Oregon Coast Notebook: South Siuslaw Jetty

As David James Duncan observed in his classic The River Why, all those Oregon coastal rivers that come rushing and hurrying down out of the Coast Range slow to a crawl in meanders and bends when they get near the ocean. James claimed that viewed from the right angle, from the right hilltop, one river channel even wrote the word “Why” on the coastal plain, giving James his book’s title.

The Siuslaw River, probably the coastal stream WC knows best, certainly tries to avoid actually running into the ocean, meandering back and forth through the sand dunes and salt marshes. The south bank of the river has a road to the jetty at the river’s mouth. The road ends at the base of the jetty, in sand dunes, invasive Scotch Broom and coastal pines. It’s just a mile or two past the infamous site of the exploding whale. The jetty is intended to make the river entrance a bit easier to navigate, and reduce sand deposition at the mouth of the stream. WC had no idea how successful it is as those efforts – the Corps of Engineers doesn’t have an exactly stellar track record. The jetty does disrupt the dunes, but on the positive side it provides some good bird habitat.

The big surprise was finding a Northern Mockingbird out there. The Oregon bird lists for the area have the species as rare.

Northern Mockingbird, South Jetty, Siuslaw River, Oregon

It’s always a treat to find a bird out of range, seemingly content to be hanging out where they aren’t supposed to be. A comeuppance, of sorts, for ornithologists.

WC recently posted his first photo of a Wrentit, complaining a little about the surroundings. Well, the Wrentits of South Jetty are much more cooperative.

Wrentit, South Jetty Siuslaw River, Oregon

WC wishes all birds were as cooperative. Because this fellow wasn’t.

Common Yellowthroat, South Jetty Siuslaw River, Oregon

The Yellowthroat rarely came into the open, insisted on appearing against a bright sky, and didn’t hold a position more more than a nanosecond.

WC doesn’t want to neglect waterfowl; by definition, a jetty is pretty much surrounded by water. Unhappily, the waterfowl weren’t all that cooperative, either. A Common Loon came close enough to photograph, but only just barely.

Common Loon, South Jetty Siuslaw River, Oregon

Still, finding birds is always a treat. Photographing them is even better. It had been more than fifty years since WC had been out by the South Jetty. While memories are understandably fuzzy after all that much time, except for a lot more Scotch Broom, things didn’t seem t have changed much after all that time.

That’s reassuring, given all of the other changes.