A couple of Buff-breasted Sandpipers have been staging at the Necanicum Estuary (Birding Oregon p.121) in Gearhart. I have wanted to see this species in Oregon for some time, but I have been unable to connect until this year. Buff-breasteds are uncommon to begin with, and most of the population migrates through the center of the continent or over the Atlantic. A few (almost always juveniles) are found in Oregon in September most years, and the Necanicum Estuary seems to be one of the more reliable sites for this species.
After nesting in the Arctic, Buff-breasted Sandpipers fly to southern South America for the winter. Such a long migration requires that the birds occasionally stop off for a week or so to build up fat reserves before continuing their long flight. Thankfully for us birders, these long rest stops give us a good chance to go see these rare beauties when they are reported.
The algae mats that are hosting the Buffy are also attracting good numbers of other shorebirds. Several Baird’s Sandpipers were present on this visit. Pictured above are a Western Sandpiper and a Semipalmated Plover. Shorebird viewing at this location should remain good throughout September.
I spent the day birding sites around Seaside, OR (Birding Oregon p. 121).
The tide was the lowest I have seen at The Cove, revealing its sandy bottom.
The low tide allowed lots of beach-combers to wander along the rocky edges, so the only shorebirds present was a small flock of Black Turnstones.
This is a Western Gull in very worn plumage. Note the black-tipped primary just starting to grow in. The lumpy neck on this bird was caused by the large sea star he had just swallowed.
Heerman’s Gulls are normally one of the most beautiful gull species, but this individual was also extremely worn.
These birds were in better shape.
California Gulls are starting to gather along the Oregon coast. This juvenile was keeping company with an adult Western Gull.
At the north end of town is the Necanicum Estuary, also at very low tide. The exposed mud and aquatic vegetation attracted nice numbers of shorebirds.
The rarest bird of the day was this Semipalmated Sandpiper.
Notice on these shorebird tracks that the toes are partially webbed, or semipalmated. So these tracks were made by either a Western Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, or Semipalmated Sandpiper.
These tracks don’t show any sign of webbing, so they were probably made by a Least Sandpiper.
The estuary is a favorite hang-out for Caspian Terns, here joined by California Gulls.
I took a client to the Necanicum Estuary (Birding Oregon p.122) last week. Shorebirds were surprisingly scarce on the mudflats. But the sand bars were covered with Caspian Terns. There was a huge concentration of these beautiful noisy birds resting, preening, diving for fish, and feeding their young. Here is a very small part of the flock.
Offshore, Brown Pelicans were actively feeding. The smaller dark birds are Heerman’s Gulls, which make their living stealing fish from Brown Pelicans.