Nature Notebook, May 17, 2018


A new moon this week brings extreme low tides during the morning daylight hours, with Friday and Saturday, May 17 and 18 at the lowest points, at 7:26 a.m. and 7:57 a.m., extending through Tuesday morning. Good time for beachwalking!

The first tule elk calf of the year has been born in the free-ranging herd near Limantour Beach. Calves should be appearing soon in the Tomales Point herd. As is true with harbor seal pups and black-tailed deer fawns, elk calves may be left on their own as parents forage nearby. A single youngster is usually not in distress, but just resting and hiding from predators as they await Mom’s return. Both black-tailed deer and tule elk deliver their young at this time of year, when grass and brush food is most abundant.

Speaking of abundant grass and brush for animal foraging, as we move to the long dry season of summer, preparing for wildfire is on the to-do list. Clearing defensible space by mowing and weeding, brushing off roofs to remove leaf litter and pruning to create a fire break are all part of living in West Marin. Many native plants are adapted to fire, burning at the surface but resprouting from their roots. Bishop pine cones are opened only in fire, allowing the seeds to disperse.