Nature Notebook, November 5, 2020


A smaller meteor shower, the Taurids, peaked on Nov. 4 in the late-night eastern sky at about five to 10 meteors per hour, and we may catch a few more this week. Hard upon its heels will be the Leonids meteor shower, which peak on Nov. 16 and 17. As the sun and moon both set early, plentiful darkness may provide excellent viewing for this small shower of five to 10 meteors an hour.

As more leaves fall away from shrubs and trees, it is a great time to look for the nests of the dusky-footed woodrat, also called the pack rat. The three-foot or more cone-shaped stick piles are usually found near waterways, such as culverts and streams; they are easier to pick out on the north end of the Estero Trail and along Limantour Road. Inside, several rooms provide a cozy home for the large rats to rest and birth their young.

White pelicans have been enjoying the fall days on Tomales Bay just south of Chicken Ranch Beach. They are also often seen in Nicasio Reservoir. Unlike their brown relatives, white pelicans scoop up fish with their beaks and do not make the dashing charges into the water for feeding. They tend to soar and fly higher up, while brown pelicans often skim the water.