Haystack Rock and Nehalem Bay State Park

To celebrate Jacob returning from school in Texas we decided to head to the coast for some tide pools, year birds, and a break from the hot sun.  Low tide at Haystack Rock was scheduled for sometime between 6 and 7 a.m. which was perfect to beat the crowds.  Our first wildlife in Cannon Beach was a couple of not-so-wild bunnies hanging out near the public parking.

We got out to Haystack Rock and quickly became absorbed in tide pool action, alongside the Western Gulls and a raccoon.

Raccoon on the go

 Chiton belly

Good ochre sea star action

 The real tide pool highlight came when Jacob called me over saying he found a nudibranch!  We had never seen them before so we were psyched.  After finding a couple more one of the Haystack Rock Awareness volunteers came over and pointed out a ton more.  SO GOOD.

Opalescent nudibranch (the first one Jacob found)

Jacob vs. nudibranch

Another opalescent nudi

Sea clown nudibranch

Sea clown out of the water

White-and-orange-tipped nudibranch

Danger danger, I have a new thing to obsess over!  The tide was starting to come in and the tide pools were getting more crowded, so we decided to back up and start looking at the birds.

 Harlequin Ducks

 Tufted Puffins

 Common Murres

 At one point a couple of puffins got into a scuffle and tumbled off their ledge. 

I turned around to scan the beach for shorebirds and instead watched a gull drag a dead bird out of the water. 

Then another interested gull showed up and the first gull swung it around in circles by its neck.

Then I walked over to see what the dead bird was.  Young murre? 

After Haystack Rock we stopped for coffee refills and snacks at the Bald Eagle Coffee House, ate our snacks by the settling ponds, then headed south to Nehalem Bay State Park.  Neither of us had been to this park before but we knew our target bird, Wandering Tattler, was most likely found on the jetty two miles south of the parking lot.  We chose to walk south on the ocean side of the spit to get there.

As did all the horses.

Closer to the dunes there were tons of signs about Snowy Plover nesting areas and telling people to stay out of the upper part of the beach.  Unfortunately we saw a lot of horse tracks in the protected areas.  Grr.  We actually didn't see any shorebirds on the beach, only some flyover Black-bellied Plovers.  Brown Pelicans were more willing to pose for photos though.

Once at the jetty we started checking each little access point for tattlers and eventually Jacob spotted one (then three more). 

Lifer for Jacob

After sitting with them for a bit we made our way towards the trail that would lead us north back to the parking lot. 

Soft soft sand... ugh... 

We noticed a trail to the bay side of the spit and headed out there to see what we could find.  The sand seemed more compact than the trail so then decided to make our way back to the parking lot that way.

Young Caspian Tern

Jelly covered in little flea things

Our plan to walk the beach back failed when we ran out of beach and we had to follow an elk trail through the shrubs back inland.  A Pacific-slope Flycatcher was super interested in my pishing for once.


The trails kept taking us back to the water, then we would have to turn back inland.  Along the way we found the craziest ant hill I had ever seen.

Eventually we made it back to the main trail and back to the parking lot so we could head home.  Only took us three hours... Yay Portland traffic.  Good times!!!


  1. I used to tidepool so hard when I was a little kid, loved it, though I didn't know about nudes back then. Nudes are blowing up, I credit Cass for their burgeoning popularity. I think this is probably the first blog post to ever feature both dumped pet rabbits and nude (not to mention the quality birds).

    1. Last year I started following some scuba diver in South (or was it Central) America on instagram and he posted tons of nudibranch photos. I had no idea they existed up here till this year. Stoked.

  2. OH the Tattler is cool beans...and tide pool wonders are so thrilling. It is def a great way to get lost in the moment. Hope it cools down for y'all soon.

    1. Yeah, I'm ready for summer to end, though to be honest I was ready when it started. Hope it's not too bad out where you live.

  3. I had never heard of nudibranchs until I saw this post and also listened to a recent episode of one of my fave radio shows/podcasts about a new nudibranch species named in Australia. (http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/offtrack/moridilla-fifo/10038262) They are pretty crazy little guys and you got great pics!

    1. Holy crap that's a cool nudibranch! I keep looking at underwater cameras on amazon now because clearly I need a new toy to go with my new obsession.


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