Park Wavelengths - August 2013
Friday, August 23, 2013
The moon reaches apogee on Friday, August 30, its farthest point this year from the center of the earth. Sunset continues to be earlier each day as we move towards fall.
Late summer flowering plants include more South African lilies—the belladonna lily with the 2–3 foot stems rising straight up with a pink trumpet at the end. This long-lived plant stores all of its water from winter rains in a softball-sized bulb. Early color along Lucas Valley and Bear Valley Roads is poison oak, which is turning red as it climbs along the oaks and eucalyptus.
The annual Sand Sculpture Contest takes over Drakes Beach on Sunday of Labor Day weekend with local celebrity judges Ken and Amanda Eichstaedt! Carpool and travel early for this popular event in its 32nd year, but leave the family pet at home.
Tule elk docents are reporting plenty of action from their weekends at Tomales Point as the rut continues! Bugling, harem formation, all the usual excitement.
The Lighthouse and Bear Valley Visitor Center will be open Monday, September 2, Labor Day holiday.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
The new moon rises on Tuesday, August 6, ushering in the early Perseid meteor showers which peak on August 12. Typically, it is an active shower with easily observed meteors, aka "falling stars," but this year much of the northern hemisphere will not see the activity which peaks during daylight hours.
Lots of activity surrounds the Bear Valley Visitor center on weekdays as parking islands are removed, the flow of traffic is rearranged, and a new bus shelter is constructed. Use caution throughout the construction period which ends approximately August 16. Planning reviews are also underway for road repairs on Limantour Beach and towards the Lighthouse; check out the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website for up-to-date information.
The first two snowy plovers have fledged for the 2013 season, with 11 other chicks on the beach. One nest is still incubating and one chick is due to fledge this week. A positive year for these plucky birds!
A little reminder of summer's passing: late flowering spikes of pumpkin-orange flowers along Bear Valley Trail are South African Lily, or Crocosmia sp., an exotic introduced in the park. Late summer also brings orange monkey-flowers on drier hillsides mixed in the chaparral. Huckleberries also are ripening, along with blackberries, on Inverness Ridge and at Tomales Bay State Park.
Did You Know?
Four species of pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) rest onshore or breed at Point Reyes: the Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), the harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus), and the Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus). More...