Nature Notebook, April 8, 2021


A new moon on April 11 and a meteor shower usher in the month of April, a month that takes its name from Latin “aperio,” meaning “to open,” as many plants were blooming or opening in the Roman world at this time. The Lyrid meteor brings its sparkling music to the sky from April 16 to 22, peaking on April 22. It is a late-night shower after 10 p.m. in the eastern sky. Between a full moon and the potential for fog, we may not see any of the 20 or so meteors an hour that may streak across the sky.

An abundance of purple lupines are spread out along Sir Francis Drake at the top of White’s Hill: The whole hillside is colored with them. Fluffs of the palest yellow flowers of red elderberry shrubs are blooming in shady areas. Pollen season is upon us—willow is especially abundant!

Pacific gray whales are moving north, with numerous sightings reported from the lighthouse and Chimney Rock. As always, you can check the park’s webcam for viewing conditions before driving out. Drakes Beach is now open in both directions as the northern elephant seal season winds down.  The area will be closed in upcoming months for a major restoration project addressing the wetlands along the western side of the parking lot.