Posts

Stewardship Report: Shifting sands

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Sands built up significantly in Haystack Rock's tidepools during the spring, and now it's easier than ever to walk on sand while exploring, thereby avoiding stepping on tidepool animals that cover the rocks, such as barnacles and anemones. The seabirds are in the height of nesting season, so we are continuing to rope off nesting areas to prevent disturbance. Please help us help these birds by staying out of roped off areas. Lastly, the black oystercatchers are trying again: After losing their first nest, they are nesting again and we wish them success! 

Stewardship Report: Protecting nesting seabirds from disturbance during minus tides

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This week, there has been a series of morning minus tides at Haystack Rock. This opens up for exploration areas that are full of fascinating intertidal life, especially in the intertidal boulders to the south of Haystack Rock. At the same time, it exposes seabird nesting areas to increased human foot traffic. Human presence, especially where it isn't usually possible, can make birds nervous and they often leave their nests for a period as a result. If the eggs are left uncovered for too long or too often, they can get cold, causing the chicks inside to die.



This time of year is critical to nesting seabirds, most of which are seeing population declines. Disruption of their nesting habits can cause nest failure. That's why Haystack Rock Awareness Program staff and volunteers have been closing off areas around the rock during these morning low tides. Please be understanding of these closures when you visit and respect the birds' space. By helping to protect the birds during n…

Stewardship Report: Black Oystercatchers are nesting!

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If you follow our newsletter, you know that the resident black oystercatcher pair at Haystack Rock is nesting! The nest is located in the loose rocky area just below the large "Do Not Enter" sign (see picture). This is the earliest they've nested in about a decade, and they currently have three eggs in their nest. The chicks are expected to hatch around June 4.



These birds are a U.S. Fish & Wildlife "Species of Concern," and have an average hatching rate of 29%. The chicks have only a 13% survival rate to fledging. So, every year the Haystack Rock Awareness Program works very hard to protect our black oystercatcher nest, so that they have the best chance of successfully hatching and fledging their offspring. To avoid any disturbance that might disrupt the nesting, HRAP staff are roping off the area in front of the nest during each low tide. When visiting the rock, be sure to respect the signs and ropes so that you don't mistakenly scare the birds into l…

Stewardship Report: Puffins Return, Along with Rough Weather

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If you’ve been following HRAP on Facebook and Instagram, you know that we first sighted puffins at Haystack Rock on April 3! Since then, the weather has often been challenging for puffin-spotting (and everything else!) with wind, rain, high surf, and surging waves. Nonetheless, we’ve seen 10-16 puffins on many days, and more on a few calmer days. Calm mornings at low tide are the best times to come down to try to spot them.





Other than puffins, our usual cast of bird characters – including murres, guillemots, cormorants, black oystercatchers, harlequin ducks, Canada geese, and bald eagles – has been a reliable presence. In the tidepools we’ve seen many opalescent nudibranchs, aggregating and moon glow anemones, a few ochre sea stars, and a leather sea star too.
As the weather improves, there will be more opportunities to see the amazing wildlife that lives, feeds, nests, and hunts at Haystack Rock. We are looking forward to it and hope you'll come to visit!

(Photos by Rita Goldfar…

Stewardship Report: The Pigeon Guillemots are Back!

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The pigeon guillemots have returned! Since late last week, we’ve seen 6-10 guillemots bobbing in the surf near the north and south boulders. We’ve also seen them perched on the low cliffs on Haystack Rock’s north side, where they nest. These early arrivers will hopefully be joined by many more of their species in the coming weeks as nesting season nears. And, now that the guillemots have returned, can the puffins be far behind? Follow HRAP’s Facebook page and this nature blog to be among the first to know when they do.
You can learn more about Haystack Rock’s pigeon guillemots at: https://www.ci.cannon-beach.or.us/sites/default/files/fileattachments/haystack_rock_awareness_program/page/10691/pguillemot.pdf


Stewardship Report: Plenty of Action for Birdwatchers

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There has been plenty for birdwatchers to see at Haystack Rock this week, including three kinds of ducks! In addition to harlequin ducks, which are frequent visitors, HRAP Naturalists have spotted mergansers and surf scoters in the past few days. Common murres also made an appearance again, with approximately 1,000 visiting the rock late last week. Bald eagle and peregrine falcon visits are a near daily occurrence. An eagle took a common murre last Friday, only to have a falcon try to steal it! – but the eagle prevailed. The less-dramatic, but much cuter, black oystercatcher pair has been seen every few days feeding in the tidepools during low tide.


Stewardship Report: An Unfamiliar Sea Star

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On March 1, HRAP Naturalists Ellison and Andrea were surprised to find an unusual-looking sea star in the Marine Garden tide pools, and showed it to me (Margaret). I wasn’t quite sure what species it was, so I took a picture and uploaded it to the mobile app iNaturalist, hoping that the other users of the app would help me identify the star. 



Within a day, the users on iNaturalist had identified it as a Mottled Star (Evasterias troschelii). Mottled Stars are more commonly found in Puget Sound, but are sometimes seen on the coasts of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alaska, and northern California. My observation was also added to the iNaturalist project, Tracking Starfish Wasting and Recovery, which is helping to monitor recovery of sea star populations from Sea Star Wasting Disease. If you see any sea stars while tidepooling, you can snap a photo (safely and without disturbing the star, of course!) and upload it to iNaturalist to help with this project, too!