Trestle Bay, just off Parking Lot D at Fort Stevens State Park, can be one of the more productive shorebird spots on the north coast. Timing is critical, as the bay fills completely with the high tide.
When the tide is out, the bay provides extensive mudflats. With this much exposed mud, the birds can be quite distant, so timing your visit when the tide is coming in can produce some nice viewing.
On this visit we observed what we thought was a California Sea Lion carcass way out on the flat.
Later we noticed the the sea lion had rolled over and extended a flipper. Apparently he was just hanging out on the mudflat catching some sun.
I normally see these animals basking on rocks, but the mud was apparently working for this guy.
Southbound shorebird migration tends to come in waves, and we were between waves on this visit. Our consolation birds were this flock of Common Mergansers with a California Gull.
Happy last days of summer.
Yaquina Bay, at the town of Newport, is one of the more productive sites on the Oregon coast. On this visit, high winds reduced the number of birds that were out and about, but there was still a lot to see.
Common Loon with the catch of the day
Horned Grebe (above) and Western Grebe
The flats behind the Hatfield Marine Science Center. There were lots of Mew Gulls, some Brant, and Northern Pintails. Note the Peregrine Falcon at the base of the fallen tree.
Large numbers of California Sea Lions loaf on the jetties and docks on the bay.
I spent a warm sunny November day at Ft. Stevens (Birding Oregon p. 119). The tide and winds were both high, so the sea was too rough to find any birds on the water near the south jetty at parking lot C.
The best birds of the trip were a flock of five Snow Buntings, a species that has eluded me in Oregon until now. They appeared on the beach near the jetty, then quickly moved on.
This image shows three Snow Buntings in flight. No, really.
There were hundreds of California Sea Lions in the area, both on the jetty and in the surf.
A flock of at least 35 Semipalmated Plovers were working the wrack line. There are ten in this image. No, really.
Here’s a better view of a Semipalmated Plover.
This Palm Warbler was a nice surprise. This species is rare along the coast in autumn.
Brown Pelicans were very common. The Heerman’s Gulls that harass them during the summer have already moved south for the winter, so the pelicans can feed in relative peace.
An adult (left) and juvenile Brown Pelican
Western Gull (left) and Herring Gull. The gulls on the beach are much more wary than those that spend the winter in Portland.
Sanderlings and Mew Gulls
Other goodies that escaped the camera were a Peregrine Falcon on the beach, a Northern Shrike, and three Western Meadowlarks. It was a great day to enjoy the sun before the cold wet weather settles in to stay.
I took a client birding along the northern coast this week. Ft. Stevens State Park (Birding Oregon p.119) is a mandatory stop when spending a day in this area.
An observation deck overlooks the south jetty of the Columbia River. This is usually a great place to find birds on the water, but the surf was very rough on this day. Notice the waves washing over the jetty.
This California Sea Lion had hauled out onto the beach to take a break from the big surf.
This flock of Sanderlings was feeding on the calmer side of the spit.
Notice how the second bird from the right is bending his upper mandible. Shorebird bills are flexible, allowing the birds to grab onto prey beneath the surface of the sand.
Running along at the very edge of the waves is typical behavior for Sanderlings.
An American Crow on the beach. Some sources list Northwestern Crows as occurring at Fort Stevens, but there is no physical evidence to show that Northwestern Crows have ever inhabited Oregon. The race of American Crow found along the West Coast is considerably smaller than the races found inland. This might lead to confusion among visitors who are used to seeing larger crows.