Nature Notebook, January 2, 2020


The first of the annual meteor showers, the Quadrantids, originates in Boötes, the plowman constellation. This shower of about 40 per hour may be seen at around 1 a.m. from Jan. 1 through Jan. 5, in the eastern skies. 

The full moon of Jan. 10 is called “when snow blows like spirits in the wind” by the Arapaho of the Great Plains and “whirling winds moon” by the Passamaquoddy of Maine. The full moon will continue the pattern of mid-morning extreme high tides, which will peak at 6.7 feet on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10 and 11. What might wash up on the beaches, especially alongside a high surf alert? 

Charismatic megafauna such as male northern elephant seals arriving on park beaches tend to draw attention away from the smaller flora and fauna of winter months. Masses of red and black ladybird beetles, also known as ladybugs, have converged in a bay tree along the Earthquake Trail; this hibernation strategy helps them ward off cold temperatures. Puffballs, a white mushroom resembling a golf ball, are growing along many trails.

News from the national seashore: Beginning Jan. 5, the camp desk will be cashless. Backpack camp fees and annual passes may only be paid with credit or debit cards.