Summer Day, Abbotts Lagoon

Our day trip to Point Reyes this week was another pure delight, a summer day on the coast. Fifty miles inland a hot and dry July day was forming, but our visit to the coast was one of fog and blessedly cool temperatures.

The fog was so thick it was actually billowing in clouds that blew across the road. The sky had a low cloud cover and sweeping skyscapes all day.

Summer at Point Reyes National Seashore, Northern California. Migrating winter ducks and geese have not yet arrived, and it’s too early to look for migrating whales. But there’s plenty of color and beauty on this windswept coastal paradise.

It was still too early and too cold for shorts and sandals, so most visitors hadn’t yet arrived…just a few dedicated hikers quietly making their way down the trail to the sea.

The local denizens of Abbotts Lagoon, however, were busy with their day.

Upon arrival we noticed the lupine shrubs no longer have the yellow blossoms we saw last month. This is a snap of June.

And this (below) is a snap from this week, July. As you can see, this month the native shrubs have just the pods, the flowers are spent.

Coastal chaparral was colorful on this day, enhanced by the overcast sky, and was fragrantly herbaceous with the moisture.

Everything seemed to be hushed by the fog, including these Canada Geese.

The low-lying marsh area down by the boardwalk didn’t have water this time of year, but it had a thicket of marsh plants–docket (brown) and coastal hedge-nettle (pink).

Predictably there are almost always one or two black-tailed deer down at the marsh, grazing.

And sure enough, we spotted this fawn without its mother, who soon went bounding off.

Insects in the summer are different from the other seasons, and one of the stalwarts of summer is this beetle. We see them on the trail where their shiny black backs stand out against the sand. They’re about the length of a paper clip.

As we neared the sea, the trail turned to sand. It was too cold for the dragonflies who frequent this part of the trail, but a brush rabbit soon dove under cover.

Then we arrived at the shore and crossed the short walking bridge, always worth a stop to see if any creatures are underneath.

In the past we have seen river otters here, nesting swallows, a pelican carcass, and lots of different wading birds. That day it was a great blue heron hunting…and with success.

Since the spring, the beach plants have been flowering and they are different flowers every month. This month it is the gumplants that are in full bloom.

Robustly growing in large patches across the sandy beach, gumplants are named for the gummy white resin that grows in the center of each yellow flower. 

It was about a 45-minute walk back to the car, and then we were off to other parts of Point Reyes. I’ll tell you about that another time.

We were happy to spot this coyote as we drove slowly along the country road.

We also spotted a few female elk, aka cows, grazing. Point Reyes is the only National Park unit where tule elk can be found. A grassland elk found in just a few places in California, they live on a preserve in Point Reyes.

That day the cows were too far away to get a good photo, but here is a photo from another summer visit.

We see the elk every single visit on this road, Pierce Point Road. We look forward to seeing the elk next month, when the rutting (breeding) season typically begins.

There is much excitement when the bulls join up with the females. The males put on quite a show of territorial sparring with bugling and antler bashing. It lasts for a few months, so I’ll be sure to share the excitement with you.

Always a pleasure, my friends, to share Point Reyes with you.

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.

56 thoughts on “Summer Day, Abbotts Lagoon

  1. This morning, as I got to the point of your Point Reyes coyote here, I started hearing the yips of a New York coyote through my opened window. Usually, I don’t hear those canines until nightfall, so I thought now there’s an interesting cross-country link! Anyway, thanks for another fine read, Jet.

    • Walt, I so loved this account of your reading, with the coyotes from NY and CA matching up to greet you. Wonderful to receive your lovely words today, my friend, thank you so much.

  2. I’m always so impressed by the wildlife photos you capture! So wonderfully written, too. You transported me to Point Reyes with your descriptions of each aspect of the location. Thank you for taking me along on this virtual adventure!

    • Thank you, Diana, I am happy you could virtually join the Pt. Reyes fun today. And I really appreciate your kind words. I’m guessing that if you were to be here in person you would probably prefer to do a handstand where it is not sandy.

  3. For coo coo 😎 cool. My middle namesake was from Sausalito ! I remember going to his ranch and visiting Pt Reyes however don’t remember much about it from 1959. Thanks for sharing Jet and refreshing my old floppy disc (memory) 😉

    • Wonderful to have you stop by, Willie, your comment gave me a smile. Great that you have been to Pt. Reyes and that I could refresh your old floppy disc. 😀

  4. It is complete delight exploring Point Reyes! The fog, the many different animals, the sea,
    the mountains, what more could you ask for? Wait, even insects too! Yes, Jet there’s a bit
    of everything to please one’s interests. Great photography and stories, hugs, Eddie

    • Yes, I have heard about that heat wave you have up north, Anneli. I’m glad I could bring some of the cool fog to you today, and lovely Pt. Reyes. Many thanks for your visit, Anneli.

  5. What a delight to take a walk with the two of you. the one month prior comparison photo really tells the tale of the change of nature. Athena’s photos a pure pleasure to see. It seems like a wildlife paradise. Hoping this finds you both well and not too hot!

    • I was glad we had the comparison of June to July in the same bush with the same bird species, and happy that you appreciated it, Sue. I was happy to have you vicariously join us for this hike, Sue. Thanks so much for stopping by. It’s nice to see you again. We are well, and I hope you and Dave are too.

    • Yes, we are indeed so lucky to have this National Seashore, Jane. You and I and so many others. Thanks for your visit and kind words today, much appreciated.

  6. I haven’t been up there for a while. I know – why not? It’s so beautiful. Thanks for the reminder! I love Mr. Sneaky Coyote slinking through the dried grasses!

