Mile 219 Report

October 11, 2008
by cindyashy

Location:
Lincoln
North end of Agate Beach, Yaquina Head south
Conditions:
Saturday
Party cloudy
50° F
Wind:
Calm/Light from the SW
Tide Level:
7.0 ft
Humans / Pets:
People:
105
Dogs:
1
Activities:
it was high tide so people mostly on observation decks/walkw
Concerns:
Apparent Violations:
none
Disturbances:
Vehicles:
Cars/Trucks parking:
33
RVs/Buses parking:
RVs/Buses parking: 2
Activity Comments:
almost had the place to myself until about 10:30.
Notable Wildlife:
Pelicans, pelicans, and more pelicans! Record numbers in fact. I counted 3600 roosting (a few in water but not many) on Yaquina Head and associated rocks. All roosting -- no feeding, although I have been seeing them having a plunge diving good time in the Yaquina Bay lately. This is accurate probably within about 200 and doesn't include the west side of Colony Rock and other areas. 2nd year immature Bald Eagle reeking havoc among the roosting pelicans and gulls, a pair of very vocal Black Oyster Catchers that did not seem to appreciate the pelicans, Pelagic and Brandt cormorants (more on the west side of Lion's Head than usual...probably displaced by the pelicans, lots of Western Gulls, one adult Heerman's Gull (I think is the first one I've ever see at Yaquina Head). Several whale sightings bu not many seals around though (and I'm always hoping and wishing for sea otters but of course never see one). Besides the pelicans on almost every rock, my best find was a piece of wood with Membranipora spp (a colonial bryozoan -- sometimes called the "lacy bryozoan" although there are several species)...I have been hard pressed to find this in Oregon....it doesn't seem to grow on kelp as much here which is surprising because I've been able to find it in fair quantities everywhere else I've lived....west coast and east coast. I have found it on wracks of bull kelp but not nearly as much as I expected to.
Dead Birds:
Total:
0
Stranded:
Total:
0
Fish & Invertebrates:
Not much of Cobble Beach was exposed and the upper beach was rather clean. I did note a bit of sea pork (probably Aplidium sp., a colonial tunicate), one clump of Clavelina (lightbulb tunicate), and the most fascinating find was a piece of wood encrusted with a small colony of Membranipora (a bryozoan).
Driftline:
Styrofoam
one orange plastic float in Quarry Cove and a few bits of styrofoam
New Development:
Modifications:
Natural Changes:
Comments:
Still working on getting permanent signs put in the tidepool area to prevent disturbance to nesting seabird colonies. Joe Ashor, manager of Yaquina Head, is committed but the best time to get this accomplished may be the winter when there is less grounds work for the maintenance guys. Roy Lowe has offered some signage that may work.
Summary:
Pelicans, pelicans, and more pelicans!!! Record numbers of pelicans in fact -- so this report is going to be pelican centric :-) I'm estimating there were 3600 Brown Pelicans roosting on the rocks associated with Yaquina Head and there were areas that could not be seen of course like the west side of Colony Rock (it would be fun to do an aerial survey), although I was able to count around 760 on that one rock alone. I did climb to the top of Salal Hill and could see into Hidden Cove and also a rock island on the north side of the headland that you can't see from the walkways/observation platforms. I also drove to areas both north and south to get looks in places I couldn't see from the park itself. Even Quarry Cove was full of pelicans. I've always had a special affinity for pelicans. My Grandma still teases me about all the rolls of film (before the days of digital cameras) I've (in her words) "wasted" on taking pics of pelicans. Seeing one of my favorite places on earth innudated with one of my favorite critters was a truly special experience.So, WHY is there an exceptionally high number of pelicans hanging out now? Given the plunge diving feeding frenzies I've recently observed in nearby Yaquina Bay and what the fishermen and others are telling me about this being an exceptionally good year for bait fish, I'm guessing the reason is an exceptionally abundant supply of their favorite food around.On the north end of Agate Beach (which I think is actually included in my mile) there were about 55 people (I didn't include these in the people count), mostly surfers...looked like maybe a surfing class. They had mostly cleared out when I arrived at Agate Beach (12:30ish) and I noticed the pelicans were starting to congregate on that beach (north end)...maybe 200 but they were still steadily coming in when I left.I love watching the behavior of pelicans and today I observed a couple of things I've never seen before. On the south and north sides of the headland, only a handful of pelicans were beginning to show the red patch that they develop for mating season but on Colony Rock, many more were showing this, a few quite far along...one pair in fact matched the intensity of coloration and pattern of birds in full breeding plumage in the Sibley Guide....and they were MUTUALLY preening!!! This is something I would not have expected to see as I associate it with courtship and pelicans do NOT breed in Oregon so this was really something that surprised me. The other thing I saw was one pelican with a "yawn" gape allowing another pelican to "peck" inside its mouth and for quite a while and intensely so. It was obviously not aggressive behavior in any way as both pelicans seemed to be completely willing participants.Other stuff today....Heermann's Gulls (the gulls with the bright red beaks) are known to associate with pelicans but today was the first time I ever recall seeing a Heermann's Gull at Yaquina Head. Heerman's Gull is on list of possible species but it is definitely not a common sight as I'm there all the time (or at least I used to be).An immature (2nd year I think) Bald Eagle flew in from the east and flew parallel to the south side and then around the headland and circled around a bit and then ended up perched in the trees on the northwest end. Many of the pelicans left the rocks when this happened as did the usual feisty battallion of gutsy gulls who team tagged the eagle. I think pelicans are too big for eagles to eat so not sure why they were so upset but it was chaos for a while. During nesting season, it is common to see eagles make a pass over the nesting murres, then go sit in the tree a while and then go back and nab what DIDN'T leave the rock...pretty smart. Today, however, most of the pelicans were back on the rocks within 5 minutes so the eagle was basically out of luck :-)Finding Membranipora, a colonial invertebrate I'm always on the hunt for, was an exciting find for me personally...see species notes.Very nice day overall.
Other Mile 219 Reports (30)

