I spent a few days on the north Oregon coast to escape the New Year’s fireworks in Portland. As expected this time of year, there was plenty of wind and rain. But there were enough breaks in the weather to get out and enjoy some coastal birds.
Sanderlings are always a treat. This bird was squinting into the howling wind.
A blurry photo of typical Sanderling wave-running
This time of year, the largest shorebird flocks are made up of Dunlin.
This gull caught my eye. The marbled pattern on the bill indicates a third-cycle bird. The dark mantle and black wing tips suggest Western Gull. The heavy mottled hood suggests some Glaucous-winged Gull in this bird’s ancestry.
I ran into a small flock of Snowy Plovers. This species is making a great comeback on the Oregon Coast after nearly being extirpated.
A flock of Snow Buntings was a special treat. The high winds kept the birds moving around and usually hunkered down in the beach grass, so I couldn’t get a clear photo.
A washed-up log hosted a colony of Pelagic Gooseneck Barnacles. These were actually quite lovely despite the strong fishy smell. The gulls were delighted to find these tasty snacks.
Bodhi and Nala love a good romp on the beach, despite the weather.
We play hard, we rest hard. Happy New Year
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.