Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Mode

The days are very long. Sunday afternoon headed west, June survey for dead birds on the outer coast. It's the season of 'June gloom, Juneuary, or tomato hell... whatever' as Cliff Mass writes, and I love it. Even when it's sunny inland, the marine layer keeps the oceanside gray, but by mid-afternoon on Sunday it was raining all over.

Cloudy, south end of the beach at Rialto Jetty, June 12, 2011 (Click for larger image.)
Rain, looking north from near Ellen Creek, Rialto Beach, June 12, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

Unofficial report for COASST: no dead birds, lots of other beach matters to report: There was a deer on the beach, only the second time I've seen one there; by the time I'd whipped the camera out from under the poncho, he was walking away towards the drift. Ellen Creek was in summer mode, not running across the beach but just seeping out through the berm. Two black oystercatchers were on the sand, then flew to a rock (we don't usually have any shore birds at all at Rialto). The sea was very flat. Flights of pelicans out at sea. Some sea stars & bryozoans in the wrack, but mostly various kinds of kelp.

Deer on the Beach (Click for larger image.)
Black oystercatcher (Click for wider view.)

What appeared at first to be a piece of log shaped like a seal was in fact a dead marine mammal. I'll confer with my Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary mentor tomorrow because— as is often the case when left on my own with a dead creature and a data sheet— I couldn't identify it even though it should be obvious. It was way too small for a sea lion, but it had ear flaps so it couldn't be a harbor seal. I had to leave blank the ID fields at the top of the Marine Mammal Stranding Report.

The bryozoan (moss animal) Flustrella (appearances notwithstanding, a colonial animal) (Click for larger image.)
Wrack. Ellen Creek beach segment, Rialto Beach (Click for larger image.)

Windshield wipers all the way home. :-)

PS Lovely interactive graphic about summer and winter beach profiles, part of a very instructive website from the Coastal Morphology Group, Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

1 comment:

robin andrea said...

The only time I ever saw Oystercatchers and deer at the beach was in Port Townsend. A very cool sight.

I hope you'll update the blog with info on that marine mammal. I'd love to know what it was. Roger and I did a marine mammal rescue training in PT. Turns out, we mostly were sent out to ID dead animals.