Daily Bucket – Beating the heat at Point Reyes National Seashore

With temperatures predicted to reach 110 degrees on Friday, I just had to get out of this unrelenting heat. I decided to take my husband to the coast and cool off. I had figured out how to accommodate his medical needs so he could also enjoy the ocean.

It was already 90+ degrees when we left Friday morning. The traffic wasn’t too bad and the temperatures dropped as we neared the coast. It was a lovely 73 degrees outside the seashore visitor center where I stopped to pick up a park map and found a couple more birding books.

The Daily Bucket is a nature retreat. We amicably discuss animals, weather, climate, soil, plants, water and note the patterns of life.

We invite you to note what you see around you in your own part of the world and to share your observations in the comments below.

Each tone is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the phenological patterns quietly unfolding around us. To have the daily bucket in your activity stream, visit Backyard Science’s profile page and click Follow.

As we turned onto the road to Drake’s Beach, one of my favorite birds decided to pose on top of a fence post:

California Quail

Drake’s Beach is a lovely place where elephant seals congregate in the spring. No one was present that day but we had plenty of company as dozens of people spread out on the warm sand. It was a blissful 66 degrees, with a sunny sky and a light ocean breeze. I parked the car in a place where my husband could see the sea.

Once he was comfortable, I took out my camera and ventured around the area. The first thing I noticed were the seagulls:

A trio of seagulls flies high above the beach mass.
A young seagull flew close by, looking for morsels from the beachgoers.

There is a tidal pond next to the car park which is refreshed at high tide. Not much happened but I managed to see:

A great heron wandered among the bushes on the edge of the pond.
A Killdeer forages in the mud next to the edge of the pond.

There were lots of wildflowers next to the parking lot as well.

Purple flowers
Light purple flowers
white flowers
Yellow flowers with many buds
The purple flowers in the back
Red grassy plants

There were more than just shorebirds:

The raven glides towards the tree.
A young song sparrow sits on the fence rail
Another view where the pectoral stripe can be seen.
White Crowned Sparrow singing from the top of a tree.
Another raven lands at the visitor center.

There were Cliff Swallows swooping around but I didn’t get a decent shot. When I went to the restroom without my camera, a swallow was perched on the roof above the entrance. Of course he flew off before I could get back to the car for the camera. I also saw a Scrub Jay on a picnic table that took off as soon as I saw him.

I hadn’t seen any pelicans when all of a sudden a flock appeared and flew past.

A brown pelican flies by.

We decided to try the lighthouse but it was crowded and the coastal fog was coming in obscuring all visibility.

Cell Tower in the middle of the coastal fog
A raven flies over a sandy beach patterned by ocean waves.

I could tell my husband was tired so we headed back to Sacramento. The heat blasted us when we got out of the car when we got home. It was a blistering 101 degrees at 8:30 p.m.

After 9 days of 100+ temps, we finally had a day where the high was only 98 degrees. Of course the next day it went back up to 108. We are looking at another 2 or 3 days of 100+ temps before the weather settles back into the mid 90’s.

Of course, a number of wildfires have broken out, but thankfully CalFire has kept them from becoming catastrophic. So far the losses have been quite minimal but we have a long way to go as the fire season now continues until November.

What’s in your neck of the woods?

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