Growing up within a few miles of the ocean, I have fond memories of the coastal shoreline, the sounds of the waves crashing onto the shoreline and the birds flying about, the smell of the salt air, the winds blowing across my face, the feel of sand between my toes, and watching the sun rise (or fall) across the horizon of the ocean. I wondered if I would miss it once I became “landlocked” in Colorado. To my surprise, I didn’t miss it all that much. It seemed that I traded it with mountains, red rock canyons and landscapes, more varied wildlife, less crowds, and more quiet.
Fast forward to a trip to the coastal town of Cannon Beach, Oregon. Having visited there before while living in Florida, we found ourselves wanting to return … and so we did. Immediately, the smell of the salt air and the winds blowing in my face brought back memories that I recognized this year over past visits.
I was fascinated by the lines in the groomed sand. It was a bit chilly so I passed on the sand in the toes thing … besides which sand in my toes wasn’t always a pleasant memory for me. LOLWe took the opportunity to re-visit Ecola State Park nearby … off the Tillamook Head. We found that while the views were just as beautiful, the landscape of the seaside slope had changed quite a bit and places that we had explored in the past were now too unstable to safely pursue. We learned that last winter storms had caused the deterioration by heavy and high seas.While we search for various shorebirds … I really was on a quest for 2 in particular … black oystercatchers and tufted puffins. Of course, that didn’t stop me from photographing this lovely whimbrel.So off I went to Cannon Beach again … towards Haystack Rock.Close attention must be paid to the tidal tables, so that one can get close to the nesting colonies of birds. After some time and patience, I finally spotted a black oystercatcher.Contrary to the American oystercatcher found in coastal Florida (as well as other select areas), the black oystercatcher is just that … black plumaged (as opposed to the black and white plumage).I was quite excited to see the mated pair of black oystercatchers too. They are known to the area and have bred successfully in that locale. They are year-round residents on the Pacific coast.I found myself quite fascinated with their brightly colored beaks and their bright yellow eyes with that notable bright orange ring around it. This pair was getting ready for their breeding season. They build their nest among rocks or grass on inaccessible areas of cliffs or islands … just above the high tide lines.I found this one in a quite interesting position in the rocks. Must have been signaling that it was ready for action. 😉They would fly in and out, though always returning to the same general area.They would spend some of their day preening themselves, as well as searching for food.Of course, the rock formation was home to many other birds as well, such as the cormorants. I could be wrong, but I believe this one to be a pelagic cormorant.Then I saw these birds flutting around in a fast and furious manner … though from the backside of the rocks. At first, I really didn’t pay it much attention at all, then I decided to take a closer look through my binoculars. To my surprise, and delight, they were tufted puffins!Again, being nested on the other side (i.e. inaccessible) of the rock, I couldn’t get very amazing shots by any stretch, but I did manage a few fun ones. Yep, they were speedy ones for sure.All of a sudden, I heard major squaking and commotion going on. A pair of gulls seemed to be having a great time on the cliff.Apparently she had enough and reached back to bite the neck of the male.Meanwhile getting back to the black oystercatchers foraging around on the tidal floor of the water moist rocks searching for mussels and limpets.Such beautiful birds and I was tinkled pink that I found them.A coastal storm started rolling in, so we called our time just a little bit short of what the tide would have mandated. Back to our cabin along the coast … grabbing some images along the way.There were so many beautiful blooms around town as well. I turned into an iphone photographer at that point on my way to dinner. LOLBefore we entered the restaurant, we took one more long glance at the setting sun … gosh it was so beautiful and the perfect way to end our stay.Well what a beautiful sunset … and a wonderful Citrus Mule to seal the deal! Until the next time ….
Next Up: On top of the Mesa!
© 2018 TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy