Sunday, May 17, 2009


Me and my COASST backpack**, whose number (written on it in black marker) is OCNMS 70**, did our first survey at Rialto yesterday. I have two beach segments, both short: 'Rialto Jetty', from the parking lot to where the rip rap meets the water and cuts off beach access; and 'Ellen Creek', from the parking lot to the mouth of the creek, where god knows I have been often enough before (1)(2). The headline news is: no dead birds. By the statistics, there rarely are (1)(2).

So when I came down on the beach I first went south along the jetty, trying to make my path a wavy line as described in the protocol, outbound along the bottom of the beach in case the dropping tide wanted to leave me a dead bird to identify, measure, and photograph; and returning up by the drift, examining the smallish and drying piles of kelp and looking among the wood litter.

For my very first official act, I accidentally wrote on the Writes-in-the-Rain version of the form instead of the plain paper one. Oopsie; it was overcast at that point, but certainly not gonna be wet. I recorded weather (clouds), oil (none), wood present (yes, medium size, continuous, high), wrack present (thick, patchy). On the return leg you count people (7). I added to the comments one shorebird, who seemed to be a turnstone but I didn't get a good look, eagles over the river on the other side of the jetty, small bits of trash, a bottle or two. Next time I have to bring a trash bag.

Wrack, Rialto Jetty beach segment, May 16, 2009 (Click for larger image.)

Back at the starting point, I continued north to Ellen Creek. By then the sun was out. I managed to use the right form for this one. Weather (sun), oil (none), wood present (medium, continuous, high), wrack present (thin, patchy). 56 people, 3 dogs. In the comments, 'at least two logs whose DBH is greater than I am tall, but most smaller; very little wrack.'

22 of those 56 people appeared to be a scout troop returning from camping up the coast. It was hard to count the people, I'd get distracted and lose track of how many, or whether this foursome looks familiar because I saw them on the way out when I wasn't counting (count them) or is a group that passed me earlier (already counted).

It was downright hot by then. I went back to the car to throw away all the trash I'd picked up, switch packs, get food; and meant to go out on the beach again. The tide was coming back; I could have put on my tennies and cooled off by getting wet. But I was sundazzled and sleepy. Decided to go home.

**P.S. COASST is Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team. OCNMS is Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

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