Park Wavelengths - August 2011


Thursday, August 31, 2011

The fall quietly arrives with buckeyes dropping leaves and their characteristic fuzzy seeds forming. Poison oak is reddening as it climbs up trees along Bear Valley Road. Hazel nuts are appearing along Woodpecker Trail shrubbery. Morning darkness is greeting over the hill commuters as we move towards the September 23 autumnal equinox.

Snowy plovers continue their intrepid survival battle. This year about 9 breeding pairs made their homes on the Great beach with a total of 15 nests. 28 chicks hatched into a world of wind, sand, and ravens with 16 lost. As of late summer, 11 chicks were on the beach with one fledged (with the car keys and college admission--reference for parent(s) of teenagers!).

Harbor seals recently completed molting (growing new fur) with a peak count of 2578, down from average peak counts of the past 11 years that were 4126. Park biologists are unsure exactly what may be causing the low count; it might be that scarcity of food is making them hunt more and rest or haul out less on land?

High tides (6+ feet) mark the upcoming holiday weekend. All park visitor centers are open on Labor Day, Monday, September 5, as well as roads and trails. The 30th Annual Sand Sculpture Contest is Sunday, September 4th at Drakes Beach. Carpooling is advised to this very popular, free event. Judging begins at 12 noon; registration begins at 9:00 am. No pets at this beach.

Mark your calendars for the statewide Coastal Cleanup Day on September 17, also held at Drakes beach. Dress like Drake to clean up the beach.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Forwarded to Park Wavelengths Subscribers:

Subject: Work in Progress on Bolinas Ridge at Randall Trail

Work on Bolinas Ridge Fuelbreak Continues - Year 3

The hazardous fuels crew will be continuing work on the Bolinas Ridge Fuelbreak off and on from now through November during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. primarily during week days, but during some weekends as well.

The crew is currently working along the first 1/2 mile of Randall Trail from the Bolinas Ridge intersection, west toward the Olema Valley.

The work includes thinning, tree falling, brushing, and chipping.

Visitors should use caution in this area.

"Tree work ahead" signs will be in place.

Signs will also be posted at appropriate trailheads in the near future (Olema Valley, Bolinas Ridge, Bolinas-Fairfax Road).

For more background on this multi-year project, see the 2008 fire newsletter.

Jennifer Chapman
Fire Communication and Education Specialist
S.F. Bay Area National Parks
415-464-5133 TEL / 415-663-8132 FAX

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Perseid meteor showers should be a little easier to view after last Saturdays full moon washed out the peak viewing. These exceptionally bright "falling stars" may be seen in the northeast after moonset and before dawn-fog permitting.

Seasonal changes continue as the tule elk begin their annual rut or breeding season. The larger males are sizing one another up and establishing harems. On weekends, docents set up binoculars and scopes at Tomales Point to help visitors get a closer look from a safe distance. Bugling and wrestling and even a little boxing occurs as males jostle for positions in the hierarchy. Other summer visitors have been humpback whales at the lighthouse.

Late summer also brings Moon Jellies (clear with four white crescents) and tea-colored Lions Mane Jellies into Tomales Bay-just as the swimming season begins! A new neighbor has been the Pacific sea nettle with a rosy pink tint. It does create a stinging sensation when brushed against-a mild allergic reaction for most people. Sea nettle populations appear to be growing off the coast of Oregon and they may become a regular visitor in Tomales Bay.

In the plant communities, berries and nuts are ripening! Nuts on the California bay trees are sheathed in greenish-yellow husks, looking like small lemons and limes. Blackberries and huckleberries are ripening and, in the park, visitors may pick up to 2 quarts a day. The cups or cupules are forming on oak trees and soon the acorns will appear.

Note: Due to technical difficulties with new computer programs, Park Wavelengths has been on hiatus. Hope to be back on a regular 2 week cycle!

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Last updated: February 28, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


(415) 464-5100
This number will initially be answered by an automated attendant, from which one can opt to access a name directory, listen to recorded information about the park (i.e., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; weather forecast; fire danger information; shuttle bus system status; wildlife updates; ranger-led programs; seasonal events; etc.), or speak with a ranger. Please note that if you are calling between 4:30 pm and 10 am, park staff may not be available to answer your call.

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