Saturday, December 27, 2008

An Indispensible Aid

In this year of birding, particularly for shorebirds (because we can), we have become quite fond of the Northern California Almanac, which features daily tide tables and lists of seasonal wildlife for every month. We'd found our current edition at Borders last January, but there was no trace of it in this year's calendar offerings. We turned to the web, and found the website at WildNature, but no list of stores carrying it.

Shorebirds are deeply affected by tides, and we schedule our viewing accordingly. Too high, and all the birds are huddled in a great mass at the shoreline. At very low tide, the birds are happily spread out over acres of mud flats, busily sucking down grubs, which is great for them but less inspired viewing for us. The almanac also lists wildlife you're likely to see in certain months, a help to us newbies.

So we were delighted to take advantage of a break in the rains to dart over the hill to Half Moon Bay. At Coastside Books on Main Street, we found the 2009 edition of this year's Northern California Almanac, with photos by Wyn Hoag and illustrations by John Muir Laws. Once again, independent bookstores rule!

This year the printing is more elaborate on the calendar pages -- the tide tables and moon phases are more clearly laid out. Each month has an illustrated page with drawings by John Muir Laws. The detailed monthly lists of all wildlife are tucked in a booklet in back of the volume. The photos by Wyn Hoag do not show to advantage, sadly, but they do remind you of the wonderful places to be found on the Northern California coast. (If you want photos rather than tide tables, check out their wonderful wall calendars.)