Pt. Reyes National Seashore, with its hundreds of protected creatures peacefully sharing the world with us, is a magical relief from human cares. Over the years, I’ve seen, locking antlers in the autumn, Tule Elk, once killed off here and reintroduced in the 1970s by the state, Peregrine Falcon youngsters chasing each other along McClure Beach in mid-June, Red-tailed Hawks windsurfing in November, Northern Harriers galore always, American Kestrels hovering in August, Coyotes lurking, a dozen Great Blue Herons rapidly fishing the shoreline of Tomales Bay for food for heronlets, Osprey diving, sea lions, harbor and fur seals, sea otter, sand dollars, jelly fish, countless butterflies, and recently three very small bunnies sharing a sunset path with a half-dozen California Quail. People have twice sent me hurrying toward a cove on the ocean side of the peninsula with a report of whales, who didn’t wait for me, alas.
This year, I went with a friend in mid-July. Mid-July is not a super-dramatic time for most wildlife – the migrating critters are not yet getting ready to leave; this year’s chicks, cubs, fawns, and other younglings have been encouraged to leave home and are, somewhere, struggling to learn to live on their own. Some of them know from their parents how vital caution is, and make that caution rule hunger. Of course some of them didn’t get it, and their shenanigans have probably already attracted the predators Mom and Dad used to keep away. Life in the Wild makes its own good use of foolish neophytes.
Mid-July. Warm, breezy, sleepy. At Abbott’s Lagoon, the other afternoon, time and the sun seemed to creep along, and nothing was stirring.
Oh, but look . . . some things had been stirring, and they left the proof behind. See where creatures – elephants? elves? creepy-crawlies? have crossed the dunes for water in the early morning? Time hasn’t yet obliterated the big shapeless tracks deep in the sand, the little tracks skimming the surface, the miniature tank-track of a snake, the mystery movers, the ripple of the wind. All forming the lovely criss-cross of a summer night’s dance.