Nature Notebook, April 4, 2019


The Easter weekend brings a full moon on Friday, April 19 and minus tides in the early mornings, making your best times for beach egg hunts before 10 a.m. Earth Day, on April 22, brings the peak viewing of the Lyrid meteor shower, which begins April 16 and runs through April 25. These long-lasting “falling stars” may be seen in the eastern skies after 11 p.m., if the weather is clear.

Spring is easy to spot in plant communities, but more subtle signs lie in the changes in offshore wind patterns that affect ocean species. “By-the-wind sailors,” or Velella velella, are stranded on local beaches when the winds shift. These small, clear-blue ovals are hydrozoan surface dwellers related to jellyfish. You may see gulls picking through them for an easy snack. Red elderberry shrubs have popped open along Sir Francis Drake Highway, with clusters of light-yellow flowers against the deep green leaves. Late wildflower species such as bush lupines are also flowering.

The Bear Valley Visitor Center is hosting a display from Amigos de las Amadas, an environmental education program that links schoolchildren across borders in order to protect migratory birds and their habitats. The exhibit, offered in collaboration with the Environmental Action Committee’s Birding and Nature Festival, runs through April with artwork and poetry.