A couple of days ago I ran across a pamphlet on the birds of Curry County Oregon. That’s where I’m at. Besides a list of all the birds that are possible to see in the county, the pamphlet also tells the best places for birding. Harris Beach State Park is listed as THE place to see Tufted Puffins.
They nest on Bird/Goat Island. Well, let me tell you that I’ve spent 20 hours a week for over six weeks scoping out and staring at Bird Island, and I hadn’t seen one tufted puffin. They reportedly nest on the other side of the island that can’t be viewed from my overlook spot. On top of that, they lay their one egg at the bottom of a tunnel or burrow that can be up to seven or more feet deep. So the only time for me to really see them is when they are out fishing on the ocean. (photo from the internet)
Well, today was the day, finally! I saw a pair out floating on high tide about two hundred yards from the island. There was no way to get a photo, as I barely found them through the spotting scope in amongst hundreds of common murres. I literally jumped up and down, and turned around to alert folks of what they could see through the scope. Ha! A little squall had moved in, and I was just about the only one standing out in the light rain. However, that didn’t ‘dampen’ my little victory dance as I finally got to see this elusive species. Made my day!
The rain started coming down a bit heavier, so I grabbed the spotting scope off of the tripod and headed for the car for shelter. Have to take care of the government’s property, don’t you know. I rolled the side window down, and this western gull came sauntering over to the side of the car. I suppose it was hoping for a handout. Fat chance Mr. Gull!
I sat there about a half an hour until the rain subsided, and this guy/gal was ever hopeful. Can you see the red spot on its lower mandible? It’s there for a reason. When their chicks hatch, they see that red spot and peck at it. That trips a response in the adult to regurgitate food for the young one’s appetite; much like a human baby cries when it’s hungry.
After the showers were done, I ended up having my busiest day so far on the overlook with 48 interested visitors. The main draw for folks visiting here is the beach, and the sand, and the water, after all, so I felt pretty good introducing 48 adults and children to the wonders of the breeding birds that can barely be seen with the naked eye.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a wonderful visit earlier this week from my good friends, John and Bridget Hatch. We volunteered together last summer at Tamarac NWR, and they are just about done with a volunteer stint at Tualatin NWR up near Portland, OR.
John is my go to guy for problems with my rig, and Bridget and I just had so much fun working together last summer. I had hoped to show them the breeding birds in the morning before they left, but the pesky morning fog rolled in and obliterated the islands.
Now that I’ve finally seen the puffins, I’m going to leave you with a question. What do you think you call a baby puffin?
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy