Saturday, February 25, 2012

A February Day at the Coast

The day after Johnny's return from his week in California, I dragged him off to the coast. It was the only non-rain day predicted for the near future and we had not been to the coast in way too long (from my point of view). Although the predicted sun rarely emerged, it was relatively warm and windless.

The trail through the woods heading for The Thumb from Road's End was muddy and slick. I thought I was being careful but... down I went into a rocky stream flowing in the middle of the path. At least I didn't fall into mud. I was only damp on one side and after wiping off binocs, camera, and scope bag, we continued upward. Before reaching the top, Johnny spotted a Peregrine Falcon on the cliff at the north end of the Road's End beach. The dot silhouetted against the ocean is the falcon. A zoomed up version is in the photo right.

While Johnny played with taking photos through the scope with his new camera, I tried to get a picture of waves washing over the top of the offshore island. We were there at high tide and it was the highest tide I've ever seen from The Thumb. I had no idea that island, usually so high out of the water, was ever inundated. But it was that day.

We climbed higher then and took photos of the falcon from a different angle. He had not moved.

At some point, the falcon flew to the snaggy tree that we could see after we'd climbed to the top of The Thumb.

A young eagle circled high over us for a time. The falcon ignored it.

With such a high tide, we didn't really expect to find Black Oystercatchers, although the tops of two of the three nest rocks we monitor in the spring were high and dry. But sharp-eyed Johnny did find a pair, not on the nest rocks but farther north on rocks at the south end of the Camp Westwind beach. The tiny-appearing birds were silhouetted against the water beyond. Although they were very far away, Johnny's camera managed to capture them (on the right side of this picture) through my scope.

Beyond them we could see Cascade Head and, with the scope, scores of elk.

After a couple hours of wave and bird watching, we headed back to the car. As always, I'd packed an extra set of clothes so was soon dry and presentable for our late lunch at Otis Cafe, where we bought, as always, some of their wonderful Otis Seasoning Salt to take home... along with plenty of leftover lunch. (Their servings are generous.)

From Otis, we drove to the Tamara Quays Salmon River estuary restoration project. No signs mark the area, but we had gone to their grand opening last year so knew where it was. At the closed gate, a sign said that foot traffic was welcome. We hiked in. From the headwaters of the estuary, we had a different view of Cascade Head and, finally, sunshine.

By this time, the tide was on its way out but we could see that this huge Sitka Spruce log had been rolled by the rising water from where it had rested previously. It made me wonder how old-time loggers were able to stand on those rolling logs as they herded them downriver.

From every twist and turn of the marsh-rimmed river, young Bufflehead ducks eyed us warily.

We soon headed home, leaving the birds to enjoy their estuary in peace. It was a wonderfully relaxing and refreshing day for us to enjoy before the return of February's wet weather.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a really fun day - nice pix of the Falcon too! I still haven't been to your Thumb - can you tell me how to get there? Tamara Quays is also on my sites-to-get-to list!