Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 14th - April 20th 2014

Daily Low Tides

Monday, April 14th
0.4' @ 6:58 AM

Tuesday, April 15th
0.0' @ 7:36 AM

Wednesday, April 16th
-0.3' @ 8:14 AM

Thursday, April 17th
-0.5' @ 8:53 AM

Friday, April 18th
-0.5' @ 9:35 AM

Saturday, April 19th
-0.4' @ 10:21 AM

Sunday, April 20th
-0.1 @ 11:13 AM

Notes from the week:

The third week in April was a typical spring week on the North Coast. The weather went from sunny, to pouring rain and strong wind, to sun again, back to rain, and ended with sunny weather but high surf. Our highest visitor count was 110 people in the intertidal at one time during the beach shift on Friday, April 18th; thankfully that was one of the nice days!

It was a busy week for HRAP! On Thursday we kicked off Cannon Beach's annual 12 Days of Earth Day Celebration with the "Welcome Tufted Puffin" ceremony at Haystack Rock. We opened the festivities with students from Seaside Heights Elementary, Cannon Beach Pre-School, and Fire Mountain Elementary by singing a song to welcome the Tufted Puffins back to Haystack Rock. Staff and volunteers also offered educational stations and activities, including searching for Puffins using spotting scopes and learning how adults take care of their chick in a Puffin Parent Relay game. Despite the rain, students had a great time exploring the intertidal and even saw a few Puffins!

     Students and parents from local schools sing the ‘Welcome Back Tufted Puffins’ song with HRAP staff and volunteers to kick-off the 12 Days of Earth Day festival.

HRAP Program Coordinator Samantha Ferber talks about Tufted Puffin behavior and nesting, while students search for the birds using a spotting scope and binoculars.
(Photos by Eric Bengel)

Creature Highlights

  • Sea Lemon (Anisodoris nobilis)
  • *Dendronotus Nudibranch (Dendronotus sp.) - first sighting this season
  • Janolus Nudibranch (Janolus fuscus)
  • Trilineata Nudibranch (Flabellina trilineata)
  • Opalescent Nudibranch (Hermissenda crassicornis)
  • Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata) - 24 birds regularly counted during the week! Spotted flying around the rock and perched in front of burrows on the north slope.

April 7th - April 13th 2014

Daily Low Tides:

Monday, April 7th
1.4' @ 1:36 PM

Tuesday, April 8th
1.5' @ 2:39 PM

Wednesday, April 9th
1.5' @ 3:37 PM

Thursday, April 10th
1.4' @ 4:26 PM

Friday, April 11th
1.3' @ 5:08 PM

Saturday, April 12th
1.3' @ 5:46 PM

Sunday, April 13th
1.4' @ 6:22 PM

Notes from the week:

The second week in April started out foggy but turned lovely with sunny days and warm temperatures as the days progressed. Staff, volunteers and visitors alike enjoyed the spring weather and exploring the tidepools. Our highest visitor count was 105 people in the intertidal at one time during Sunday's beach shift.

We kicked off the week with a Sea Star Wasting Informational Session on Monday, April 7th. Melissa Miner, Research Associate at U.C. Santa Cruz and the Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network (MARINe), gave a presentation on the background and characteristics of the disease, on-going research, and monitoring protocols. In an effort to monitor the Sea Star populations at Haystack Rock, HRAP has taken on counting the animals during each shift and watching for symptoms of wasting. Observations are being reported to MARINe for use in their studies. HRAP is also undertaking the process of setting up a permanent monitoring station at Haystack Rock, though this may take time to establish. If you are interested in learning more about Sea Star Wasting, current research, or how you can get involved, visit seastarwasting.org.

The North Oregon Coast Bird-a-thon wrapped up the week on Saturday, April 12th. Birders across Clatsop County set out to see as many birds as possible and raise money for the Wildlife Center of the North Coast. One of the many stops along the way was Haystack Rock, where staff and volunteers had a bird observation station set up for participants and visitors. The HRAP Bird-a-thon team won the award for most Raptors identified! Congrats team!

Nudibranchs were out in full force this week at Haystack Rock! Spring time is breeding season for most marine invertebrates, and a chance encounter in the tidepools between two individuals usually means mating. Make sure to keep a close watch to try and catch this behavior! On April 13th, 10 Opalescent Nudibranchs and 10 Shaggy Mouse Nudibranchs were spotted in the pools. Hermit Crabs were also observed mating this week!

Creature Highlights

  • Opalescent Nudibranch (Hermissenda crassicornis)
  • Shaggy Mouse Nudibranch (Aeolid papillosa)
  • Hermit Crab (Pagurus spp.)
  • Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) - Lots of eagle activity this week. Adults and juveniles were observed hunting the slopes of Haystack Rock. Staff hypothesized that many other birds, like the Pigeon Guillemots (Cepphus columba) and Tufted Puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) were avoiding settling on the rock and establishing nesting sites due to the eagles.
  • Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata) - A few birds spotted flying around the rock, not landing though.
  • Pelagic Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pelagicus) - Large numbers were observed nesting on the cliffs of Haystack Rock and the Needles to the south.
  • Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani) - Both parents and the juvenile were spotted amongst the lager boulders at the base of the Rock this week.

Photos from Haystack Rock

Shaggy Mouse Nudibranch seen at Haystack Rock. (Old HRAP file photo - watch the blog for photos from this year!)

Juvenile Bald Eagle soaring in front of Haystack Rock. (Photo by Susan Glarum)

April 1st - April 6th 2014

Daily Low Tides:

Tuesday, April 1st
-0.5' @ 8:36 AM

Wednesday, April 2nd
-0.4' @ 9:20 AM

Thursday, April 3rd
-0.1' @ 10:04 AM

Friday, April 4th
0.3' @ 10:48 AM

Saturday, April 5th
0.7' @ 11:37 AM

Sunday, April 6th
1.2' @ 12:33 PM

Notes from the week:

The first week of April beach shifts was one of overcast skies, variable winds, a few good rain showers, and a just a glimpse of sun every once in while. The weather didn't keep visitors at bay though, as spring breaks around the Pacific Northwest brought tourists to the beach. Our highest visitor count during the week was 170 people in the intertidal during the shift on April 2nd.

It was an exciting week down at Haystack Rock with our first Tufted Puffin sighting on April 2nd! We saw three birds flying around the Rock during that Wednesday's shift. Throughout the week we regularly spotted a few Tufted Puffins passing over at a time. In other bird news, Staff and Volunteers continued to see Pigeon Guillemots and Common Murres in the area. Pelagic Cormorants were spotted sitting on their nests as well. The birds have officially returned to Haystack Rock and we are looking forward to many more exciting sightings this season!

On Saturday, April 5th, HRAP hosted our Spring Volunteer Interpreter Training! We had a total of 21 volunteers in attendance, 9 new and 12 returning. During the training, attendees were treated to an introduction to the HRAP program, an overview of volunteer duties, a presentation by Geologist Tom Horning on the geology of Haystack Rock, and a school group training with HRAP Staff. Join us for our next Volunteer Training event June 7th!

Creature Highlights

  • Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata) - First Tufted Puffin sightings this season!
  • Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus columba) - observed on the south side of Haystack Rock
  • Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)
  • Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus) - seen on their nests
  • Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus)
  • Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) - regular eagle activity observed throughout the week, usually flushing the birds off the Rock and preying upon the Western Gulls
  • Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)
  • Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)
  • Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani)
  • Common Murre (Uria aalge) - large flocks observed just off the coast
  • Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)
  • Opalescent Nudibranch (Hermissenda crassicornis)
  • Trilineata Nudibranch (Flabellina trilineata)
  • Janolus Nudibrach (Janolus fuscus)
  • Red Nudibranch (Rostanga pulchra)
  • Rufus Tipped Nudibranch (Acanthodoris nanaimoensis)
  • *Barnacle-eating Nudibranch (Onchidoris bilamellata) - First spotting this season!
  • Mossy Chiton (Mopalia muscosa)
  • Hydroids
  • *Purple Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) - Sea urchins are uncommon at Haystack Rock. This one likely washed in with the tide and was spotted by a young visitor. Keep an eye out throughout the season for more!
  • Kelp Greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus) - Not commonly seen at Haystack Rock. This female hid amongst the algae in one of the larger tidepools. Look closely during your next visit to see what other interesting animals you can spot!

Photos from Haystack Rock:

Purple Sea Urchin spotted in the tidepools at Haystack Rock on April 1st - and it wasn't even an April Fools joke! (Photo by Lisa Habecker)

Can you spot the Kelp Greenling hiding amongst the algae in this photo from April 2nd? It took Alix Lee, HRAP Volunteer Coordinator, a good amount of staring before she decided there was more than just kelp there!

Monday, April 14, 2014

March 30th, 2014

Low Tide: 0.0' @ 7:04 AM

The final day of Oregon's Spring break was windy and overcast once again. Staff and volunteers were on the beach just after sunrise to greet the early morning visitors to Haystack Rock. Our highest count was 12 people in the intertidal.

It was an exciting day for birding though! We saw our first returning Pigeon Guillemots (Cepphus columba) of the season. These small black birds with white wings bars are related to Tufted Puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) and Common Murres (Uria aalge), all members of the Auk family. They are a diving sea bird, foraging for small fish, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. They nest low on the cliffs of Haystack Rock and are therefore very susceptible to human disturbance. Listen for their low and quick, whittle-like call while you explore the intertidal!

Photo Credit: Susan Glarum

Staff and volunteers also spotted our juvenile Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani) with it's parents and numerous Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus)

March 29th, 2014

Low Tide: 0.2' @ 6:35 PM

Another blustery day though not as bad as the day before. Staff and volunteers greeted the few visitors that ventured forth onto the beach. Our highest visitor count was 59 people in the intertidal, though for a majority of the shift it was less than 30 at a time.

The Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus luecocephalis) are still actively hunting the intertidal on a regular basis. During this shift one Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) was not quite quick enough. An adult eagle pinned it to the Rock and then flew off with the bird in it's talons, likely returning to it's nest in the hills behind Cannon Beach to enjoy the prize.

March 28th, 2014

Shift canceled due to weather :(

March 27th, 2014

Low Tide: 0.2 @ 5:01 PM

The weather calmed down a bit during this shift and Spring Breakers strolled the beach. Our highest visitor count was 74 people in the intertidal.

Creature Highlights:

  • Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus luecocephalis)
  • Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus)
  • Trillineata Nudibranch (Flabellina trillineata)
  • 2 Opalescent Nudibranchs (Hermissenda crassicornis)
  • 2 Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani)
  • Pelagic Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pelagicus) - lots returning to the Rock at the end of the shift

Friday, April 4, 2014

March 26th, 2014

Low Tide: 0.4' @ 4:06 PM

Another less than ideal weather day with wind and rain. There was no exposure when staff arrived for the beginning of the shift, so they returned to the office for a couple hours and came back to the beach  at low tide. Visitors braved the weather to explore the intertidal during the rest of the shift. Our highest visitor count was 32 people exploring the tidepools.

Our juvenile Black Oystercatcher (Heamatopus bachmani) was spotted once again, foraging with its parents.

There were large amounts of sea foam present all along the shoreline. While sea foam can look like an oil spill or pollution washed up on the beach, it is actually caused by large blooms of diatoms, a microscopic plant or phytoplankton. Diatoms and other phytoplankton are the base of the marine food web. Everything in the ocean feeds on microscopic organisms, either directly or indirectly. During a diatom bloom, the surf becomes saturated with the plants and they wash ashore in an oil-like film. Staff were able to observe Acorn Barnacles (Balanus balanoides) feeding on the diatoms using modified legs specially adapted for filter feeding.

This photo, taken by Suzanne Garcia, shows a diatom at high magnification using a scanning electron microscope.

March 25th, 2014

Low Tide: 0.6' @ 3:02 PM

The wind was gusting and the sand really blowing during this shift. Staff called the shift after half an hour due to strong winds and very few visitors on the beach. The only ones brave enough to face the wind in large numbers were flocks of Common Murres (Uria aalgae) spotted flying around the rock.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tufted Puffin Sighting!

Photo Credit: Ram Papish

The Tufted Puffins have returned from wintering in the open ocean! Yesterday, April 2nd, three puffins were spotted flying around Haystack Rock and today one solo puffin was seen flying. This is just the beginning of their return. We should be seeing more and more everyday in April.  Last year, our breeding colony totaled 143 individual birds. This was the greatest number of puffins sighted at Haystack Rock since USFW started surveying in 2010. I can not wait to see how many return to breed this nesting season! 
Tufted Puffins are seabirds in the Auklet family. Their bright orange beaks and long toenails help them dig their nesting burrows on the Northside of Haystack Rock. Life-long puffin pairs will lay one egg each nesting season. July is the best time to see puffins at Haystack Rock because parents are actively feeding their hungry chicks in their burrows. By the end of August, most chicks and their parents have returned to the open ocean.
Keep checking back for more updates! I've fallen a little behind - it's been a busy week for HRAP - but will be posting more soon!