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.
I took a 12-hour pelagic trip out of Newport last Saturday. The morning started out with the typical cool cloudy weather one expects on the Oregon coast. Here is the sun rising over the Coast Range.
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.
Pink-footed Pandemonium (There is also a Black-footed Albatross and a Sooty Shearwater)
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.
We saw more Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels than I had ever seen before.
We saw three other species of storm-petrel, all very rare in Oregon waters. This is a Wilson’s Storm-Petrel. The other two were Black and Ashy Storm-Petrels.
By the time we returned to port, the weather was sunny and hot. That’s just not right. I ended the day with a nasty sunburn.
Back in the bay, families of Brandt’s Cormorants were on the pilings.
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.
Black Oystercatcher is a reliable species on Haystack Rock.
Nesting season is still in full swing on Haystack Rock. Here is a Tufted Puffin among some Common Murres.
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.
The pond is gone, and the creek winds through the property along a huge new boardwalk. Low areas along the creek will flood in the wet season, creating standing water for waterfowl.
The creek runs clear, with nice patches of aquatic plants attractive to fish and crayfish.
There are a lot of fish in the creek. These were close enough to the surface to photograph.
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.
fledgling White-crowned Sparrow
The resident pair of Eastern Kingbirds was hanging out on the power lines.
American Goldfinches were common in the grassy areas.
Belted Kingfisher on a side channel of the Sandy River.
The stars of this site are the Lazuli Buntings. This male was keeping a close watch on his lady. The female Lazuli Bunting was a little more shy.
There are big changes underway at Fernhill Wetlands. The main lake has been drained, and the two impoundments to the south are completely gone. This is all to make way for large emergent wetlands that will replace the ponds. This should greatly increase the bird diversity at the site when work is completed.
There weren’t any shorebirds on these newly exposed flats, but I would imagine this area would be pretty appealing to a passing plover or Baird’s Sandpiper.
This American Goldfinch was enjoying the water.
Eurasian Collared Dove
At Jackson Bottom, swallows were everywhere, with young birds out of the nest and waiting around for parents to feed them. Tree and Barn were the two species I noticed.
Baby Barn Swallows
There were lots of Least Sandpipers about. These are birds that either didn’t make it all the way to the Arctic, or had failed nesting attempts and headed back south. Shorebird migration will really pick up in about two weeks.
This male Wilson’s Phalarope was reported with three downy chicks earlier in the week, but I did not see any young when I was there. Hopefully the little ones were off hiding somewhere.