off - it's a great time! Careful observation from the upper Chimney Rock trail that circles the Headlands also allows observation of a small harem on the east side of the point. The shuttle service is operating in clear weather, the roads close Saturday and Sunday morning with bus service from Drakes Beach out to the Lighthouse and Chimney Rock. It will operate on Monday February 17 for the Presidents holiday weekend.

The warm weather has brought out the first species of wildflowers on the Headlands, tiny white "milkmaids" and pink mallow or checkerbloom. The Hostel staff report that the daffodils are in bloom in the Laguna Trailhead area. Mushrooms are also easily found, a lovely orange red capped mushroom "scarlet elf cap" is on the Woodpecker Trail. It is legal to collect a quart of mushrooms for personal use on federal park lands but not to pick wildflowers of any kind, leave for other to enjoy.

A film permit was issued for a "Happy Cows from California" commercial on the E Ranch this week. No road closures are anticipated.

Programs:

Saturday

  • 2:00 pm - Earthquake Trail - meet at the Bear Valley Visitor Center
  • 2:00 pm at the Historic Lifeboat Station - Slide Talk on the Lifesaving Service
  • 3:00 pm at the Historic Lifeboat Station - Slide Talk on Elephant Seals

Sunday

  • 2:00 pm - Kule Loklo - Meet at the Bear Valley Visitor Center for a walk to the Coast Miwok cultural exhibit
  • 2:00 pm at the Historic Lifeboat Station - Slide Talk on the Lifesaving Service
  • 3:00 pm at the Historic Lifeboat Station - Slide Talk on Elephant Seals

A special talk at 4:00 pm on Sundays at the Ken Patrick Visitor Center will highlight historic navigation.

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Did You Know?

Humboldt Squid. © Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

Historically, the Humboldt squid were seldom found further north than Baja California. The squid then came north en masse during the 1997/98 El Nino and have maintained a fairly regular presence in the waters off of northern and central California--including Point Reyes--ever since. More...