Mile 94 Report

November 23, 2013
by John Hull

Location:
Coos
West of Laurel Lake, Lost Lake
Conditions:
Saturday 1:05 PM
Sunny
65° F
Wind:
Calm/Light from the W
Humans / Pets:
People:
8
Dogs:
1
Activities:
Walking / Running:
6
Fishing:
3
Concerns:
Disturbances:
Shorebirds moving in response to humans/dogs
Vehicles:
Cars/Trucks parking:
0
ATVs/OHVs parking:
0
RVs/Buses parking:
RVs/Buses parking: 0
Cars/Trucks on beach, allowed:
0
ATVs/OHVs on beach, allowed:
0
Cars/Trucks on beach, prohibited:
0
ATVs/OHVs on beach, prohibited:
0
Activity Comments:
Two fishermen in motor boat on New River, one fisherman walking North on beach, group of three people walking South along West Bank of New River, and the two of us and our dog walking from Lower Fourmile Creek to mouth of New River and back.At 1:05 pm we set out with Lucie Anne. It was very mild, warm sunny and with no clouds. The breeze was very light. We walked down the newly mown path, courtesy of Tom Brown, to our dinghy, the Second Sea Sprite. Things were a bit disorderly. The large knotted climbing robe Rick Tempesta had attached to the myrtle tree was untied from the tree and in a pile near its base. I guessed that Tom had done that to avoid chopping it up with his track-powered mower.We tied that rope, which helps us climb back up onto the land until I build us a dock, to the tree again and got the boat launched. Lucie got in first and then Blaine and finally me. I rowed us out onto the Lower Fourmile Creek, which was as calm as we have ever seen it. The weather was warm enough that a tee shirt and shorts were quite sufficient, and there was scarcely a breeze; so, the water was a mirror, both on the Creek and the River. We saw many small ducks on both bodies of water, and some took flight as we passed by. We found a good spot to pull up on the West shore of the New River, and all got out. I left my sweatshirt on the boat as it was so warm and mild.We were surprised to see a motor boat making its way towards us from the South. It carried two fishermen. When I mentioned that technically there were not supposed to be motor craft in the new River, one of them said the rules had changed according to a sign where they put in at Storm Ranch.(Rick Howard, the noted local fishing guide, had told us earlier that the BLM does not really control the New River and that control belongs to the State, which he said does permit motor craft.) We crossed the dunes and agreed they are even wider than in the past, and it appeared there was even more European Beachgrass. The sandy beach was also unusually wide, over a hundred yards from the west edge of the foredune to the surf,and it was very level with a slope just at the edge above the surf. Although at the far north end of our walk, up near the mouth of the New River, the sloped portion of the sand became wider. The beach was very clean with hardly any objects on the sand. There were some clumps of dry bull kelp here and there but otherwise pretty much nothing on the dry sand. The waves were as small as I can recall seeing, just three feet from trough to crest on the largest and most only about two feet tall. Perhaps consequently, the spindrift was minimal, and so, the view both north toward Bandon and south to Cape Blanco was the clearest I can remember.We saw a single small white and grey bird and wondered if it was a Snowy Plover. I took a photo. Further along we saw a flock of what appeared to be the same birds, twenty or more. I photographed them, too. I tried to capture them in flight but was unable to do so. We also saw several large gulls, each solitary, two or three in the water and one on the sand. Before we had walked past what I think is the end of mile 94 two twin engine airplanes flew overhead, crossing from west to east. Blaine speculated they were heading for the little Bandon Airport, perhaps to play golf over the holiday weekend. As near as I could tell they both had retractable landing gear. Fancy. We made our way north across miles 94 and 95 (and probably the first part of 96). We started out about 1:30 pm. We didn’t reach the place where the new River now reaches the sea until we had walked about an hour and a half. I imagine we were walking two miles an hour so that would place it two and a half miles at least north of the mouth of the Lower Fourmile Creek. It keeps moving north. Blaine pointed out that the Twomile Creek now enters the New River hundreds of yards south of where the New River reaches the sea. The confluence of the two used to be directly west of where the New River met the sea. As we made our way north there were small pebbles, not larger than a golf ball, but of many many diverse colours in the wet sand, as well as pieces of crab limbs, but on the entire walk I found only one complete carapace. It was nearly five inches across. There were shells of a bivalve Blaine said are razor clams. Plus ones I identified as oysters. I even found a snail