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South Oregon Coast Officials: Tidepools, Birds, Wildlife Right Now

Published 09/17/20 at 5:41 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

South Oregon Coast Officials: Tidepools, Birds, Wildlife Right Now

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(Coos Bay, Oregon) – There are some different sights available on the southern Oregon coast right now in terms of wildlife. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) recently put together numerous suggestions regarding places teeming with birds, wild feeding frenzies, turtles and tidepools that are unique to Coos and Curry counties. (Above: a baby common murre, courtesy Tiffany Boothe / Seaside Aquarium).

“While warm weather is often a problem for wildlife viewing in much of Oregon, it is less of an issue in Coos County,” ODFW said. “This is especially true closer to the coast. Temperatures rarely go over 80 degrees due to the marine influence. That said, often fog poses a significant issue if a person is trying to view marine mammals or coastal birds when warm conditions occur inland. Warm air inland rises which causes cool air sitting over the ocean to be drawn inland, this creates ideal conditions for fog to form. At times this marine fog is limited to less than ¼ miles from beach or headland.”

ODFW authorities suggest the Coquille Valley Wildlife Area (CVWA) just northeast of Bandon, where an astounding variety of birds are seen. These include: red-shouldered hawk, turkey vulture, baled eagle, sharp-shinned hawk, great egret, green heron, great blue heron, greater yellowlegs, American bittern, mallard, woodduck, green-winged teal and the northern shoveler, among others. Turtles and otter are also found.

Permits for access are required and are available, free of charge, at the kiosk located in the parking lot along North Bank Road. You must access to CVWA through this point.

ODFW said the many offshore islands off the southern Oregon coast make ideal nesting spots for common murres and other sea birds, such as the rocky spires off Bandon, Coos Bay, Samuel H. Boardman or Brookings. They’re often found in enormous groups. Other types of birds you could find include pigeon guillemots, marbled murrelets, western and Clark’s grebes, and many others. Bring a spotting scope so you can view birds from viewpoints well away from the surf zone and practice social distancing.

“Be very careful not to get close to waves crashing on the rocks or to places where ‘sneaker’ waves could run up beaches and pull you into the ocean,” ODFW said.

South Oregon coast bays like Coos Bay can get filled with feeding frenzies among larger birds and harbor seals, creating quite a spectacle. ODFW said schools of fish can swarm into southern bays, making for tasty moveable feasts. Periodically, birds or seals cooperate together to trap them, which can really add to the show.

“Often a person can see splashing from the assault from a long way away but to really see the action, you’ll want binoculars or a spotting scope,” ODFW said.

South Oregon Coast Officials: Tidepools, Birds, Wildlife Right Now
Photo courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast: the bay at Charleston

Point Adams, in Coos Bay at Charleston, is a good place to watch for this activity. Early mornings are generally the best time to see this but attacks can happen any time of day.

Now that it’s technically second summer (the warmest time of the year on the coast is September through early October), tidepooling is prime. ODFW said look for full moon days which will have the largest low tides. Some of the lowest tides can be found April through September.

Along the south Oregon coast, abundant rocky shorelines create many opportunities for tidal viewing. ODFW said the following intertidal sites are publicly accessible (however, ongoing closures due to COVID-19 may affect accessibility, check with OregonStateParks.org before planning your trip): Sunset Bay State Park, Cape Arago State Park, 5-Mile Point (off Whiskey Run Road), Coquille Point (Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge), Cape Blanco State Park, Port Orford Boat Dock, Rocky Point, Arizona Beach State Recreation Site, Lone Ranch Beach, Harris Beach, and Winchuck Beach.

South Oregon Coast Officials: Tidepools, Birds, Wildlife Right Now

While visiting tidepools, ODFW said you must stay on marked trails and do not step on tidepool areas themselves.

“Prying or picking up animals may cause stress or harm; always leave animals in the same place that you found them,” ODFW said.

Taking creatures out of tidepools is illegal.

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