Nature Notebook, January 30, 2020


The full moon of Feb. 8 brings very high morning tides and very low late-afternoon tides. We may also get a good look at the planet Mercury, which is in “elongation,” at its maximum distance from the sun. It will shine ruby red just before dawn and just after dusk.  

Mushrooms are pushing up through the leaf litter all over after rain mixed with warm days started a growth spurt. Look carefully: one day you will see a pile of brown oak leaves and the next you will see the pancake-like cap of a blewit muscling its way through the pile. The annual fungus fair takes place this weekend in the Point Reyes National Seashore; visit for information on collecting hikes on Saturday and identifications on Sunday.

A 50-year study conducted on the Año Nuevo seal colony south of Point Reyes has identified “super moms.” The colony’s female seals were tagged at birth and tracked; 25 percent of them gave birth and within that group, 6 percent gave birth to 10 or more pups over the years. These super moms accounted for more than half the pups in the colony. Different colored tags help identify where elephant seals were born. Año Nuevo seals sport a green tag while Point Reyes pups are marked at birth with a pink tag on their rear flippers. The Chimney Rock colony is in full action right now—bulls, cows and pups enjoying beach time!

Repairs to storm-damaged Mount Vision Road and the road to McClures Beach are complete, and the road is now open.