Mystery bear shows up at Tomales Bay
Does a bear poop in the woods?
“Apparently, yes they do,” said Debbie Viess, who, with her husband, David Rust, were astonished last week when they found fresh bear scat at Tomales Bay State Park.
“We were hiking along Pierce Point Road when my husband and I found this rather fresh pile of bear scat,” Viess said.
Judging by the photo — you can roughly determine the size and age of the bear by the diameter of the pellets, referenced by a pine cone in the photo — the best projection is that it was from a young bear, probably about 200 pounds.
Nobody has been able to photograph this latest sighting of a bear in the Bay Area.
Tomales Bay State Park is along the shore of Tomales Bay in western Marin County and adjoins Point Reyes National Seashore. For the bear to reach the area, it most likely would have traveled from the north flank of Mount Tamalpais and the Marin Watershed.
Marin has had a mystery bear for years. John Buckley, an avid cyclist, found a pile of bear scat near Fairfax in the Marin Watershed, where he was riding on the fire road from 5 Corners to Deer Park. Mountain bikers have also reported and photographed scat on the Alpine-Kent Pump Road near the pump house at Kent Lake.
In more traditional bear country in the mountains of California, it is common for many bears in late September through October to migrate out of the high-elevation forest areas. According to GPS migratory studies, bears will descend into the foothills to search for fallen apples, ripe blackberries and acorns.
To put on the pounds for winter, bears eat as many apples, berries and acorns as they can find. When the food becomes scarce and the temperatures drop, the bears return to the mountain country, ready for snow, and to hibernate in their snow caves; or, absent of snow, a wellsecreted hollow. The females, fattened up for their winter slumber, give birth during hibernation.
Sleigh ride on the bay
On the kayak trip from Sausalito to Angel Island, I’ve always done this paddle on windless mornings, at the bottom of the tide when the difference between the high and low tides is benign. It’s often easiest with a partner in a long tandem. You head out to Angel Island during slack water that feeds into a light incoming tide, then return during slack water that feeds into a light outgoing tide. That makes it an easy, fun cruise across Raccoon Strait, both ways, and we even did this once for a TV show for CBS.
Nightmare: Bad timing can make this trip a nightmare. One year, I remember a group that tried to swim across to Angel Island without calculating the tides: All the swimmers were caught in a big outgoing tide (that ended in a minus), and they were swept out to the Golden Gate Bridge and picked up by support boats. Last week, James Purvis wrote in and reported that his group hit the paddle during a big outgoing tide, and found it impossible to venture against the ebb. His advice: “Inexperienced kayakers unaware of the need for sea kayaks or the need for a late flood tide might get in trouble. Remember that once on Angel Island, there will be a need to return, which should be with an ebb.”
While Hurricane Florence captured the attention of the nation, a weather anomaly in Northern California this past week caught the eye of weather specialists. A low-pressure trough from the Gulf of Alaska dropped across the Pacific Northwest and into Northern California, dropping temperatures to the 20s in Truckee and to the high 40s at mountaintops around the Bay Area. “This kind of thing usually arrives in late September, early October, and it’s a few weeks ahead of normal,” said Michael Pechner of Golden West Meteorology. “The hope is that it will help bring an end to the fire season.”
Deer season opens
The mountain deer seasons open this weekend in the north state, where fires have burned 400,000 acres and many areas are closed to access. That will compress hunters into regions that are untouched by fire, and provides good reason for nonhunters to avoid areas where deer camps are set up at trailheads. Dates, places: In the north state, the giant B zone opens this weekend. On the west flank of the Sierra Nevada, most of the D zones open next Saturday, Sept. 22. Most of the zones in northeastern California and the Eastern Sierra, what are called the X zones, all east of the crests, open in October. Other hunt dates: For the most part, here are the season-opening dates, species by species: quail (most areas), Sept. 29; waterfowl (most areas), Oct. 20; pheasant, Nov. 10; wild turkey, Nov. 10. Note: Wild pig is open year-round, with most hunts on private property. For elk and antelope, most seasons are very short and in remote areas, and after this weekend nearly all will have closed. For all dates of concern, go to www. wildlife.ca.gov.
Falcon in hot tub
In Mountain View, John Metzger said he was working from home, sensed some movement and looked out the back window. He then watched a peregrine falcon land next to his swimming pool and hot tub. “The falcon took about 15 minutes to decide if the pool or the hot tub was the best bet and finally decided on the hot tub. You can see (with photos he provided) where the falcon looks into the tub and then enters. It was in for about four minutes, bathing, and hops out and shakes off. The falcon then stood in the sun for about two minutes and finally flew off.”
Bird watching tours
Elkhorn Slough: The Monterey Bay Birding Festival takes place Sept. 28-30 out of Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing, timed for an array of migratory shorebirds, and will include field trips, workshops and outdoor family activities. www.montereybaybirding.org.
Sandhill cranes: Registration for tours is open for the Sandhill Crane Festival, based out of Lodi at the nearby Woodbridge Ecological Area. The dawn fly-out and dusk flyouts are spectacular. www. cranefestival.com.
Cal OHOF open
In the past week, without prompting, we received three nominations for the California Outdoors Hall Fame, so we decided to open the process early for nominees. The premise to win induction is twofold: Winners have inspired thousands of Californians to take part in the great outdoors and/or conservation; they have taken part in a paramount scope of adventures. Nominations must include a 200-word bio and contact information. People can nominate themselves. Nominations should be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the website at www.cohof.org. The awards will be presented at the Sacramento International Sportsmen’s Expo in January.
For youth: Last year’s new category is now permanent: Movers and Shakers. The award is designed to honor young Californians who have injected seismic effects into the landscape of outdoors recreation, yet who may not have the tenure to win lifetime recognition.
A bear emerges in a clearing near Squaw Valley in the High Sierra. Bears are common in the mountains, but not in Marin.