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.
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.
I took my shorebird class to Grays Harbor in Washington, one of the prominent staging areas for migrant shorebirds on the West Coast. The cold wet spring continues, so diversity was a little low, but there were lots of birds to see.
At Damon Point State Park, near the mouth of the bay, we found good numbers of Marbled Godwits and Short-billed Dowitchers.
At Bowerman Basin, part of Grays Harbor NWR, a long boardwalk extends along the edge of the mudflats. As the basin fills with the rising tide, the birds are pushed closer to shore for excellent views.
Here we can see a Black-bellied Plover, a couple of Semipalmated Plovers, two Caspian Terns, lots of Dunlin, and some Western Sandpipers.
Here is a closer look at the lovely Semipalmated Plovers mixed in with Western Sandpipers.
I didn’t notice the bird at the time, but when I downloaded this shot of Western Sandpipers I immediately noticed the Least Sandpiper among them. Least Sandpipers feed in a crouched position with their feet far forward. On closer inspection, you can see the tiny bill and the pale legs. (lower right corner, if you are still looking)
Here’s a closer look at the Least Sandpiper between two Westerns.