Oregon Coast

As our trip to Oregon began to wind down, I spent a second day trying to shoot as much of the Oregon coast as I could. I didn’t get to go to all the places I wanted to go, but I certainly enjoyed the areas I did visit and the wildlife and scenery there.

The 804 Trail is part of the Oregon Coast Trail and ran right in front of the house we rented in Yachats. At one time, the trail was the only way to get from Waldsport to Florence before the 101 highway was built along the coast. Back then the trail would actually travel right along the shore, and at high tide, the trail was under water. But today the trail has been re-established along the bluffs, safe from the pounding surf. The 804 trail runs from the Smelt Sands State Wayside through the village of Yachats and the Oregon Coast Trail runs the length of the state. Click the images to view larger.

804 trail along the Oregon Coast
804 trail along the Oregon Coast

Faith and I walked the trail one morning and came upon a memorial that had been constructed behind one of the motels along the coast. The memorial describes how two young men were out on the rocks at low tide investigating the tidal pools when a sneaker wave came up behind them and washed them off the rocks and into the cold ocean water. There was no way for them to get back out of the water and the waves pounded them into the rocks as they struggled to get to safety. They drowned within just a few minutes. It was a very sad story, but a reminder of just how dangerous it can be along the Oregon Coast. Never turn your back on the ocean when on the rocks of the Oregon coast. Out of respect, I didn’t take any photos of the memorial.

I found it interesting how the trees along the coast were shaped in a lot of the places we went. It would seem that there is a steady strong wind off the Pacific most of the year in order to shape trees like this. In fact, in the two weeks we’ve spent there in the last year, I don’t remember a day when the wind wasn’t blowing hard off the ocean.

Wind-swept tree on the Oregon Coast
Wind-swept tree on the Oregon Coast

I found another Song Sparrow during one of my walks. Of course he was singing. They have quite a beautiful song. But I liked this image with a little bit of green in it better than the images of him singing his heart out. Looks like he might have been into the berries just before I found him.

Song Sparrow - Oregon Coast
Song Sparrow – Oregon Coast

I found some easily accessible rocks that are exposed at low tide. This sea anemone was the only one I found all week that was slightly open. Most are closed up as the water recedes, but this one was still showing some of the tentacles and his mouth. He was also the biggest one I had seen all week. The tidal pools are really cool and I could easily spend a day shooting them.

Sea Anemone - Oregon Coast
Sea Anemone – Oregon Coast

As I continued down the trail, I came across a very cooperative White-crowned Sparrow. He’s got something in his beak and I wonder if maybe he had some nestlings in the grasses below where he was perched. He sat patiently on the perch allowing me to take as many images as I wanted. I suspect that as soon as I walked away, he ducked down into the grass to feed the chicks.

White-crowned Sparrow - Oregon Coast
White-crowned Sparrow – Oregon Coast

One of the unexpected sights we saw was how the Western Gulls would nest right on the rooftops of the homes along the coast. There were dozens of homes with adults and recently hatched chicks roaming the rooftops. One of the houses was right next door to our rental house. That nest had 3 chicks in it and they spent their day either huddled against the chimney, or chasing their parents for a meal.

One of our rooftop neighbors.  Western Gull chick - Oregon Coast
One of our rooftop neighbors. Western Gull chick – Oregon Coast

The real fun would begin when dad would return with a crop full of fish for the youngsters. As the sun began to set, dad returned and the chicks followed him everywhere. Here they wait patiently as he is about to disgorge dinner for the chicks. Although there were 3 chicks on the rooftop, only these two showed up for dinner. It would have been nice if dad had picked a more photographically pleasing spot for dinner, but I’ll have to take the roof vents in order to tell the story.

Come on, dad!!  We're hungry!  Western Gulls - Oregon Coast
Come on, dad!! We’re hungry! Western Gulls – Oregon Coast

Seconds later, dinner was delivered. And boy were these little guys hungry. I didn’t realize how many smelts a gull could store in his crop, but what was more amazing was just how quickly these two gobbled up every single one of them. The meal may have spent 30 seconds on the roof and then it was gone.

Dinner is served!  Western Gulls - Oregon Coast
Dinner is served! Western Gulls – Oregon Coast

This final image is a panorama of the house we rented in Yachats. I’m standing at the edge of the bluff facing east. Directly behind me is a 10 foot drop to the rocks and another 20 yards beyond that is the Pacific Ocean. The house on the left with the red chimney is where the gulls nested and provided the shots above.

The Pearl - Oregon Coast
The Pearl – Oregon Coast


  • gary defeyter

    August 15, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Great stuff. We want to go back next year. Did you spend any time on the sand dunes towards the southern part of the state. When we were there they were having a Dune Buggy outing. Crazy Cool dune buggies. Love all of your Oregon shots. You shot a lot of stuff that I missed.

    • Michael

      August 15, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      We visited the dunes last year, but we didn’t go any further south this year than Heceta Head. This year the focus was the northern half of the coast. Next time we’ll spend more time in Bandon and points south.

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  • Brenda Vazquez

    August 26, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Where does one begin when describing the magnificence of Oregon especially for the nature photographer? I went there expecting to photograph landscapes: waterfalls; mountains; coastal landscapes and lighthouses. I did not expect that I’d photograph so many different species of birds. I’m so glad I took my 70-200 and my 2x TC. I was able to photograph several species of birds which are native only to the Pacific Northwest that I obviously had never seen before. I was even able to photograph birds in snow, which was a first for me. Those pictures will come later. But today, I will post a pic of the bird I seemed to run into the most along the Oregon coast, the white crowned sparrow. A real poser if I could say so myself and quite a singer.