Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cape Blanco Lighthouse June 18th–26th 2012

Blacklock point

This picture of Blacklock Point was taken by Sue

Date: June 18th–26th 2012

Location: Cape Blanco Lighthouse

Monday was again our day off so we headed to Bandon, picked up our mail and get groceries. We also stopped at the Bandon Fish Market for lunch. They have the best Fish Chips on the coast. They are made from Pacific Cod and come with very good & some how unique fries. We like them so much that we never ordered anything else from the menu. I learned the last time we were there that their Fish Tacos are also made with there awesome deep fried Cod. So, we both gave them a try and they were great. The weather was beautiful both in Bandon and Cape Blanco. After putting away the groceries we walked around the campground looking for birds.

Tuesday another day off. The day was mostly overcast so, we didn’t do too much, Kathy mostly beaded and I read. We did head into town to get this week’s laundry done.

Wednesday was a day off, because we get three days off a week but the third day off changes weekly. It was a beautiful day here on the coast. John and Sue picked us up for a Bird Hike (more hiking than Birding) to Blacklock Point. Oregon Live describes Blacklock Point as “No. 2 on list of Oregon's best landscapes”. The hike is 4 miles round trip through a mix of forest, bogs, grassy area until you suddenly breakout on to a cliff 100 feet above the ocean. With this mix of habitat there are a lot of birds and many flowers in the area. No doubt our best birds of the day was a pair of Peregrine Falcons. They must have had a nest near by as we saw them tearing up a kill to take back to their young.

Blacklock point group

Sue took this photo of us soon after we arrived at Blacklock Point.

After completing our hike we drove up the Sixes River to a BLM campground to have lunch and look for more birds. The entire time we were there we could hear a Warbling Vireo singing in the trees near us, but none of us could ever locate it.

Thursday, yesterday’s great weather continued and we had our busiest day of the year so far at 238 visitors. Visibility from the top of the Lighthouse was incredible! Since we were so busy our time flew by. After our work day we walked down to the over look for Happy Hour. Although we tried we did not see any whales

Friday was foggy and it rained all day from before sun up until after sundown. The local rain gauge in Port Orford had 2 inches of rain for the day. It was also our “all day” shift. The fog was so thick at the Lighthouse that we never could see the ocean and frequently couldn’t even see the Lighthouse from the parking lot. Although we had nothing like the 238 visitors of yesterday, we did have 77 people come out in the fog and rain to see the Lighthouse. One thing about the fog it makes the Lens appear to glow as the light goes through it.

Saturday had a 60% chance of showers, but they never materialized and as the day went on the nicer the weather got. With the nice weather we had a return of visitors in droves to the Lighthouse.

Sunday was a beautiful day, the wind was pretty mild for here. We were off so after church we did a quick grocery stop and after lunch we went hiking around the park. There aren’t a lot of trails at Cape Blanco but you can string together some nice loop hikes. We didn't see many birds, but our best bird of the day was a Savanna Sparrow. We also went out to the overlook again for Happy Hour. This time we saw a pair of Gray Whales. They stayed around long enough for us to show them to some of the other Volunteers. Always exciting to see whales!

Monday was intermittent showers all day. We had our biggest crowd yet for the volunteers breakfast and for some reason the restaurant was the busiest I have ever seen it. I don't think there was an open seat anywhere. Since all of the Volunteers will be leaving next Sunday on the first of July, the main topic of conversation was “Where are you headed next?”. After breakfast we went to Bandon to get the mail, and groceries. The rest of the day was spent reading and beading.

Tuesday was a very mild clear day. We started to get some of the preliminary things done for our departure on Sunday. Most of the rest of day Kathy beaded in the sunshine and I worked on the blog. We headed down to the overlook to see any whales and weren’t disappointed! There were Gray Whales in close near the rocks and Humpbacks Whales about half way to the horizon. We could see their “blows” and backs as they dove without the binoculars! Fortunately, we had other volunteers down there to share them with!

