Written by Jeff Wilkinson, unless otherwise noted.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
The weather was lightly rainy pretty much all through the day. Bev report 70 mph winds that night.
The docents for Sunday were: Rick Johnson, Frank Binney, Iris Heusler, John McCann, Shelley Hoeft, Peggy McCutcheon, Jeanne Kearesley, Bill Jones, Jim Wolff, Jeff Wilkinson.
The statistics for Sunday were:
Thank you all for coming out to share your knowledge of natural history with the public.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Saturday was a beautiful day in Point Reyes National Seashore; mild temperatures, pretty clouds and sunny. One whale was spotted before we even began our docent shifts at 9:45AM.
The docents for Saturday were: Jeanne Kearseley, Shelley Hoeft, Jim Wolff, Jim Rolka, Toni Moran, Tori Norman, Faith Fisher, Jeff Wilkinson, Nancy Barnett, John McCann.
The statistics for Saturday were:
Sunday, February 27, 2011
The docents for Sunday, February 27 were: Nik Epanchin, Rick Johnson, Jim Wright, Drew Lindsey, Marta Lindsey, Rudi Dundas, Maria Razi, Mark Luers, Carolyn Longstreth, John Longstreth, Nancy Barnett, Jeff Wilkinson.
The Statistics for Sunday, February 27:
Thank you all for coming out and sharing your love of nature and this wonderful park and its denizens with the teeming masses.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
It was a beautiful day, stunning clarity as if the hail and rain of the preceding couple of days had just smacked the molecules in the atmosphere around into some kind of crystalline alignment. You could see over the horizon. There were seven red-tailed hawks and three American kestrels on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. between the tip of Schooner Bay just past the entrance to the Oyster farm and the turn-off to the Lighthouse. A 9AM walk down Chimney Rock trail was enlivened by a peregrine falcon shooting by overhead as fast as his/her beautiful wings could propel him towards the elephant seal colony. There were seven elephant seal bulls of varying ages on the beach in the cove off to the right before the big hill on the trail. There were a couple of women on the trail who had just made a film, "A River Runs Through Us," about the deleterious effects of the damming of rivers. It was shown at the Geography of Hope Film Festival in Point Reyes that very weekend. We were all out serving the nature and the public in the park. It sounds like a movie worthwhile to seek out and view.
The docents for Saturday, February 26 were: Glenda Cook, Drew Lindsey, Marta Lindsey, Maria Razi, Mark Luers, Jim Rolka, Jeff Wilkinson.
The statistics for Saturday, February 26:
Monday, February 21, 2011
The weather was very cold, with good visibility and increasing winds. Monday morning, Iris was very happy to staff the South Beach parking lot site, enjoying both watching the seal and educating visitors. Monday afternoon, Elspeth took her turn, and she has emailed us that it was very interesting and very worthwhile. Apparently, this bull was among driftwood on the sand and blended in quite well, so visitors had the potential of getting very close before even seeing him. And, of course, once he was spotted, he attracted lots of attention. We will probably need to monitor that site over the next few weeks, and we'll definitely post docents there whenever necessary. Bulls continued to be close to the Ken Patrick Visitor Center (in the ice plant and in front of the visitor center), so we stationed three docents there each day.
Docents observed three gray whales heading north while one juvenile whale stayed around the lighthouse. (Narrative by Bev Lindquist)
The docents were: Jo Wilson, Richard Ferris, Beth Cataldo, Rick Johnson, Jim Wright, Dick Lingelser, Elspeth Martin, David Samuels, Iris Heusler, Rudi Dundas, Maggie Clark.
Thanks so much to all of you docents who worked this four day weekend.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
The weather was sunny and cold with great visibility and increasing winds in the afternoon. We got a request Sunday afternoon to send a docent to the South Beach parking lot, where a bull had hauled out nearby and was attracting visitor attention. Jo Wilson heeded the call, and she reported to us the next day that it was a great interpretative opportunity to inform the public about the elephant seals as well as the importance of keeping dogs away.
This day was the first of this season where we observed the definite beginning of the northern migration of gray whales. Twelve adult whales were observed heading north in earnest, slowing down only to breach twice! (Narrative by Bev Lindquist)
The docents were: Jo Wilson, Frank Binney, Dick Lingelser, Stuart McIndoe, John Crary, David Samuels, Angelina Jimenez, Hugo Jimenez, Frank Field.
