The park offers a variety of habitat from a pebble beach to a lush fern canyon; a pygmy forest where mature, cone-bearing cypress and pine trees stand six inches to eight feet tall; and a bog, or ‘cabbage patch’, where skunk cabbage grows in abundance. The park’s ten miles of trail go along the fern-carpeted canyon of Little River. There’s also a paved road used by joggers, bicyclists and birders. The beach is popular with abalone divers, sea kayakers, and birders who scan the ocean, cove and beach for gulls, loons, cormorants, and other pelagic birds that might be present on the bay. This is a good place to bird in foul weather; birds appreciate the refuge offered by the sheltered bay, and birders appreciate being able to scan the beach and cove from their car. Black Oystercatchers are often found on the rocky shore, a Long-tailed Duck has been seen in the cove, Red-necked, Horned and Eared Grebe have been spotted with some of the more expected near-shore birds. More than 100 Brants have been reported just yards off the beach, and Black-legged Kittiwake are sometimes seen among the hundreds of gulls eating and resting on the beach. Scan the gulls for Bonaparte’s Gull and “Wes” a Western Gull that was banded near the Farallon Islands June 24th, 1989. Wes was first reported at Van Damme Cove March of 1996, then several times over the years. Keeping the gull population in-check is a Peregrine Falcon, seen hunting gulls here and spots further up the coast. The forested parts of the park are good spots to look for resident and wintering birds. This is known as a reliable spot to see a discrete population of Gray Jay – northern Humboldt County will be your next chance to see these birds. Look for them on picnic tables in the upper campground, especially during camping season. Birds seen in the spring include Violet-green Swallows, and early arrivals of Allen’s Hummingbird and Barn Swallow. Check the evergreens on the upper campground loop road for Hermit Warblers, and the pine forest in the park’s Pygmy Forest for Red Crossbills. Facilities include a restroom at the beach parking lot and in the park. There are also day use picnic areas and camping within the park.
Best Time for Viewing: Morning and Late Afternoon
Best Months and Seasons for Viewing: Spring and Fall
For More Information, Contact:
Mendocino Coast Audubon Society
P.O. Box 2297, Fort Bragg, CA 95437