Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hart's Cove

My weekly visits to Black Oystercatcher sites on the coast are basically over, all nests having failed either before eggs hatched or after chicks appeared... and disappeared. I'll look again in a few weeks in case the missing chicks reappear, but no more weekly visits to my assigned sites. However, there are other sites in my area that do not get regular coverage (being ridiculously hard to access) and I hiked one of them today.

Hart's Cove is a 2.7 mile mostly steep hike... to the meadow. From there it's another who-knows-how-long hike down the also steep "meadow", today covered with over-head-high thistles, to where the offshore rocks, potential Black Oystercatcher hangouts, can be seen. I am running out of hiking companions willing to wear themselves out for the cause, but Nancy volunteered. She had not hiked with me before and I was afraid never would again. But the weather was lovely and she a better hiker than I. She says she's up for the next round.

The view when you finally get to where there is a view, is spectacular. Sea lions line the rocks, some with young ones this time of year. They are quite noisy but it takes a scope to see them well. I hauled my new scope all the way there just so I could scan the more distant rocks for Black Oystercatchers, which I did not find. But we did see Sea Lions up close with the scope. Then we hiked to the base of the meadow where the offshore rock that BLOY used to nest on is visible. Nothing but cormorants this time. We could also see a large whitewashed rock to the north covered with Common Murres (and Common Murre guano.)

It would be nice to sit and watch the Brown Pelicans and Pigeon Guillemots, Sea Lions and other denizens of the sea for hours. But it's such a long hike in and an even longer one back out (out is mostly uphill), we did not stay long. Nancy, among the dried grasses and weeds at the foot of the meadow, enjoyed what time there was to sit and relax.

The trail as far as the meadow is well maintained, although this time there were a few more trees down across the path. Big trees. Huge Sitka Spruce line the trail.

This is a research area, so things are allowed to do what they would naturally do. Rotting snags are dotted with shelf mushrooms. This lovely orange fungus was alongside the path.

The sign at the trailhead has always made me laugh. "The first half mile of the trail is rather steep" is a bit of an understatement. This time, a more realistic notice was tacked on "CAUTION... DIFFICULT HIKING CONDITIONS". I rested against the sign at the end of the hike, tired but triumphant. Two old dames that we are, we made it!

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