Park Wavelengths - November 2005
November 29, 2005
The Geminid meteor shower appears approximately December 10th through 17th peaking on Tuesday evening December 13 but alas like many of the annual showers this year, the moon should be too bright for good viewing. Some rare daylight winter low tides (sunset at 4:52 pm) creep out with the full moon on December 14:
Chimney Rock remains closed to tidepooling as the Boathouse restoration continues but Sculptured Beach and Agate Beach County Park are accessible.
The damp soils and cool weather has brought out the mushrooms - Friday, December 2 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm join Marin County Open Space Naturalists for a 'Fungi Foray at Roy's Redwoods', the equivalent of a winter Easter egg hunt!" Roy's Redwoods is north of the golf course, off Sir Francis Drake Highway onto Nicasio Valley Road. Mushrooms may be collected in the national seashore for personal consumption; one quart plus on large one!
Staff on duty Thanksgiving Day watched a group of humpbacks from the Lighthouse, spouting and diving in the surf! No sightings yet of the annual gray whale migration but the occasional minke or humpback have been dropping by from their regular haunts at the Farallon Islands.
Volunteers are needed for a soundscape study at Muir Woods on December 10 from 11:00 am- 5:00 pm. Using a small hand held palm unit computer, sounds are recorded to get a baseline idea of noise levels. The soundscape studies are going on at both Muir Woods and Point Reyes this past summer and results will be available soon. Call Dave Schirokauer to sign up at (415) 464-5199.
Heavy equipment crews are out at Abbots Lagoon through next week digging out the exotic European beach grass to create habitat for native plants and endangered snowy plovers. About 2 acres of the beach grass will be removed. Over at Drakes Beach approximately 30 acres has been replanted with native grasses following prescribed fires in the summer.
As annual storms begin, this reminder from the trail crew on reporting downed trees - they need to know location; whether you can step over it or whether it is enough to block a horse; diameter and type/species of tree. This information will help them plan a speedy response. Downed trees can be reported at (415) 663-8522 x2 x5 or (415) 464-5100 x2 x5, seven days a week.
Mark Your Calendars: Thursday, December 15 is open house from 5:00 - 7:00 pm at the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Snacks provided by the non-profit Seashore Association. All are welcomed to share the holiday spirit with park staff. Also, shuttle bus season begins Saturday, December 31st; road closures will in place, weather permitting.
November 15, 2005
Naturalist Notebook: The full moon rises today, Tuesday, November 15; it is full at 4:57 pm just before sunset. It will dim the appearance of the Leonid meteor showers which peak on November 17. They have been very bright the past few years but the full moon dominates this year! Many of the annual meteor showers this year coincide with full moons that wash out the ability to see the falling stars.
Acorn woodpeckers are busy this year! They have moved into a small area near the Kule Loklo restrooms, packing one of the eucalyptus trees with acorns for their winter feeding. They actually eat the insects in the rotting acorns not the actual acorn meat. They have been moving their colony around from Bear Valley picnic area to the Woodpecker Trail to the park maintenance shop area in response to varying food supplies.
Animals on the move - Monarch butterflies are returning to Muir Beach and some of the sites in Bolinas - none available for public viewing but you may see them drifting by on their annual migration; a coyote in the gulch near the Mt. Vision Road turnoff. A clay-colored sparrow in Bolinas at 48 Wharf Road behind the wildlife gallery! Two white throated sparrows also at the feeder there! Park staff conducting a drive count of deer last Wednesday raised a flock of short eared owls in the Bull Point Trail area.
Wednesday, November 16, Marin County Open Space District hosts a mushroom identification walk at Tomales Bay State Park from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Meet at the Jepson Trailhead off Pierce Point Road. Then the following Wednesday, November 23 they will be exploring Samuel P. Taylor State Park; meet at the Devils Gulch parking lot just west of the park entrance at 9:00 am
Park visitor centers are open the holiday weekend - Bear Valley is open 8:00 am - 2:00 pm on Thursday, November 24; the Lighthouse Visitor Center is open 10:00 am - 2:00 pm that day. Ken Patrick Visitor Center is closed on Thanksgiving but will be open regular weekend hours Sat/Sun from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm.
November 1, 2005
Today, November 1, a prescribed burn, the last of the season will be ignited above Drakes Beach, weather permitting. This burn clears an area where native grasses will be reintroduced.
Meteor showers on the horizon - the Taurid showers are seen throughout the first weeks of November, followed by the Leonid Meteor showers which peak a little later on November 17. The Taurid showers, originating in the constellation of Taurus the Bull are large bright yellow fireballs without a specific peak period. Taurus is usually seen by looking south west, sort of near the familiar constellation of Orion the hunter.
This time of year is one of the best to visit the coast redwood forests of Muir Woods and Samuel Taylor State Park (driving Sir Francis Drake Highway through SP Taylor mid-morning!). The first rains have settled the dust and sprouted mushrooms and ferns. California colors - scarlet poison oak runners, golden yellow big leaf maples, grey green tanbark oak are especially beautiful.
The last storm brought in some Velella velella - By the Wind Sailors - they look like crumpled bits of cellophane on the beach. Normally, these are seen in spring as the winds shift. There are not as many being seen now as in spring. The beaches continue to change gradually, at Drakes Beach as noted in the last edition - "the sublittoral geology, Miocene Monterey chert, covered by sand during most months is exposed to the elements to be pounded and rounded by the surf" (Jules Evens). At Limantour and the Great Beach - a steep shelf has appeared down to the water.
Unusual bird sightings include a Northern Parula on the Levee Road at Muir Beach; Muir Woods hosts a bird walk from 9:00 am to 10:30 am on Saturday, November 5 - meet at the Muir Beach parking lot for an easy one mile walk.
Thursday, November 10, Marin County Open Space and parks hosts a walk on the Abbots Lagoon Trail from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm. Migrating birds, and possible plover sightings! Meet at the Abbots Lagoon Trailhead off Pierce Point Road. The following Wednesday, November 16, MCOSD hosts a mushroom identification walk at Tomales Bay State Park from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Meet at the Jepson Trailhead off Pierce Point Road.
A busy weekend for permits coming up - on Saturday, November 5, a training run has been scheduled for Bear Valley Trail from 7:30 am - 12:00 noon; small groups of runners should not disrupt normal traffic. Also, Saturday, wedding is planned for 3:00 pm on Mt. Vision so this small parking area may be congested. A student film is permitted on Monday, November 7 at Drakes Beach; no delays anticipated.
British dignitaries are reported to be visiting West Marin this weekend. We are unaware of any impact on park roads or trails.
The missing dog, Limbo, at Kehoe Beach was returned by park staff over the weekend.
Last updated: February 28, 2015