Spring seems to be rushing toward us with warm days and calm surf. A little later than usual are the milkmaids, four-petaled flowers with a rosy tinge that usually are seen in shady areas by January. Wild beach strawberry plants (Fragaria chiloensis), also with small, four-petaled flowers low to the ground, are appearing. One of their Chilean cousins is the ancestor of the domestic strawberry. Bay tree blossoms are forming and some red-barked manzanita shrubs are displaying pink bells.
Tule elk and black-tailed bucks may look a little strange with only one antler; at this time of year they begin to shed and may lose one at a time. With good nutrition, they will begin to regrow their antlers for the rut season, six months away, in late summer. These dropped antler are an important source of nutrients for smaller animals that gnaw on them. (Antlers may not be collected in the parks.)
News from the national seashore: Park visitor center will be open on the Monday, Feb. 17 holiday and shuttles will operate if the weather is clear. Applications are now available for the Youth Conservation Corps’ summer youth work program at Point Reyes. Call (415) 464.5154.