It has now been a week since I have arrived in Oregon. Everyday I become more and more intrigued with Siuslaw. This week, I was introduced to a few of the places I will find myself these next five months.
Cape Perpetua, a large forested headland that is about 19 miles North of Sutton. If you drive up to the Visitor center you get an excellent view of the ocean. On Monday, there was a group of Grey Whales putting on a show! They were splashing and having a heck of a time! Cape Perpetua has a lot of trails, one that takes you closer to the coast, another that connects to other trails that leads to an overlook that allows you to see down the coastline for miles. There’s even one trail that leads you to an area that gives you a feel of what an old-growth forest is and why it is important habitat to the mysterious marbled murrelet.
Old-growth forests are an unique habitat in that it has such great diversity, not only the tree species but in the varying ages of these trees. There are young, old and even dead trees, which are important to various animal species. The marbled murrelet is a special little seabird, it spends most of its life out on the sea. But during the breeding season it does something quite interesting, it flies from the ocean up to 20 miles inland to nest on an old-growth tree. This species does not make its own nests, it finds one in a tree that is covered in mountains of tree litter, lichen and moss makes a little indent in it and lays a single egg.
The litter on the branches can also serve as camouflage from predators. I saw an amazing example of one of these trees when I went on a field trip to the Audubon Sanctuary with Paul Engelmeyer, one of the first people to ever find a marbled murrelet nest in Oregon. This tree stood about 750 ft high and its trunk is about 18 feet in diameter.
Another one of the field offices, that I will be working at this summer is at the US Forest Service Rangers station in Waldport and it is a little over 29 miles North of Florence. The day I went there was when the staff got together to listen to Jerry Ingersoll, Siuslaw National Forest supervisor, give a talk about the state of the forest. He told us about how last year was a great year even though some goals were not necessarily met, projects that have been ongoing have definitely been starting to show positive effects and that this year will be about maintaining them. All of the people that I have met this week have been excited to see a new face and are more than willing to share nuggets of knowledge they have about the area, species and places I need to see and visit.