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Park Wavelengths - January 2009

 

January 28, 2009

The morning "star" Jupiter returns to the early morning skies this week and is followed by the full moon on February 8th continuing the range of dramatic high and low tides during the daylight hours:

Low Tides High Tides
Thursday, February 5 1:55 pm -0.6 feet
Friday, February 6 2:45 pm -1.0 feet 7:08 am 6.7 feet
Saturday, February 7 3:30 pm -1.2 feet 8:08 am 6.9 feet
Sunday, February 8 4:16 pm -1.2 feet 9:04 am 6.9 feet
Monday, February 9 4:54 pm -1.0 feet 9:56 am 6.8 feet

Whales sightings have dropped to their typical late January-February lull—only 2 seen Saturday, none on Sunday and five on Monday—after the peaks of mid-January. The Northern Elephant Seal colonies at Chimney Rock are in full roar; numerous pups and lots of activity amongst the males. A smattering of wildflowers is enjoying the warm weather; Pink Checkerbloom or Mallow joins the Milkmaids; blue violets are blooming low on the ground and pink Hazelnut blossoms are opening on these shrubs.

We won't see any Groundhogs on February 2nd but this is a good time of year to look for Dusky footed wood rat nests; they are much more visible during winter when there is less foliage disguising their large stick nests. They often build a nest in the shrubbery above their groundnest. They are seen along the Coast Laguna Loop trail and Limantour Road.

County, federal, and state rangers will be out on Tomales Bay today conducting search and rescue training. Perhaps they will see the immature Bald Eagle that has been noted along the west side of the bay?

Mushroom weekend is coming up February 7–8 at the Bear Valley Visitor Center. On Saturday, February 7, join local volunteers for identification walks at 10:00 a.m. On Sunday from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., a display of mushrooms with identifications will be available to the public at the visitor center.

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January 13, 2009

The new moon rises January 26 with late afternoon low tides:

Thursday, January 22 3:09 pm -0.2 feet
Friday, January 23 3:45 pm -0.3 feet
Saturday, January 24 4:18 pm -0.4 feet

Rain rain come again! Initial surveys on Olema and Redwood Creeks are described as 'dismal.' One live coho salmon and no redds (nests) were found in Olema Creek. In Muir Woods Redwood Creek, a live coho and seven live steelhead were noted with 2 coho and 4 steelhead redds recorded. Large storms and water are needed to bring the fish up the creeks as well as create deep pools for the redds.

Rain go away! The first wildflowers are appearing early due to warm temperatures -pinkish white Milkmaids (Dentaria Californica) of the shady woodlands, seen along Lucas Valley Road coming out to West Marin and around the visitor center. Daffodils pushing up in Point Reyes Station already!

Whale watching has been excellent this year; weekend counts of 8 to 9 per hour with a daily total of 39 reported on Sunday from the Lighthouse. The elephant seal colonies are in full "snort," pups being born, alpha males on alert, and younger males wrestling at the Lifeboat Station.

All park visitor centers will be open Monday, January 19, Martin Luther King Holiday and shuttle busses will be operating if the weather is clear.

At Marin County's White House Pool park, the portable restroom has been temporarily removed due to concerns about flooding and possible water contamination; it will be returned in the spring.

New photo display at the Bear Valley Visitor Center this month, Nadine Heidacker, "Photos of Point Reyes."

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Did You Know?

Deathcap Mushrooms © John Lennie

Deathcap mushrooms are found throughout the Point Reyes region and are the most poisonous mushrooms in the world. But they're fairly new arrivals here. They invaded the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1930s, likely brought over on cork trees from Europe for the wine industry. More...