Notes, birds, nature, meanderings.

Musings about birds, nature, and our meanderings on the Central Oregon Coast

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint/Wayside

Last Sunday, we ventured south to visit the Hatfield Marine Science Center's nature trail - one of our favorite patches.  On the drive south, I spotted a bald eagle as we were passing Whale Cove, so we stopped at the next turnout -- Rocky Creek State Wayside 

The view from the main parking area...

A walk over to the partial wooden fence reveals an inlet in the rocks with strong currents and waves.

But the hidden treasure is the meandering path through the woods, with its own spectacular views, curving all the way around to Whale Cove near Whale Cove Inn.

The path starts out paved and wide enough to walk side by side, but the pavement quickly ends, and eventually becomes a muddy single track.  Most of it is still an easy walk.

We didn't see the BALD EAGLE again, but were treated to a herd of seals, with calves, sunning themselves in the cove.


The cove has some beautiful small waterfalls and intriguing caves.  

A solitary CANADA/CACKLING GOOSE caught our eye, looking out of place amongst the rocky shoreline in the cove.

Turning back toward the path, we caught some movement along the near rocks, and were lucky to spot two BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS foraging.

Some photos we took while walking back to the car...

Rocky Creek State Wayside is about ten miles north of NEWPORT.  Plenty of parking, picnic tables and benches.  The rocks and cliffs are exposed - beautiful but treacherous!  Stop there, but don't let the kids out of your sight!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Whalen Island

On Friday (3-18-2011) we headed north on Highway 101 to Clay Meyers Natural Area on Whalen Island (Tillamook County) where we spent some time last fall.  On the way we had a delightful visit at Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge .  I am now typing this one-handed due to a broken finger I obtained at the next stop of the day (Cape Lookout).

We were apparently a bit early for the spring migration activity, but had a relaxing walk through some beautiful scenery.  The path takes you in a large circle around the island's perimeter -- the following are in order as we walked the island counter-clockwise.

A large number of ROBINS and SPARROWS and a few FLICKERS were busy in the grassy area at the head of the trails.


I snapped this photo of a GREAT EGRET and a GREAT BLUE HERON, and when I downloaded the picture later, realized that I had captured FOUR herons, not one! 

Along the way we saw a few waterfowl, including several BUFFLEHEAD and a COMMON LOON, who dove as I was snapping the picture - I kindof liked the result (although a photo of the loon  would have been better).

Finally we enjoyed six RED BREASTED MERGANSERS (three pairs) before we left the park.
 A beautiful day and a pleasant walk -- we plan to head back in April, when migration should be in full swing!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge

While driving up to Whalen Island yesterday, we "discovered" Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge!  We've driven by many times, commenting that it was too bad there were few good places to pull off and observe.  Yesterday we saw a small road sign that said Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge, next left.  We missed the turn, but turned around hoping to find it.  Turned out to be a single-lane paved road called Christiansen Road.

The flooded fields were full of GEESE (Canada or Cackling)

and mixed flocks of dabblers (MALLARD, NORTHERN PINTAIL, and others).

We parked in a good sized parking area at the end of the lane, where a large sign told us more about the refuge.


A pair of large raptors circled overhead, calling.  The waterfowl below didn't appear to be too concerned.

Panoramic view looking east from main parking lot.

Taking a moment to take a brochure and read the sign board, we saw both walking and walk/drive paths leading off from the lot.  

We chose to drive, ending up at a tiny parking lot with a walking path leading up to a wooden viewing deck. 

The path meandered through grassy fields, where a sign warned non-avian interlopers to stay back. 

We guessed this little guy was offered an exception to the stern warning.

The vista was amazing!

Coming back we saw glimpses of birds in the grass, but were unable to get good looks.  A large flock of AMERICAN CROWS passed noisily overhead, and a STELLER'S JAY posed momentarily before following his partner.


Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge is on the south side of Nestucca Bay.  You can easily see the refuge from Highway 101, but take the time to find the little one-lane Christiansen Rd.  You won't be sorry!