Category Archives: beach

Nesting birds at Seal Rock, Oregon Coast

Western Gulls and Cormorants nest on the rocky cliffs on the Oregon Coast.  The gulls are near the top while cormorants like a more risky location.

western gull chicks and adults
Chicks are very well camouflaged

I think seagulls hatch laughing.

western gulls
Western Gulls – HA HA HA ha ha

Cormorant chicks apparently hatch pooping.  If you see streaks of white on the cliffs, look for a nest at the top of the white streak.

Cormorant chicks on the nest
Cormorant chicks on the nest

The Great Blue Heron nests in tree tops but fish in rivers, bays and tidepools.

great blue heron tidepooling
Great Blue Heron like tidepooling for a different reason

I love the contrast of colors on the Pigeon Guillemot: black body, white patch on wings, red legs.

Pigeon Guillemot
Pigeon Guillemot

The mouth lining is also bright red-orange during courting season.  The Pigeon Guillemot is one of the few members of the auk and puffin family to lay 2 eggs.  They also feed in shallower water.

pigeon guillemot
Red mouth and red feet makes it harder to tell when foot is in mouth – which, as we know, can happen a lot during courtship

Tidepools – Central Oregon Coast

Even when I can’t find any starfish I LOVE tidepooling.

tidepool colors
The colors of the plants are so rich!

My sweet hubby took me tidepooling this morning and he’s not even that into it.  I feel so loved!

Seagulls bathing at Seal Rock, Oregon
Seagulls bathing at Seal Rock, Oregon

We went to Seal Rock where, oddly enough, I’ve only seen 2 seals in the 8 years we’ve been here.  It was a gorgeous day!

Giant Green Anemone among various seaweeds (sea lettuce, black pine, etc)
Giant Green Anemone among various seaweeds (sea lettuce, black pine, etc)

Anemones disguise themselves by holding onto shell pieces when they close.

Aggregating Anemones
Aggregating Anemones

It can get pretty windy on the beach but it usually comes up later in the morning or afternoon.  We decided to get an early start and it had to be timed with low tide; of course.

Picnic tables in Seal Rock State Park
Picnic tables in Seal Rock State Park

We parked at Seal Rock State Park which has a clean restroom, picnic tables and paved ramp that goes almost to the beach.  The last 20 feet or so are loose rocks.

Seal Rock State Park beach access
Seal Rock State Park beach access

Can you barely see the seagulls on top of the cliff on the left side of the photo above?

Harbor Seal Newborn Pup

New life is just a miracle to me.  I get excited when I see a newborn pup still having the umbilical cord because it tells me how new the newborn is.  The pups lose their umbilical cord at about 10 days old.

Umbilical cord on newborn seal pup
Umbilical cord on newborn seal pup

I just want to lay down and take a nap with them. 🙂

Harbor Seal Pups

The sandbar east of the Alsea Bay Bridge is a nursery for Harbor Seals this month.  The eagles and buzzards hang around a lot this time of year.

harbor seal pups
Lots of harbor seal pups are born on the central Oregon Coast around Mother’s Day

Pups nurse for 4 weeks on mom’s rich milk.

sloppy seal nursing
This one needs a bib

Pups learn their mothers voice.  Nap time is snuggle time.

seal mom and pup nuzzle
Mom and pup nuzzle while napping

Seal puppy kisses  🙂

seal pup kiss
Sweet puppy kisses

The pups lose their umbilical cord after about a week.  You can see this one’s bellybutton scar.

seal pup bellybutton
Pink bellybutton scar on seal pup

Here’s a cute video of mom and pup swimming and playing in the Alsea Bay.


Spring Wildlife

There are signs of spring everywhere on the Oregon Coast.  See the 2 grey dots between the one elk’s ears?  That’s the bull who recently shed his antlers.  I think the bulls lose their antlers just before birthing season so they can get in touch with their feminine side. They’re a little more humble without antlers.  🙂

Bull elk shed his antlers
Bull elk shed his antlers

The Canada Geese are pairing up and building their nests.  You can see them on the Alsea Bay and up the river.  Eckman Lake is a good place to see a lot of them on their nests.

Canada Geese beginning to nest
Canada Geese beginning to nest

The brown pelicans have been here for over a month now.  These were in Yachats.  Seagulls are here year-round.

Brown Pelicans fishing off Yachats River
Brown Pelicans fishing off Yachats River

This is looking at Waldport from the beautiful arch on the Alsea Bay Bridge.  It’s my favorite place to look for seal pups.

Alsea Bay Bridge, Waldport, OR
Alsea Bay Bridge, Waldport, OR

It’s common to see Pelagic Cormorants diving in the bay and coming up with nesting material.  They make nests under the bridge out of sight of all but the boaters.

Cormorant under Alsea Bridge
Cormorant under Alsea Bridge

There are wall-to-wall harbor seals but I didn’t see any babies on this day (Apr 10, ’15).  Seals are able to delay implantation after their egg is fertilized.  Now, how does their body know, 9 months ahead, when will be the best conditions for giving birth?  I have a lot of questions when I get to heaven!  🙂

Wall-to-wall seals in Alsea Bay
Wall-to-wall seals in Alsea Bay

These seals were finished with their nap and were crabbing near the base of the bridge.

Harbor Seals in Alsea Bay
Harbor Seals in Alsea Bay

Who doesn’t enjoy blue sky?

I guess even sea lions get cabin fever now and then.  Give them blue sky and calm seas and you may see them outside of Sea Lion Caves; north of Florence, Oregon, on Highway 101.  Just north of the caves there is a pullout; the vantage point for the “most photographed lighthouse on the Oregon Coast”.  The lighthouse keeper’s house is a bed and breakfast:  Heceta Head Lighthouse

heceta head lighthouse
Heceta Head Lighthouse

Park your car, get out and listen.  If you can hear the sea lions barking, look over the rock wall to the cliffs below.  These are a mix of California and Stellar Sea Lions.

sea lion haul out
Sea Lions Hauling Out

They complain a lot but they like to snuggle.

sea lions
Mom! He’s touching me!

On the other side of the cliff, closer to the caves, another group of sea lions climb the steep cliff; hugging the side to get to the top.

sea lion rock climbers
Sea Lions are great rock climbers

Ducks play peek-a-boo

Diving ducks play peek-a-boo – or maybe they’re just feeding?  Regardless, one second they are there and the next they are gone.

pacific loon
Pacific Loon – South Jetty, Newport, OR

But they are interesting to watch – how long they can stay under, how far they swim before coming back to the surface, do they have anything in their mouth when they surface, how they interact with other birds and animals nearby, etc

common merganser male
Common Merganser – male – Alsea River, Tidewater, Oregon

When the sun is right you can see a green tint to the male merganser’s head.  His red bill makes him a little Christmasy.  🙂