The Great Beach of Pt. Reyes with Michael – 26 September 2016

“For it’s a long, long time from May to December, But the days grow short when you reach September. . .” from “September Song” by
Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson. What happened to our long, sunny evenings – all of a sudden it seems dark at dinner?

I recall humming this chorus when I was a newsboy delivering the Schenectady Gazette in the late 1940s and having only a little idea of its bittersweet qualities. It sounded romantic and poignant and that was enough for me. Now I read that it came from 1938’s “Knickerbocker Holiday” and was about Peter Stuyvesant, 1647 governor of what was later New York and a portrayal of a “semi-fascist government in New Amsterdam”. Bing Crosby recorded it in 1943 and Frank Sinatra in 1946. I think I’m remembering and hearing Sinatra rather than Crosby in my memory. Later it was Sinatra for sure with “Autumn Leaves”, I recall hearing it while I was driving across the Berkshires on the border of Massachusetts and New York State in 1957. And just maybe having watched the great BBC TV show “From May to December” starring
Anton Rodgers, Eve Matheson and Lesley Dunlop in the 1990s may have helped to keep those memories fresh.


Every good hike needs to start at the Bovine Bakery in Pt. Reyes Station.

Just a half hour away is our destination at South Beach, a part of the Great Beach of Pt. Reyes National Seashore. Usually called Pt. Reyes Beach but sometimes called 10 Mile Beach most accounts now credit it with 11 miles. It is an enormous strand on the north side of the Pt. Reyes Peninsula and “Great Beach” does it justice.

Michael gave a brief description of our tidal patterns with visuals courtesy of the Great Beach’s tabula rasa. This is a really complete explanation and description including equations for amplitude, you can go deep or just have fun surfing its waves.

Bullwhip kelp, Nereocystis can be sculptured, played for music, jumped with, weaponized or eaten.
Sadly, it also needs help.
This seems to be a pattern in the southern hemisphere as well.

Variations on a theme:

Watching some Semipalmated plovers in the photo and thinking as well about the Western Snowy Plover’s breeding locations further east on this beach. The struggle to save the Western snowy plovers (North Beach, Kehoe Beach and Abbott’s Lagoon) is ongoing. really captivating video with lots of valuable insights – This link begins with a description of the work being done by Carolyn Campbell, a Snowy Plover Biological Technician. If you scroll down you will find an account of our own, Michael Ellis, Field Institute Instructor as well. – a short, lovely video of plovers in fight over the nearby Limantour Beach – those “Mesmerizing Murmurations” .
How Do Starling Flocks Create Those Mesmerizing Murmurations? | All About Birds

Talking to the group about invasion and displacement of native beach grasses by European beachgrass (Ammophilia arenaria) which, despite its romantic Latin name has been a devastating invader. In the photo the beachgrass is closest to the group and before that we have a native dwarf coyote brush in bloom. Sadly it is intermixed with ice plant, another invader, in red. While the focus of this link is the restoration of native dune grasses at Lanphere Dunes in Humboldt Bay, the story is very similar on Pt. Reyes Beach, in fact, the photos are almost interchangeable. discussing the impact of Ammophilia on Tidestrom’s Lupine Excellent summary!

Around 1869 John McLaren is credited with the first introduction of European beach grass on the west coast when he used it to stabilize the sand dunes to create Golden Gate Park. It was a remarkable process turning what they thought of as “sand desert” into an amazing park for San Francisco.

And just a bit of information on “highway ice plant” in the invasive plant world. Best not to use the term Hottentot fig which is a pejorative.

and last but really first the Dwarf Coyote Brush’s poetic description from San Marcos Growers:
Baccharis pilularis ‘Pigeon Point’ at San Marcos Growers

Lunch not in the Redwoods but on a Redwood log at our hike’s apogee with the surf surround sound. The plastic bag is being used to collect plastic debris we found along the beach. Michael’s visiting friend Viola picked up the bag from the beach and then picked up plastic debris we found along the way (with a little help from her friends) keeping out at least something more going into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Nice definition of gyre in the course of the article so now you know what Lewis Carroll was referring to in his spectacular Jabberwocky.

My very favorite YouTube:

Clockwise – a mussel shell seemingly fashioned in Italian marble, the fin of a Bottlenose Dolphin (you’ll recall Flipper) from a pod that swam by us sporting & playing the water (did I try to get them in mid-air, oh yes), bull kelp with driftwood collar or is a driftwood with a mike and Ammophilia arminaria, the villain in our story.
Michael said that the dolphins are from warmer southern California waters, recent arrivals with the ocean warming. Bill Keener who is a friend of Michaels said that poignantly, one of them died along Ocean Beach in San Francisco recently washing up on shore. Its mate stayed nearby in the water for a long time – keeping company with the one lost.

The return with the dogs front and back in center, the Dachshunds traveling together.

Taking a break on our Good Ship Lollypop

Adios to those waves until next time

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s