Pinniped day at Nature Church

by Steve, March 4th, 2014

We started our day at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, where we visited the resident Pacific giant octopus and explored the interactive displays. (This is not to be confused with the nearby Oregon Coast Aquarium, whose octopus is not as easy to see.) Then we headed to Newport’s historic bayfront, where California sea lions are known to congregate. There was just one on the sea lion dock.
California sea lion
Head shot

But we spotted a few on a buoy near the NOAA dock.
Boys on the buoy

And ten more on a jetty.
Sea Lions on the jetty

Later in the day, we headed to a nearby area known for its tide pools (it is a very delicate location which I don’t want to publicize; locals may recognize it from the photos). Here we encountered sea anemones and countless hermit crabs (the highlight for Z).
Hermitt crab

Sea star wasting syndrome is devastating populations in Washington and California, but is only just starting to show up in Oregon. Ours appear to be healthy.
Sea star

The highlight of the day for me started with a sighting of a blue heron.
Spot the seals

We soon realized it was fishing near a pod of harbor seals.
Heron got a fish
Heron poaching seal food

We spotted three on the rocks and several more in the surf.

This area is my current favorite on the Oregon coast, a beautiful example of mountains meeting the sea.
Ancient shoreline

As our light faded into the evening we carefully picked our way across the rocks and headed home, stopping for a bird’s eye look back.
Twilight on Cape Foulweather

Morning Light and Fair Weather on Cape Foulweather

by Steve, January 26th, 2014

Good Night

by Steve, January 25th, 2014

Sunrise to Sunset

by Steve, January 5th, 2014

Split brain, Oregon style. Coffee on the beach, supper under the glow of Mt. Hood.

Gleneden sunset

by Steve, November 20th, 2013

Caught a fish

by Steve, November 16th, 2013

Fall Light in the Elephant Trap Woods

by Steve, October 15th, 2013

Tualatin River Diaries 2013: Rivergrove to Wanker’s Corner

by Steve, August 4th, 2013

Boating rulesWe’ve been busy busy busy this summer, so we only managed to get the canoe down last weekend. We took Junior out last Sunday and put in at Rivergrove, where we left off last year, and paddled downstream almost to Wanker’s Corner (yes, that’s a real place name).

There is a put-in spot at Wanker’s Corner, so yesterday we decided to check it out (it’s labeled “Shipley Bridge” on the Tualatin Riverkeepers’ map). It turned out to be a bit too primitive and dicey, so we went back to Rivergrove and paddled the full two miles downstream to Wanker’s Corner (river mile 7.4 – 5.4) and back, hoping to see a blue heron or… something…

Tualatin panorama

Coming around a bend, we first saw some other paddlers, then, above, a big bird with a white underbelly: an osprey. It flew back and forth a couple times then landed in a tree right next to us.

OspreyI recently bought a small point-and-shoot camera that I’m comfortable taking in the canoe, and the bird was patient enough to let me get a few shots off.

I’ll update our paddler’s map for 2013 one of these days, but for now, just add a couple miles downstream to last year’s map. And I will be adding more photos, too, both here and on Flickr.

Private dock


by Steve, July 23rd, 2013

The Great Amphibian Relocation Project of 2013

by Steve, July 13th, 2013

Westside TrailJust steps from our door, three new segments of the Westside Regional Trail are nearing completion. The project will join existing trails to form a six mile bike and pedestrian corridor from the north side of Tigard through the Tualatin Hills Nature Park in Beaverton. Eventually the trail will continue north and south connecting western Portland metro area communities between the Tualatin River and the Willamette River.

No sense of impending doomThe new segments of the trail cross some difficult terrain, including steep hillsides with switchbacks and bridges over wetlands. Construction began in the summer of 2012, but was suspended for the wet season. At the approach to a new bridge, a large puddle formed over the winter, and in the spring we noticed tadpoles. The doomed breeding ground
By summer, the construction crews returned with their heavy machines and piles of gravel. The tadpoles had turned into Pacific Chorus Frogs, but they weren’t ready to leave their birthplace on their own. We also discovered immature salamanders, still with gills.

Since it was clear their world would soon be buried under tons of gravel and pavement, son Z and I embarked on an emergency relocation project. Still with gillsThree evenings in a row, we took nets and plastic containers to their little pond and caught as many as we could. We walked them to another wetland and set them free. We got 19 in all; 12 frogs and 7 salamanders. We think we got most of the frogs, but the salamanders were really hard to catch. On the third night, we were assisted by daughter E and Grandma L.

When we came back from a short trip to Iowa, we found that crews had resumed work on the approach to the bridge, destroying the little world as we expected. Some of the puddle remained, so we hope any remaining salamanders and frogs were able to flee.

Waiting for relocation
Arriving at their new home