shell.Sadly, we also found several pieces of plant on the wet sand which we identified as gorse but dead, of course. Later, as we made our way back south along the west bank of the New River we found a gorse plant, alive, that was at least six feet across. Bummer! Of course, the east bank of the New River has been thick with gorse for years. We found the tail of a fish which I think was a salmon and I photographed it. Later we found the head of what was pretty clearly a salmon and took another picture. I am guessing some pinnipeds must have been responsible. I saw no jellies or starfish. Not seeing the former is unusual. As we reached the point where the sand dunes become intermittent (which I think of as the start of Mile 95), it appeared that the herbicide which had been sprayed on the European Beach Grass was still effective. The grass looked dead, and there were no signs of new growth there. Around that point we saw three people through an opening in the dunes, looked like a man, a woman and a child, walking south over near the west bank of the New River. We found the large stump of a tree in the surf. It was the first time we had seen such a thing. And further along there were large parts of trees on the dry sand near the surf. In the past the big parts of trees have been on the far side of the dry sand, but they were not there this time. I suspect the big storms of Winter push them across the spit of land and closer to the New River. It wasn’t until we were almost to the end of our northward journey that we found the first clump of relatively fresh bull kelp down near the wet sand, and it was attended by a horde of little insects I call sand fleas. As we made our way along the wet sand we saw dark objects out at sea, perhaps a hundred yards or so offshore. We couldn’t identify them but suspected they were floating objects, but then, we did see what was clearly the head of a pinniped close to shore, perhaps fifty feet away briefly. It had a brown fur. I didn’t see any ears. When we reached the mouth of the New River, we were rewarded with the sighting of at least four large pinnipeds swimming at the confluence of the fresh and salt water. They appeared to be studying us or our dog Lucy, who has a head shaped somewhat like theirs, but with the addition of long floppy Bassett ears. The fur of the adquatic mammals was light grey. We also briefly saw two smaller dark heads in the River near the mouth. They only appeared briefly, and we wondered if they might have been river otters or some other type of pinniped. As I understand it, pinnipeds include the true seals like the grey seal, eared seals like the sea lion, and walruses. There was a lone fisherman, who we had been following north, standing in the river wearing waders and casting in a way that looked like fly fishing. We asked him if he had caught anything but he had not. But the most unusual sighting was two bulldozers; they looked about the size of Caterpillar D-7s parked on the sandy bluff on the North side of the New River. Later I received a call from Kip Wright at the Bureau of Land Management, and he told me they were part of the BLM’s annual project to knock down some of the dunes to assist the Western Snow Plover. He also indicated that as part of the proposed land swap with Bandon Biota, it is possible the BLM will take over ownership of the dunes directly west of our house and west and north of the place where Lower Fourmile Creek enters the New River. We found human footprints and what appeared to be the track of some sort of ATV as we walked south along the west Bank of the New River. We brought back one foam fishing or crabbing float and one plastic bottle. As we walked south on the west bank of the New River, the current was flowing fairly quickly north. We got back just before 5 pm and sunset. I went upstairs and prepared a glass of Chardonnay and watched the sun setting in a little blaze of glory over the Ocean.
Notable Wildlife:
Sea gulls, Snow Plovers (?), pinnipeds, possible river otters, small ducks
Dead Birds:
Total:
0
Stranded:
Total:
0
Fish & Invertebrates:
What appeared to be the tail of one salmon and the head of what almost certainly was a salmon on the wet sand.
Driftline:
Kelp or Algae·Animal casings (e.g. crab, shrimp molt)·Ocean-based debris (from fishing boats, ship trash, etc.)·Shells·Small rocks·Styrofoam
Leaves, pieces of gorse
New Development:
Modifications:
Natural Changes:
Comments:
We brought back one foam fishing float and one plastic bottle.
Summary:
More people than we have ever seen on a beach walk before, two fishermen in small powered boat on new River, one fisherman walking, and what appeared to be a family of three walking South along the West Bank of the New River. Weather very mild. Small dark ducks on Lower Fourmile Creek and New River. Three or four sea gulls. What we think might have been one lone and then a flock of Western Snowy Plovers.
Other Mile 94 Reports (26)

