Mile 95 Report

November 23, 2013
by John Hull

Location:
Coos
South end of Bandon State Park
Conditions:
Saturday 2:30 PM
Sunny
60° F
Wind:
Calm/Light
Humans / Pets:
People:
5
Dogs:
1
Activities:
Walking / Running:
6
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
Activity Comments:
Saw a family of three walking south along the west bank of the New River while we were walking north. Also a fisherman who was walking north. We also saw two bulldozers parked on the north side sand dunes where the New River enters the ocean. Apparently they are under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management according to Kip Wright. At 1:05 p.m. 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 your walk, up near the mouth of the New River the sloped portion of the sand became wider. And it was very clean. 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. We also saw several large gulls, each solitary, two or three in the water and one on the sand. Before we had walked past the end of 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 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 Two Mile 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. And as we made our way north there were small pebbles, not larger than a golf ball, but of many many diverse colors 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 plants 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 star fish. 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 beachgrass 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 off shore. 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 brown fur. I didn’t see any ears (so probably a seal). 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 aquatic 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 (walri?). There was a lone fisherman, who we had been following north, standing in the river wearing waders and casting is 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 p.m. 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:
At least a half a dozen pinnipeds with white or grey heads swimming at the mouth of the New River. Smaller pinnipeds (?)with dark heads in the river. One pinniped with a brown head in the surf. Large gulls. Ducks in river.
Dead Birds:
Total:
0
Stranded:
Total:
0
Fish & Invertebrates:
What appeared to be the head of one and the tail or another salmon on the wet sand. (Pictures sent to the Bilderbacks and Phillip and Fawn.)
Driftline:
Kelp or Algae·Animal casings (e.g. crab, shrimp molt)·Shells·Small rocks·Wood pieces
New Development:
Modifications:
Two bulldozers
Natural Changes:
Mouth of new river moving further north. More gorse.
Comments:
We took out one float and one plastic bottle.
Summary:
Unusual number of people, saw what we took to be a family of three walking south along the west bank of the New River and a fisherman, first seen walking north, then in the water at the mouth of the New River fishing. He had not yet caught anything. The two bulldozers (around the size of a Caterpillar D-7) sitting on the sand dune on the north side of the mouth of the New River. Less driftwood than usual, but some really large parts of trees on the dry sand near the north end of the mile(s). Pinnipeds in the water around the mouth of the New River and one with a brown head in the surf. Parts of two salmon on wet sand. Scraps of gorse on wet sand. Leaves on wet sand.
Other Mile 95 Reports (16)

2013

June 19, 2013 - John Hull
Beach fairly clean, occasional pieces of bull kelp and a frilly kelp on the wet sand. The European Beachgrass on the dunes was dead, apparently the result of being sprayed with teal-colored...

2012

November 4, 2012 - John Hull
Saw a large pelican with an injured wing and at least three (but probably more) pinnipeds in the New River near where it joins the sea. Beach was pertty clean. There was less driftwood than in the...

2011

September 18, 2011 - John Hull
Saw one pinniped in the surf and found a dead Steller's Sea Lion about eight feet long on the dry sand. Shells, animal casings, jellies and pieces of jellies, piles of Bull Kelp, small rocks and...
May 22, 2011 - John Hull
Saw what appeared to be perhaps a dozen Harbor Seals in the surf at the mouth of the New River and several solitary ones and one pair we took to be a mother and pup further south. A minimum driftline...
April 3, 2011 - John Hull
Driftline very clean, no jellies, less than a dozen pieces of mussel and crab shells, some small wood pieces, virtually no seaweed. At least five pinnipeds swimming in New River near its mouth. New...

2010

October 29, 2010 - John Hull
Two guys with two fishing rods on ATV. I thought that beach was off limits to ATVs. Some jellies, mussel shells and crab parts. Large clumps of Bull Kelp. Two types of gulls as well as two flocks...
April 25, 2010 - John Hull
No people save ourselves. Unusually large amount of driftwood on the dry sand. Lots of little pieces of wood at edge of the water (first time I've seen that). Kelp/algae, small rocks, Styrofoam...

2009

September 15, 2009 - [email protected]
Animal casings, kelp/algae and ocean-based debris in the driftline. About 30 Snowy Plover feeding with Sanderlings near surfline. Low human impact (1)-BLM ATV carrying Snowy Plover exclosures to...
September 3, 2009 - [email protected]
Animal casings, kelp/algae and ocean-based debris in driftline. About 40 Sanderlings foraging by water's edge. One dead sea lion reported to Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Low human...

2008

September 22, 2008 - [email protected]
The European Beachgrass is moving north and building sand dunes with the progression. BLM had bulldozed the dunes in 2002 and pushed the beach grass into the ocean. It's back and doing quite well. My...
  • Birds at Two Mile Creek and New River ocean mouth
July 2, 2008 - [email protected]
I crossed New River at the Lower Four Mile trail end. The water was about 18 inches deep; the river must be breached south of Lower Four Mile Creek. The mud was soft, but the water was fairly clear....

2007

November 2, 2007 - [email protected]
I accessed the beach from the north end of Roaring Surf Lane trail. New River was about 8 inches deep, walked south along New River to the end of Bandon State Park and crossed the dunes to the ocean...
  • New River and Two Mile Creek convergance looking north from Mile 95
  • Beached Northern Elephant Seal, south end of Mile 95 at the high tide line
  • Northern Elephant Seal
October 2, 2007 - [email protected]
I crossed New River at Four Mile Creek Trail, the water was 29" deep. The river bottom was hard sand. I walked North along mile 94 to access mile 95. There were a lot of shore birds (gulls and...
May 19, 2007 - [email protected]
The trail to New River was dry. The New River water level was lower than I have seen it in 5 years, my socks didn't even get wet on the crossing. Last weeks winds had pushed waves topping the dune on...
March 11, 2007 - [email protected]
I accessed mile 95 from the Lower Four Mile trail Sunday 3/11/07. One-third of the trail to New River was under water from runoff. The depth was as deep as 18" in a couple places. The water level in...
  • 12 foot 4x4
  • Tracks identified as Red Fox
March 4, 2007 - [email protected]
I attempted access from the Lower Four Mile access Saturday 3/3/07. One-third of the trail to New River was under flowing water from runoff. The depth was as deep as 18" in a couple places. The water...