Nature Notebook, August 26, 2021

08/25/2021

A new moon will rise over the upcoming Labor Day weekend Monday holiday, with early-morning, predawn low tides and midday high tides.    

The bell(e)s of autumn are ringing in the new season: Rosy pink Belladonna (“beautiful woman” in Italian) lilies, also called naked ladies, are blooming on a long, plain stem topped by a cluster of flowers. These poisonous lilies are originally from South Africa and have softball-sized bulbs where much of their needed moisture is stored from winter rains. Also in bloom are the pink bells of red-barked manzanita shrubs. They will become a small orange berry, another source of winter food for local birds. Other late-summer blooms are coyote brush’s small, fuzzy, pale yellow flowers. The low-growing shrubs are visible along the Bear Valley area and Limantour Road.

The tule elk rut, or breeding season, has begun. Listen for the males’ musical bugling along Muddy Hollow Road and at Tomales Point; they are communicating with other elk in the area. I watched a large male, festooned with greenery, and his harem off Pierce Point Road; the males will urinate and then roll in the grass to attract females, thus leaving bits of brush and grass dangling from their antlers. The calves will be born next spring.