Thursday, May 26, 2016

More Black Oystercatcher Surveys

For the first time, I was actually relieved when I found no nesting BLOY at the end of one of my most unfavorite survey hikes... the North OP (Observation Point) at Road's End. The view once I arrive is spectacular. But... the hike is difficult. I amused myself along the way by taking photos of Johnny climbing up the steep Thumb to his OP. That little dot in the middle of the green cliff is him.

And cropped...

 However, that's the only tough part of his hike. Then he gets to sit on top and watch for BLOY on the two nest rocks below him. Here he is from my vantage point on the North OP, where, by the way, I saw no BLOY on the North nest rock. So I don't have to go back there this year!

Can't see Johnny? He's between the two trees on top. Here...

 And up close with my Nikon...

Johnny watched the two pair that nest on South Rock and Middle Rock, while I took close-ups of the rocks from my OP... but saw nothing on them. Thank goodness for the lovely view in all directions...

In the afternoon, we went from Road's End to another site where Johnny had an even shorter hike and sat for two hours watching a pair of BLOY wander around the top of Refusal Rock looking for a suitable nest site, apparently. Meanwhile I hiked in on a very rough non-trail to the North Cascade Head nest site... and found nothing. This is the site where I had found a Turkey Vulture lurking two weeks ago. I suspected it had disrupted the BLOY nesting plans. This was the second time with no BLOY so I don't have to make that hike again either!

The next day, we looked for BLOY on Cascade Head itself. Johnny hiked in to look toward one known BLOY nesting area while I hiked to another. (We have a permit to enter these areas to monitor BLOY in this otherwise closed-to-the-public season.) Johnny had interesting encounters. First with a couple herds of elk.

And then, with a pair of eagles just building a new nest. The rocks in the distance are where Johnny is supposed to be looking for BLOY. The leaning trees between him and the rocks were where the eagles were bringing long sticks for their new nest. If you have exceptional eyesight, you might see a white dot in one of the leaning trees. That's an eagle.

 Here it is closer...
Johnny said some of the sticks the eagles carried in were twice as long as their wing span. You can see some of them in this photo. A pretty messy looking nest so far!

Meanwhile I was hiking the long Hart's Cove trail to a point where I head downward through the brush to a viewpoint looking out on the big rocky island where a pair of BLOY traditionally nest.

They were there, but not yet nesting. Instead, they tried out one spot after another.

All the while I was serenaded, if you can call it that, by dozens and dozens of sea lions on the rocks in that cove.

After an hour, I gave up and hiked back up the long, steep, 7 switch-back trail to my car. I will be back to this site next week to find out if the BLOY have actually laid eggs and begun to incubate.

It was a relief to rest up today after two days of strenuous hikes. But we did have two evenings of wonderful dinners at our favorite Thai restaurant in Lincoln City. And enjoyed meeting Dawn for one of them and swapping BLOY stories with her. Only another BLOY nest monitor can understand why we do what we do. Some days, after long hikes, I wonder myself...

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