I had to go to Tillamook Bay to get some photos for an upcoming webinar. This particular day had freakishly nice weather, very un-Tillamook-like. Ideally, during fall migration, a birder hopes for onshore winds to bring seabirds and shorebirds close to shore, and a light overcast to provide gentle light for viewing and cool temperatures. This day brought light east winds, a cloudless cobalt blue sky, and temperatures in the 80s. I guess we have to play the cards we are dealt.

This is the Three Graces Tidal Area. The sun hadn’t cleared the hill yet so it was too dark to photograph the Harlequin Duck that was swimming around the rocks. Harlequins are regular at this site.

At the Bay City Oyster Plant, this Double-crested Cormorant was taking advantage of the sun to dry his wings.

Black Phoebe on the pilings at the oyster plant

With the east winds, shorebirds were very rare on this trip. This mixed flock of Least and Western Sandpipers at the oyster plant was the only big flock of the day.

Western Gull, hanging out on the Purple Martin boxes

I did the Tillamook Death March around Bayocean Spit. The ocean side of the spit is typically not as birdy as the bay side, but there was not a single shorebird on this trip.

There had apparently been at least a couple of shorebirds here earlier in the day.

Always glad to see these signs, hope that the Snowy Plover population will continue to recover on the Oregon Coast.

The Common Ravens on the beach were pretty skittish. I wonder if they have been “encouraged” to avoid the plover nesting areas.

There were a lot of these jellyfish near the mouth of the bay. Yet another reason I don’t swim in the ocean.

Despite the summery weather, autumn migrants, like this Red-necked Grebe, are trickling in.

A Mew Gull with two California Gulls

Despite the eerily nice weather, there were a few birds around. We need to remind ourselves that there is always something to see.

Happy Autumn

North Coast, 21 November 2013

phoebe 2I spent a cold but sunny day on the coast, from Seaside to the Columbia River. One of the best surprises of the day was this Black Phoebe at Millponds Park in Seaside. This species continues to expand its range northward, both along the coast and in the Willamette Valley.

song sparrowWhile the ponds at this park are attractive to freshwater waterfowl like Ring-necked Ducks and Hooded Mergansers, the brushy areas hold good numbers of sparrows. Here is a Song Sparrow in the harsh sunlight.

fox sparrowFox Sparrows are common in the brushy areas. Unfortunately, my camera prefers to focus on the brush, rather than on the birds.

dunlin 6This lone Dunlin was the only shorebird I found at Fort Stevens. He was very tolerant of my presence.
dunlin 3The same bird, blending in well with the sand
dunlin 2
rn grebeThe Seaside Cove hosted huge rafts of birds; all three scoters, Greater Scaup, Western Grebe, and a single Long-tailed Duck. Most birds were beyond the breakers (aka beyond camera range), but this Red-necked Grebe came in close enough for a blurry photo.

surfbird 1sleepy Surfbird

turnstones 1preening and sleeping Black Turnstones

turnstone and surfbird 2sleepy Black Turnstone and Surfbird

Seasonal Mix

IMG_1929I did the Tillamook Death March this week, walking the six miles around Bayocean Spit (Birding Oregon p. 128). After two weeks of warm sunny weather, we have returned to a more normal gloomy, rainy pattern, so I only took out the camera for this Red-necked Grebe in nice breeding attire. There is currently an interesting mix of winter, migrant, and breeding species around. Tillamook Bay still held Common and Pacific Loons along with this grebe. All should be moving north very soon.

IMG_1937On the way home I stopped at Fernhill Wetlands and found this Greater Yellowlegs. Most migrant shorebirds have passed through already, but a few linger on.

baby killdeerAlso at Fernhill was a pair of Killdeer with three fuzzy babies. Too cute.

Sitting in Seattle

Marsha was working a table at the Seattle Greenfest last weekend, so I braved the traffic and found my way to Discovery Park. I walked out to the lighthouse and just sat on the shore of Puget Sound for a while. As a birder, I need to spend a lot more time sitting. Most of us are constantly moving, looking for the next good bird. But if you just sit in one place, good birds will often come to you. Out on the water were a big flock of Western Grebes, Horned Grebes, Ruddy Ducks, Harlequin Ducks, and a pair of Rhinoceros Auklets. These birds were out of camera range, but several species came in for closer scrutiny.

A flock of Black Brant were working the shoreline.

This Mountain Bluebird seemed a little out of place on the beach.

This crow found and ate a small crab. A little over a century ago, a crow on the coast of Puget Sound would have been assumed to be a Northwestern Crow. But when the forests were cleared, American Crows were able to colonize this area. So now, the crows around Seattle are presumed to be American or hybrids.

Mew Gull. Note the thin bill and large white mirrors on P1 and P2.

Red-necked Grebe