Park Wavelengths - April 2008
April 22, 2008
The first week of May brings a new moon, good low tides and a meteor shower! The new moon rises on Monday, May 5 and hopefully will not wash out the Eta Aquarid meteor showers. the showers - falling stars - are best seen early Monday, May 5th and early Tuesday, May 6th if you are looking east towards Black Mountain in the Point Reyes area. Daylight low tides accompany the new moon:
Hoping that there will be April showers to bring more May flowers! The yellow flowered shrubs along side much of Sir Francis Drake Highway are actually mostly red elderberry, not blue elderberry as noted in the last wavelengths. Red elderberry has flowers that rise up while blue elderberry has an umbrella shape. Many different species of lupine are in bloom - the yellow 'butter lupine' at the Lighthouse and Tomales Point; the very short purple annual or "Sky" lupine in the fields behind Bear Valley Visitor Center; and the very showy bog lupine at Abbots Lagoon, a lighter purple.
The snowy plover season had begun, there are 7 nests so far along the Great Beach, on par with last year at this time. All of the nests have the protective string enclosures around them, so avoid those areas as not to disturb the nesting birds. A hopeful sign at Limantour Beach is a male and female plover - though they are not together, just in the area!
Snake sitings are on the increase, especially as ground temperatures rise, they come out of hibernation. Skinny striped garter snakes have been seen along Olema Marsh and thick, large gopher snakes with a brownish diamond pattern on their back have been seen on Bear Valley Trail.
It is National Junior Ranger Day on Saturday, April 26! Special programs for young people are: Saturday, 11:00 am Kule Loklo Walk and 2:00 pm Earthquake Walk at Bear Valley; 2:00 pm Gray Whales (at the lighthouse). Kids attending will earn a badge! The Saturday Wildflower walk is cancelled for April 26.
April 08, 2008
The full moon rises Sunday, April 20. The Lyrid meteor showers due on Monday April 21st, the oldest recorded meteors with Chinese observations dating back to 687 BC, will probably be washed out by the bright moon. This moon is called by the Dakotah Sioux of the central United States - "the moon when geese return in scattered formations."
Gray whale sightings have been excellent in the past week with numerous sitings on the calm clear days of last weekend, over 50 on one day. Last Thursday afternoon, rangers watched a three hour whale mating session, the second such opportunity in the past 12 years! Typically, this activity occurs in the lagoons of Mexico, rarely on the return north. As we enter the late season, we will begin to see whales from other coastal beaches in the park. More drama at the Lighthouse, the resident peregrine falcons took a flying pigeon guillemot out of the air for a bit of brunch.
The young male sea otter lingers in the Chimney Rock, Drakes estero area and was reported wrangling with elephant seal pups off the Boathouse! The kelp bed habitat preferred by otters is available in the area but the recovery of this species from overharvesting has been hampered by a virus from domestic cat droppings causing illness in the population - spread into the Monterey Bay from storm drains. Efforts are being made to curtail the virus through extensive education.
Dry March weather brought out many wildflowers, fields of purple Douglas Iris continue at the Estero Trailhead; light yellow clusters of blooms on blue elderberry shrubs along the roadsides; and many clouds of deep purple flowers, Ceanothus (sp.) shrubs are blooming.
The shuttle bus season ends April 13th this year resuming on the first weekend after Christmas.
A permit has been issued for a group picnic on April 12 at Bear Valley; expect congestion at this parking lot.
Last updated: February 28, 2015