Park Wavelengths - December 2008


December 31, 2008

The full moon on January 11th brings some afternoon daylight low tides:

Wednesday, January 7 2:04 pm -0.6 feet
Thursday, January 8 2:56 pm -1.2 feet
Friday, January 9 3:44 pm -1.5 feet

The Quadrantid meteor showers accompany the new year and may be seen in the early morning hours on Saturday, January 3rd. If the rain holds off and we have a cold clear night—expect 100–120 meteors per hour.

The first Northern Elephant Seal pup was born on December 19th, similar to last year's timing. Docents at the Chimney Rock Overlook reported about 70 animals could be seen from that point with more arriving each day. Large males have been seen cruising along the Drakes Bay beach blowing bubbles and flipping their heads up.

The first coho salmon are officially reported in the park; park at Five Brooks trailhead and walk down the road to the short trail to John West Fork creek for viewing. The first spawner surveys are being completed this week and we should have some numbers soon!

Interesting report from the holiday bird count on December 20th, three bald eagle sightings over Tomales Bay (same bird three times or three birds is unknown)! These fish hunting birds were once abundant in this habitat, like peregrines and brown pelicans they have been impacted by DDT. Whether they will take up nesting and permanent residence remains to be seen! A nesting pair has been reported from the east bay at Dell Valle Park.

Shuttle service and road closures to the Lighthouse and Chimney Rock are coming up Thursday through Sunday, January 1–4, if weather is clear. The extra Friday was added to accommodate holiday crowds.

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December 23, 2008

Forwarded to Park Wavelengths Subscribers:

Subject: Giacomini Update (Bird News!)

Giacomini Wetands Update
3,400 Waterbirds Counted on Restored Area

The final fencing and revegetation components for Phase II of the Giacomini Wetland Restoration Project are almost completed. Some of the highest tides for this winter season occurred last weekend, with tides reaching levels of 7.1 feet Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) on Friday and Saturday. These extreme high tides drew thousands of birds to the Giacomini Wetlands, with more than 3,400 waterbirds counted on the morning of Saturday, December 13 (ARA, unpub. data). Approximately 25 waterbird species were observed by Jules Evens and Mary Anne Flett of Avocet Research Associates. Some of the species with the highest numbers were American wigeon (1,700), northern pintail (850), green-winged teal (230), and northern shoveler (150). Other duck species included gadwall, mallard, cinnamon teal, bufflehead, and ruddy duck. Shorebird numbers were lower on December 13, with 30 greater yellowlegs observed, as well as more than 100 gulls of different species. Between early November and early December, monitors from Audubon Canyon Ranch have been conducting shorebird surveys and finding low numbers of shorebirds, including greater yellowlegs, Wilson's snipe, killdeer, least sandpiper, and short-billed dowitchers (Kelly and Condeso, unpub. data). Phalaropes were very common in the Project Area prior to breaching of the levees.

Evens noted previously that duck numbers have been higher this fall and winter than prior to restoration, probably because the open water area is greater than previously, particularly during high tide. Tidal waters are ponding for extended periods of time in lower elevation portions of the Project Area. In addition, in the East Pasture, the tidal channels and outlets are still adjusting to the volume of tidal waters that enter during high tides. Because of this, waters are not fully draining on the low tide, leaving the amount of open water area slightly larger in the East Pasture than may be expected based on elevation alone. Over the winter, existing and created channels will increase in size to accommodate flood flows, and new tidal channels will potentially develop, increasing exchange between the restored wetland and Lagunitas Creek and creating more of an equilibrium between tidal inflow and outflow.

Please look for our Restoration Update web page in the coming month that will continue to provide updates for the public on restoration progress, interesting information on changes in this rapidly evolving system, and opportunities to become or remain involved with this incredible project.


Don Neubacher
Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

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December 16, 2008

Forwarded to Park Wavelengths Subscribers:

Subject: Park Wavelengths: Greenpicker will remain closed until late spring, early summer of 2009.

