I spent the last day of the dry season walking Bayocean Spit on Tillamook Bay (Birding Oregon p. 128). On a day trip from Portland, it is tempting to try to cover all the hotspots around the bay, but spending the day exploring Bayocean Spit provides access to all the major habitats of the area along with a nice hike.
Although the shorebird migration is winding down, there were still some birds on the bay side of the spit. Black-bellied Plovers were the most obvious and vocal, joined by Western Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, a Semipalmated Plover, and the first Dunlin of the season.
Brown Pelican near the jetty at the mouth of the bay
The ocean side of Bayocean Spit usually has far fewer birds than the bay side, but it is a nice stretch of secluded beach.
Judging from the size, I am guessing these shorebird tracks were from a Black-bellied Plover.
After walking on the beach a while, I cut across the wooded section of the spit to return to the bay side.
The woods on the spit attract a nice variety of songbirds, including Fox Sparrows, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, both kinglets, and Wrentits.
This Townsend’s Chipmunk was busy eating these little red fruits.
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I took advantage of the glorious spring weather recently to visit Tillamook (Birding Oregon p. 125). Nala and I completed the Tillamook Death March, walking all the way around Bayocean Spit. This is the only spot I have visited on the Oregon coast where you can walk for several miles along the beach and not see another person. You can barely discern the south jetty on the horizon.
As expected, there weren’t a lot of birds on the ocean side of Bayocean. It is still too early for spring migrants and too late for winter specialties. Aside from one Black-bellied Plover, the only shorebirds were Sanderlings, shown here doing their typical running along the water’s edge.
There wasn’t much going on, birdwise, on the bay side of the spit either. The tide was high and there were a lot of boats on the water. This was one of several Bald Eagles seen on our walk.
The main reason for my trip that day was to explore the Tillamook Bay Wetlands Area. While this isn’t the most scenic of sites, it provides wonderful access to wetland and meadow habitats along Tillamook Bay. From US 101 on the north edge of the city of Tillamook, turn west onto Goodspeed Road. Follow this very rough paved/gravel road for one mile, bear right, then left, then right again to end at a small parking area with this sign.
Wilson River, near where it empties into Tillamook Bay. The patch of trees in the distance is the wooded area of Bayocean Spit across the bay.
Black Phoebes were actively hunting from perches along the water’s edge.
Marshy habitat with the Coast Range in the distance. Snow is visible on the clear-cuts.
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It had been a while since I had walked all the way around Bayocean Spit (Birding Oregon p. 128). This is a great walk which takes about four hours, assuming you stop and look at birds along the way.
This morning was one of those misty gray days when the sky blends into the ocean. The fog and drizzle make photography rather difficult, giving everything a blurry grainy look. The dark line on the horizon is the south jetty. The crane in the distance is working on the end of the north jetty.
Shorebirds were few and far between this day. This is an adult Black-bellied Plover.
The rocks of the jetty are home to many Ochre Sea Stars.
Brown Pelicans are constantly being harassed by other birds, especially Heerman’s Gulls, which make their living stealing fish from the pelicans. In this photo we see a young Western Gull, three Heerman’s Gulls, a Glaucous-winged Gull, and a Pelagic Cormorant, all hoping the Brown Pelican drops his fish. Notice the Heerman’s Gull hanging on to the pelican’s feet.
Brown Pelican with his posse.
The woods and brushy areas on Bayocean Spit are home to Wrentits. These birds tend to remain hidden in heavy cover, but their loud and unique vocalizations are heard throughout the year. This bird sat still just long enough for my point-and-shoot camera to get off one shot at 1/13th of a second.
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