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.
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.
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.
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!
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.by