Nature Notebook, April 22, 2021


The Lyrid meteor shower peaks on April 22, when a late-night viewing may yield about 20 an hour after 10 p.m. in the eastern sky. Another super moon appears on Monday, April 26, with the moon looking brighter and larger at perigee, closer to earth than usual. 

Lupines are here. With over 200 species, this widespread lavender-to-lilac-colored plant has been at each of my work sites across the country. In West Marin, it is perhaps most familiar in its bush form. Smaller, close-to-the-ground species commonly called sky lupine are mixed in with poppies behind the Bear Valley Visitor Center. There is also a yellow flowering version that scents the air on warm days at the lighthouse and Tomales Point. Bodega Coast Miwok Tom Smith called the dune or bush lupine plant “tsopogo” and described the use of its sturdy, deep roots for cordage and fish netting.  

Warmer temperatures are enticing snakes out of their underground shelters. The most common three are the thin-striped garter snake, the pale grey rubber boa and the much larger gopher snake, with a brownish diamond pattern. They can be slow-moving when they first emerge and become more active as they warm up.