Park Wavelengths - February 2012
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Forwarded to Park Wavelengths Subscribers:
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
The full moon rises Thursday, March 8 and, after adjusting clocks on March 11 for Daylight Savings Time, minus low tides in the morning provide tidepooling opportunities:
The maternity ward is open! Annual seal protection measures begin March 1st and last through June 30th. Drakes and Limantour Esteros are closed to boating, as well as South Blue Gums Beach on Tomales Bay. Harbor seals begin returning to deliver their pups which are weaned at about 4 weeks. Parents often forage in nearby waters leaving the pups unattended--a reminder to leave the pups alone! Parents may be discouraged from returning if they see people or animals near the pups. As usual give them a wide berth!
Spring greens are appearing: heart shaped Miners Lettuce sprouting around Kule Loklo and Bear Valley; Bay trees are flowering with light yellow blossoms; daffodils brightening the scene along Coast Trail near the old bulb farm (high water in this area makes viewing the farm site wet and wild).
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Spring is stealthily padding in. Some of the first wildflowers in February are: Douglas Iris on Limantour Road; the four-petaled, white-with-a-dab-of pink Milkmaids in shady areas; and even poppies at the Tomales Bay trailhead on Highway 1.
Rain is reminding us that it is still winter though, and the late rains have been positive for coho salmon and steelhead trout surveys. A coho tagged with a small antenna as a smolt in the spring of 2011 was recorded re-entering Olema Creek this year, part of a study to track patterns. 27 live coho were observed and five redds with 29 live steelhead and 13 redds in Olema Creek, a promising sign.
The park is raising fees and expanding reservation services by transitioning to www.recreation.gov as of Wednesday, February 22. In order to transmit existing reservations, the last phone reservations at the park will be taken Friday, February 17. Walk-in campers may still obtain permits, space available, at the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Currently, all campgrounds are full for Saturday and Sunday of the holiday weekend; boat-in permits are available.
All park visitor centers will be open on Monday, February 20 and shuttles will operate if the weather is clear.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
The full moon--called "the moon of frost sparkling on the snow" in Northern Arapaho communities--rises February 7, bringing afternoon daylight minus tides across the weekend:
Whale sightings have tapered off with just five noted last Saturday from the Lighthouse and a few spotted from the Great Beach. Two bull northern elephant seals napped on Drakes Beach much of Saturday under the protective eye of staff and docents. February is the height of elephant seal activity with pups, cows, and bulls resting all around Chimney Rock beaches. Remember: remain quiet and give seals a wide berth--at least 100 feet--to allow them to rest and rejuvenate while onshore. Docents from Año Nuevo State Park are visiting with park staff this week to coordinate information and exchange training techniques. Park staff also released a new free publication entitled "Northern Elephant Seals," which is available at visitor centers.
Subtle reminders of spring are appearing with warm weather: catkins on willow shrubs along the wetlands opening; and narcissus flowering outdoors in the gulch and on the hillsides near the Estero.
Dr. Gary Fellers of the USGS will give a presentation on the federally listed red-legged frog on Monday, February 6, 10:00 a.m.-10:45 a.m. at the Red Barn. No RSVP is needed. This presentation is an introduction to frog life history, identification, and habits, and to procedures to use if you encounter frogs in fieldwork, or for anyone who is just curious about this species.