The Creatures of Spring on Oregon Coast: Birds, Baby Whales, More
Published 04/29/2016 at 7:11 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Oregon Coast) – Spring is literally buzzing and teeming with wildlife on the Oregon coast right now, with a lot happening with migrating birds, whales and their newborn, and maybe more purple jellyfish. (Photo: a baby whale and its mother, taken by Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium).
Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe shot the photos at bottom of a bunch of whimbrels on the north coast, creating a spectacle.
“Whimbrels have been spotted in Seaside,” Boothe said. “They have stopped off here to have a snack before continuing their journey up north to breed. These guys were seen this morning gorging themselves on small sand crabs.”
Scoters and buffleheads are also big on the Oregon coast right now. Even bigger at this moment are shorebirds (like the whimbrels), who are migrating in April and May, heading northward to breeding grounds in the Arctic.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) said many of the birds use the beaches as their navigation route, and can often be seen resting and feeding on north coast beaches during the daylight hours. The agency suggests using binoculars along with a good field guide, to help in viewing and distinguishing the various species that may be encountered.
Keep an eye out for gray whales with their young. According to Whale Watch Center officials in Depoe Bay, some have already been spotted. But they may be a tad late this year, and only a few have been seen so far. Officials there believe they're still coming in decent numbers. They will be on their way to the rich feeding grounds in the Bering Sea. Some locations on the north coast to view whales from include the viewing platform at the base of the south jetty of the Columbia River (near Warrenton), Tillamook Head (south of Seaside), Silver Point (south of Cannon Beach), Cape Falcon and Neah-Kah-Nie Mtn. (north of Manzanita), Cape Meares (north of Oceanside), Cape Lookout (south of Netarts) and Cape Kiwanda (north of Pacific City).
ODFW said to avoid days when the weather is stormy as it makes viewing challenging, and bring your binoculars and/or spotting scope.
Once the baby whales start showing up Orcas will begin to appear as well. These are known as transient killer whales, and not much is known about them except that they're out to eat the newborn whales and they have a slightly more pointed snout than other Orcas.
Other creatures to look for: ODFW said more velella velella could be on their way (those odd little purple critters related to jellyfish). State experts also sent out alerts this week about seal pups on the beaches and that you must stay away from them. A handful of resting seals have been seen already, and many more are expected. See more on the seal pup warnings here. Where to stay for this - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour (Whimbrel and velella velella photos below courtesy Boothe, Seaside Aquarium).
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