Friday, May 19, 2017

Marathon Oystercatcher Surveys

After a week of weeding, working in the greenhouse, and working on my third book in the Goat Lane series when too heavy rain kept me indoors, the weather cleared and I headed for the coast to try to catch up on Black Oystercatcher (BLOY) surveys. Three days in a row I hiked many miles while surveying. On the third day, Johnny, who had been working hard on building raised beds, among other projects, joined me.

Tuesday, May 17, I surveyed Cascade Head and Cliff Creek Falls, both long hikes... and both with no BLOY to be seen on that day. But there was plenty of other wildlife...

Some seemed as interested in me as I in them...

Others, not so much...

Everywhere there was beautiful scenery...

The next day, Thursday the 18th, I surveyed Road's End and North Cascade Head. This time, I saw BLOY... a pair nesting on the South Rock, as I had suspected last week, and now a pair also nesting on North Rock. That pair was not on a nest when I first saw them, but rather one flew off to forage while the other stayed behind and hung out on a rock... a rather odd situation. But I finally realized why... Check out the bird in the bottom center of this photo...

 After the eagle flew off, the BLOY that had been sitting and standing in view of its nest (a nest I had not seen) went down off its rock perch and covered what appeared to be, from my great distance, two eggs.

The island off the shore was covered in white guano, as usual, but when I looked through the scope, I saw it was covered in something else, too...

Can you see the pelicans? Lots of them, well camouflaged.

Today, Friday, May 19, Johnny joined me for the long Cape Lookout hike. This proved to be the most spectacular day of all.

The cape trail starts out deceptively civilized... (that's Johnny way ahead)

But soon deteriorates into mud and bare roots to navigate. I neglected to take a photo of the mud and root holes but here's a smallish area to give you an idea...

 However, the views make it all worthwhile.

Way off in the distance, looking south, Haystack Rock and Cape Kiwanda seem tiny, with Cascade Head looming high behind them.

Our first OP (Observation Point) for BLOY spotting is a beautiful cove on the north side.

We scanned for half an hour but I saw nothing but two pairs of mama and baby seals, resting on the sand. Well, this baby was doing a lot of squirming instead of resting.

 Johnny thought he saw a pair of BLOY on the spit but they looked like dark rocks to me.

However, Johnny was right... The rocks flew, calling loudly. Then circled back and landed again. They are in the center of the photo below. Pretty hard to pick out! Johnny got a gold star for this sighting.

Johnny earned more stars at the end of the cape when he spotted two pair of BLOY flying past, calling loudly.

But that was not nearly so exciting as the whales. Lots of whales. Some with calves. They seemed to be hanging around close to shore on the south side of the cape.

The whale sightings rejuvenated us for the long walk back to the car. We drove on to Cape Lookout State Park for another view of the cape and our last OP. It was as clear today as it ever gets but it is still a long look to the north side of the cape where we have seen BLOY in the past.

I did find one foraging along the rocky shore this day. But it was way too far for a photograph and soon disappeared behind the outcropping. Here is the spit where it had been with the camera zoomed up as far as it will go.

It was more fun to watch the hang gliders, floating in the air above us.

And, of course, the view. Looking north we could see the sea stacks off Oceanside.

We enjoyed as nice a day as could be asked for on the Oregon coast... no wind, pleasant temperature, clear skies...  then we drove up to Pacific City on our way home and ate supper at the Mexican restaurant.

It was a very good day.

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