Florence Vacay (Part 2)

This part of the Oregon coast is known for its sand dunes, and on Wednesday morning we set out to find some.  First we tried a trail near Sutton Creek and Holman Vista, but to actually get to the dunes one would have to cross the creek.  Nope.  But there were Varied Thrushes in the parking lot.

We tried and failed on another trail in the Siltcoos area before heading to Jessie Honeyman State Park.  Here we found a completely deserted dune area on Cleawox Lake where the dogs were able to run free for a bit.

After that we took a nice walk around Florence's Old Town area which runs along the Siuslaw River.  A kingfisher was perched on a river-facing balcony and at one point got into a disagreement with an Orange-crowned Warbler.  So random.

 Siuslaw River Bridge

Back at the house we saw one of the Canada Geese we had seen earlier in the morning was in a weird position on a neighboring dock.  I first thought it was dead, but no, just resting.  

We saw the goose later swimming around, and the next morning it was standing in the grass on shore.

Wednesday afternoon we left the dogs home again and went north to look for more tide pools.  First we stopped at Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint, which was indeed scenic.

There were some tide pools but I was more intrigued by this thing:


We drove back south to Bob Creek Wayside and found tons of tide pools.

Thursday, Thanksgiving, was our last morning in Florence.  I bugged the Wrentits by the deck for awhile...

After packing up we decided to check out the South Jetty of the Siuslaw.

Most of the people around seemed to be surfers...

The North Jetty was cool, but it was nice to be on the south side so the birds in the river were not so backlit.

Eared Grebe

 Pelagic Cormorant

Horned Grebe

 Harbor seal

We were walking back along the jetty when a couple of dogs in an SUV parked on the jetty started barking loudly at a small dog walking near them.  I didn't want Jake and Ralph to set them off too so we started walking out towards the beach to give the SUV some space.  That's when my friend yelled "Snowy Owl!"  I thought he was joking because there was a big white styrofoam block on the ground.  Then he yelled "not Snowy Owl, Burrowing Owl!"  I really did not understand the joke at this point.  All I saw was an SUV with barking dogs.

Oh wait.  Look at the sand.  There's a freakin Burrowing Owl sitting there.  My friend had seen it land there though he didn't see where it came from.

After a minute the owl flew over to some dune grass and settled in.  I had never seen a Burrowing Owl in flight before.

I sat there trying to send a quick email to OBOL while holding two leashes and my binoculars, hoping it would stay put.  It did.  It didn't even budge when two beagles and a little puppy came tearing up the jetty.

BUOW on far right in grass, styrofoam block on far left

Burrowing Owls are known to end up on the coast in the winter on occasion, but it is far from a regular sighting.  This was a good bird, and extra sweet since I dipped on the one at Yaquina Head last winter.

After the owl excitement we drove north to Cape Perpetua to see what all the fuss was about with Thor's Well.  Wikipedia describes it as a salt water fountain driven by the power of the ocean tide.  Photos make it look crazy and huge and badass.  In reality it is small and only kind of cool.

The well gets filled, then it drains.  Over and over.

I thought the Spouting Horn nearby was cooler.  They call it an oceanic geyser.

The whole area is pretty cool.  Lots of big splashes and lots of people getting wet, often unintentionally.

And that concludes the trip!  It was great fun exploring a new section of the coast.  I still haven't been south of Coos Bay so there's plenty more to see.  Good times!!!


  1. There are some fun dunes on east side of the deflation plain. A trip to south coast is on my list as well, maybe for spring migration. Cool owl find.

  2. You are the Owl Queen for sure!! I would give an eye tooth to see the Burrowing Owl. Great find! I stopped at Cape Perpetua but didn't see Thor's Well there is way too much to see around there. Once again some very nice tide pool critters you found!! Your boys look great!!

  3. Thanks for the Burrowing Owl tip! Bill and I found it the next morning in the exact same same spot. We didn't see it at first, but I flushed it when I walked along the road/jetty heading back to the car and it flew to a clump of beachgrass. A few minutes later it returned to the shelter of the rocks along the jetty. Pretty cool bird, and it was surprising to see it hanging out in an area near so many surfers and dogsters.

    P.S. I've been reading the blog for a while now. Love the nice photo mix of landscapes, birds, and other critters (living and dead).

    Lora Minty & Bill Bradford

    1. Yes it was SO strange to see it sitting calmly ten feet from off-leash dogs. Glad you guys were able to see it! I have to wonder if it is planning to stick around for the winter. Thanks for the kind words on the blog!

  4. Great owl find! That area is one of my favorite parts of the coast.

    I think your weird piece of flotsam is a molt from a giant barnacle.


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