2016

May 1, 2016 - John Hull
Accessed mile by rowing down Fourmile Creek and beaching on west side of New River. Saw no gorse on this side. Human activities included five fishermen and a person flying a kite. Sandy beach gently...

2014

March 13, 2014 - Volunteer Trainer
Dead lamb and salmon on the beach.Photos by Rod Cink
  • Thursday, 3-13, ~10:00am43.07.04.49 N124.25.57.53 W - (both of them)

2013

June 19, 2013 - John Hull
Warm day, beach wide and fairly flat, pretty clean with occasional kelp, few jellies, dozens of crab carapaces, a few broken Sand Dollars, feathers, and some other crab parts. A Bald Eagle resting...

2012

November 4, 2012 - John Hull
Saw pelican with injured wing walking on beach and a dead baby sealion and three dead birds (just partial carcasses). Only we and our dog were on the beach with no signs of anyone else and no foot...
  • What looked to me like a dead little seal, possibly entangled.
April 5, 2012 - John Hull
Once again no people nor signs of people. Wet sand and sand below driftline quite clean and relatively narrow (fifty to one hundred yards wide). One large dead sea mammal, too decomposed to see if...

2011

October 18, 2011 - John Hull
Beach sand and wet sand very clean. One nine by twelve by three foot concrete dock or pier on dry sand. Flock of over a hundred gulls of two species together on wet sand. Flock of about thirty...
September 19, 2011 - H Witschi
Beach was very clean. Shells and animal casings in the driftline. One dead Steller's Sea Lion. One Great White Egret, flocks of Sanderlings and sea gulls. Five people on the beach - two walking and...
July 7, 2011 - H Witschi
Shells, animal casings and small rocks in the driftline. Practically no trash. No human impact. ATV tracks going north and south on the beach. The mouth of New River is quite narrow (10-20 feet) and...
May 22, 2011 - John Hull
Animals were three Sanderlings, seven cormorants, less than ten pelicans, and one bald eagle over the New River. Four people on beach with one dog (our party). Beach and driftline very clean, no...
April 3, 2011 - John Hull
There were only three of us, my wife and I and our dog on the beach. Very clean driftline. We saw three flocks of small shore birds foraging in the wet send, chasing the receding waves- Sanderlings...

2010

September 25, 2010 - John Hull
One set of human footprints (besides mine) and one set of dog tracks. Lots of small feathers at water's edge for first time. Unusual number of jellies on wet sand, very few shells or crab parts....
June 8, 2010 - John Hull
No signs of recent human activity. Lots of plastic shards on the dry sand. Two jellies, nearly a dozen whole sand dollars and many pieces of crab shell in driftline. Ten or more floats per mile....

2009

October 9, 2009 - John Hull
Except for one old set of boot prints no signs of people or their debris. One dead male California Sea Lion,and a few birds. Little jetsam except for shells, small rocks, a few sand dollars and two...
  • It appears that this carcass was male as the head has a sagittal crest that is prominent in male California Sea Lions.
September 15, 2009 - [email protected]
Accessed Mile 95 From the North end of Mile 94. I had a beautiful day on my mile. Animal casings and kelp/algae in the driftline. One dead California Sea Lion (reported to Marine Mammal Stranding...
  • Found dead on the North quarter mile of Mile 94.
September 8, 2009 - H Witschi
Very quiet, very clean beach; Snowy Plover crew quickly passing through. Shells and animal casings in driftline on a remarkably clean beach. One dead California Sea Lion reported to Diane and Dave...
September 3, 2009 - [email protected]
Parked at the Lower Four Mile BLM parking area and took the trail to New River. There were about a dozen geese and a couple of swans feeding in the river. Waded the river, there must be a breech down...
June 2, 2009 - H Witschi
Practically no human impact; vehicles tracks/footprints most likely from Snowy Plover observers/predator control.Along miles 94 and 95 dry sand (dunes) marked and declared Snowy Plover nesting...
January 12, 2009 - H Witschi
No human activities, except for a few old footprints along New River, no noteable wildlife, no noticeable physical changes to shoreline - looks as it always did for the last few years. Kelp/algae and...

2008

November 14, 2008 - John Hull
Lots of kelp but very little else. Several types of shore birds on sand, flying, or in water. Only other visible animals were sand fleas. Very little in terms of shells or crab parts.Limited...
September 9, 2008 - H Witschi
Untouched beach - only a few (old) human footprints. Remarkably clean beach, practically no litter. Dead birds were 2 Common Murre, 1 large immature gull and 2 unidentified birds. Low human impact (...
August 22, 2008 - John Hull
Large clumps of Bull Kelp at beginning of mile. More kelp than June, also birds this time (gulls and Sanderlings?), one dead bird (small gull?), very little litter. Jellies found along mile but also...
June 27, 2008 - H Witschi
Easy crossing of New River at access point; river not even knee deep. No human impact. Beach remarkably clean, but massive sand build-up. A few snowy plovers seen, one blue heron flying along east...
June 2, 2008 - John Hull
Looked good to me, clean and unoccupied. Thought it odd that there were no small shore birds. Shells, mole crab casings, 2 black fishing floats, one crab float with line but no seaweed in driftline...

2007

July 7, 2007 - [email protected]
I crossed New River from the BLM trail at the end of Lower Four Mile Lane. New River seems to still be flowing south at Four Mile Creek. There was a little mud, but not bad, not even knee deep. I saw...
May 21, 2007 - [email protected]
I waded the New River mud at the BLM Trail north of Lower Four Mile Road. Shells, animal casings and small rocks in driftline. Low human impact (0).
March 11, 2007 - [email protected]
As long as I was in the area, I walked Mile 94. Shells, animal casings, small rocks, wood pieces, ocean-based debris in driftline. shore birds foraging in surfline. I took a picture of some tracks...