Park Wavelengths - September 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Forwarded to Park Wavelengths Subscribers
September 27, 2011
The modest Draconid meteor showers may be seen this year, peaking on Saturday, October 8. Formed by a rain of dust from the Comet Giacobini-Zinner, they are also called the Giacobinid meteors, after their early 20th century French discoverer Michel Giacobinid.
New reports of yellow jacket ground nests have come in from Greenpicker and Bolema Trails, and the park continues to receive reports of yellow jackets from Meadow and Mt. Wittenberg Trails near the intersection with Z Ranch Trail. The early rain may keep them quiet but horseback riders are especially advised to avoid these areas.
The last flowering plant of the year is Coyote Bush. The low growing evergreen shrub may be seen on the various islands in the Bear Valley parking lot. Male and female flowers occur on separate plants. The female plant's flowers appear as small white fuzzballs while the male plant's flowers have slender yellow stamens. On warm days, volatile oils release a powdery scent from the shrub into the air. The oils are evaporating in the warm temperatures--"plant sweating"--which cools the plant. The oil in the leaves also makes them taste bad to browsers; few deer are ever seen chewing on coyote brush!
The antique 1867 Fresnel lens and clockwork mechanism at Point Reyes Lighthouse is being worked on this week. Visitors will be able to descend the stairs and peek in the door to the lens rooms but may not be able to enter. Call ahead to find out the status of the restoration project at 415-669-1534.
Tomales Bay State Park will be closed mid-week beginning October 4: Open Friday through Monday; closed Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
Monday, October 10 is a federal holiday, Columbus Day. All park visitor centers will be open regular hours.
Local residents and park employees recently recognized for 30 years of federal service include your correspondent [Loretta Farley] as well as Trails Foreman Bill Michaels--who has shepherded many generations of trail workers, and Harold Geritz, Morgan Horse ranch manager. Happy Trails to Harold who retires this week from his myriad duties caretaking the Morgan Horses as well building (and rebuilding) the Kule Loklo roundhouse.
September 13, 2011
The autumnal equinox of Friday, September 23 begins the fall season. Tides will be very high midday around the equinox; the highest is on Thursday September 29 at 12:50 p.m. measuring 6.7 feet. Bigleaf Maples are dropping their caramel colored leaves. Live oak acorns continue to fatten on the oak trees with brilliant black and white, and scarlet daubed Acorn Woodpeckers just lurking around on fence posts waiting for the harvest!
Ground nesting yellowjackets are aggressively defending nests on Meadow Trail and Mt Wittenberg Trail (just east/below the Z Ranch junction). They actually emit chemicals that are detected by other wasps that will then fly in to assist in the defense of the nest. Horseback riders are especially advised to avoid these areas. The nests are made late in the year once the ground is dry enough and then are washed out with the winter rains.
A bobcat has reappeared in the fields behind Bear Valley Visitor Center, taking regular afternoon strolls along the fence line. It then settles in for a nap just below the horse ranch, blissfully ignoring passersby and even the occasional Great Blue Heron stalking gophers.
The park hosts a naturalization ceremony on Friday, September 16 beginning at 11:00 a.m. New citizens will be sworn in at the ceremony held in the Bear Valley Picnic area. It is open to the public.
Coastal Cleanup Day across California is Saturday, September 17. Drakes Beach will host a local clean up from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Check in at the Ken Patrick Visitor Center.
Last updated: February 28, 2015