Bird List: Wrentit, Savanna Sparrow, Osprey, American Robin, Barn Swallow, Turkey Vulture, Common Raven, American Crow, Purple Finch, White-crowned Sparrow, Wilson’s Warbler, Cedar Waxwing, Rufous Hummingbird, Song Sparrow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Steller's Jay, American Goldfinch, Swainson’s Thrush, Peregrine Falcons, Pelagic Cormorant, Brandt’s Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Common Murre, Brown Pelicans, Surf Scoters, Cassin’s Vireo, Wild Turkey, Purple Finch, Warbling Vireo (by song only)

Wildlife List: Gray Whale, Humpback Whale, mole, chipmunk, squirrel

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cape Blanco June 12th - 17th 2012


The lens of the Cape Blanco Lighthouse.

Date: June 12th–17th 2012

Location: Cape Blanco Lighthouse

Tuesday was another day off. The weather was the foggiest since our return this year. The kind of heavy, thick, wet, fog that you aren’t quite sure if there is a light rain or is it just the heavy mist from the fog. So, Tuesday was a inside day to clean, write the blog and to get caught up on computer things and read.

Wednesday we did the morning shift at the Lighthouse. All of yesterday’s fog was gone due to the strong 20 – 25 MPH winds that were blowing. Even with the strong wind we had more visitors Wednesday morning than we did all day last Sunday, when the weather was so much better. Kathy decided that this afternoon was a good time to do the laundry so we drove into Cape Blanco. The Laundromat there has been refreshed with 18 new washers and 30 new dryers. When we arrived no one else was there. Didn’t take too long and we were done and headed back to Cape Blanco. It was too windy to go down to the overlook to look for whales.

Thursday, yet another day off and the wind still blowing like yesterday. We had a slow morning checking out blogs on the Internet until about 10 AM. We decided that if we walked around the campground loop it wouldn’t be too windy and we could see what birds were around. As we were approaching the paved road of the Park we saw a familiar truck. Birding friends John & Sue had decided to take a ride down to Cape Blanco. Since we were already out birding and because like all birders John & Sue had their binoculars with them, they joined us on our bird walk. By 1:00 the birds had settled down so we all went to Port Orford for lunch at Bonnie’s Bistro.

Friday we had the afternoon 12:30 to 4 shift at the Lighthouse. The winds continue in the 20s with gusts at 30 mph. It was clear with near unlimited seeing at the top of the Lighthouse. We had just a enough people visit to make the time go by very quickly.

Saturday we had a change in the weather with heavy fog and winds reduced to about 10 mph. It was the kind of day when there was no view from the top of the lighthouse but people came anyway to see the lens.

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday heavy fog but also big crowds of visitors.

Kit and Kathy

Kit and Kathy

Editor’s Note:  Over the last 4 years, Kathy has chatted via email with a group of ladies every day! On our eastern trip in 2010, we met every one except Kit in Georgia. As we buzzed through her state she was recuperating from some medical issues and really couldn’t have visitors. Fast forward to 2012. Kit, her husband David and their 3 Labrador Retrievers are on a cross country trip. Their destination and favorite place to visit: the Oregon Coast, specifically Cape Blanco State Park, while we are hosting!!  Oh Yeah!! We finally get to meet, but it’s like we already knew each other! It was so fun to share “our” over look at “whale rock” with them, looking for whales. In fact, they both spotted whales one evening! We had a “girls only afternoon” and Kit treated me to a delicious crab melt sandwich in Port Orford, with a spectacular view of the ocean. Despite the weather’s moods, (sunny and windy, foggy and windy, or drizzly and windy), it was special to be able to share our experience here with them. Monday it was almost 2 weeks, the most you can stay here, so they had to move up the coast to perhaps find a warm beach for the Labs to run on! We hope to see them again in a few weeks!

Tiger Lilly in Kit's Camp Site David and Sassy

Tiger Lilly in Kit's Camp Site           David and Sassy

Uh oh, the Navigators! I thought we buried the treasure here.

