My main target of this trip was White-tailed Ptarmigan. But despite walking through some lovely tundra, with scattered rocks and stunted pines, I dipped on this species again. Sing it with me: I am a rock….I’m not a ptarrrrrrrrr-ar-miiii-gan.
There was a recent flurry of shorebird activity at Jackson Bottom, south of Hillsboro. I missed out on seeing some of the less common species, but a brief visit one morning provided lots of both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, among others.
Greater Yellowlegs were wading in the deeper water, chasing small fish.
Lesser Yellowlegs tended to stay in shallower water, and feed in a more delicate manner.
Common Carp, hoping the rainy season starts soon.
The most common species of the day was Pink-footed Shearwater. The largest concentration of birds was gathered behind a fish processing ship. While I am opposed to the strip-mining of our oceans, these ships always attract a lot of birds.
Black-footed Albatrosses are common once you get out about 20 miles. This individual had an odd lump in her neck. I hope it is just a large food item in her crop and not a disposable lighter or some other piece of trash.
I took my shorebird class to the coast, from Cannon Beach to Hammond. While birding overall was good, the shorebirds were less than stellar in both number and diversity.
The rocks at the Hammond Boat Basin continue to be a reliable high-tide roost for Marbled Godwits and Whimbels.
Of course, you can’t go to the coast without appreciating the gulls. Here is a Heermann’s Gull in a rather unflattering stage of molt.
First cycle Ring-billed Gull
One of the more interesting sightings of the day was a pair of Red Crossbills on the shore of The Cove in Seaside. These birds are usually hard to see as they cruise the tops of large conifers. This pair was down to take salt from the rocks in the intertidal zone. (male pictured, the female eluded the camera)
For the purposes of my shorebird class, it would have been much better to find Black Turnstones, Ruddy Turnstones, Wandering Tattlers, and Surfbirds at this site, but you can’t complain too much when you get to see Crossbills on the beach.
After 13 years in Oregon, I finally had the opportunity to see a Northern Spotted Owl. This subspecies continues its decline, so I was losing hope of ever seeing one. But this female and her fluffy baby gave me great, albeit distant, looks. For the record, I did not call this bird in, nor did I leave the trail to attempt a closer look.
The habitat these birds were using was marginal at best. One one hand, it is encouraging that the birds were making use of younger fragmented forest, since large tracts of old growth are now so rare. On the other hand, using this habitat increases the chances of encountering Great Horned and Barred Owls, both of which can prey on Spotteds.
Doing a little preening
fuzzy baby owl, cuteness in the forest
Westmoreland Park, in southeast Portland, has long been the local go-to spot for wintering gulls and waterfowl. This cement-lined urban duck pond attracted a great variety of diving ducks, large flocks of Cackling and other geese, and at least 8 species of gulls. Last autumn, efforts began to create a more natural creek channel and wetland. Work is still being done, but the park has reopened, revealing a very different habitat.
This Great Blue Heron was enjoying the new digs.
We will have to wait to see what birds use this site in the winter. The park still has lots of lawn, lots of new picnic tables, and plenty of water, so I am optimistic that this will continue to be the go-to site for Thayer’s Gulls and Eurasian Wigeons in Portland.
I made an early morning trip to the Sandy River Delta. This late in the summer, with the weather being so hot, most bird song is limited to the hour or so around dawn. This Willow Flycatcher was singing right at sunrise.