Park Wavelengths - January 2008
January 29, 2008
The new moon rises on February 6th with some daylight afternoon low tides:
Look for corresponding high tides to 6 feet in the mornings 8:00 am to 9:00 am. If heavy rains occur, these morning highs could cause extra water on local roads.
Fish Tales and tails - No coho or redds (egg nests) have yet been observed in Redwood Creek in Muir Woods, typically by this time of year up to 100 have been found. Scientists have been elated to find 9 live steelhead and and 4 steelhead redds in Olema Creek along with 2 new coho redds and 4 live adult coho. Pine Gulch surveys yields 2 coho redds and one live adult coho as well as 9 steelhead redds and 3 live adult steelhead. Once sediment settles after these recent rains, surveys will continue. No theories as to what might be happening with these fragile populations.
Fish numbers are down but frogs are doing well - 95 egg masses for red legged frogs have been counted in Cemetery Pond in Olema Valley, a record high! The frogs are also occupying the newly created "Lucchesi Ponds" in the Giacomini Wetlands, created off Sir Francis Drake Highway.
Northern Elephant seals are busy! The larger alpha and beta males, visible in the North Drakes Beach/Chimney Rock colony, have been marked with dye D-1 through 4. The alpha is usually seen in the center of the colony, belching and snorting, as males flit around the harem attempting to move onto the beach; the beta is along the side of the harem and joins in the noisemaking. This year's alpha male, D-2 was the alpha among the smaller colony of Gus' Cove, a small beach on Chimney Rock, taking on more work this year to defend a larger group! D-3 is a beta male who was born on North Drakes beach in 2000, he celebrates his first year as a full sized male and is already a beta! About 329 animals are seen from Chimney Rock.
Wildflowers in January? Yes, tiny pinkish white 'Milkmaids' Dentaria californica is always one of the first to flower, usually in shady woods. They are along hillsides on Lucas Valley Road and Bear Valley Trail. The first daffodils have even been spotted blooming in downtown Point Reyes Station and along the Coast Trail.
A permit has been issued for a training team bike ride on Bear Valley Trail for up to 70 people (moving in small groups) on Saturday, February 2nd - if rainy weather continues, it is likely that it will be cancelled. Note: The large scale bike ride "Tour Of California" returns on Monday, February 18 of President's Holiday Weekend; we'll keep you posted as to road closures associated with the event.
January 15, 2008
The moon is full on January 22nd at 5:35 am. It is called Moon of the Terrible by the Dakotah Sioux in reference to the difficult weather and the lack of food in their homeland and Bashelamatu-la to the local Kashaya Pomo - buckeye harvest. It brings a few daylight low tides and corresponding high tides:
Always keep an eye on the water at the beach especially during high tides, as waves can 'sneak up' and wash people and pets off beaches.
Heavy rains are always welcomed by coho trout and steelhead trout. Surveys take place after storms when the sediment has settled and the fish are visible. 17 coho redds are noted in the Olema Creek and 8 redds in the John West Fork; very few live coho or carcasses have been seen. The first steelhead was reported on Olema Creek yesterday and a survey of Pine Gulch Creek this week will hopefully yield additional fish. The coho spawning season is winding down and the numbers are lower than expected but no ideas yet as to why the population has changed this season.
Northern elephant seal populations withstood the storm of the past weekends with some pups lost to the waves. About 50% of the total park population is now visible from the Chimney Rock Overlook, a much more protected habitat that the outer cliffs where they first returned to Point Reyes. Late January and early February are the peak of pup births. Gray whale sightings continue to be few and far between, hampered by poor visibility - low fogs and high winds. The count on Saturday was just 5 over the day.
The annual request from the trail crew to park visitors - if you come across a downed tree, please report it to the park visitor centers or by phone. Important information to provide is a good location; the type of tree (fir, oak, pine etc.) whether a hiker can step over it or is blocked to horses; the circumference of the tree. The information allows them to respond with the appropriate tools especially if they have to hike in long distances.
Mushroom education in the park continues with a free seminar at the Bear Valley Visitor Center on Sunday, January 27 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Volunteers will identify mushrooms with a talk on poisonous species slated for 2:00 p.m.
On Monday, January 21, the Martin Luther King Holiday is observed and all park visitor centers will be open; shuttle busses will be operating if the weather is clear.
Message from the Superintendent to Point Reyes Staff:
Subject: Visitation Update
We just closed out the calendar year and received the park visitation statistics for 2007. For the year, we had 2,232,082 visits; a 6.75% change over 2006.
As you can see below, we had a peak visitation year in 2002 (during the last seven years). In turn, our visitation has been on the upswing since 2004.
This increase in 2007 means you served an extra 200,000 visitors this past year over 2006. We appreciate the extra effort and we continue to get a 100% satisfaction rating from visitors because of your dedicated public service. Thanks for keeping the park in excellent shape.
January 4, 2008
Storm Update, 4:30 p.m.
January 4, 2008
Storm Update, 12:30 p.m.
January 4, 2007
Here is what we know at this time (9:30 a.m.) about the storm:
January 2, 2008
Many vacations at this time of year - from F Ranch in the early 1860's; "Here on Point Reyes as a boy, when let loose from school, I spent my vacation with Captain Josiah Swain in his old ranch house, built largely from the wreckage of ships whose bones whitened the neighboring sands of the ocean. The captain had a grand old ox, trained to browse up alongside of a flock of geese, and hiding behind the ox walked the hunter... I heard of one pothunter who got 24 geese at a single shot..."
The rising new moon on January 8 brings a few daylight afternoon low tides:
High tides in the early mornings (6 feet+) correspond with these low tides creating a situation for possible flooding if the predicted heavy rains arrive. Check in on road conditions by calling the visitor center at 415-464-5100.
A very faint meteor shower on Thursday, January 3rd, the Quadrantids, may be seen in the northeast, after midnight if we have clear skies.
Northern elephant seals are on schedule though Pacific gray whales are not! The first seal pup on the Headlands was born December 19 in comparison with December 19th in 2006 and December 16 in 2005. Immature and yearling seals are the most common on the beaches about 55% of the total group. They are easily observed from the Elephant Seal Overlook at Chimney Rock. A few males have also turned up along Drakes Beach closer to the visitor center. Gray whale sightings were few and far between this past weekend as over 700 folks rode the shuttle on New Years Day and watched for whales - the days end count came down to just 4. Some biologists attribute the later traveling of gray whales to thinning ice in the Arctic which exposes more of their food sources - tube dwelling amphipods on the surface of the ocean floor - the whales are lingering longer to eat more.
A lot of colorful berries remain long into winter and brighten the roadsides: Bright red sprays of Cotoneasters originally from China and the Himalayas have a light fuzz on the small oval leaves; Orange pyracantha, known as firethorns, originally from China and the Mediterranean, have small shiny oval leaves and large needlelike thorns on the stems. The native Toyon has long sprays of leathery looking red berries with large oval leaves. All provide a source of food for overwintering birds though the pyracantha does sicken birds, they can become intoxicated by the berries and then injured.
January 2, 2008
Forwarded to Park Wavelengths Subscribers:
Subject: Come Celebrate the Muir Woods Centennial on January 9, 2008
Did You Know?
In the mid-1800s, the tule elk was hunted to the brink of extinction. The last surviving tule elk were discovered and protected in the southern San Joaquin Valley in 1874. In 1978, ten tule elk were reintroduced to Point Reyes, which now has one of California's largest populations, numbering ~500. More...