Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Western Washington

We followed the Pacific Ocean to Westport, WA and found a good area for shorebirds on the huge shallow bay of Grays Harbor.  We counted 514 Red Knots, with smaller numbers of Sanderlings, Dunlin, Western Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plovers and Short-billed Dowitchers.
Red Knot

From the new observation tower on the jetty we watched 7 Jaegers (6 Parasitic & 1 Pomarine) harassing the large numbers of Common Terns and gulls.

We attended a small Baptist Church where the visiting pastor gave an encouraging talk on the "Fourth Wave" of mission outreach.

We settled into Copalis Beach for 3 nights.  This is the season for Razor Clam harvest for the Native Americans (3 days of commercial, 3 for personal use).  They dug like crazy for 4 hours at low tide, then a Ranger came driving along the beach with lights & siren signaling everyone off the beach, except for us bird watchers.

This Glaucous Gull along with many Glaucous-winged Gulls hunted the incoming tide for Dungeness Crab and flatfish.

We drove into Olympic National Park staying one night on the south beach and one in the Hoh Rain Forest.  We walked the "Hall of Mosses" trail of virgin Sitka Spruce, Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock and one area of Big Leaf Maple.

We found this dark Red Squirrel along the trail.

Roosevelt Elk rested near the campground.  We heard American Dipper along the river and Varied Thrushes were calling high in the forest.

The western Song Sparrows here are very dark red and have an unusual song.  Everything in the rain forest is darker providing good concealment.

We drove to the most Northwestern point of the lower 48 states and walked to the lookout of colony nesting birds on Cape Flattery.  The beautiful rock caves, islands and many birds were worth walking the mile long meandering steep trail through the forest.

On the drive back off the point, we spotted this Bald Eagle along the shore, stopping for a drink and later a bath.

We spent 2 days a Elwha Dam RV park where they are removing the dam on the Elwha River to restore it for the natural Salmon run.

This Salmonberry is a favorite of the Roosevelt Elk, Black-headed Grosbeaks and other birds.

We arrived early on Memorial Day for the Port Townsend's Ferry and crossed before the heavy traffic began.  We saw large concentrations of Rhinoceros Auklets, Pigeon Guillemots, some Tufted Puffins along with gulls and cormorants feeding in the tidal currents.

We settled into North Whidbey Island RV Park across the road from Deception Pass State Park.  We walked the trails and this Barred Owl came in as Ty was pishing for warblers.  The owl brought in a whole entourage of scolding & dive-bombing chickadees, robins and a hummingbird.

We walked to the beach and this White-crowned Sparrow landed on the driftwood near us to sing his territorial song.

 There were many beautiful dune flowers blooming in between the driftwood.
Yellow Beach Verbena

This photo of Deception Island was taken from high on Goose Rock overlook.  Early explorers found the turbulent tidal waters coming through the pass to be surprisingly deceptive resulting in many sunken ships.

We will be crossing into Canada tomorrow and be in British Columbia for about a week before driving into Alaska.  Think of you as we go northwest.
Love & Prayers,  Ty & Ida Baumann

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Oregon's Coast

The Common Murres swarm Castle Rock like bees around a hive.  Twenty-five thousand birds are noted to nest on this rock island off Crescent City, CA just below the Oregon border.  Although 99% are Common Murres, there are Tufted Puffins, Cassin's Auklets, Pigeon Guillemots, Brant's, Pelagic & Double Crested Cormorants.  Plus Western Gulls, Brown Pelicans, Canada Geese and Peregrine Falcon on this rock.  Feeding in the water were hundreds of Surf Scoters, Western & Eared Grebes, Red-throated, Pacific & Common Loons.  The only sounds above the crashing waves is the barking of the California Seal Lions and the jungle-like roar of the Stellar Sea Lion.  To the casual observer of the island, it looks like nothing at all, but through the scope - the bird life is amazing.

Northern Raven checking out the RV park

First Marsh Wren of the year

Note the small Cackling Goose

All along the Oregon Coast are the beautiful rock outcroppings and islands of all shapes and sizes.  Many are full of nesting birds.

 All of the tidal pools along the shores hold colorful treasures.

Sun Star

Sea Anemone 

Pigeon Guillemots

We stopped at many of Oregon's State Parks overlooking the Pacific.  There are miles of sand dunes that are amazing to say the least.

We went inland a bit along the Alsea River and stayed at Chinook RV park for 2 nights.  The feeders there were alive with birds including 14 Evening Grosbeaks.
Evening Grosbeak

On Mother's Day we birded the Florence area and found 6 Red-necked Phalaropes.  A rare find for us.