  Kit's Hummer feeder suspended from David's Tripod  Kit's Hummer feeder suspended from David's Tripod

Looking toward Port Orford from Cape Blanco "Look out"    

Looking toward Port Orford from Cape Blanco "Lookout”.

 Waves breaking down on the beach 100' belowWaves breaking down on the beach 100' below

Bird List: Wrentit, Savanna Sparrow, Osprey, American Robin, Barn Swallow, Turkey Vulture, Common Raven, American Crow, Purple Finch, White-crowned Sparrow, Wilson’s Warbler, Cedar Waxwing, Rufous Hummingbird, Song Sparrow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Steller's Jay, American Goldfinch, Swainson’s Thrush.

Wildlife List: Deer, mole, chipmunk, squirrel 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cape Blanco Lighthouse June 5th–June 11th

View from the top of Cape Blanco Lighthouse

View from the top of Cape Blanco Lighthouse.

Date: June 4th, – June 11th

Location: Cape Blanco State Park, Oregon

Tuesday we had a domestic day. When staying here at Cape Blanco we drive the 30 miles back to Bandon, they have both a much larger Laundromat and much larger grocery store. So we stopped in at the post office to pickup our mail, did the laundry, took a break to have lunch at the Bandon Fish Market (best fish and chips on the coast), got groceries and of course made a stop at the local Beading store on our way out of town.

Once we got everything put away we did venture out for a little walking and birding. We did come across a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers.  We were returning to the campground through the Horse Camp after birding along an old service road. We stopped to let a C-class RV get by us. As they came closer Kathy realized it was our friends, Kit & David, from Georgia arriving!

Kathy has been reading Kit’s blog and keeping in almost daily contact during the past 4 years. However this is the first time they have met in real time. Needless to say there was a lot of hugging and getting acquainted after that.

Wednesday was our “all day” work day. It was clear and windy with a steady stream of visitors. That evening we joined Kit and David at our beach overlook when they spotted 2 whales not too far away. The whales stayed close together during the half hour or so that we watched them. We think that it probably was a mother Gray Whale and her calf.

Thursday it was gloomy, rainy, windy, it was also the morning we had the outside jobs at the Lighthouse as Greeter and Storyteller. Even on a bad day like this with no real view from the top of the Lighthouse we had 107 visitors!

Friday we had another day off. However, for most of the day it was a repeat of Thursday’s gloomy, rainy, windy weather. When the weather improved somewhat in the evening, we walked down to the beach over look. No whales today but we did have a Hawk using the updraft of the cliff to just hang in mid-air not more than 20 feet in front of us. At first, everybody on the cliff asked us, “what kind of bird is it?”  Definitely a hawk, but no red tail.  When we got back to the rig we went through all of the bird guides and identified it to be the Immature Red Tailed Hawk.

Saturday was a free admission day at the Lighthouse and the view was spectacular. All of the previous days’ bad weather had moved on. It was a another very busy day.

Sunday was a very surprising day. The weather remained very nice and the view was great. However it was one of our slowest days since we have been here. We had half the number of visitor as we had on our gloomy, rainy, windy Thursday when we had no view.

Monday after the weekly Volunteers Breakfast we had another domestic day. Back up to Bandon for a Post Office stop and groceries. We were both still too full from breakfast to even think about lunch and the local Bead store is closed on Monday. (Kathy could probably set up her own store by now! )

Bird List: Turkey Vulture, Peregrine Falcon, Rufous Hummingbird,  Barn Swallow, Violet-green Swallow, Cedar Waxwing, American Robin, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Steller's Jay, American Crow, Wilson's Warbler, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, American Goldfinch, Immature Red-tailed Hawk. Hairy Woodpecker and the Swainson’s Thrush.

Wildlife List: California Gray Whale, Chipmunk, Rabbit, Squirrel, Deer

Monday, June 4, 2012

Transition from Coquille River Lighthouse to Cape Blanco Lighthouse May 29–June 4th

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

This is a picture of the Cape Blanco Lighthouse taken last year before it was painted this past fall.

