Park Wavelengths - June 2003


June 25, 2003

Naturalist Notebook:

High winds at the coast have kept the bird reports limited, last week an ovenbird and magnolia warbler delighted birders in the cypress trees at the Lighthouse. New, free bird checklists are available at park headquarters - the lists are geographical so visitors can pick up a specific list for Abbots Lagoon, the Lighthouse, Five Brooks, Olema Marsh, etc.

We continue to see large numbers of "By The Wind Sailors" (Velella velella) on park beaches though many reports are now coming in from the northern area McClures and Kehoe Beaches. These are the tiny jellyfish like creatures that appear likes heaps of crumpled cellophane, with a bluish underside. Seasonal die offs occur as they are blown onshore.

The summer solstice has passed - the longest day of the year was last Friday. Now the days are a little shorter as the sun rises a little later each morning!

The results are in from the Rare Plant-a-thon held in the national seashore over the June 7-8 weekend. 18 previously unrecorded populations of rare plants were noted, two of those are endangered species (Tidestrom's Lupine and Robust Spineflowers). 63 volunteers from as far away as Wisconsin spread out across the park to look for plants.

The first wildfire of the season occurred last Thursday in Tomales Bay State Park. A power line from Pierce Point Road down to Shallow Beach fell, at this report it is reported as a tree down on the line. The two acre grass fire was contained by Marin County, Inverness VFD, and National Seashore firefighters. A small area of this fire re-ignited on Monday and was suppressed also. It is a good reminder to keep brush cleared - establishing a 30 foot defensible space around a structure is recommended, sweeping gutters and clearing roofs of debris, being aware of 'ladder fuels' that can bring a fire onto a structure. Brush dropoffs are coming up: in Olema July 19-23 at the Beebe Ranch (right next to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard off Highway 1), Nicasio on July 12 at the county corporation yard. If you see or smell smoke, first call 911 to report and then contact park dispatch/visitor centers. One of the initial fire reports came through a call from a business on Highway 1 and alerted national seashore staff.

Bear sightings continue to be reported - at Sky Camp, Tomales Bay State Park, and also above Bear Valley Road in the past two weeks. The bear has been noted at garbage cans/compost heaps.

As the July 4th weekend approaches, a reminder that fireworks are not permitted in Marin County or any National Seashore areas. National park beaches close at midnight, Tomales Bay State Park closes at 8:00 pm. Both the national park backpack camps and Samuel P. Taylor are fully booked for Friday and Saturday, July 4th and 5th. Park visitor centers are all open on Friday, July 4th - Bear Valley will be on weekend/holiday time of 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Upcoming Events:

The historic Marconi radio transmitter site will be open to the public July 1st from 9:00 am - 3:00 pm and operators will be transmitting over the air in Morse Code. It is located at 17000 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard (park sign states 'North District Operations') Check website or telephone 669-2004.

Interpretive Programs:

Saturdays 2:00 pm - Earthquake Walk: Meet at the Bear Valley Visitor Center for a 1/2 mile hike on the paved trail.

Sundays 2:00 pm - Kule Loklo Walk: Meet at Bear Valley Visitor Center for a one mile walk to the replica native American village.

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June 10, 2003

Naturalists Notebook - A summer full moon on Saturday, June 14th rising at 9:25 pm and full at 4:16 am. Low tides for early morning tidepooling accompany the moon: -1.9 feet at 6:29 am on Sunday and -1.8 feet at 7:18 am on Monday.

The summer solstice arrives next Saturday, June 21st at 12:11 pm. Stargazing may be hampered by typical summer low fogs, but Chimney Rock parking lot, Tomales Bay, and Drakes Beach provide views.

An unusual bird has been reported in the cypress trees at Chimney Rock - a black and white warbler. It was reported singing and can be viewed from the trail. On the Great Beach, 15 snowy plover nests have been established this year. The nests are marked by string 'enclosures' - these protect the eggs from predators such as ravens. Dog limits are in place during the nesting season, so visitors are advised to watch for signs. Areas of the Great Beach are closed to pets seasonally between North Beach and Kehoe Beach.

Lots of questions coming in about the flowering trees and bright red berries along the road especially between Bear Valley and Inverness - these are red elder berries which are not edible for humans. The wood is used for musical instruments by local Coast Miwok people. The flowering trees are California Buckeyes, the creamy, brownish pink blossoms are fragrant but curiously, bees do not use them for pollen.

Fish counts in the John West Fork revealed 180 coho salmon smolts (young fish) twice as many as last year. The tiny hatchlings are called fry for 1-3 years and then are called smolts. Coho salmon eggs are deposited in winter, the fry emerge in spring, and then the smolts migrate the following spring from freshwater to saltwater.

Final information has not been released yet about the 'Rare Plant-a-thon' from last weekend. 70 volunteers participated from as far away as Wisconsin! Some new populations of spineflower (corazanthe robusta) were identified.

Dr. Gary Fellers completed bat surveys recently and the thriving population of Little Brown Bats, 240 were noted in the Randall House colony.

The Coast Guard, Americorps, and the park are partnering this month, June 24th, to restore the historic graveyard in the large grove of eucalyptus trees near the Coast Guard station off Sir Francis Drake where members of the local ranching community and U.S. Lifesaving Service surfmen are buried. Americorps teams will be helping throughout the community during their stay.

Mark your calendars:

Sunday, July 19 - Big Time - Traditional Native American festival at Kule Loklo.

Sunday, August 31 - Sand Sculpture Contest at Drakes Beach

The Environmental Action Committee and the Point Reyes Seashore Association are putting together an invitational art show for Labor Day weekend to be held in the new Red Barn space. More details later!

Interpretive Programs:

2:00 Saturdays - Earthquake Walk > Meet the ranger at Bear Valley Visitor Center for a 1/2 mile, one hour walk

2:00 Sundays - Kule Loklo Walk > Meet the ranger at Bear Valley Visitor Center for a one mile walk to the Coast Miwok exhibit.

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Last updated: February 28, 2015

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Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


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