2020

April 19, 2020 - YHONA
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the park has been closed to all traffic (vehicle and non-vehicle). Despite this closure, there were 2 non-compliant walkers who were observed walking on paved...

2019

October 6, 2019 - YHONA
There were about 50 people exploring Cobble Beach: playing with children, taking pictures, looking through the wrack and shore line, and a couple surfers closer to Agate Beach. 13 birds along the...
July 5, 2019 - YHONA
February 11, 2019 - YHONA
During the survey there were 8 total people and 1 dog recorded on the beach. Wind speeds were averaging in the mid to high 20's and about half way through this survey we had the onset of rain showers...

2018

September 25, 2018 - YHONA
During the survey there were 105 people and two dogs on the beach. 38 cars, 10 SUVs, 4 Pickups, and 2 RVs were recorded in the parking area at the end of the survey. There was a great deal of algae...
June 15, 2018 - YHONA
We discovered a black oystercatcher nest at the far east side of our beach along the cliff side. Once chick has since hatched.

2017

July 16, 2017 - m219walker
Sunny day, moderate wind from NW. 3 surfers, 12 runner/walkers, 2 playing in sand. Two dead Common Murres. Construction going on for Ernest Block Wayside.

2016

December 25, 2016 - m219walker
Cloudy day after major rain event. Only one couple walking. Sandstone and basalt boulders on beach. Lucky Gap Trail stairs (south end) awash. Nice stairs being built north end of beach.
June 3, 2016 - m219walker
Beautiful sunny day, ~65F with light wind from the NNW. Noon visit at high tide at ~7'. Saw 13 people on the shore/in the water, mostly surfers. The summer sand buildup is in place with only larger...
April 14, 2016 - driscolke
Arrival of ocean seabirds which nest on the rocks at this site is significant; usually seals are evident along with pups; this is a popular site for tidal pools. Usually sighted are eagles and Black...
March 12, 2016 - driscolke
Yaquina Head Lighthouse is always interesting, there is an abundance of marine observation available to the casual observer: tidepools, seabirds, mammals. This day there was hail, thunder, lightning...
February 11, 2016 - m219walker
Winter storms have pushed sizable wood up above the average high tide mark. Flooding has generated additional seeps and overloaded the Agate Beach sewage facility prompting hazard notices on Lucky...
February 2, 2016 - driscolke
A lovely day at Yaquina Lighthouse tidal area. The geologic collection of offshore rocks permitted a wonderful view of the many exciting marine wildlife. Although there were a few 8-10 yr. old sea...

