Thursday, July 1, 2010

Coastal Oregon Day III: Alcid galore at Seal Rock and Cape Perpetua

June 22 I woke up to a clear and crisp morning and was on Highway 101 heading south well before sunrise. I was planning to bird Cape Perpetua State Park this morning, but could not resist stopping at a pull-off with a great view of the shoreline after passed the sign for Seal Rock State Park. I had a good feeling that I might see some seabirds close to shore before the sun rose. Indeed, flock after flock of Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, single Cassin's Auks, and small groups of Marbled Murrelets passed by. Marbled Murrelets were also swimming and foraging close to shore after spending the night at their nests deep in the forests inland. I also located a lone Xantus's Murrelet on the water, a rare visitor to Oregon waters after their breeding season in Southern California. Flocks of Black, White-winged and Surf Scoters also passed by heading North. On the rocks and beach I spotted several Black Oystercatchers, Pigeon Guillemots, Glaucous-winged Gull, and three Harlequin Ducks.
Seal Rock: 
 Adult Glaucous-winged Gull:

The viewpoint located at the top of Cape Perpetua State Park provided spectacular views of the coastline and surrounding forest, while listening to the songs of Swainson's Thrush, Hermit Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Red Crossbill and Black-headed Grosbeak.

Swainson's Thrush (above) and Hermit Warbler (below):
 A flock of Evening Grosbeaks roamed the forests around the viewpoint and at one point they landed in a spruce next to the parking lot:
This handsome fellow responded to my soft whistle imitation of the Northern Pygmy Owl:
More information about this park can be found here:

South of Cape Perpetua I passed the famous Sealion Caves in Florence, and made a quick stop at a pull-off to do a last minute sweep of the ocean. Right below there was a big colony of Brandt's Cormorants and this female sealion (not sure if it is a Steller's or Californian):

The Heceta Head Lighthouse was one of the very last views I got of the Pacific coast before reaching the town of Reedsport. There I headed east on Highway 38 along the Umqua River inland towards the mountainous Central Oregon.
To anyone planning a birding trip to coastal Oregon I strongly recommend the fabulous web-resources located here:

Stay tuned for part II of day III appearing soon on a web browser near you!!

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