This Common Scoter was recently found in Siletz Bay, just south of Lincoln City. This is only the second record of this species in North America, so he was definitely worth chasing.
The Common Scoter seems pretty comfortable in Siletz Bay, feeding and resting near the pull-out just south of the Schooner Creek bridge, so he was an easy tick. I just showed up and there he was. It can seem a little anticlimactic when a staked-out bird is too easy to find. But the advantage of such a situation is that you have the time to explore the surrounding area. On this day I birded from the D River in Lincoln City to Boiler Bay. This whole area is covered on pages 155 – 157 of Birding Oregon. There are a lot of birds packed into just over two pages. Or perhaps my writing is just very concise.
This Bonaparte’s Gull was hanging out at the D River.
male Brewer’s Blackbird, D River
female Brewer’s Blackbird, D River. I find female Brewer’s to be much more photogenic than males. Perhaps my camera just doesn’t do well with extreme blacks and whites.
Surf Scoters in the surf
The sand spit at the mouth of Siletz Bay is a favorite haul out spot for Harbor Seals.
happy Harbor Seal
A little farther up the bay, I found two Brant. I don’t get to see then often enough.
Recent storms have brought a lot of Red Phalaropes to the coast and points inland. These birds were hanging out at the Salishan golf course.
It’s nice that a golf course is actually being good for something.
I saw some nice birds at Boiler Bay, but most were too far out for photos. This Thayer’s Gull was perched on this little knob of rock for several hours.
One can often get close looks at Black Oystercatchers at Boiler Bay. This bird was particularly vocal.
Black Oystercatcher, sleeping with one eye open
The Siletz Bay area is typically not a big birding destination, with the exception of Boiler Bay. But this stretch of the coast can be very birdy, so it was nice that the Common Scoter has inspired so many birders to explore the area. Cheers.
Broughton Beach is along the Columbia River, right next to the Portland airport. It can be a challenging place to bird, with dogs and children chasing the birds, police carrying body bags down the beach, etc. But if you catch it on a good day you can find some excellent birding. The great attraction this past week was a Pacific Golden Plover, which spent two days there, avoiding me with great success (thus that specie’s designation as one of my nemesis birds). I tried for the plover twice with no luck, but found several other goodies along the way.
The most unexpected species was this Red Phalarope. At first glance, I wrote this bird off as a Red-necked, since Reds are very unusual inland in August, and Red-neckeds are expected. Once I looked at the photographs, however, I saw my error and got a good reminder to LOOK AT THE BIRD! That heavy bill with the light-colored base is a dead giveaway for Red Phalarope.
Another coastal species along Broughton Beach was Sanderling.
It is nice to see Sanderlings at inland locations, since you can often get closer to them there than you can at the coast.
Another nice find was this Semipalmated Sandpiper. You can see the partial webbing between the outer toes that gives this species its name. Ten years ago, a Semipalmated Sandpiper anywhere in Oregon was a pretty big deal, but now quite a few individuals are reported every year. Either the bird has become a more common migrant in this state, or people are just better at recognizing them.
Semipalmated Sandpiper (r) and Western Sandpiper (l)
Western Sandpipers were present in small numbers. . .
as were Least Sandpipers.
California Gulls like to hang out on a little sand spit that extends into the river at low tide. A few Glaucous-winged Gulls have arrived, and will become more common as autumn approaches.
This Common Loon seemed a little out of place for August. In the winter months, this species is often seen at this site with large rafts of grebes and diving ducks. There are fewer kids and dogs then, too.
While the winter weather pattern along the Oregon Coast, a seemingly endless string of storm systems coming in off the Pacific, is not the most comfortable for birders, it does bring some interesting birds into view. Species that normally spend the winter many miles out at sea are sometimes blown in to shore. This is not always good news for the birds, since it takes them away from their normal food sources and into the range of land-based predators, but it does provide birders an opportunity to see these species that are usually out of reach.
This Northern Fulmar was swimming right along the shore at The Cove in Seaside (Birding Oregon p. 121). He didn’t seem too perky, so he may have been ill. Fulmars are fairly common sights on pelagic trips, but are not visible from shore too often.
Red Phalaropes are more commonly blown in during early winter storms. These little shorebirds spend most of the year on the open ocean. It amazes me that such a small bird can survive in such a harsh environment. But when they do occur in the calm waters of tidal ponds and inlets close to shore, they often fall victim to predators, and sometimes cars. This individual was found near the Hammond Boat Basin.