2015

December 25, 2015 - malachite
I reached this mile via the Lucky Gap Beach wayside access. As is usual in the past 3 or 4 years, the area just before you reach the stairs to the beach was flooded--usually the flooding lasts about...
November 21, 2015 - driscolke
This was a gorgeous sunny afternoon at Yaquina Lighthouse tidepool area. Absent and no sign of recovery were sea stars; BLM guides mentioned apparent distress with urchins. Few birds and one seal...
November 5, 2015 - m219walker
 SUMMARYTwo people on beach, one surfing, one enjoying a beer and the scenery. Small patchy wood in drift line. No birds or mammals observed. 'Little Creek' flowing close to bluff.
September 30, 2015 - Volunteer Trainer
Eleanor Siebers called from the BLM Yaquina Head Interpretive Center to report a wood chunk with mussels found yesterday on Cobble Beach of Yaquina Head (30 Sept. 2015) by “Lucia." It is local - NOT...
  • Wood found by LuciaJohn Chapman inspected- appears to be local though has red flags
  • Importance of looking at the underside
  • two bolts on the piece of wood
  • number of small mussels on the piece of wood
June 17, 2015 - m219walker
Mostly sunny afternoon, two family groups plus 3 surfers using beach. No obvious drift line besides a small wooden pallet. Yellow blooms of Potentilla and pink Beach Pea made me observe the beach...
  • Monkey Flower on cliff above Cobble Beach, Yaquina Head17 June 2015
March 22, 2015 - m219walker
Very few people on the beach early Sunday morning: four, two of which came with me, and one sleeper.Wrack contained mostly small pieces of wood, no dead birds, fish, or mammals.Reference: Mile 219 is...
  • 20 jan 2015 sunset taken north Agate beach

2014

December 27, 2014 - m219walker
Day partly sunny, about 2 hrs before high tide, south face of headland inaccessible.  One extended family on beach; two photographers, mostly pics of each other.  Five dead birds, four likely Cassin'...

2010

August 1, 2010 - malachite
Yesterday around 5:30pm I walked down to the beach via the Lucky Gap access. That access places you near the south end of mile 219. When I arrived & later, when I left (about an hour later), a...
  • A fire on the beach was built yesterday evening using a fairly large driftwood stump for firewood.  Twenty four hours later, the people are gone, the stump is still burning.

2009

December 9, 2009 - yaquinalady
This year the depth of the stones on the beach is lower than last year and typical years, by several feet. The big erosion area above the tollbooth looks unchanged.

2008

June 13, 2008 - L Taylor
Bright sunny, windy day. Lots of people at the lighthouse. Lots of common murres, pelicans and some nesting oystercatchers. The beach was surprisingly clear of debris just the usual large logs.
March 8, 2008 - cindyashy
Unusual sighting of a Brown Pelican in March. See Wildlife list for more. I'm going to talk with BLM staff to see about get some permanent signage in the tidepool area to prevent people from getting...
March 4, 2008 - L Taylor
Beach appeared very clean- not even much driftwood. The Common Murres are back at Yaquina Head. The Hatfield Marine Science researchers were at Yaquina Head counting returning gray whales and...

2007

December 5, 2007 - cindyashy
2 days after a major coastal storm, I expected to see many dead birds but did not - found one injured American Wigeon. The storm did significant damage to the trees near Quarry Cove and I found...
November 24, 2007 - cindyashy
This was an afternoon minus tide on a holiday weekend so the tidepool critters took center stage at Yaquina Head. The tidepools off Cobble Beach were crawling with visitors - an average of around 65...
November 20, 2007 - L Taylor
There were NO live birds on the beach. No foraging, not even flying overhead. Very quiet. I did see what I believe to be 1 dead Western Grebe (see photo 1) with 2 zip ties on it's right wing, 1 blue...
June 8, 2007 - L Taylor
Lots of wildlife at the lighthouse. Seal pups, common murres, cormorants, black oystercatchers. Only 2 dead birds so decayed couldn't tell what they had been. Pretty normal for such a fine day.
March 13, 2007 - L Taylor
Lots of wildlife action from the Bald Eagle, Common Murres, and Double Crested Cormorant to the resting harbor seals. Quite a good day. I was a little surprised to see so many dead birds and each of...