The statistics included:
Saturday, February 19, 2011
The weather was intermittently rainy. There was a very high tide of 6.1' at 11:09. There were five bulls in front of Ken Patrick, and it was a great opportunity to tell the few visitors about their natural history and to urge people to go visit the Chimney Rock overlook.
The docents were: Toni Moran, Glenda Cook, David Samuels, Frank Field, Hugo Jimenez, Angelina Jimenez, Jeff Wilkinson, Stuart McIndoe, Nancy Meier.
The statistics for Saturday are as follows:
Friday, February 18, 2011
The following docents were out serving our fellow citizens: Carolyn Longstreth, John Longstreth, Tori Norman, David Samuels.
The statistics for Friday are as follows:
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Bev still back! Again, without driving his car into the ditch, your intrepid reporter saw nine red-tailed hawks, three American kestrels, 30 tree swallows (first of the season), four western bluebirds, one lovely silvery male northern harrier. Passing by 'A' ranch, a cow was being herded into the main area by an off-road vehicle with what appeared to be a still-born calf half out of her body. Omigod. Bev reported that mid-March will be the biggest number of whales going north with the cows with calves really coming in April and May. The low tide was at 1:30PM at 0.2.'
The day's daring docents were: Karen Fong, Jeff Fong, Belinda Suzuki, John Suzuki, Sheri Bethoney, Heather Downing, Bill Jones, Hannah Rouley, Brian Good, Jo Wilson, Peggy McCutcheon, Jeff Wilkinson
The statistics for Sunday are as follows:
Thanks to all the docents who worked so hard this weekend. The public appreciates us and our parents are really proud of us too.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
So much to report, first of all, Bev is back! Yea! And she brought some beautiful weather with her. The low tide was at 12:29PM at 0.6.' Without running his car into the ditch even once, this reporter counted four red-tailed hawks and four American kestrels along Sir Francis Drake from Schooner Bay to 'A' Ranch.
The doughty docents for the day were: Jeff Shapiro, John Suzuki, Belinda Suzuki, Karen Fong, Jeff Fong, Sheri Bethoney, Heather Downing, Jo Wilson, Jeff Wilkinson, Smitty Weygant, Brian Good, Patricia Maloney. There were so many Jeff's that two of them agreed to change their names to Marlon and Brad.
Bev reported that the whale sightings are few and far between. The majority of the great animals have progressed south to the charm of the bays in Baja California. The next wave coming back north to feed will be the newly pregnant females. They will be followed by the males with the cows with calves bringing up the rear.
A coyote was roaming the pastoral plain between the Mendoza Ranch and Bull Point trailhead at 11:20AM as this docent passed there on the way to Drake's Beach. Joining the western gulls on Drake's Beach were six mew gulls, many willets and a few marbled godwits. In the waters of Drake's Bay off the shore of Drake's Beach there were quite a few horned grebes, several pelagic cormorants and a couple gorgeous male mergansers.
The statistics for Saturday are as follows:
Friday, February 11, 2011
Had two docents, Richard Ferris and Beth Cataldo.
The whale watching platform had 65 visitors and two whales (who did not actually come up on the platform itself). The Elephant Seal Overlook had 49 visitors.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
The weather was sunny with a slight breeze. Kestrels, red-tailed hawks and a low-flying peregrine falcon were seen on the drive in along Sir Francis Drake. The Elephant Seal overlook had a visit from Bob Lewis, well known birder, leading an Audubon birding field trip group of about 20 people. They were fascinated by the Elephant Seals, and Bob was able to identify the loon, which we were unable to identify, as a red-throated loon.
The Super Bowl Super Docents were: Bill Jones, Jo Wilson, Jim Wolf, Jeanne Kearsley, John McCann, Shelley Hoeft, Nik Epanchin, Sid Wolfe, Frank Field, Sterling Hada
Elephant Seal overlook: 297 visitors
Docents, thank you again for being a great bunch of people and spreading such great education, entertainment and yes, joy to so many people. You guys are the greatest.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
The weather was quite beautiful. A soft mist was lightly washing over the plains down to the coast along Sir Francis Drake opposite Bull Point Trailhead. There was about a five mile-per-hour breeze out of the north by 10AM. Ranger Doug made really cool new laminated labels with lanyards for the counters for each different docent location. Very nice and very handy. The Elephant Seal population park-wide is beginning to decline as the cows wean their pups, go into estrus, mate and leave for Hawaii, (we think, mostly). There is lots of mating going on. Omigod. High Tide was 11:42AM at 5' 2".
