Nature Notebook, February 22, 2018


The first of March’s two full moon rises next week on Thursday, March 1 and brings afternoon low tides and six-foot tides in the morning. Coastal areas have been blustery this past weekend, making whale watching difficult. Typically by February, most whales have passed south to Mexico; they begin their return journey north in March. Picnickers at Drakes beach last week reported a gray whale mother and calf in the surf, speculating that the calf was probably born last year and was making the trip south. Whale sightings in Drakes Bay are not as common as sightings from the lighthouse, but occur especially in the northern return trip, as mothers keep their calves in shallower waters to avoid predators.

Spring is still a month away, but many flowering plants are keeping their own calendars. Marking spring in West Marin are the flowering daffodils in the north Coast Trail area, the vestige of a commercial bulb farm. The flat plains once filled with lily and daffodil bulbs are in transition now as more willows and alder trees move into the sunny, well-watered area. Almost overnight, plum trees have popped open in pinks and whites. Eventually, the tiny plums will become a dessert table for black-tailed deer that will stretch up on hind legs to get at them, usually starting in May.