Sign welcoming us to Elk Prairie--there really are elk there!
One of our Happy Hiker friends said she liked the photos in the blog but would really like “more animal pictures, more animals.” On our recent trip to the Redwoods we did see some animals so I can share. Animals and birds do not stand still very long making it difficult to get good pictures especially if they are shy of humans. My new little camera has some quirks and it is taking a long while for me to figure out how to use the macro lens to take flower pictures but the telephoto lens is great for animal shots since I can be far enough away not to scare them.
California ground squirrels--cousins to marmots and rock chucks
The Crescent City, Battery Point Lighthouse parking lot was near a colony of California ground squirrels. A few of them held still long enough to get some photos. These squirrels look different from the ones we have in our trees. These guys have pretty spotted coats. We found the entrance to their underground home but all the ones we saw were above ground munching on plants or seeds.
We saw several shore birds like these Whimbrels with their curved beaks poking around in the sand for tidbits to eat.
This is a Black Oyster Catcher who posed for photos. I had previously seen one in Norway and didn’t know what it was; now we know they are here too.
A bright blue Steller’s Jay held still for a few seconds and then turned his back, but the back shows the pretty pattern on his feathers so I didn’t mind the snub.
Chipmunks move so fast it hard to catch them but this little guy was cooperative too.
Almost all the male elk were in the grass with just their heads and antlers showing
The females and young elk were in another section of the prairie
Baby elk hiding in the grass
We also saw two herds of elk; males in one group the females and young in another. The grass was tall in the meadows and the young elk were almost invisible.
These silly sea gulls were playing a game.
We encountered many small freshwater streams flowing into the ocean on almost all the 13 beaches we walked. This fast moving, slightly deeper stream of fresh water provided entertainment for gulls. The gulls would walk up on the sandy beach until they reached the deepest, fastest, running water then jump in and be carried down the stream a short distance before hopping out, walking back up and jumping back into the stream. We watched them for several minutes. They seemed to be having a wonderful time.
A jumbled mass of sea lions on the rocks below the observation area.
The bull sea lions spent a lot of time and energy roaring at one another and occasionally lunging at the opponent
Inside the cave area. This is where the Steller sea lions congregate in the winter
A stop at the Oregon Sea Lion Caves tested the telephoto. The larger Steller sea lions are found there. We were informed that this is the breeding season and the sea lions spend the days on the rocks outside the caves. In the winter they are inside. Even though the sea lions were down below us about 100 yards from the viewing platform we had no trouble hearing their loud vocalizations or smelling them. They are very stinky. A little more about the sea lions will be coming in a future postcard Thursday.
These California sea lions are slightly smaller than the Steller sea lions at the caves. Instead of gathering on the rocks they seem to prefer the sandy beach.
We drove less than ½ a mile from the sea lion caves to a viewing area along Highway 101 and saw a colony of the smaller California sea lions on the beach below. There were equally noisy but fortunately for us we were just far enough away not to smell them.
The birds on this rock out in the sea were far away but appeared to be the black & white Common Murres
At the Yaquina Head lighthouse we saw not only the lighthouse but felt like we stepped into a National Geographic special when we looked out and saw a big rock covered with birds. We also saw a grey whale spouting three times and once just a glance of part of him as he went back under the water. Sadly it all happened so quickly we did not get a photo.
We also visited the Prehistoric Gardens. I don’t know if this counts as animals or not but it was fun. All the dinosaurs are placed in the forest and although they are obviously not alive they are life sized.