The Docents for the day were: Jo Wilson, Jim Wolf, Jeanne Kearsley, John McCann, Shelley Hoeft, Nik Epanchin, Faith Fisher, Sid Wolfe, Iris Heusler
Our statistics for the day were:
Friday, February 4, 2011 (by Doug Hee)
Judy Bourke and John Crary came out on this weekday to work the Elephant Seal Overlook. The day was sunny and warm, but with few whales to be seen. Judy and John contacted 48 visitors at the Elephant Seal Overlook before Doug asked them to pack up mid-day. Although there were visitors at the Overlook at the time, an opportunity appeared that could not be refused. Doug and Anela Ramos, the new ranger hired in Melinda's position, were scheduled to join Sarah Codde, the park's Wildlife Biotechnician for seals, and her interns on their resighting survey at the Drakes Beach colony. Doug invited Judy and John to join them on a rare opportunity, that of seeing up close the elephant seals they have been viewing and talking about from afar at the Overlook. Our group of six hopped over the fence at the Overlook and proceeded to walk up and down the bluffs towards the colony. We stationed ourselves on the bluff no more than 20 or 30 feet above the seals. By this time in the season, we are over the hump with regards to the total number of seals in the park. Births have decreased while weaned pups are beginning to increase. Cows are beginning to depart for the ocean smorgasbord that awaits them after losing one-third of their body weight at Point Reyes. This day, several large sub-adult males were on the beach, more than had been observed in previous weeks, waiting to mate with the departing females. In fact, mating seemed to be the dominant behavior among the alpha and sneaker sub-adult bulls. We witnessed one cow being mated by multiple bulls and multiple times by the same bull. It was quite a fantastic sight to see the alphas strategizing how to defend their harems and sub-adults trying to find the opportune time to encroach. During all this activity, we were looking for tags of all colors to identify and record for research statistics. It was an amazing day.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
At 9AM there were 16 ravens having a rowdy party over the visitor center at the lighthouse. The sky looked vaguely Hawaiian with sunshine and black clouds and a beautiful ocean rainbow that had its pot of gold on the South Beach elephant seal colony. Like wraiths from the depths, up swept a pair of peregrine falcons on either side of the raven party. Suddenly the ravens decided they should move their gathering to the cypress trees by the staff housing apartments. By the time our meeting of six stalwart docents was done, shortly before 11AM, we had heard from the ranger at Ken Patrick that there were two bull elephant seals on their beach. We decided to send two docents to Ken Patrick to do perimeter monitoring and docenting. We sent one docent down to the boathouse to be relieved every hour and a half or so by one of the rest of the docents from the Elephant Seal Overlook. A couple of us were able to do the Chimney Rock Trail and saw a pair of peregrine falcons perched on the cliff edge to the right of the bench. We counted 20 pups in Gus' Cove.
The small but resourceful crew of docents were: Jeff Shapiro, Jim Wright, Carolyn Longstreth, John Longstreth, Elspeth Martin, Glenda Cook
The Drake's Beachcombers docented 51 people.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
The weather was very, very misty in the morning, but in the afternoon it turned to sunshine, and Point Reyes National Seashore was revealed in all its golden glory. There was a mating right underneath the Elephant Seal overlook that lasted half an hour and had the happy couple intermittently blowing bubbles to punctuate their procreativity. (Doug's notes: In addition to the creation of life at the Elephant Seal Overlook, the end of life, unfortunately, is also illustrated. While looking though spotting scopes, some visitors witnessed a pup run over by one of the bulls whose only interest was to get where he was going as fast as he could. It was obvious that the pup did not survive when a gull began picking at the remains of the small animal.)