    • That really was Mr. Sneaky Coyote, Jan, for he blended in so well to the tall dry grass. Just a flicker of movement in the periphery. Thanks for visiting Pt. Reyes with us today, Jan, always a pleasure to see you.

    • I’m glad you liked that first photo, Mike. We were driving up a hill and spotted it behind us in the mirror and Athena quick turned around and snapped it. The clouds and fog were mystical that day, and I’m so very glad I could share it with you, Mike. Thank you.

    • Thanks very much, Hien. There are always Calif. Quail at Abbotts Lagoon, but they’re such a stunning, photogenic bird that Athena never misses an opportunity to photograph them. I’m glad you liked the two seasons, I liked that too. Many thanks, my friend.

    • I do so appreciate that a 1.5 hr drive gets us to the coast, too, Eliza. One day I got out a map and I mapped the whole drive all by back roads, so now it’s really super, avoiding the freeway. I’m glad I could share it with you here. Thanks very much.

  7. In places where the people do has not settle and bring modern cities or a one kilogram of cement. You still can see wildlife in abundance. It’s so beautiful and serene, you only hear the wind and the repetitious waves from the ocean. Thank you, my friend for the wonderful post. 🙂

    • Yes, we are very lucky that Pt. Reyes is still undeveloped and wild mammals roam. It is a day of serenity when we go there, and I’m glad it brought you serenity too, H.J. Thanks so much for your visit.

  8. That coastal fog is what gets me through the summer months! While our lupine are still barely hanging on with a few brave blossoms still clinging. It’s good to see the seed pods which we’re gathering to try to encourage more plants to bloom on the steep bank in front of the house. Your Quail is certainly a handsome specimen.

    What a great place with all those delightful critters you encountered. Oh… and our trailcam just recently caught our first coyote sighting down by the creek. I’m betting that more creatures are drawn to the remaining water while the hillsides are drying out with nary a drop of rain for close to two months now.

    Easy to see why you like to visit this area. Such beauty and that touch of wildlife makes it well worth it. I can’t imagine surviving these times without the opportunity to escape to some natural beauty.

    A pleasure to share your adventures as always! 💞

    • So very lovely to have you stop by, Gunta. And I agree with you, the coastal fog is a lifesaver during the hot spells. And our frolics in nature are absolutely essential. I liked hearing about the coyote sighting on your trail cam down by the creek. That is really fun! Thanks so much, always a joy.

    • YEs, I agree, Bill, the quail really are so very special. Glad you liked the fog cloud, too, for it was pretty special as well. My warm thanks for your visit today, Bill.

    • Thank you, Eilene. I find the vegetation and wildlife and wilderness that we have on this earth is so variable from region to region, so I enjoy sharing ours here in No. Calif., and it’s a delight to share it with you, Eilene, for your appreciation of it. My warmest thanks for your visit today.

  9. What a refreshing summer morning by the sea! I appreciated seeing the difference a month can make with the lupines. Love that there was a quail in both shots. The pictures of this windswept coast are beautiful, what a peaceful setting for a morning hike. Also loved the close-up of the great blue heron, the mourning dove couple, and the brush rabbit near the dunes. Thank you for bringing us along on this very restorative walk.

    • Dear Barbara, it was a complete joy to have you join on the Abbotts Lagoon hike. I always enjoy your seaside adventures, too. I know if you were here in person you would like Pt. Reyes. But in the meantime, I’m glad we could do a vicarious visit. Thanks so very much for stopping by.

  10. Too cold for shorts and sandals? I’m undone with envy! It’s still so hot and humid here that getting outdoors is a chore rather than a delight, so that makes this look into your world even more appealing. There were several recognizable plants, including the hedge-nettle and the dock, and I did enjoy the portrait of the doves. Our version of your gumplants is grindelia lanceolata, although I’ve seen Grindelia squarrosa farther to the west and north, in places like the Cimarron Grasslands. It’s such fun to see how different species adapt to different conditions, and to see how widely some genera spread!

    • I, too, like seeing the different species and their adaptations in other locales, Linda. It is fun to share them with you, since you have good knowledge of the flora that surrounds you. My warmest thanks for your lovely comment today.

  11. I may have mentioned visiting Point Reyes the one time I visited my brother in Fairfax. During the drive there was a minor quake but the car’s shock absorbers hid that from us until we heard about it later. We didn’t spend long so it was a joy to see all that you and Athena witnessed there. I’ve always liked the word “lagoon” and wish we had such water bodies close to home here. Ponds will suffice without much complaint from me. The gum plants look to pretty up a sandy beach quite well.

    • That’s an interesting thing about EQs, Steve, you rarely feel them if you’re in a car…which is just fine with me. I think the lagoon is wonderful, too. I read that this lagoon is a mix of groundwater, rainwater, and ocean water at different times of the year. Many thanks for your visit, Steve.

  12. Fabulous foggy day fun, Jet! As I type this, the foghorn on the lighthouse is going – we’ve had fog billowing in most days the past few weeks, and it’s very atmospheric. Haven’t been able to capture a foggy vista as wonderful as the top photo by Athena – what a shot!

    • Wonderful to “see” you, pc, and always a joy to have you visit Pt. Reyes with us. I liked hearing about the foghorn blowing in your area as you read about the fog here in the Bay Area. Fog is indeed very atmospheric, and we were thrilled that Athena got that shot of the overview. We were driving away from it and saw it in the mirror and she quick turned around and snapped it. Really fun to have you stop by, thank you. I hope your hiatus has been pleasant.

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