2022-03-26 Pistol River to Port Orford

Red-Winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus
Male Red-Winged Blackbirds showed off for the female birds preparing their nests in the cattails on the pond at Arizona Beach (Oregon).
Red-Winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus
When the female Red-Winged Blackbirds weren’t preparing their nests in the cattails on the pond, they surveyed the nearby male birds as prospective mates.
Wrentit - Chamaea fasciata
I met Wrentits and Song Sparrows on Cape Sebastian, where rises 200 feet above the Pacific Ocean.

After two nights, I broke camp this morning at the Pistol River Mouth and spent a few minutes at Cape Sebastian. With all my travel-yarns woven and posted, it was time to begin the process of image captures and story-telling once more. The view from Cape Sebatian is spectacular. To the south lies the Pistol River Mouth, and to the north, is Gold Beach and the mighty Rogue River.

While there, I scoped for birds. Before I collected my camera gear, I met a Robin munching red berries, but it disappeared by the time I got set up. The only birds willing to share their vestiges with me were a pair of Wrentits and a Song Sparrow. I could hear Steller’s Jays on the slopes below me, and a flock of unidentified chirping passerines flew over me from on high.

When I’m out taking pictures, I use my phone to create a GPS Tracking file I can use to embed the GeoData in the images by matching the time-stamp of the image to a point along the track. It works very well if the camera and the phone have synchronized clocks. I forgot to adjust the cameras to Daylight savings, so I had to manually embed the coordinates on the Crescent City images (ah well!). Now that I’ve synched the devices, there should be no more problems for a while.

I stopped for breakfast in Gold Beach at the Double-D Diner. Perhaps because it was the weekend, the place was packed. I got seated after a five or ten-minute wait, but folks who came later had to wait longer. The ambiance was that of the classic mom-and-pop diners I love. My Veggie Omelette was sized generously, and except for the canned black olives, was full of fresh veggies, and topped with avocado slices. If I ever have the opportunity to dine there again, I’d ask them to hold the olives. Then the omelet would be truly first rate.

It is a few weeks early for shorebird migration here in Oregon. If I drag my feet and go slowly up the coast, perhaps I’ll see some of their action before I get to the Olympic Peninsula.

When I reached Gold Beach, I drove out to the South jetty road and stared a while at the river meeting the ocean. There wasn’t the abundance of birds like I’ve seen in the past. There were a couple of Ospreys, a few Western Gulls, a few Double-Crested Cormorants, joined by Common Ravens and American Crows.

I couldn’t help but be impressed with the territorial battles between the forces of nature here (wind, sea, and river). The ocean’s tidal force as it receded towards a minus low tide, and the wave action pushing its influence up the river mouth for two or three hundred yards, versus the relentless flow of the river’s waters pushing out to the sea. Within this battle zone there were ebbs and flows in the influence each exerted on the other, but west of this zone the sea was king. Upstream, to the east, the river was the boss. Near the eastern boundary of this battle zone, the River would turn the waves in reverse and send them crashing against the incoming power of the sea. At the Western boundary near the end of the jetty the river’s push seemed to make the sea angrier, standing the waves up, and making them more forceful, crashing spectacularly, then reforming to send their power up the river where the battle ensued. As powerful as the Rogue is, its might is puny when compared to the Columbia River to the north. There, this battle is fought on a scale hundreds of times larger.

I left Gold Beach and headed north to a place I read about called Arizona Beach. It proved to be the most enjoyable stop of my day. I missed my turnoff to the beach, as I was looking to the sea side of the highway, but the road to the beach took off to the opposite side. I made a U-turn and made my way back to the beach road. There was a bridge that tunneled under the highway and led to a picnic area near the beach. The road passed by a pond, and when I found the beach area devoid of birds, I circled back to the pond and enjoyed the antics of Red-Winged Blackbird boys strutting their stuff, trying to impress the girls. 

The fishing seemed to be good at the pond. I saw a family with a nice stringer of what I believe were trout. Double-Crested Cormorants roosted midway up in a tall conifer on the slope at the far side of the pond and probably nested there as well. When they got hungry, the pond offered a solution. I even saw an otter catch a fish and I watched as it submerged, carrying it to the nearby bank. It never resurfaced, so I suspect it had a den with hungry pups.

Swallows teased me with distant views. I’m certain I saw Barn and Tree Swallows, but there may have been other species in the area. There were no rarities on the menu this day, but I always enjoy the local birds when I’m traveling. One man’s rarity is another man’s ordinary.

I left Arizona Beach and continued my northbound journey until I reached the Port Orford Lookout, where a wide gravel pullout, I’ve learned, is fair game for overnight parking, as long as there are no signs restricting it. There, I used my time to work on the day’s catch.

In Port Orford Sunday morning, I found the Portside Cafe serving breakfast, and I took advantage of their hospitality before heading out to meet new places to enjoy the birds and other wildlife.

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