Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cape Kiwanda and Whalen Island

Taking a break from harvesting our garden produce, I lured Johnny away from his winterizing projects and drove to the coast yesterday. Now that his back allows, he was able to climb the dune at Cape Kiwanda and scan one side for Black Oystercatchers while I scanned the other. That works much better than one person alone. We arrived at high tide -- nine feet yesterday -- and found two pair of Black Oystercatchers resting above the high tide line on their respective sides of the dune. The north side pair had a juvenile with them. This was a surprise since I could not determine that they were nesting this summer and had concluded they were not. The same thing happened two years ago. I guess if I can't figure out if/where they have a nest, neither can predators and they are able to successfully fledge a youngster.

Junior is on the left of his parents in the photo. The bill of the juvenile is still dark toward the tip. It will be all red by this time next year. Likewise the juvenile's eye is not yet red-appearing like the eye of the adults. (Click on the photo to enlarge it and see these features.)

Everywhere along the coast, it seems, Brown Pelicans are gathering. They were in the air, on the water, and on the Cape.

From Cape Kiwanda we headed into Pacific City where we ate at our usual spot, a Mexican restaurant. Then we headed north to Whalen Island, which internet friend Dawn often writes about and highly recommends. We can see why! It's a lovely natural area with a long winding path through a woodland bordering an estuary and wetlands. Periodic short paths head toward viewpoints.

From one viewpoint I could just see Haystack Rock off Cape Kiwanda peeking up. From another I could see a few hundred Brown Pelicans. They are everywhere.

Way out on the mudflats, there were many shorebirds which I misidentified almost 100%. Thank goodness for the willingness of knowledgeable birders on the online birding list to set me straight. I posted photos on my other blog, BIRDS,, and the experts told me what I had seen.

On the northwest side of the island lies an extensive wetland area. We saw a Marsh Wren here, Great Egrets, various crowned sparrows, and, in the wooded trail leading up to this viewpoint, about a zillion robins and flickers and enough bear scat to make us feel right at home. (It's always nice to know we're not the only one with bears.)

Our day on the coast was a nice break from harvesting and winterizing back home. Without Dawn's tip, we might never have found this delightful spot so close to our usual haunt of Cape Kiwanda.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you got to visit this favorite of mine - we still need to do it together sometime though!