We found many more bird colonies along the way and settled into Cape Kiwanda with it's huge sandstone mountain and large sand dune to the right.  Plus the monolith rock which covers 47 acres and the water is 90 feet deep around it.
Pine Sap - lacks chlorophyll and derives food from wood rotting fungi

On May 14th we officially started our 4th year on the road with a birding stop at Cape Meares.  This old growth Sitka Spruce covered headland boasts a colony of 220,000 nesting Common Murres (the largest colony south of Alaska).

We watched this Chestnut-backed Chickadee excavating it's nest in a fence post, while Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Warblers and Pacific Wrens vocalized announcing their territories.

This 300 year old Sitka Spruce was dubbed the Octopus Tree due to it's unique branching.

Wilson's warblers are the most common warbler along the coast.

Barn Swallow on observation deck

Our last stop in Oregon was Ft. Stevens State Park which we will remember for it's friendly Barn Swallows, barking coyotes, numerous Bald Eagles, Elk, Beaver and a nesting Pacific Wren in our electrical box at our campsite.

We can attest to the well deserved reputation of Oregon's beautiful coastline.  As we cross the Astoria bridge in Washington we send our best wishes and God's richest blessings to all.

Ty & Ida Baumann

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Redwood Coast - Northern California

Time to head north into the Big Sur - the rugged, rocky coastline highway with picturesque views at every turn.

One stop was the Elephant Seal resting beach, full of young, females and sub-adult males - some molting, resting, sparing and dusting with sand.

We took a side trip into the Moonglow Dairy to find the threatened Tri-colored Blackbirds keeping company with the dairy cows.  The farmer asked if we were taking photos of the cows or the birds.  Seeing that we were from Wisconsin from our dairyland license plate, he knew it had to be for the birds.

We settled into Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Park nestled in the sky-scraper tall grove of redwoods.  Nearby was the Henry Cowell State Park that we walked to twice and meandered through the beautiful Redwood Grove with its 350 foot tall trees.

We added a couple birds to our growing year list: The Wood Duck and the Pacific Wren.  We also found our first Banana Slugs of the Northwest.
Wood Duck

Banana Slug

We drove north along the coast through more Redwoods and then into San Francisco.  We slowly moved in traffic toward the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.  Crossing high above the Bay then into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area with cliffs high above the ocean.

We found a nice campground in Olema which straddles the San Andreas Rift Fault Zone.  During the large San Francisco earthquake of 1906 the Point Reyes Peninsula leaped 20 feet northwestward.  This National Seashore is noted for it's 14 mile beach, high cliffs and 14 historic farms that are still in operation.

Perched 300 feet above the Lighthouse, we had a bird's eye view of the Common Murre colony below.  We watched a cow Gray Whale and her calf pass by on their way northward.  (We hope to wee them again in Alaska).

While watching, a Peregrine Falcon passed by over us several times landing nearby on the rocks above us.  This area is usually covered in fog and cool but the weather for our time here was clear, sunny and in the mid-70's.

We had great looks at the Tule Elk, Black-tailed Deer with their very shaggy coats, California Sea Lions, Harbor Seals and our first Tufted Puffins.
Tule Elk

We walked Drake's beach in it's sheltered harbor and found gathering Whimbrels.  Four more Gray whales passed by just outside the waves.

We found a campground on the Albion River and on a walk up the river we found this harbor seal with her pup.

That evening ended with this perfect sunset at the mouth of the river.

We spent a morning walking at Van Damme State Park along the beautiful fern canyon.  The highlight was 2 tiny Northern Pygmy Owls flitting from branch to branch, one holding a Wilson's Warbler in it's talons.  The other warblers and chickadees were chattering and harassing the owls.

We settled near Fort Bragg and spent a day at the extensive Botanical Gardens across from our RV park.  The multicolored Rhododendrons were in full bloom and covered acres of the park.  The trails went out to the coast covering many life zones and every tree, shrub and flower that grows in Northern California.

Spotted Towhee


We spent two days birding Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge finding 71 species of birds.  Many shorebirds, sea birds and spring migrant passerines were passing through.

We enjoyed a worship service at an inner city church in Eureka joining with our RV park owner and his wife for the evening.
Battery Point LIghthouse
Drive-thru Tree

More scenic Redwood drives and a detour to the famous Drive-Thru Tree.

Only small cars are allowed to drive through. No RVs!  More Redwoods and more elk along the Redwoods National Park Scenic Drive.

We are now at our last stop in California - Crescent City - where our campsite overlooks the Battery Point Lighthouse.  The only sound at night is the barking of the California Sea Lions.
California Sea Lions

We continue our journey northward at a snail's pace matching our speed to the Spring migrants.

Love & Prayers,
Ty & Ida Baumann