Park Wavelengths - March 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014
A new moon rises Sunday, March 30, but viewing may be hampered by predicted showers.
Wildflower season is on! Light-colored flowering shrubs along roadsides are red elderberry and are very profuse along the Coast Trail. Douglas iris beds at the Estero Trailhead are blooming and poppies are everywhere!
The northern elephant seal season is winding down with most females gone to sea and this year’s group of "weaners" still on the beaches. They will linger molting and losing fur for another few months. Whale spotting has been hampered by dense fog at the coast, but, this past weekend, more were seen from the Lighthouse.
A new species of fly was discovered in the park along Limantour Road by scientists from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. It is a type of fungus gnat (Megophthalmidia saskia) which, yes, feeds on fungus!
This weekend is the end of the 2013–2014 shuttle season; subsequently, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard will be open on weekends through late December 2014.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Wet weather brings out newts with pumpkin colored bellies and reddish purple backs. They love the damp forest floor along the Woodpecker Trail.
Rainfall has broken open the sandbar at Redwood Creek and opened the spawning grounds of Muir Woods! Initial reports found three coho redds and five steelhead redds with 12 live coho! Olema Creek had 19 coho redds and 17 steelhead redds with 50 live coho and 38 live steelhead. Pine Gulch was the "winner" with 27 steelhead redds and 11 live steelhead!
Early winter elk counts suggest that 2013, one of the driest calendar years on record, had an impact on the herds. At Tomales Point, the estimate for the total number of animals stands at 357, a decline of 34% from the 2012 count of 540 (the ten year average is 450 animals). Elk in the Limantour/Muddy Hollow area declined by 25% from 94 to 71 elk, while the Drakes Beach group increased from 66 to 76. Speculation that a lack of forage and water contributed to these changes.
New artwork at Bear Valley Visitor Center by Marien Lovett and Judy Arndt, a collection of prints featuring trees of Marin and the Sierra.
Did You Know?
Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) began breeding at Point Reyes in 1981 after being absent for over 150 years. The population breeds at terrestrial haul out sites at Point Reyes Headland, one of only eleven mainland breeding areas for northern elephant seals in the world. More...