Park Wavelengths - December 2005
December 27, 2005
Naturalist Notebook: Some low, daylight hour tides arrive with the new year:
The new moon rises on Friday, December 30. The first of the annual meteor showers may be seen this week - January 4th is the peak of the Quandrantid meteor shower. Last year, many of the annual showers were washed out due to moonlight; this year is a little better! However, be out late - the peak is after midnight!
The northern elephant seals are here! The main colony (on the Headlands but not visible to the public) has recorded the first births - 3 pups in the last week. A few males were noted at South Beach below the Lighthouse but they seemed to have moved on. The Chimney Rock colony has a few males with more arriving each day!
Coho salmon have returned! Coast Miwok Tom Smith recalled the salmon singer "he is a headman that knows how to sing for salmon." "Hu pena - a salmon spirit - Something that looks like a person but won't talk to you. Sees you and you see him. He is like the wind; comes around day or night. When you go to fish, he is there. He doesn't help you catch fish. It looks like he just keeps the fish from getting frightened of you. I guess the salmon singer asks him for help." Fresh water from the rains has been pouring out into Tomales Bay and the ocean, triggering the movement of fish up the creeks. Viewing is best the 2nd day after a storm; the runoff has much soil/turbidity and it takes time to settle and see the fish. They can be seen at Muir Woods from the bridges and in the national seashore at Five Brooks (walk down the road from the parking area and look for the trail on the right).
The annual bus service begins this weekend, Saturday, December 31, weather permitting (we only call in the busses when the weather is beautiful and we experience overcrowded parking lots). The busses will be allowed to take passengers to the Chimney Rock area, however, the road remains closed to private vehicles on weekends and weekdays while work on the Boathouse continues. No bus service is planned on the Monday, January 2nd holiday.
At Chimney Rock, check out the newly resurfaced disabled access trail to the Elephant Seal Overlook; it is wider with no fencing at the beginning. The project was accomplished through grants from the Seashore Association and the Coastal Conservancy, with the work of the Marin Conservation Corps and park staff.
All park visitor centers are open throughout the New Years holiday weekend.
A free seminar at the national seashore next Thursday, January 5: "A Story About Albatross and Other Seabirds: Their Travels and the Impact of Plastics at Sea" 12:00-12:45 in the Red Barn Conference room.
December 21, 2005
A special holiday 'gift' to park wavelengths subscribers - the continuing recovery of Northern Elephant seals at Point Reyes! It is a large file so may take some time...
I have attached the elephant seal update (164 KB PDF) for the 2005/2006 breeding season. Sarah and I observed the first pups (3) of the season at the Main Colony on Friday afternoon 12/16/05. Happy Holidays!
December 13, 2005
Tonight, the Geminid meteor shower peaks but as noted like many of the annual showers this year, the moon should be too bright for good viewing. The winter solstice approaches next week. Some rare daylight winter low tides creep out with the full moon, in Kashaya Pomo - Stalpkel-da "leaves yellow and fall. (sunset at 4:52 pm)
Chimney Rock remains closed to tidepooling as the Boathouse restoration continues but Sculptured Beach and Agate Beach County Park are accessible. The road will remain closed throughout the elephant seal season, except for park shuttles which will operate on good weather weekends.
Winter is here! Overwintering monarchs are in West Marin; northern elephant seals are on South Beach and can be seen from the Lighthouse and the first gray whales meandered by last week. Coho salmon and steelhead are in the creeks with the first counts being conducted over the last weekend.
It's definitely a banner year for mushrooms! Mushrooms are fungi, traditionally edible fungi are mushrooms and poisonous mushrooms are 'toadstools.' They lack chlorophyll to manufacture food from sunlight so they absorb nutrients from the surrounding soil or rotting wood. If you'd like to learn more, a free program is available at Muir Woods on Saturday, December 17 between 10:00 am - 2:00 pm. Call for reservations at (415) 388-2595.
Winter Solstice at Muir Woods on December 21st! Luminarias light the trails in the ancient redwood forest along with activities led by rangers between 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm. The event is free (though park entrance fees of $3.00 per person 16 and older, are collected) and open to the public; rain or shine. Call (415) 388-2595.
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.
Saturday, large numbers of birders will be out for the 'Christmas bird counts'. Starting at 4:30 am to observe the owls and lasting through 5:00 pm, groups are assigned areas of observation.
Park visitor centers close at 2:00 pm on Saturday, December 24 and will be closed on Sunday, December 25. Beaches, trails road remain open and rangers remain on patrol.
Last updated: February 28, 2015