Ellen Steen

Ellen Steen

Steve and Karen Walz were out fishing for late fall fish in Tillamook Bay. They saw lots of wildlife, but caught no salmon this time around. Buffleheads and numerous other ducks, bald eagles and sandpipers kept the Walzes company. The sandpipers were “least sandpipers” (calidris minutilla), the smallest of the sandpipers, also called “Peeps.” Peeps settle on the banks of the river or on the beach; they blend in and you can't see them until they suddenly take flight. A sturgeon jumped up and gave Karen the “fish eye” as they trolled past Memaloose boat launch. Steve wonders why we don't have sturgeon retention days in Tillamook Bay, as they do in the Columbia River. Any answer, readers?

Big news: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded the contract for the construction of the Cape Meares Loop Road to M.A. DeAtley Construction. According to Chris Laity, Tillamook County Director of Public Works, tree falling will occur this winter to avoid impacts to the marbled murrelet. Construction will begin in the spring of 2022 and is expected to be finished by late summer 2023. FHWA announced that John Henderson will be the project engineer, and that he has taken residence in the Oceanside-Netarts area. Henderson will prepare and distribute weekly project newsletters; these newsletters will be available to the public at https://www.co.tillamook.or.us/publicworks/page/county-road-department.

I mentioned sea turtles in a recent column. That brought a call from one of the Fencepost writers’ favorite readers, Pat Patterson. Pat, a WWII veteran who is almost 100 years old, worked at Edmonds Fish and Crab Company in Garibaldi back in the 1950s. He was there when a commercial fishing vessel brought in a giant sea turtle. They hung it on a big scale and the beast weighed 900 pounds! Its head was the size of a gallon bucket. The dead sea turtle remained on display at the plant for some time; it was an amazing sight.

A correction about the two dead owls recently found on our beach: I spoke with Wendy Burroughs, colloquially called “The Dead Bird Lady” from her environmental education career in Arizona (among other duties, she helped officials determine what a bird had died from). She had had an opportunity to examine both dead owls and found no sign of injury, such as from a bird of prey. She suggests, instead, that their demise was perhaps due to poisoning. Rat poison left out around your home may inadvertently poison other animals. Thank you, Wendy, for sharing your expertise.

A neighbor and I attended the Christmas bazaar recently held at the Tillamook Fairgrounds. What a lot of talents folks have! Colored tiles, wood-burned signs, cute baby blankets, ocean-themed furnishings, woven clothing…it was an amazing display of handiwork. I am looking forward to attending a few more bazaars before the holiday season is over.

It's an anniversary! CARE, Tillamook County’s homegrown, locally controlled, non-profit social services agency that helps the indigent in our community, is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Support their mission of helping the low-income and homeless in our community by visiting https://www.avstream.me/care30 and making a donation today.

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