Nature Notebook, March 8, 2018


The days continue to lengthen as daylight savings time arrives on March 11 and the vernal equinox on March 20, with its equal day and night. In the Celtic world, it is the feast of Ostara, whose name comes from the Saxon goddess of spring, Eostre. This equinox feast day is associated with new life such as eggs hatching and birds returning from winter areas. 

March brings the annual closure for boating in Drakes Estero, lasting through June 30, for the harbor seal pupping season. Males are generally monogamous for the season and attract females by slapping the water with their flippers; on land, they will growl and push their heads to warn off other males.  Females nurse their pups for three to four weeks and then leave them, though the pups are able to swim and dive within minutes of birth. A solo pup ashore does not mean it is in distress, as often its parents are foraging in nearshore waters for squid, octopus and other food. For a full list of temporary seal protection closures throughout the national seashore, check

Flowering shrubs are manzanita (Spanish for little apples), with palest pink bells and dark red bark, and flowering currant, with hanging pink blossoms. I like to watch currant bushes to see hummingbirds diving in for a snack. Willows are putting out catkins, light-yellow fuzzy blossoms.