Siletz Bay

common-scoter-1This Common Scoter was recently found in Siletz Bay, just south of Lincoln City. This is only the second record of this species in North America, so he was definitely worth chasing.

common-scoter-2The Common Scoter seems pretty comfortable in Siletz Bay, feeding and resting near the pull-out just south of the Schooner Creek bridge, so he was an easy tick. I just showed up and there he was. It can seem a little anticlimactic when a staked-out bird is too easy to find. But the advantage of such a situation is that you have the time to explore the surrounding area. On this day I birded from the D River in Lincoln City to Boiler Bay. This whole area is covered on pages 155 – 157 of Birding Oregon. There are a lot of birds packed into just over two pages. Or perhaps my writing is just very concise.

bonapartesThis Bonaparte’s Gull was hanging out at the D River.

brewers-1male Brewer’s Blackbird, D River

brewers-2female Brewer’s Blackbird, D River. I find female Brewer’s to be much more photogenic than males. Perhaps my camera just doesn’t do well with extreme blacks and whites.

surf-scotersSurf Scoters in the surf

harbor-sealsThe sand spit at the mouth of Siletz Bay is a favorite haul out spot for Harbor Seals.

harbor-sealhappy Harbor Seal

red-throated-loonRed-throated Loon

brantA little farther up the bay, I found two Brant. I don’t get to see then often enough.

red-phalarope-1Recent storms have brought a lot of Red Phalaropes to the coast and points inland. These birds were hanging out at the Salishan golf course.
red-phalarope-2It’s nice that a golf course is actually being good for something.

thayers-1I saw some nice birds at Boiler Bay, but most were too far out for photos. This Thayer’s Gull was perched on this little knob of rock for several hours.

black-oystercatcher-3One can often get close looks at Black Oystercatchers at Boiler Bay. This bird was particularly vocal.
black-oystercatcher-2Black Oystercatcher, sleeping with one eye open

The Siletz Bay area is typically not a big birding destination, with the exception of Boiler Bay. But this stretch of the coast can be very birdy, so it was nice that the Common Scoter has inspired so many birders to explore the area. Cheers.

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Gull big day

ring-billed and mewMy recent gull class field trip found ten species of gulls (Western, Glaucous-winged, Glaucous, Herring, Thayer’s, California, Ring-billed, Mew, Bonaparte’s, and Heermann’s). This was a new record for the class, and it got me wondering. How many species of gulls could one conceivably find in one day in Oregon?

The best time for such a quest would be early November. By then, the wintering species would be here, and there are usually a few lingering Heermann’s Gulls that haven’t gone south yet. Bonaparte’s Gulls are migrating south at this time, as well. If you waited until December, the migrants would have already moved on. By late January, many of the wintering birds have already left.

The best location for a gull quest would be the coast. Eight species regularly occur in the Willamette Valley as well, (Western (rare), Glaucous-winged, Herring, Thayer’s, California, Ring-billed, Mew, and Bonaparte’s), but anything else would be extremely rare. Ring-billed can be challenging to find on the coast, but you can usually find one among the Mew Gulls in the estuaries. So with some searching, you could count on these eight species, plus Heermann’s makes nine.

If your quest occurred the day after an autumn storm, you would have a chance at two pelagic species, Black-legged Kittiwake and Sabine’s Gull. That would bring your total to eleven.

To exceed eleven species, you would need to find a rarity. Glaucous Gull is probably the most likely. Other less likely candidates include Lesser Black-backed, Slaty-backed, or a wayward Franklin’s.

So if you could find a rarity (or go see a previously reported bird) and timed your quest to coincide with some west winds, you could conceivably see twelve gull species in a day. Has anyone done this? This sounds like a noble quest to me.

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Updates

I have updated the Classes page to show all the classes I currently have scheduled. I would love to share what I know (that part doesn’t take long) and then go birding with you. Check it out.

I have also updated the Updates and Corrections page for Birding Oregon. There are several sites in Tillamook County that are currently not open to birding due to construction projects or the county’s tendency to fall into the Pacific Ocean.
The headquarters at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge remain closed following the armed occupation by inbred troglodytes in January and February of 2016.

Lest you think this entire post is bad news, please enjoy this photo of a lovely Barred Owl that was snoozing on our property on a recent evening. Cheers.

barred-2

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Autumn at Fernhill

cackling-geeseFernhill Wetlands is the place to be in autumn. Even after the extensive wetland renovations that have taken place, resulting in less open water, the Cackling Geese still congregate here by the thousands.

great-egretThis Great Egret was catching the sunshine on the top of a tree.

pintailNorthern Pintail. I don’t often see them hanging out on dry ground.

killdeer-green-wingedKilldeer and Green-winged Teal

greater-white-frontsGreater White-fronted Geese migrate over the Willamette Valley in large numbers, but not many touch down, so it is always nice to see some on the ground.

horned-grebeFernhill Lake is about half of its original size, but it is still big enough to attract divers, like this Horned Grebe.

western-grebeWestern Grebe

kestrel-5male American Kestrel

Waterfowl diversity continues to increase, and winter sparrow flocks should pick us soon. I’m looking forward to watching the show, assuming the Bundys don’t move in.

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Random Bits of August

I taught two shorebird classes and led three shorebird field trips in August. The southbound shorebird migration has been pretty great so far, with unprecedented numbers of Baird’s Sandpipers and a nice smattering of rarities throughout Oregon. My trips missed the really rare stuff, but we had a nice variety of shorebirds.

