Park Wavelengths - September 2003


September 19, 2003

Naturalist Notebook: Tuesday, September 23rd marks the autumn equinox at 3:48 am in the Northern Hemisphere. If you are up early Tuesday morning, Jupiter appears close to the moon.

Fall color includes red poison oak climbing up the trees and yellow leaves on the big leave maples. Lots of questions coming in about the large-leaved plant (leaves 1-3 feet) with dark non-edible berries in a round 'sunburst' shape along the Bear Valley Trail. This plant appears in the Peterson Wildflower Guide as California Spikenard, aralia sp., in the Ginseng Family. As the California Buckeyes drop their leaves, fuzzy, green seed pods appear - these spilt open to reveal a golden brown seed.

Elk mating season continues at Tomales Point with male activity peaking about now - 'bugling' to challenge other males; antler wrestling matches!

Big green acorns are on the live oak trees right now, lots of squirrel activity and a few acorn woodpeckers around the Bear Valley Visitor Center. As the water drops in the south side ponds at Limantour, Virginal Rails and Sora's have been seen by birders. Birders report a black-polled warbler at Mendoza or B Ranch in the trees and a wandering tattler at the Fish Docks near Chimney Rock.

Saturday, Sept, 19th is Coast Cleanup - a group will be gathering at Drakes Estero at 9:00 am to clean the estero via kayak and canoe.

Permits have been issued for two group picnics on Limantour Beach on Sunday, September 20 for +150 people. A permit has been issued for an equinox gathering on Sunday, Sept. 20 at 7:00 pm, also on Limantour Beach. These permits may impact parking in the area.

Mid-week (September 23-25) on Tomales Bay, three groups have purchased large group camp permits on Marshall and Tomales Beaches which may impact these areas.

A road repair project "chip-seal" is slated to begin on Limantour Road as of Monday, September 22. Drive carefully and expect short delays while heavy equipment is on the road.

Drakes Beach Cafe is on winter hours Friday/Saturday/Sunday 11:00 am - 5:00 pm.

Mark Your Calendars: October 11th is the annual "Piper On the Ridge", a bagpiper welcomes the 'harvest moon' on Inverness Ridge.

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September 4, 2003

Naturalist Notebook

The harvest moon rises September 10 and is full at 9:36 pm. For the Pomo people along the coastal areas of Sonoma it is Shachluyiau-da "when soaproot is dug for fish poison."

Late summer is bringing regular western migrants to the cypress trees near the Lighthouse - a magnolia warbler and black poll warblers were reported this week! Snowy Plover restrictions are due to be lifted in two weeks (Sept. 15), one last minute nest was built on the south side of Abbots Lagoon and this area was added to the restricted list for this year. The latest survey shows 41 eggs hatched with 9 fully fledged chicks.

On the beaches - harbor porpoises have been seen in Drakes Bay this week. California sea lions are again congregating in huge numbers off the Lighthouse - over a hundred.

The Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center has a number of current projects - egg shells were taken from Hog Island for testing for the presence of mercury. A number of plots were also set up for algae, to find out what types are present in the bay and also their distribution. A survey of intertidal areas on Tomales Bay for invertebrates is scheduled for the week of September 11th. Interested volunteers can contact Ben Becker.

Reports of extra large huckleberries continue from Mt. Vision Road and along Camino Del Mar to Shell Beach. Rangers report fruit "almost as big as blueberries" . Note: it is legal to pick berries on state and national park lands for personal use.

Along the Estero Trail, especially near the first bridge from the Drake Highway end - bat rays and leopard sharks may be sighted on a regular basis. Both use the shallow estero waters for feeding and breeding.

September and October are the highest fire danger months - warm weather with lots of dry material on the ground. This year is of particular concern as the later spring rains spurred an extra bit of growth, there's more fuel. The national seashore posted two "high" fire danger days this past week. Use extra caution with chainsaws and other household equipment in dry brush.


Saturday, September 6th 4:00-5:30 Red Barn near Bear Valley Visitor Center: Free Lecture - Cordell Bank Sanctuary, this includes video footage taken by a submersible in these offshore waters.

Saturdays: 1:00 pm Earthquake Walk, Meet at the Bear Valley Visitor Center for a 1/2 mile walk along the trail.

Sundays: 1:00 pm Kule Loklo Walk, meet at Bear Valley Visitor Center for a one mile walk through the replica Coast Miwok village.

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Last updated: February 28, 2015

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