I wanted to inform you about the closed section of Greenpicker Trail near Fir Top southwest to Greenpicker, Ridge and Stewart Trail intersection. This section of trail has been closed for the last few years as it was severely eroded and had previously been a logging road for the Sweet lumber mill. The Trail Crew converted that road to an out-slope trail and rerouted it where conversion was not possible. This section of Greenpicker will remain closed until late spring/early summer of 2009, giving the ground time to compact and new vegetation to come back on the freshly disturbed areas. Travelers may refer to this as the gated section of Greenpicker trail; due to the large aluminum gates we installed at each end of the project.

Shawn Maloney
Engineering Equipment Operator
Trails Branch of Facilities Maintenance
Point Reyes National Seashore

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December 16, 2008

Morning high tides return through the Solstice this weekend, all 6 feet or larger, through the rise of the new moon on Saturday, December 27th. Low tides in the afternoons for tidepooling at Sculptured Beach and Agate Beach:

Tuesday, December 23 2:51 pm -0.2 feet
Wednesday, December 24 3:29 pm -0.5 feet
Thursday, December 25 4:05 pm -0.6 feet
Friday, December 26 4:39 pm -0.7 feet

Three, count them, three gray whales were seen on Thursday - the first of the annual migration. Typically, the first few are seen mid-December and the larger numbers are seen after the holidays. The extreme high tides last week cleared out the Chimney Rock viewing area of elephant seals but they too are expected any day in large numbers.

Winter colors are the bright red sprays of berries dangling from native CaliforniaToyon shrubs (Heteromeles arbutifolia); also called California Holly and Christmas Berry; an extra nourishment for birds in the winter.

End of the year park visitation for 2008 is up 2%, at the end of November 2,124,209 visitors were recorded at visitors centers and through road counters.

Road closures and park shuttle busses begin on the first Saturday after Christmas, December 27th. The road to the lighthouse and Chimney Rock areas are closed on weekends and holidays through mid-April — only when the weather is clear. They will run Thursday-Fri-Sat-Sun of the January 1-4 weekend. Tickets sales are at Drakes Beach.

Park visitor centers are closed on Thursday, December 25; roads and trails are open and patrol staff remain on duty.

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December 9, 2008

Subject: 2008 Holiday Open House

2008 Holiday Open House Banner

Point Reyes Nat’l Seashore, Cordell Bank Nat’l Marine Sanctuary, Tomales Bay and Samuel P. Taylor State Parks

cordially invites you to our

2008 Holiday Open House
Friday, December 12th
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

at the
Bear Valley Visitor Center

Refreshments provided by Point Reyes Nat’l Seashore Assn
Celebrating Protection of Public Land and Ocean

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December 2, 2008

A bright full moon rising on Thursday, December 11 will obscure viewing of the Geminid Meteor showers next week December 12-18. For the Zuni of the southern states it is "Turning Moon," time to prepare soil for the spring planting. The moon brings several morning high tides of 7+ feet during the week - a good time to check out the Giacomini Wetlands. The winter solstice on December 21st arrives to officially begin the winter season. The past few days a lovely alignment of the crescent moon, Venus and Jupiter have graced the evening sky.

The Tomales Point Elk Reserve is closed to hiking/public use today December 2 and Thursday, December 4. The elk made a break for it this weekend and fence repairs are being made!

Rangers at the Lighthouse are looking for the first south bound gray whales of the year. A few Northern Elephant Seals have been seen from the Chimney Rock Overlook, the main colony is growing and the first large bulls will typically turn up by mid-December. The very western ends of Drakes Beach and South Beach are closed as they are each year; the closures are not near the parking/public use areas.

The park welcomes everyone to the bi-annual Open House at Bear Valley Visitor Center on December 12 from 5:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m.; stop for a snack and to catch up on park projects.

The Habitat Restoration crew is looking for volunteers on Sunday, December 14th to help with a big final push to remove ice plant from the ancient dunes at the Lighthouse. Meet at 9:00 a.m. at the Bear Valley Visitor Center to help with the effort.

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Last updated: February 28, 2015

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Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


(415) 464-5100
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