Park Wavelengths - January 2005
January 25, 2005
Tuesday, January 25th is the full moon at 2:32 am - the wolf moon to the Algonquin who see a wolf in the craters of the moon.
Northern Elephant seal breeding season is in full swing! A contingent of four immature males with shark bite scars visible, were regularly seen at the Historic Lifeboat Station. In the Drakes colony, 102 animals were counted last Friday. Weekdays are much less crowded for viewing, shuttle busses ran both of the last weekends with over 600 visitors oohing and awing the whales and seals!
Warm weather these past weeks has brought up some of the first wildflowers! Tiny, pinkish white 'milkmaids' at Olema Marsh and Chimney Rock have been seen as well as exotic daffodils sprouting.
For an interesting trip off the beaten path, Marin County Open Space is leading a walk from Five Brooks to Mud Lake on Friday, January 28th from 9:00 am - 3:00 pm. Meet at the 5 Brooks trailhead, about four miles south of Olema off Highway 1. Take a few minutes to walk back down the road and look for the spur trail on the right to the creek for a last look at the spawning salmon.
Sunday, January 30th marks the tenth anniversary of the Habitat Restoration Team at Point Reyes! They will be pulling broom at the Drakes Estero trail. Meet at 9:00 am at Bear Valley to join the work or 2:00 pm at Rancho Nicasio to celebrate all of this hard work.
A film permit has been issued for RCA Beach on January 26th. National Geographic will be filming an artist from Bolinas on sea monsters! A permit has been issued for a bike ride on January 29th, approximately 140 riders will be traveling from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Lighthouse and then back. Also, Monday-Tuesday January 24-25, a permit has been issued for a car commercial at South Beach and Pierce Point Road. No delays or inconvenience are anticipated with any of these activities.
Highway 1 has been closed for repairs mid-week between Muir Beach and Stinson Beach with traffic diverted across Muir Woods Road and Panoramic Highway. Recorded traffic information is available at 1-800-427-7623.
January 12, 2005
The tule elk research project is slated for this week January 10-13 as weather permits. The northern end of Pierce Point Road and the Tomales Point Trail will be closed for safety - access to Kehoe Beach is available but not McClure's Beach. The small red helicopter may be seen netting elk and taking blood samples to monitor the health of the herd. Tule elk were hunted throughout the mid-19th century, their hides were called 'rawhide dollars' and their two large canine teeth used to ornament watch chains. The last survivors of these once vast herds were located on a ranch near Los Baños in the 1970's. Now their descendants have been re-introduced throughout the state numbering over 3000 in 22 herds protected by state and federal agencies.
The very high tides have literally flushed out an unusual bird, the yellow rail. The 'mouse-like bird" usually about 7 inches high, "extremely secretive" usually stays well hidden in marsh shrubs but the rising water over the past few days allowed birders to observe these birds in the area called Waldo's Dam, off Sir Francis Drake Highway about 8/10's of a mile north of Drakes View Drive in Inverness. Use caution in this wet, muddy area and observe birds quietly, the birds are under stress, birding groups reported predation by herons and hawks of black rails.
The park is asking for assistance in documenting local West Marin wild turkey populations. Park biologists are asking for the location and number of birds seen - leave a message at (415) 464-5194.
Visitors are reporting blobs of clear jelly on Limantour Beach - upon closer examination these are herring eggs! It's that time of year when Pacific herring move into Tomales and San Francisco bays and lay hundreds of eggs. Seabirds enjoy this additional snack which allows them to build up energy reserves for their coming egg laying. Herring share the same season as gray whales - the fish enter the bays anytime between November and March with a peak activity period in January.
Water, water everywhere! This time of year is great to check out the waterfalls. Marin County Parks and Open space is sponsoring a hike to view Alamere Falls on Thursday, January 13 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Meet at the Palomarin Trailhead at the end of Mesa Road in Bolinas.
Curious about mushrooms? Muir Woods is sponsoring "Mushrooms 101" on Saturday, January 15 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. No charge but class is limited, reservations required at (415) 388-2596. And happy birthday to Muir Woods which turned 97 last weekend!
Elephant seal season is full ON! The small colony at Gus' Cove, visible from the bench on Chimney Rock has a couple of females and a bull. Two males were lounging at the Lifeboat Station over the weekend and approximately 35 with 7 pups may be seen from the Chimney Rock Overlook (note: the blue plastic drum in the midst of the colony is debris washed up in the storm). Visit during the week to avoid crowds. Shuttle busses have not been called in yet because of damp weather on weekends.
Monday, January 17th, Martin Luther King Day, all visitor centers will be open for the federal holiday and weather permitting shuttle busses will be operating.
Did You Know?
So many California red-legged frogs were caught for consumption in the late 1800's that their numbers declined throughout California. So bullfrogs were imported from the east to help meet the demand. But bullfrogs are voracious predators and helped drive the red-legged frog population lower yet. More...