I spent a warm sunny morning around Cannon Beach and Seaside. The first stop was Silver Point, just south of Cannon Beach, for a sea watch. There were plenty of birds out there, way out there. It is what I call birding at the edge of imagination. You have an idea of what you are seeing, but realistically, there is a lot of guessing involved. I did see the wing flash of Sooty Shearwaters and several flocks of White-winged and Surf Scoters, but most of what I saw were unidentifiable specks. Nala was waiting somewhat patiently in the car, so we soon went to Tolovana Wayside and walked to Haystack Rock.
The tide was coming in, so I couldn’t get too close to the rocks. Still, you could see several Harlequin Ducks. Here is a male and female, with a Black Oystercatcher on the right. I didn’t see the Oystercatcher when I was in the field, only when I developed the photo.
another Black Oystercatcher
A log, which has obviously been in the water for a long time, had washed up on shore, and the American Crows were busy picking at the barnacles.
Nala, taking a break
The next stop was the Cove, at Seaside. As is often the case, there was a nice congregation of Black Turnstones on the rocks.
There were also good numbers of Surfbirds.
Heermann’s Gulls should be heading south very soon.
Our last stop was the Necanicum Estuary. This spot is very hit-or-miss, with either lots of birds or none. Today was closer to the latter. But along with the few California Gulls were several Caspian Terns still feeding young. Most Caspian Terns have already moved south, so it seems late to have begging fledglings still around.
Here are a few more images from a recent trip to the coast.
Black Turnstone at The Cove in Seaside (Birding Oregon p. 121)
Surfbirds blend in with the rocks very well until someone opens their wings.
California Gull in extremely worn plumage. Notice how the primaries have worn down almost to the shaft.
Dragonfly on the water, Neawanna Wetlands
Hooded Mergansers, Neawanna Wetlands
The rocky shore of The Cove in Seaside (Birding Oregon p. 121) is a favorite loafing spot for Heerman’s Gulls. The gray stones match the velvety gray of the gulls, and make the flash of brilliant red from the gulls’ bills even more stunning. Heerman’s Gulls are certainly among the most beautiful birds in North America.
Black Turnstones also blend in with the rocky shore.
The town of Seaside (Birding Oregon p. 121) is an interesting sandwich, great birding spots on the edges and touristy stuff in the middle. On the south side of town is The Cove, a pebble beached cove teaming with gulls, seabirds, rock-loving shorebirds, and marine mammals. To the north is the Necanicum River Esturary, a feeding and resting area for gulls, terns, and sand and mud-loving shorebirds. The Seaside area is a great spot to study gulls, with a diversity of species and age groups.
In mid to late summer, large numbers of Heeman’s Gulls hang out at The Cove. These birds are stunning, even in their winter plumage. Even the most devout Laridaephobe must appreciate these gray velvet beauties with the crimson bills.
“It’s exhausting being this beautiful!”
This gull is also primarily gray, but doesn’t quite have the rich color saturation of a Heerman’s. This is a first cycle Western Gull.
Here is a distant shot of an adult Western Gull tackling a very large crab. The gull is either very ambitious or very hungry.