2022-03-11 Eureka to the Klamath River Mouth

Song Sparrow - Melospiza melodia
I’d visited the mouth of the Klamath River, south of Crescent City in the past. This visit was attended by gloomy fog and light rain, but when the subjects were near enough, it mattered not to the resulting images.
Elk - Cervus canadensis
Near Orick, in the tall redwood country, several herds of Roosevelt Elk roam. Often they will graze near the highway, treating travelers to close encounters.

Departing from Eureka, I headed north on US-101. On my way, I stopped to investigate a location I found on my maps just eight miles north, called the Arcada Bird Sanctuary. I found the sanctuary a lovely place to visit. It is yet another example of a community getting together to convert a wastewater facility into bird and wildlife habitat. I enjoyed my visit, but on this day, I chose to enjoy it with my binoculars, and not my imaging equipment.

My new friend Steve, who I met at Hookton Slough, told me about a location further north where I may meet Roosevelt Elk. I knew about the location north of Orick at Davidson Road, but the place he described was south of Orick. The landmark he suggested was an old red schoolhouse at the inland side of the highway. When I neared the area, I spotted an Elk herd grazing in a pasture and I pulled over to enjoy their company. After gathering as many images as seemed appropriate, I continued north. A mere quarter mile away, I spotted the school house Steve described.

A few miles further up the road, I stopped at the popular location for the Roosevelt Elk at Davidson Road. While I found no Elk, I used the opportunity to look for the smaller birds I always enjoy. Then I heard the voice of a singing wren I’d not listened to before. The voice came from a tangled thicket in a tiny creek bottom, but the singer remained hidden from view. I had an idea about the singer’s identity, and I later did some research to confirm it. I learned mine was a classic meeting with the Pacific Wren, formerly called the Winter Wren. Perhaps one day I’ll run into one of these birds who is not so camera-shy.

I continued my drive north, with Crescent City as my last planned coastal visit before I temporarily head inland to visit family in the Medford area. My past experiences in Crescent City have taught me that overnight parking options can be sketchy. I also had experience camping near the beach at the Klamath River Mouth, just a little more than 20 miles south of Crescent City, and I set my sights on this location as my overnight home-away-from-home.

As soon as I parked and stepped out to sniff the air, I noticed a commotion erupted from a nearby tree. The scene took place between me and the sun, which limited my ability to analyze the identity of the actors, but I deciphered all the birds as corvids. American Crows and Steller’s Jays were upset by the presence of a Canada Jay. Before I could get my camera gear out, the entire mob disappeared up-slope. According to literature, Canada Jays range this far south, but are uncommon here. Alas, another opportunity to capture an unusual bird slipped away.

After settling in at my riverside parking spot, I gathered my gear and walked along the estuary’s beach. I saw waterfowl at the opposite shore, and pinnipeds splashing in the shallow waters as they chased a meal. However, as a thin fog rolled in, my opportunities for images dwindled. The only avian subjects that presented themselves to me were Song Sparrows — and there were plenty of them for my enjoyment.

I spent two nights here. My second day at camp was cold and rainy, and I used the time to catch up with the storytelling and the accompanying image preparations. The weather turned especially nasty on my last night in camp. The wind and rain rocked the van through the night, but I lived to tell the story!

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