Park Wavelengths - January 2006
January 24, 2006
Naturalist Notebook: The new moon arriving on January 29th brings some of the annual most extreme tides: 6-7 foot high tides beginning Wednesday morning. The corresponding daylight low tides are good for tidepooling if we have some of those special clear, DRY, winter days!
The range of 7 foot tides are Saturday-Sunday-Monday in the mornings approximately 9:00 am to 11:00 am; if a storm comes in; a time for dramatic waves on the beaches; best observed at safe distances. Drakes Beach will be affected in that the beach will not be accessible due to the chert reefs on either side of the parking area being covered with water during these morning high tides. Lot's of debris washes in also especially on beaches with a north-northwest orientation such as Kehoe and Drakes Beach. And many thanks to Point Reyes-Olema 4-H for conducting a beach clean up at Drakes Beach last weekend!
All this water has been great for mushrooms! Coming up this Saturday and Sunday is the second 'Fungal Foray'. On Saturday, the search for mushrooms takes place beginning at 10:00 am at Bear Valley Visitor Center then on Sunday a display of the specimens collected will be at Visitor Center.
Northern elephant seal season is in full swing! Females, displaced from the main colony on the Headlands by the storms of New Years weekend, have been flocking to the North Drakes Beach colony resulting in the largest population on view in recent years. These last weeks of January are traditionally when most of the pups are born, the population peaks in the next weeks. Gray whales continue south with sightings increasing from 2-3 hour to 5-6 an hour - 20 were seen on Monday.
Warm day time temperatures have coaxed a few early wildflowers to bloom, tiny pinkish white 'Milkmaids' (Dentaria californica) may be found in shady woods along the Bear Valley Trail. Sightings of Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana) in bloom have been reported from the Coast and Estero Trails.
A permit has been issued for Saturday, January 28 for a bike race of 150 riders traveling into the park from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Lighthouse and then back. An aid station will be set up at the Lighthouse parking lot.
Park trails are open for hikers, though severe damage on Glen, Olema Valley, and Greenpicker Trails prevents horses from using those trails. This week work continues along Alamea to clear downed trees.
January 11, 2006
Top of the order for naturalist notebook is the recent storm!
"During the high winds of last month, about one hundred and fifty oak and bay trees blew over on the lately cleared lands of C.W. Howard, at Olema." 1877 (from Dewey Livingston - A History of Ranching in the Olema Valley) MANY trees are down on the trails so hikers use caution. A map is posted at the Bear Valley Visitor center with reports on various trails as they come in from hikers and park staff.
How much water was out there over the New Years weekend? At the Gallagher gauge on Lagunitas Creek the amount of flow has been measured:
1982: 25,000 cubic feet per second (cfs)
Clearing weather over the past weekend created good whale watching opportunities at the Lighthouse area - a solid 4-5 gray whales per hour with about 24 noted passing south on Sunday. Don't forget to check the webcam if you are heading out via www.nps.gov/pore/weather. Shuttle bus season is here and if the weather is clear, busses will be called in Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, January 16 for the Martin Luther King Holiday.
The full moon rising on January 14 brings some low tides in the afternoon this week:
Northern Elephant seals are settling in on the Headlands beaches for their annual visit and temporary seal protection measures are in place - the south end of South Beach has been closed to pets to allow the small colony there to rest, watch for the signs. The North Drakes Colony that is visible from the Overlook at Chimney Rock has a thriving colony with 26 pups in a total of 167 seals observed. More pups will be born as the season continues. The first counts indicate that there are more females on Drakes Beach but fewer pups than at the same time last year.
All park visitor centers will be open over the holiday weekend as well as the Drakes Beach Cafe.