Ft. Stevens, 11-10-2011

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.

Ft. Stevens State Park, 9-28-’10

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.