Date: June 20, 2012 Solstice Day!
Tonight’s Location: Bullard’s Beach State Park, Bandon, Oregon
Weather: brilliant sunshine all day
Temperature: start 51º
High 63º on the coast; 73° when we drove 10 miles into the coastal range
Wildlife count: Harbor Seals, Steller Sea Lions
Birds: Steller’s Jay, Canada Geese, California Quail, Peregrine Falcons, Pelagic, Brandt’s and Double-crested Cormorants, Swainson’s Thrush, Rufous Hummingbird, American Robin, Common Murre, Brown Pelicans, Surf Scoters, White-winged Scoters, Cassin’s Vireo, Wild Turkey, Purple Finch, Crow, Raven, Warbling Vireo (by song only), Wrentit, Turkey Vulture, Pileated Woodpecker (juvenile), Barn & Tree Swallow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Marsh Wren, Northern Harrier, Pigeon Guillemot,
We drove down to Langlois for breakfast at the Greasy Spoon – a little down-home joint; then picked up Grant and Kathy at Cape Blanco campground for a day of birding, beginning with a hike to Blacklock Point. The hike took us through dry dune land, flooded Shorepine forest/marshland, and then to an upland, old-growth forest. It was very mixed habitat for many birds, and with Grant and Kathy’s expertise, we saw lots! However, with the density of the woods, hearing was much easier than seeing!
The view from the point was exquisite! We could see all the way up to Bandon – 30 miles to the north. Sitting on the headland, we watched Peregrine Falcons soaring on the convections around the bluff, and John even found a Peregrine kill, so we were able to observe the parents take turns feeding. Since we could not find the nest, we think it might have been back behind where our vision could reach. Common Murres fished in the waters below us, and at least two kinds of Cormorants nested on the rocks in front of us. There were no Murres nesting - they need a lot of space for a colony, as they do not nest in small groups. We even saw a few Steller’s Sea Lions up high on the rocks – wonder how they can get up there!
The Pacific Northwest is truly a rainforest, and the diversity and color of the wildflowers evidenced that reality. As we passed through the various types of forest, the assortment changed. Indian Paintbrush stood tall in the short forest/dry dune area. However, by the time we ascended into the dense, shadowy, old-growth forest of the headland, the only flowers were tiny, eclipsed by a multitude of ferns, algae and lichens. On the windblown point, there were wildflowers in abundance, but their size was diminished by the constant winds. Many of the plants were just a few inches tall, with some extending their flowers on spikes that bowed with the winds.
The most unique flower was the Wood Nymph or Single Delight. It only grows in dense, coniferous forests. The flower hangs down from a 6” stalk – the only way to view it was to hold our handy-dandy pocket camera underneath it and shoot. We could have never done that with the SLR that we used to carry on wildflower shoots! How neat.
After our 4 mile hike, we were ready to sit and eat, so we drove up into the Coastal Range along the Sixes River to a BLM campground/picnic area. What a beautiful green area – every shade from sea green to emerald! Birds continued to control our attention, and though we watched for almost an hour, we could not see the Warbling Vireo that Kathy identified by song.
As there was one other campground further up into the Range, we thought to explore it. However, as we climbed, the road became a single lane with steep drops to the river. When the surface turned to gravel, we turned around and were lucky to not meet any vehicles in the very narrow section. Due to the immense amounts of rain here, roadwork is a constant process, as the water-soaked soils on slopes simply liquefy, sliding down the bluffs taking the road with it!
We did reach the highest temperature of the summer - 73° by being 10 miles from the coast. However, when we got closer to the coast on the way back down, the temperature steadily declined to the normal 63° high!
When we got back home, we sat in the sunshine, but did NOT walk the loops – our ‘dogs’ were pooped! After dinner, we did go out to the marsh, where we watched a Northern Harrier hunt for its dinner. The rest of the marsh was quiet, except for the lovely calling of the Marsh Wren, who stayed well hidden. It has been a delightful day!