Monday, September 12, 2011

Brown Pelican - Newport South Jetty

This past Saturday I decided to beat the heat by heading to the coast. It worked out great as the temperature didn't rise above the low 70's, the sky was clear and the wind was low.
The night before I was reading a post by Greg Gillson in which he reviewed some of the better birding areas of the central Oregon coast. One of his recommended sites was Newport's South Jetty. As I had never been there, I made that my destination.
I've been near many Jettys, but I had never gone out very far on one. It can be rather dangerous as a wave can rise up at any time and pull you into the ocean. However, since it was a calm day and the Jetty well above the water, I decided to risk it.
The image above shows a view of the fog horn and light out on the jetty. This picture was taken when I was about half ways out to the point. It was easy going at first as the gaps between the large broken rocks where filled in with gravel making it was almost level, but as you traverse outward the gravel lessens and soon there is only large chunks of what appeared to be broken asphalt sprinkled sparingly in between the gaps. Then, about the time I passed the fog horn, any fill between rocks was next to nil and it literally became a rock climbing exhibition.
As I approached the outer point I decided it wasn't worth going all the way out since, while there were a lot of birds in the water at the entrance between the jettys, they appeared to all be common gulls. Besides, I was starting to get a bit tired climbing in between and over rocks and realized I still had the trip back ahead of me.
The memorial above is a reminder of the ocean's dangers.
And this scuba diver, a reminder of its wonders below.

Anyway, I came to photograph birds and birds I saw. Nothing rare but a nice variety and several good picture taking opportunities.
There were several Brown Pelicans flying overhead throughout the morning, but they always seemed to come from behind me so I would only get pictures of their backs. Then as I neared the end of my trek, I saw one sitting on a rock out along the waters edge in front of me. This is where the rock climbing actually was a benefit. It allowed me to stay reasonably low down between the rocks as I worked my way closer to it, eventually getting the shot at the top of this post.
As I worked my way out towards the Pelican, I'd take a few shots now and then as I often do while approaching a bird. You never know when it's going to decide to move on, be it flushed by me or something else. At one point I caught it spreading its wings and then at the next stop it decided to hop down from its perch to another rock closer to the water. Their large wings are spectacular!
As seen in the image above, I noticed that some of the Pelicans had white bellies rather than the shaggy gray-brown normally seen. With a little research I discovered that these are juveniles. I've seen many more juvenile birds this year than last year. Probably a result of being more aware of what I'm looking at.
In addition to these Pelicans, I got great, close looks of Black Turnstones and Surfbirds along the edges of the rocks, Surf and White-winged Scoters in nearby water along with a Horned Grebe and a Common Loon. I even got to watch a Double-crested Cormorant eat some kind of twisty, curly eel. Tasty! :-)

1 comment:

  1. Great shots!! That is an awesome spot in the winter too, you should definitely visit again!