Monday, December 27, 2010
Gusty, Blustery Oregon Coast
I’m on a headland on the Oregon Coast. Choppy sea, racing sky. Blustery gray day. The wind whips the top off each white cap and throws it downwind. Huge breakers roll in from the Pacific and fracture into tall white plumes as they crash into the outer reef. Gulls tip and turn in the wind …. up ….up and up, and then with a big zoom, down. It is as if the gulls are snowflakes in one of those glass shake-em-up balls and someone just shook the ball. I savor their freedom. I stand here, tied to earth.
I succeeded in painting the first sketch even though the wind was strong enough to whip a flag to shreds. One hand held my book down, I tucked my paint box in the lee of the wind on a rock wall, and just jumped in, trying to capture the moment.
We were happy to eat lunch in the comfort of our car – shrimp cocktails, veggies, crackers and fruit. By two PM the wind died a little and we got out again, this time at the Shell Island overlook.
String after string of common murres are heading south. Just beyond the outer reef, they fly low over the chop, flying into the wind. A few loons are out there too. The water between us and the reef is still choppy, but offers some protection. Tiny ancient murrelets bounce on the waves and dive deep. I think the longest diver of all is the lone long-tailed duck. I haven’t seen one of those for years. I still prefer their old name, ‘old squaw.’
One red-necked grebe, a busy bundle of eared grebes, a few western grebes and horned grebes …. at least five harlequin ducks, two kinds of cormorants, and a flock of black oystercatchers … and all the wonderful gulls tipping and turning: lots of birds. As the tide goes out a great blue heron flies to the exposed rocks beneath us to start foraging. Seals and sealions haul out on the beach as soon as a stretch of sand is available. This one road out the high tide by climbing high on a rock.
A peregrine flies in to check things out from the top of Shell Island. It’s a busy, blustery place. One that makes my heart sing. We stayed until darkness was erasing all detail amongst the little islands, the reef and exposed rock.