Monthly Archives: July 2016

Bird Watching: A Different Perspective

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Pacific coast along Bandon, Oregon

Our home for the summer – the Pacific coast along Bandon, Oregon

Cindy and I have been volunteering in Bandon, OR since mid-May telling visitors all about the local wildlife, mostly birds. We’ve always loved “critter-watching” but this is the first time we’ve had to return to the same critter-watching spot on a regular basis over an extended amount of time. Usually we’re in one spot for a week or two, observe whatever wildlife is around, then move on to the next spot. This assignment has given us a new appreciation for wildlife watching since we’ve been able to observe birds as they go through an entire breeding cycle.

A nesting black oystercatcher on the “north-side” of Elephant Rock. We’ve been watching this and two other pair all summer waiting patiently for their chicks to hatch.

A nesting black oystercatcher on the “north-side” of Elephant Rock. We’ve been watching this and two other pair all summer waiting patiently for their chicks to hatch.

Black oystercatchers are one of our favorite birds. We love their bright orange beaks and gregarious nature. One of our bird books describes them as a crow smoking a carrot. There are about 400 individuals along the entire Oregon coast and we’ve gotten to know three nesting pairs in the Bandon area. All three pairs were located on Elephant Rock, one pair on the south side, one pair in the center near the top and a third pair on the north side. Only the north-side pair was close enough to photograph (see above).

A few weeks ago, we observed chicks at all three nesting sites. The chicks grew rapidly and within days of hatching scrambled around the rocky cliffs like a squirrel on a tree.

Black oystercatcher chick belonging to the “north-side” nesting pair. His grey down feathers provides excellent camouflage among the rocks.

Black oystercatcher chick belonging to the “north-side” nesting pair. His grey down feathers provides excellent camouflage among the rocks.

Do you see the chick in this photo? Every time mom or dad showed up, the “north-side” chick would emerge from his hiding spot to devour whatever seafood morsel was offered.

Do you see the chick in this photo? Every time mom or dad showed up, the “north-side” chick would emerge from his hiding spot to devour whatever seafood morsel was offered.

Nature is not always nice.

The “south-side” pair hatched 2 chicks but after a week or two they disappeared. Same thing happened to the “north-side” chick. Both the south and north oystercatchers chose nesting sites near the water’s edge. It’s likely a fox or raccoon made its way to Elephant Rock during a late night low tide. Conversely, the “center” pair chose a site near the top of Elephant Rock high above the water and as of this writing all three chicks are doing great.

We haven’t been routinely watching killdeer like this one since they do not nest on the offshore islands, but I wanted to share this photo because they look so cool.

We haven’t been routinely watching killdeer like this one since they do not nest on the offshore islands, but I wanted to share this photo because they look so cool.

Friday, July 15 – Puffins are back!

One of the most popular summer birds on the Oregon coast is the tufted puffin. They spend their lives at sea and only come ashore to nest. We saw a few puffins when we first arrived in May and continued to see them periodically through mid-June. It’s been a month since we’ve last seen them. We’ve pretty much given up on seeing them again until today when we saw 7!

This non-cropped image of common Murres atop Face Rock was taken with my super-telephoto lens. There are 2 tufted puffins among the Murres. Can you spot them?

This non-cropped image of common Murres atop Face Rock was taken with my super-telephoto lens. There are 2 tufted puffins among the Murres. Can you spot them in this photo?

Here’s the same image with the puffins circled in red. Can you see them now?

Here’s the same image with the puffins circled in red. Can you see them now?

Here they are in an enlarged tightly cropped section taken from the previous image.

Here they are in an enlarged tightly cropped section taken from the previous image.

Very few visitors would be able spot tufted puffins on the islands off the coast of Oregon without help from volunteers like us. For this reason, Cindy and I feel privileged to be part of such a special group.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather