A Week at Haystack Rock

HRAP Interpreters have just completed their third month of the 2015 season on the beach this week! Nearly all of the wildlife that inhabits and visits the rock has been spotted already this year and will continue their habitation and visitation of Haystack Rock through the summer. Let's take stock of this week at the Rock!

By-the-Wind Sailors (Velella velella) first washed ashore in Cannon Beach in late March.  There have been several more events of sailors washing ashore and subsequently decaying on the beach. This week, an interpreter found a sailor on the beach that had barnacles attached to it.

By-the-Wind Sailor with attached barnacles

A wide variety of birds and ducks were spotted at Haystack Rock this week. Among them  were Pigeon guillemots (Cepphus columba), Harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) south of Haystack, vocal and active black oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani), Common murre (Uria aalge) on the the Rock and Needles, and Tufted puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) active and in numbers of up to 12 at a time. Finally, the western gulls (Larus occidentalis) were evident in large numbers as is typical, with many mating pairs spotted.

Tufted Puffin on the Grassy Surface of Haystack Rock
Photo courtesy of Larry Shoer

The predatory birds were also active this week. Early in the week, two bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) were successful in their hunt of a murre. Late in the week, the eagles made multiple attempts on cormorants with one successful raid on a nest, destroying it and eating the eggs. There were multiple other attempts by eagles during the week that were unsuccessful. Other predatory birds - Peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) and Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) - were spotted hunting but a successful hunt was not observed.

Bald Eagle perched on a ledge
Photo courtesy of Larry Shoer

Bald Eagle taking flight
Photo courtesy of Larry Shoer

There was plenty of activity in the intertidal during the week too. There were many juvenile sea stars on the Needles, and only one lesion due to sea star wasting noticed on an adult star.  Chitons were in abundance on the Needles and several species of nudibranch were in the tidepools.

Chiton on an exposed rock in the Intertidal, 2012
Photo courtesy of Carolyn Propst

Nudibranch in the Intertidal, 2012
Photo Courtesy of Carolyn Propst

Not to be outdone by the birds and invertebrates, there were plenty of human visitors to Haystack Rock during the week too. Among them were seven school groups ranging in age from 2nd grade to high school and totaling nearly 250 visitors. 

Spend some time at Haystack Rock during a low tide soon and see how much wildlife you can see! HRAP Interpreters are on the beach daily at low tide and can help you make the most of your visit to Haystack Rock. We look forward to seeing you on the beach!


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