2022-03-28 Two Days In Bandon

Black Turnstone - Arenaria melanocephala
The North Jetty shelters Bandon’s harbor and provides a high-tide refuge for these turnstones.
Coquille River Lighthouse - Scenery
The Coquille River Lighthouse rest on Bandon’s North Jetty. It was commissioned in 1895.

After leaving Port Orford Sunday morning (2022-03-27), I drove North and turned onto Cape Blanco Road and I found fields full of chaparral looking plants loaded with bright yellow flowers. I had to stop and take a picture for ID purposes and found that they are called Common Gorse. Had it not been for the bloom, these shrubs would be rather inconspicuous. I wonder if these plants time their blooms for bird migration, which is about to start. Perhaps they have a small fruit to offer. After a little research, I learned this plant is an introduced species, brought to Bandon in the late 1800s for making “living fences”. In Europe, these plants are considered “bird-friendly”, but bird-friendly or not, Oregon considers it a threat to the native ecosystem.

When I reached the coast, I found the Cape Blanco Lighthouse perched on a bluff and a viewpoint that gave me a good vista of the coast North and South. I found little in the way of bird life, but I found a man flying a radio-controlled glider and he was interested in conversation, and we spent about an hour talking. He said he was from Mobile Alabama, but was now living in Oregon in the Medford area. I gave him one of my cards and maybe I’ll get an email from him later. He told me about a place in Bandon near the South Jetty, where I might ‌see puffins. I later found the beach he described, but I think it may have been the wrong season to see puffins. A little research taught me that the nesting season is from May to August.

Sunday night I caught up with my Saturday story. It seems I’m always a day or more behind in my presentations. I didn’t take as many pictures yesterday, so I should be able to catch up today. I camped next to the south jetty road Sunday night. It was a low tide when the last light retreated. It rained pretty well through the night, and in the morning it looked like the clouds were thinning. The tide was in when I peeked outside, and the bay-waves crashed a few feet from my van.

I began Monday morning with an omelet at a cafe called “The Station”, one block off the harbor. After breakfast, I explored more of Bandon. I drove out to the North Jetty and the lighthouse. Of course I had to keep my eye out for birds, and while I saw only a few species, there were plenty of White-Crowned Sparrows singing from high perches on the windswept, low-lying trees that dotted the grasslands on the sandy point.

I walked out to the jetty carrying my landscape-scenery camera. I saw the high tide and waves were slinging sea water over the top of the barrier. But when I looked closer, I saw a large group of Black Turnstones loafing on the rocks that lined the jetty on the beach. So I retreated to the RV, then walked back with my bird lens, hoping they would remain in position. My luck held, and the birds posed while I was making my slow advance with my camera and tripod.

As I prepare this saga, it is Thursday, and I’ve reached Coos Bay. I had an excellent day south of Coos Bay today at Cape Arago. But that story will have to wait.

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