Park Wavelengths - April 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Another set of sky fireworks lights up the sky on May 5; the Eta Aquarid meteor showers peak that Saturday night. The showers are one of two sets of meteors created by the earth passing through dust released by Halley's Comet; the second set is November's Orionids. The bright light of the full moon rising will likely obscure this year's show.
The Headlands are covered with goldfields, Lasthenia californica, tiny asters growing in large mats. According to a 1925 Jepson manual, "The genus name Lasthenia is taken from a Greek girl who in order to attend the lectures of Plato, dressed as a man". No word on how the botanist attached that name to this tiny flower! It is pollinated by bees that live in nearby underground nests. The seeds were an important source of food to early Californians.
Other wildflowers reports are coming in from the southeastern end of the Estero Trail near the Muddy Hollow Trail--paintbrush, iris, and monkeyflower. Along Levee Road, twin yellow tubular flowers of the shrub "twinBerry" are flowering and soon the flowers will become two deep purple berries with a ruffle of scarlet around them. Bush lupines are beginning to show their fragrant buttery yellow flowers at the Lighthouse and Tomales Point, as well as purple sky lupines in the Bear Valley area. Along roadsides, cow parsnips are putting in an appearance with their tall stalks topped with a white flower umbel--like a giant cauliflower atop the stems.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Sky fireworks arrive on April 22 with the peak of the Lyrid meteor shower. A new moon should shed little light and allow good viewing in the late evenings beginning April 16. Look east-northeast for these bright "falling stars" and hope the fog stays away! The shower originates in the constellation Lyra--the harp of heaven--whose brightest star is Vega, which is usually seen throughout summer.
April is the beginning of elk calving season. Parents often feed nearby and calves should be given a wide berth as they rest and wait for parents to return.
Spikes of yellow flowers on shrubbery along local highways are Red Elderberry along with light yellow flowers on bay trees.
The park website has been "re-skinned" with new images and easier access to information. Check it for a list of special activities related to Earth Day.
Last updated: February 28, 2015