Park Wavelengths - April 2004


April 23, 2004

Naturalist Notebook: The full moon rises May 4th just after sunset. From the east coast Mohawk tribe "moon of the big leaf" (lots of west coast big leaf maples out right now!) It is also the Eta Aquarid meteor shower but the bright moon will drown out most of the falling stars. Some good morning low tides come with the moon:

Wednesday, May 5 6:04 am -1.4 feet
Thursday, May 6 6:58 am -1.6 feet
Friday, May 7 7:45 am -1.7 feet
Saturday, May 8 8:30 am -1.5 feet
Sunday, May 9 9:45 am -1.2 feet

There is a longer window for tidepooling with these ultra low tides so you may get out as late as 10 or 11 and still have plenty of area to explore. Don't turn your back on the water though and step carefully! Good areas include Agate Beach County Park at the end of Elm and Overlook in Bolinas, Sculptured Beach and Chimney Rock (Now reopened following elephant seal season). Elephant seal pups and weaners remain on the beach in good numbers though the larger animals have returned to the ocean.

If you'd like to see some tidepool creatures up close, stop by the Ken Patrick Visitor Center at Drakes Beach, open on weekends, the saltwater aquarium is refilled and hosting some sea urchins, a monkeyfaced eel, and other assorted tidepool creatures.

Word of the week - Wildflowers! Banks of Douglas Iris above the Estero Trailhead and California poppies everywhere at Abbots Lagoon, bush lupines at Tomales Point are keeping the air fragrant. A lesser known area is following Muddy Hollow Road off Limantour Road, the area burned in the Vision Fire and there have been especially beautiful displays of monkey flowers. The Marin County Open Space District is hosting a flower walk on Thursday, April 29, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Abbots Lagoon, meet off Pierce Point Road.

Rangers have been watching nesting ravens pick up twigs in front of Bear Valley Visitor Center - newly mowed islands of coyote brush have been providing lots of materials.

As noted seasonal die offs of Velella velella/By the Wind Sailors are visible on the beaches (bluish, plastic looking). They also look like oil slicks as they drift onto the beaches - a report of a slick at the Great Beach turned out to be a raft of the velella.


Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey will be introducing Stewart Udall's talk on Saturday, May 8 at the Park Headquarters. The talk is scheduled for 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm. Reservations at (415) 663-1542. A donation of $20 is suggested to go towards endangered species protection. A partnership of the Point Reyes Seashore Association and Point Reyes Books.

Spring Festival this weekend - April 23 from 11:00 - 2:00 pm at Kule Loklo, Coast Miwok Exhibit. Demonstrations of basketmaking, beadmaking, and flint knapping. Dancing to begin at 12 noon. Bring water food and a place to site. Free! (No dogs or alcohol) A partnership of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Miwok Archaeological Preserve of Marin and the National Park Service.

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April 7, 2004

The new moon appears on April 19th and then April 21st - The Lyrid meteor showers peak on Wednesday night, originating in the constellation of the Lyre, look north towards Tomales. It is considered an unpredictable shower, sometimes only 10-12 hour but possibly 90-100 on its peak.

A long tailed duck was seen near the Fish Docks at Chimney Rock along with nesting pigeon guillemots. Neo-tropical migrants birds are returning a little early, black headed grosbeaks and warbling vireos. Reports are coming in of Golden Eagles being seen over Tomales Point, possibly preying on chickens. The "Lord of June" - green darner dragonflies may be seen, their numbers usually peak around mid-June.

Wildflowers continue, lovely banks of blue "California Lilac" or ceanothus grace the second mile of the Estero Trail. West of the parking lot of the Estero Trail are some fine displays of Douglas Iris. Check out the Muddy Hollow Road trail to Estero trail from Limantour Road area, it burned in the Vision Fire and has had fine displays since that time when lots of ash/nutrients enriched the soil. Late season species are already starting including the bush lupines.

Muir Woods rangers report a large Douglas Fir tree down on the part of the main trail - it will be closed until the tree can be safely removed.

Unconfirmed reports of mountain lions in the Kehoe Beach area are also coming in. Stop by Bear Valley Visitor Center to see side by side photographs of bobcats and mountain lions for comparisons. In general, bobcats are spotted, with short tails "mutton chop facial whiskers" - lions are plain tan colored (except the young) with long tails. Mtn. lions have ranges of 8-10 miles and tend to be very solitary, coming together only for mating. Cubs stay with the mother for about two years before establishing their own territories. Bobcats prey on rabbits, gophers, mice - lions prey on deer and will partially bury a carcass, returning to eat for several days. Trail cameras placed after the Vision Fire recorded a mountain lion with a range thought to be Kelham Beach north to Vision Road. For safety, young children should not run ahead of parents. If you see a lion - look large, make noise, back away, but do not run. Report to park headquarters.

The original 1870 Lighthouse Keepers log has been returned to the Bear Valley Visitor center for public display. It is also transcribed on-line on the park website.

The warm, dry weather has again, started the pile burning of non-native species in the Estero area.

Marin County Open Space Walks: Saturday, April 17 - 9:00 am - 3:00 pm Flora and Fauna of Roy's Redwoods on Nicasio Valley Road just past the golf course, off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.

April 17 - Evening Lighthouse Tour - 8:00 pm. Advance Reservations required by calling the Lighthouse Visitor Center that day at (415) 669-1534.

Special Event: May 8th - The Seashore Association and Point Reyes Books are sponsoring a talk by conservationist and former Secretary of the Interior, Stuart Udall at the Park Headquarters on May 8th from 3:00-4:00 pm. A suggested donation of $20.00 will go towards the endangered species fund at the park.

A correction: the photographs on display at Bear Valley Visitor Center are from the book "Marin Revealed" and will be on display until June 1st.

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Last updated: February 28, 2015

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