Park Wavelengths - November 2004


November 30, 2004

"We are having on of the pleasantest winters I ever experienced in California, grass has grown finely and at the present time, feed is very good. I have 18 fresh cows which we are milking with a prospect of about 60 this season. I sold only butter for 42 1/2 cts per. pounds last year but fresh butter is now selling for .55 and .60 cts. and I am making about 75 lbs. pr. week"
-- quoted from a letter written by Sarah Randall, pioneer of the Olema Valley

Naturalist Notebook: The new moon on December 11 marks the beginning of Zul-Qa'dah, the eleventh month of Islam and brings some late afternoon low tides:

Thursday, December 9 2:59 pm -0.6 feet
Friday, December 10 3:43 pm -1.2 feet
Saturday, December 11 4:29 pm -1.7 feet

Mark your calendars for December 13th - the Geminid meteor showers.

A neo-natal sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) washed up on McClure's Beach last Friday. It has been necropsied, no cause of death is known - whether it died at birth or not may be determined from the samples taken. The species name macrocephalus comes from the Greek word for 'big head' and sperm whales are known for their disproportionately large heads, especially in the males. Females give birth only every 4-6 years with gestation well over a year and possibly as long at 18 months. They forage mostly at the ocean bottom for squid.

The first four gray whales have been spotted off the Headlands area last weekend on their annual migration from Alaska to Mexico. They are members of the eastern Pacific population of grey whales and sightings will increase with the peak of the southern movement in January and the peak of the northern return in March. Generally, they travel alone or in small 'unstable' groups, that is they do not form lasting kinship groups like orcas.

The historic lighthouse will be closed December 6-16th as Coast Guard historian Jim Woodward begins a project to reglaze the antique Fresnel lens. The stairs and visitor center will be open regular hours (10:00 am to 4:30 pm Thursday - Monday) but the afternoon opening of the lighthouse from 2:30-4:00 will not be available. Visitors will be able to look into the lens room as the work goes on.

Wonderful new artwork on display in the Bear Valley Visitor Center was created by students from Sutro School in San Francisco - cloth and paper quilts of their experiences at the Clem Miller Education center.

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November 17, 2004

Don't forget tonight November 17 - Peak of the Leonid meteor showers - 15-20 per hour.

Naturalist Notebook: The full moon rises on Friday, November 26; full ay 12:07 pm. For the Osage, from the midwest region between the Missouri and Arkansas Rivers - it is the raccoon breeding moon!

Some daylight low tides for tidepooling:

Wednesday, November 24 3:40 pm -0.3 feet
Thursday, November 25 4:16 pm -0.5 feet

Agate Beach County Park, Duxbury Reef at the end of Overlook and Elm Streets in Bolinas, and Sculptured Beach south of Limantour Beach are safe places to explore. Traditionally, Coast Miwok gathered seaweed or haskula at low tides as a winter food source when little other plant food was ripe. It was patted into a shape like a tortilla and baked on hot rocks.

The pocket gophers have been unusually active in the rain softened earth around Bear Valley and at Kule Loklo - leaving intricate trails of small mounds of earth. They excavate shallow burrows where they feed on roots and tubers. The pocket in their name doesn't imply they should fit in a pocket but that they have external, fur lined pockets which they can fill with food or bedding material. Their lips close behind their front teeth/incisors so that dirt does not enter their mouth as they busily dig away.

A dark phase fallow deer buck with large antlers has settled in at Bear Valley Visitor Center, feeding on acorns from the live oaks behind the building. It has been walking through the parking lot and Morgan Horse Ranch; appears quite tame BUT do not approach or attempt to feed it.

Tuesday, November 23rd from 9:00 - 3:00 pm Marin County Open Space leads a walk through Tomales Bay State Park. Meet at the Jepson Trailhead just south of the entrance to the state park off Pierce Point Road. It will involve some down hill to the beach and then back up to the trailhead. All park visitor centers are open Thanksgiving Day until 2:00 pm and regular hours throughout the holiday weekend.

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November 3, 2004

Naturalist Notebook: The Veterans' Day Holiday brings some afternoon low tides:

Thursday, November 11 4:00 pm -0.6 feet
Friday, November 12 4:45 pm -1.5 feet

Safe places to explore include Agate Beach County Park, at the end of Elm and Overlook Roads in Bolinas, Sculptured Beach on the south side of Limantour Beach and Chimney Rock. November 12th is also the new moon.

Coming up November 16th - the Leonid meteor showers peak just before midnight on Tuesday. They radiate or fall out of the Leo constellation.

In Coast Miwok, winter 'omtcus' is upon us after the first rains. In the temperate rain forest of Muir Woods, rangers report newts, Pacific Salamanders and banana slugs are on the move after the first winter rains.

Peppernuts or the fruit of the California bay have been dropping all over! They change from a bright green to an eggplant color. The nut is contained inside the soft fruit. Traditionally, they are a seasoning not a complete meal. They can be roasted but contain stimulants!

The lightning caused fire at Fir Top was completely extinguished; basically it was one tree that was struck and smoldering for a couple of days. Fire crews will be burning brush piles in the Drakes Estero area in the next few weeks if calm, sunny days continue.

A permit has been issued for a 1/2 marathon running event on Saturday, November 13 in the Muddy Hollow Limantour area between 7:30 am - 1:30 pm. There may be parking congestion in this area.

Drakes Beach Cafe will be open weekends only in November and on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It will be closed throughout the month of December as construction work goes on in the area.

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Last updated: February 28, 2015

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Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


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