Southern Exploring

Last Friday was perfect weather for a short road trip, so I drove south on Highway 101 for a bit of exploring. No planned route or schedule to confine me, I took pleasure in wandering by whimsy.

A pullout south of the tiny town of Yachats (pronounced YAH-hots, from the Siletz language, “dark water at the foot of the mountain”) provided a stunning view of the Heceta Head Lighthouse. Constructed in 1894, this short (but mighty) lighthouse, sends a beam 21 nautical miles out to sea, making it the strongest of Oregon’s eleven lighthouses.

While I was trying to photograph the flash of light from its first order Fresnel lens, an American Crow and a White-crowned Sparrow fluttered in. The White-crowned Sparrows have only recently returned from their wintering grounds down south. Numbers of them spend time in Southern Arizona. Wish I could’ve asked him if he’d been in Tucson recently!

I knew it would be an interesting viewpoint from the smell. Without a breeze to freshen the air, a strong stench wafted up from below. Though the surfing and sunbathing California Sea Lions were the largest animals around, they weren’t the culprits. Nope, the miasma emanating from the white feces cooking in the hot sun on the black basalt cliffs below was created by pelagic birds. Though they were too far away for me to photograph I did identify some Brandt’s Cormorants and Pigeon Guillemots. From the smell of things, I am certain they were joined by multitudes of other birds at night.

Further south I was enticed by a sign for the Darlingtonia State Natural Site. What a pleasant little surprise that turned out to be! The 18-acre site was set aside to protect the only carnivorous plant species in Oregon, Darlingtonia californica. This member of the pitcher plant family lives in sphagnum fen habitat found in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Nicknamed Cobra Lily for the shape of its leaves, it seemed appropriate that I would also see a small snake sunning in the middle of the moss.

Even though it was a long day of adventuring, it was still light out when I returned home after 8pm. The Oregon coast is receiving close to fourteen and a half hours of daylight right now. Let me rephrase that, the Oregon coast could receive that many hours of sunlight (if the rain gods allow). I suppose it makes one appreciate really the sunny days!