The addition of a new family member with special needs (an adorable coonhound who was rescued from an animal testing lab) kept me from doing much birding outside of my classes. Leading trips does not usually allow for getting decent photos, but here are a few images from the month.

ruddyThis Ruddy Turnstone was snoozing with the Black Turnstones at the Seaside Cove.

surfSurfbirds are another specialty of Seaside Cove

snipeThis Wilson’s Snipe gave great scope views at Jackson Bottom.

pelicansNot shorebirds, but always nice to see, this flock of American White Pelicans was at Fernhill Wetlands.

I have one more shorebird class at Jackson Bottom on September 24. I’m hoping this strong migration continues throughout the fall. Click on the Classes tab for more information.

FullSizeRender
Not ready for birding yet, but perhaps someday Bohdi can join his sister Nala and me in the field.

 

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Broughton Beach Horned Larks

hornedBroughton Beach, along the Columbia River, has been a favorite spot in Portland to check for shorebirds, gulls, and waterfowl, depending on the season. On my recent visit I enjoyed watching a family of Horned Larks working the beach. There are many subspecies of Horned Lark, and I don’t have a reference that provides a good description of the possible subspecies in this area. These birds had much more yellow on their faces than did the birds I saw recently on Mount Hood.

horned juvenileThis juvenile showed more muted colors and lacked the distinctive facial pattern of the adults.

horned juvI’m not sure if this bird is a juvenile or an adult female.

horned lark femaleadult female, I think

horned lark 3adult male, I think

horned lark 2adult male

brewer'sNot a Horned Lark, but Brewer’s Blackbirds are among my favorites. This is a female.

killdeer chickAnd we end with a ball of fluffy cuteness. I was surprised to find such a young Killdeer so late in the summer.

 

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Fernhill Wetlands and Jackson Bottom

I made a quick trek around Washington County’s two prominent wetlands. There was nothing unusual to report, but there is plenty of bird activity at these sites this time of year.

green heronGreen Heron, lurking

gb heronGreat Blue Heron, not lurking

californiaJuvenile California Gulls are very common lately.

spotty 2I didn’t find many migrant shorebirds this trip, but the resident Spotted Sandpipers posed nicely.

killdeerKilldeer

pelicansFifteen years ago, White Pelicans in the Portland area were a pretty big deal, but now they are expected in the larger wetlands in summer.

kingfisherBelted Kingfishers like the perches that have been installed at Fernhill.

ospreyOsprey over the lake at Fernhill

treeClouds of swallows are hanging out at Jackson Bottom. This Tree Swallow spent a long time just sitting in the opening of her nest box.

chickadeeThey have installed a water feature near the visitor center at Jackson Bottom. This soggy Black-capped Chickadee was enjoying a dip.

lesser goldLesser Goldfinch on the fountain

As nesting season wraps up and water levels drop, I can soon start obsessing on migrant shorebirds.

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Timberline

landscapeI hiked from Timberline Lodge to the snow fields above Silcox Hut. My main target was Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch. I missed the finches, but there is always something fun to see on the mountain. There were a lot of skiers and snowboarders on the remaining snow fields. I don’t know how you expect to find Rosy-Finches while going that fast, but to each their own.

clark'sSeveral Clark’s Nutcrackers were hanging out near the lodge. This species can be quite tame, but the ones near Timberline tend to be shy and keep their distance. Perhaps I need to carry more snacks.

lupineLupines were one of several wildflowers that are currently in bloom.

horned lark 3A couple of Horned Larks were pretty cooperative.
horned lark

rock wrenThis blurry creature is a juvenile Rock Wren. The pale sandy brown plumage had me stumped for a while, as the adults are more clearly marked with cold brown and gray colors and speckling.

gm ground 2No visit to Timberline is complete without Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels, the Alpine Ambassadors of Cuteness.
gm ground

marmot pairYellow-bellied Marmots reign over the higher slopes. The vegetation is so sparse here it is hard to imagine how these guys find enough to eat.

yb marmot 1
yb marmotwalking that fine line between majestic and adorable

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Commonwealth Lake

IMG_8730I brief walk around Commonwealth Lake in Beaverton revealed lots of recently fledged Barn Swallows. They were perching on branches above the water, waiting for their parents to fly in with food.

barn swallow fledglingsstill waiting

barn swallow feedingnote the bulging crop on the adult

IMG_8720This park has produced a bumper crop of Green Herons this year, great to see in such a busy suburban setting.

IMG_8754There were several new broods of Mallards on the lake. It seems late to see such small ducklings.

bullfrogthe ubiquitous American Bullfrog

spotty frontThe highlight of this visit was watching this Spotted Sandpiper hunting flies in the lawn. He would crouch low to approach his prey, then reach out and grab it, hitting the mark more often than not.
spotty huntingThis little urban duck pond is surprisingly birdy, and warrants more frequent visits.

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Random Images

A spate of cloudy damp days has not allowed many photo opportunities the past couple of weeks, but here are a few random images.

lazuliLazuli Bunting, Cooper Mountain Nature Park, Beaverton. This is a great natural area that I really need to visit more often.

junco 1I made two trips to the clearcut near Milepost 8 on Larch Mountain. It is very birdy this year, with a lot of nesting activity going on. Here is a rather wind-blown Dark-eyed Junco.

sapsuckerRed-breasted Sapsucker

macMacGillivray’s Warbler

willowWillow Flycatcher

A trip to the north coast brought all the expected species. One of the highlights were these two Heermann’s Gulls among the Westerns. Heermann’s are common in mid to late summer, but are just starting to arrive on the Oregon Coast now. This is the first time I have seen them in breeding plumage. In a few weeks they will lose the white plumage on their heads and replace it with mottled gray.

gullsToday is the summer solstice. Pretty soon the nesting season will wrap up and the southbound shorebird migration will begin. Always something to look forward to.

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