Gray whales are migrating north past the Oregon coast and we invite you to share the excitement during Spring Whale Watch Week March 24-31. Trained volunteers from the Whale Watching Spoken Here program will be stationed 10 a.m. — 1 p.m. each day at 24 sites along the coast, ready to help people spot the migrating marine mammals.
The Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay will be open 10 a.m. — 4 p.m. daily. Visitors to the center can enjoy interactive whale exhibits and take in the panoramic ocean views. Binoculars are provided. OPRD rangers will also be on hand to answer questions about the whales. A live stream of whale activity off of Depoe Bay returns this spring too; watch it on the Oregon State Parks YouTube channel. (https://www.youtube.com/user/OregonParks/)
Visit oregonstateparks.org for information about coast parks and campgrounds.
The arrival of spring brings many visitors to the Oregon coast and all of us want you to be safe while exploring the shoreline.
“March can be a tricky time of year on the coast,” says Lisa Stevenson, OPRD beach ranger speaking at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. “The ocean can still experience stormy winter weather despite the warmer temperatures on land.”
Coastal threats can come in the form of powerful waves, unstable logs on beaches and erosion of rocks and cliffs.
“People are so excited for the spring sunshine that sometimes safety takes a back seat,” Stevenson adds. “But preparation and common sense go a long way to keeping you safe on the coast.”
Stevenson lists several tips for ensuring your trip to the coast is a safe one:
- Always keep one eye on the ocean so you won’t be caught off guard if a bigger wave surges up the beach. These “sneaker waves” are unpredictable, powerful and especially dangerous for children.
- Stay away from logs on the wet sand or in the surf. These logs can weigh several tons and can be moved by only a few inches of water. The ocean is strong enough to pick up even the biggest log and roll it over you.
- Know when the tide is coming in, especially when exploring tidepools. It’s easy to become stranded by the incoming tide when your attention is elsewhere. You can keep track of tides with a tide table; OPRD park rangers and many local businesses can give you one for free.
- Be careful on cliffs and rocks. They can be unstable due to erosion. Stay on marked trails and do not climb over fences. Both are there to keep you safe.
The 23rd annual Eagle Watch celebration will return Feb. 24-25 at Portland General Electric Round Butte Overlook Park near Madras. The event will feature activities that explore the natural and cultural significance of the eagles and other raptors that inhabit the Lake Billy Chinook area. The free two-day celebration runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday Feb. 24 and 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday Feb. 25.
“Eagle Watch is a perfect event for the entire family to learn about birds of prey” said event organizer and OPRD Park Ranger Erin Bennett. “Birding is a great hobby that anyone at any age can enjoy. All you need is curiosity.”
Eagle Watch is coordinated by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) in conjunction with Portland General Electric (PGE), Crooked River Grassland and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (CTWS).
Festivities will be held in “Eagle Village” at the Round Butte Overlook Park’s visitor center, 10 miles west of Madras. On Saturday, visitors can meet OPRD and PGE mascots, build a bluebird house and view wild eagles. Sunday’s activities include bird feeder building, wild eagle watching and a special tribal drumming and dancing presentation by the Quartz Creek Drummers and Dancers. A free hot dog lunch will be served both days, with donations supporting the Madras High School JROTC program.
Without a doubt, Saturday’s highlight will be the last appearance of Aquila, a rehabilitated 30-year-old golden eagle that has delighted Eagle Watch visitors since 2010. After this year, she will assume a comfortable life in retirement from public events. Visitors can meet Aquila during Saturday’s lunch.
Round Butte Overlook Park is home to an estimated 11 pairs of bald eagles, and nine pairs of golden eagles. With migratory eagles joining the resident population in late winter, the area is one of the largest gathering spots for eagles in Oregon.
Admission and parking at Round Butte Overlook Park is free. Attendees can buy souvenirs and take part in a daily silent auction, with proceeds benefiting the Oregon Eagle Foundation. Indian Fry bread proceeds will support sending local kids to the rodeo. Only cash and checks will be accepted; no ATM is on site.
For more information about the event, call 541-546-3412.