The docents who worked Saturday were: Faith Fisher, Glenda Cook, Brian Good, Angelina Jimenez, Hugo Jimenez, Beth Cataldo, Christine Starkey, Frank Binney
We had 186 visitors at the Elephant Seal overlook by Chimney Rock. The 36 visitors to the historic Lifeboat House left us with donations of $17 for their government cocoa, tea and coffee. There were 115 visitors to the whale watching platform above the lighthouse, and they saw eight gray whales. The Drake's Beach walking docents talked to 17 people.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Around 9AM, before the shift began, a sleek rock wren was looking for whales above the lighthouse with Mike VanVelkenburg. Mike reported seeing a dead elephant seal cow by the Boathouse earlier that morning. The rock wren got even smaller than he already was when a peregrine falcon went gunning by towards Chimney Rock at about 63 miles an hour.
Making that same daunting journey as yesterday's docents to commit Sabbath nature education were: Judy Bourke, Mike Vanelkenburg, Mardi Leland, Sid Wolfe, Maria Razi, Mark Luers, Iris Heusler, Richard Ferris,David Samuels, Jeff Shapiro.
And they enlightened and amused the following number of visitors from across the planet at the following docent sites:
Thank all of you docents for your marvelous work and dedication. You know how much you are appreciated; that's why you are making the big bucks.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
The commute to docent duty is just hell if you hate rolling green hills, pastoral scenes of bucolic days of yore, vistas of bays, estuaries and oceans, and, of course, lots of different kinds of birds. Point Reyes National Seashore has more species of birds living in, migrating through and sometimes just lost in it than any other geographical place of the same size in California.
On the way to work this last Saturday, your intrepid cub reporter saw six red-tailed hawks, three American kestrels, one meadowlark and four western bluebirds. And, of course, countless hundreds of Brewer's blackbirds, brown-headed cowbirds and starlings that love to hang out with their bovine brethren.
Making the arduous trek through this idyllic landscape to don the red vests of the indentured, delightful, duty-bound docent this Saturday were: Tori Norman, Faith Fisher, Mike Vanelkenburg, Brian Good, Sid Wolfe, Rudi Dundas, Maria Razi, Mark Luers, David Samuels.
The following numbers of visitors from the whole-wide world were entertained at the following sites by the above, highly trained and motivated docents:
Monday, January 17, 2011 - Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday
Facing another day of dense fog were docents Bill Jones, Richard Ferris, Beth Cataldo, Jeff Shapiro, Dick Lingelser, Toni Moran, Nancy Barnett, Rudi Dundas, David Samuels, Maggie Clark, Angelina Jimenez and Hugo Jimenez.
The Elephant Seal Overlook had 238 visitors.
Thank you one and all for giving the public a wonderful exposition of nature at its most unique and marvelous as it presents itself at our wonderful Point Reyes National Seashore.
The Sabbath volunteers were Jim Wolf, Jeanne Kearseley, John McCann, Shelley Hoeft, Peggy McCutcheon, Hannah Rouley, Dick Lingelser, David Samuels, Toni Moran, Stuart McIndoe, Heather Downey and Sheri Betheney. If anything, the weather was even foggier and colder than Saturday.
The Elephant Seal Overlook had 395 visitors.
Donning their gay docent apparel and getting ready to hear another exciting radio educational were docents Jim Wolf, Jeanne Kearseley, John McCann, Shelley Hoeft, Frank Binney, John Crary, Sterling Hada, Elspeth Martin, Frank Field, Heather Downing, Sheri Betheney and David Samuels. The weather stayed pretty foggy except for the docents that did the Drake's Beach duty where it stayed fairly sunny and almost warm until around 4PM.
The Elephant Seal Overlook had 414 visitors.
The three docents on Drake's Beach had a good docenting experience, drawing a new perimeter line around the bull elephant seal every hour or so when he decided to undulate another 10 feet or so closer to the water. He started the day on the high berm just below the parking lot. He had a fairly high chest shield, maybe eight years old. The visitors, including many families with children, were fascinated by him and by the accounts the docents gave of his unique lifestyle. Almost everyone saw the perimeter line and stayed well outside of it. Those who did not see it responded quickly to the docents requests to stay back behind the line.
The next day saw Bill Jones, (another dean of docents), Nik Epanchin, Karen Fong, Jeff Fong, Brenda Suzuki, John Suzuki, Elspeth Martin, Drew Lindsey, Marta Lindsey, Bruce Boyd and Faith Fisher donning the red vests of the Winter Wildlife docenteers.
