Nature Notebook, February 25, 2021

02/24/2021

The full moon on Saturday, Feb. 27 brings mid-morning to noonish high tides in the six-foot range with minus tides near sunset. To the Catawba of North Carolina, this moon is known as the “First Flower” moon, similar to what we are seeing in West Marin, where many flowers have appeared over the past few weeks. Creekside banks near Coast Camp have beds of the palest yellow fairy bells, and I saw the first purple Douglas iris on Laguna Trail. Puffy yellow acacia trees are blooming on Ottingers’ Hill. Further afield at Chimney Rock are pink checkerbloom, or mallow, and flat-to-the-ground, yellow footsteps of spring.

Northern elephant seals remain the wildlife scenery of the month. Coyotes have been seen roaming the boathouse and Chimney Rock beaches, scavenging for afterbirth or pups that did not survive. Weaner pods of pups that are beginning their solitary lives are gathered against the cliffs, where they can be identified by their darker fur. Though we see plenty of group activity on land during the winter, this represents a brief portion of a lifespan that is spent mostly at sea. Soon females will head south toward Hawaiian waters, while the males will head north. You may recall that a pink-tagged Point Reyes seal was seen on the coast of Russia several years ago!