Pt. Reyes Beauty and Birds



A few years ago, I attended an event commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of the Point Reyes National Seashore. Some of those who were instrumental in establishing the park were there, including former Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, and former Sierra Club President, Edgar Wayburn. They and local ranchers, activists and politicians, and the likes of Lady Bird Johnson deserve great credit for setting aside Point Reyes. They protected it from the freeways and cities

that almost certainly would have overwhelmed it within a few years, and they gave future generations a living landscape to enjoy. More than most places, Point Reyes packs a lot into a relatively small area. There’s native American history, lighthouse legacies, active ranches and farms, endangered species, wilderness areas, extraordinary scenery, great recreational opportunities and plenty of good spots to eat and stay nearby. Over time, we’ll add more of our video and notes about Point Reyes, and we hope you add your experiences, too. It’ll take many of us to cover everything Point Reyes has to offer. I’m especially fascinated by its geological character. The notorious San Andreas Fault runs smack through the Olema Valley and Tomales Bay. To the east, the North American tectonic plate is mostly staying put. But to the west, Point Reyes, high aboard the Pacific plate, is riding “rapidly” towards the northwest. When the big 1906 earthquake leveled San Francisco and tore through here, Point Reyes lurched northwestward about sixteen feet in a split-second. Fortunately, no one was injured in the sparsely populated landscape. But to generate a little press coverage, a few ranchers apparently stuffed a previously deceased cow into the trench left by the quake. Journalists rushed out to report that a crevasse had opened up and had swallowed the poor cow, leaving only its bedraggled tail flopping forlornly in the air. And so the tale of the tail spread far and wide, and for many decades locals quite happily said absolutely nothing to debunk it. Why should they? Sometimes, you don’t want facts to get in the way of a good story. Just don’t believe everything you read, except here, of course.



Since we shot our story, the Point Reyes Bird Observatory has moved its headquarters to Petaluma, California and altered its name a little. Although it’s now called PRBO Conservation Science, it continues its good work at Pt. Reyes and elsewhere (see our related story on the Farallon Islands.) PRBO’s facility at Pt. Reyes is now known as the Palomarin Field Station, and its visitor center is open from sunrise to 5 pm, all year. Bird banding occurs Tuesday through Sunday until about noon from May 1 to Thanksgiving. From Thanksgiving to April 30, the banding takes place until roughly noon on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. The mist nets are up from about 15 minutes after sunrise for 6 hours each day. For the best chance to see birds, stop by early. The nets are not unfurled on rainy or windy days. Meanwhile, Steve Emery and Kathleen Lipinsky continue to hike, paint and enjoy Pt. Reyes almost every day.


From giant Elk to tiny birds, see a wonderland of wildlife, history and geology in, perhaps, my favorite natural place in the Bay Area.
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Point Reyes Bird Observatory's Visitor Center: 415-868-0655 ext. 395

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