On that sunnier, but breezy day, we had 224 visitors come to look at the incredible elephant seals, the South Beach visitors jumped up to 290 people, the Boathouse provided libations and a groovy ambiance to 38 members of the public, the Drake's Beach docents talked to 132 people, 209 people came from all over the world to try and catch a glimpse of the gray whale migration back to the bays of Baja and they were able to see an incredible 35 whales. The Chimney Rock trail route docent spoke to 20 people.
See you next weekend. Happy docenting!
The ride along Sir Francis Drake Blvd. (is there anything in this wonderful park that is not named after this pirate?) was very sunny, leaving the fog of Inverness behind for a change. We were rewarded for getting up so early and driving so far west out on this marvelous peninsula by the presence of those darling little falcons, those little pink and blue, polka-dotted predators, the American kestrels, along with their big cousins the red-tailed hawks, the low-flying, owl-faced northern harriers and a peregrine Falcon perched nonchalantly on a fence post.
It was partly cloudy, the buses were running and we had 13 docents working; Sterling Hada, (one of the deans of docents), Nik Epanchin, Karen Fong, Jeff Fong, Brenda Suzuki, John Suzuki, Iris Heisler, Drew Lindsey, Marta Lindsey, Jim Rolka and Jeff Shapiro.
We had 135 visitors to the Elephant Seal overlook, 4 people stopped by the cold and windy outpost at the South Beach overlook, but 28 people came down for the history, or was it the lovely beverages, at the Historic Boathouse? 148 people looked for whales at that overlook and were rewarded by sighting 10 whales. In the afternoon, the Chimney Rock docent walk engaged 8 intrepid hikers along that beautiful trail. The Chimney Rock trail was crazy with wildlife including a flotilla of over 100 unidentified birds whose tight formation dived in unison every minute in Drake's Bay along with two beautiful red-breasted mergansers, 12 surf scoters, a red-tailed hawk perched on the grass-covered rock to the west of Chimney Rock, one horned grebe, two pelagic cormorants, seven western gulls, one common loon, three ring-billed gulls, a peregrine falcon perched on Chimney Rock and three brown pelicans who glided by. Down in Gus' Cove there were 17 pups, 25 cows and no bull visible. The docents who covered the waterfront along Drake's Beach talked to 144 visitors. The whole day was kind of foggy and windy.
Our visitor numbers went up a little bit, and there to greet them and to share with them their encyclopedic knowledge of the mysterious, unique creatures that grace our 'Point of Kings,' were Frank Binney, Rick Johnson, Glenda Cook, John Crary, Nancy Meier, Jim Rolka, Carolyn Longstreth, John Longstreth and Nancy Barnett. We had 137 visitors at the Elephant Seal overlook by Chimney Rock, 50 hot cocoa seekers at the Boathouse, 96 beachcombers along Drake's Beach and 228 sea gazers at the Moby Dick lookout high above the Lighthouse. Again, no bus shuttle.
The New Year begins, the whales are sailing by in the sea, the raptors are sailing through the air or standing sentry on fence posts and telephone poles, the hills are green from the winter rains and here come the valiant docents to help share the wonders of Point Reyes National Seashore with an eager public. Putting on their red vests and gathering in our commodious office 600 feet above the ocean were Peggy McCutcheon, Hannah Rouley, Frank Binney, Jim Wright, Rick Gordon, Judy Bourke and Jim Rolka. Has there ever been an assemblage of naturalist volunteers more witty, knowledgeable and good- looking? I don't think so. The buses were not running.
On that first cloudy, breezy and, at times, slightly rainy day, we had 91 visitors to the Elephant Seal Overlook, 35 to the Historic Lifeboat House, 50 people along Drake's Beach from Ken Patrick and west towards the colony, 225 people came to the observation platform above the Lighthouse to look for Gray Whales. 25 Whales were spotted that day. There were 591 Elephant Seals in the park overall then; in the Drake's Beach colony there were approximately 215 seals, approximately 28 of them pups.
Did You Know?
The Point Reyes Lighthouse was completed in 1870, 16 years after Congress initially appropriated funds for its construction. It still stands in its original location, having weathered over 140 years at what is considered to be the windiest, foggiest location on the US west coast. More...