Date: May 29 – June 4th, 2012 

Location: Bullards Beach State and Cape Blanco Lighthouse State Parks

If it’s Tuesday it must be Birding Day with John & Sue. They picked us up and we headed to the Great Egret rookery on the Coos River that I wrote about back on May 6th. This time however, we stopped at wide spot in the road behind but much closer to the rookery. There were still several pairs sitting on eggs and also a few baby Great Egrets that had hatched. The beaks are amazingly big for such a small bird. Unfortunately, we were looking through a lot of leaves and just could not get any decent pictures. (Who brought the pruning shears?!)

Our next stop was Millicoma Marsh near Coos Bay. We had fantastic weather and great birding. John & Sue were able to add two birds to their Life List. We ended up with 29 species for the day and most of them were from Millicoma Marsh.

Wednesday and Thursday we worked the afternoon shift at the Coquille River Lighthouse. As expected after a 3 day weekend, the mid-week crowds were small. Wednesday was a continuation of Tuesday great weather and Thursday started out the same. However, as we drove out to the lighthouse we could see the fog bank coming up the river. We were shocked by how foggy it was at the lighthouse. It was undoubtedly the foggiest we had ever seen at the lighthouse. The fog was so thick that we could not see across the river, nor to the end of the jetty. No doubt this was one of the reasons that the number of visitor on Thursday afternoon was very light.

Friday was the 1st of the month, the day when Volunteers are on the move. It is a sort of choreographed thing. We had to move out of our site so that our replacements can move into it and still have time to get to their orientation.  Then we had to get to our next site in Cape Blanco State Park and hope that whom ever we are replacing has moved out. Then get unhitched and everything connected in time to get to our orientation.

When we arrived at Cape Blanco State Park it was the warmest we have ever experienced here. It was T-shirt weather!! When we were here last July it never was T-shirt weather and it usually was sweatshirt and down vest weather.

Orientation lasted most of the afternoon. First there is all of the general park volunteer things to go over. Then all of the Lighthouse Host Volunteers go out to the lighthouse to go over the lighthouse specific orientation. The fog started rolling in about 3 PM and by the time we got out to the lighthouse the rain had started. So, the new volunteers that had never been here before, first view from the lighthouse was fog and rain.

We had the morning shift for Saturday, it was a light crowd, so we had time to settle back into Cape Blanco Lighthouse routine. Fortunately the weather had improved from Friday evening, what fog there was moved off quickly and we had high overcast clouds, However, underneath the clouds we could see for miles. One thing for sure is that Kathy, definitely spent too much time at the Gatehouse at Kartchner Caverns State Park. Twice she welcomed people to Kartchner. LOL (Editor’s note: she was getting hungry and punchy! Where are we now?!)

What a job! Work a day and then get 3 days off! Just the way the schedule happen to work. Sunday as we were getting into the truck after church in Port Orford we saw our friends Gordon & Juanita’s truck go by. They saw us as well, Gordon did a U-turn and they stopped to chat. As I have written in the past Gordon’s other name is The RAIN MAGNET! It started to rain while we were talking and continued to rain all of Sunday and all of Sunday night. Yes, if your are wondering it is STILL RAINING so far all day on Monday.

Rain or shine if it is Monday morning it must be the Volunteers Breakfast at a local diner. This morning we had 17 people show up for breakfast. These are most of the volunteers from the several Oregon State Parks in the area around Port Orford. It is always great to meet other volunteers and compare notes on places they have or plan to volunteer.

Bird List: Common Loon, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Wild Turkey, Western Gull, Band-tailed Pigeon, Rufous Hummingbird, Western Wood-Pewee, Tree Swallow, Violet-green Swallow, Cedar Waxwing, Marsh Wren, American Robin, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Steller's Jay, American Crow, Yellow Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Spotted Towhee, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Black-headed Grosbeak, Red-winged Blackbird, American Goldfinch

Wildlife Count: Deer, Rabbit, squirrels, chipmunk