Here are some random bird images from the last couple of weeks.
Belted Kingfisher on a very fancy perch
Bonaparte’s Gull in first winter plumage
Gull Season is just around the corner.
juvenile White-crowned Sparrow
Green Heron with an American Bullfrog tadpole. It is nice when the native species eat the invasive ones. It is often the other way around.
This is an odd duck. It is a teal, probably Cinnamon, but is either leucistic or is going through a brutal molt.
American White Pelicans are now common in the Portland area in late summer.
American White Pelican coming in for a landing
The rainy season has been slow to arrive this year, so we have had strings of sunny autumn days. While the dry conditions are preventing many of the seasonal wetlands from filling, the clear skies do make for some pleasant birding. Here are a few shots from Fernhill Wetlands.
This Mourning Dove was blending in nicely with the gravel on one of the wastewater filtering beds.
The Killdeer’s pattern provides good camouflage on a rocky background, but doesn’t do as well in dead grass.
The Green-winged Teal are starting to get some nice color.
The Cackling Geese are back in good numbers. There is currently an outbreak of aspergillus, a fungal infection that causes respiratory distress and pneumonia, that has killed dozens of birds at this site.
Ridgeway’s Cackling Goose
American Coot in the sunshine
The only gulls on this visit were these three Bonaparte’s Gulls, swimming with a Northern Pintail and a Green-winged Teal.
Most of the migrant shorebirds are long gone, but there are still some Long-billed Dowitchers around. Note the pattern on the tail showing wider black bars and narrow white bars. This pattern would be reversed on a Short-billed Dowitcher.
The pandemic birding continues. While the visitor center and parking lot are closed, you can still walk the trails at Tualatin River NWR.
Social distancing, birder style
The big news at the refuge this spring has been this pair of American Avocets, a rare species on Oregon’s west side.
It’s always a treat to see these guys, especially this year when the shorebird migration has been rather lackluster.
This Bonaparte’s Gull was hanging out with the Avocets for a while.
This distant pair of Long-billed Dowitchers was the only other evidence of shorebird migration on the refuge this morning.
This Purple Finch was keeping with the “birds at a distance theme” that prevailed this trip.
Lazuli Bunting, not quite as distant
Probably the most unusual bird of the trip was this intergrade Northern Flicker. He shows the normal red mustache of the Red-shafted form and the red nape of the Yellow-shafted form.
Once again, here are a few photos from the past few weeks’ ramblings.
While one can admire the adorableness of this Black-capped Chickadee, the real bird of interest is his drinking buddy in the background, a Pine Siskin. Siskins were pretty much non-existent last year as their population took a big downturn (as it does every few years). This fall has brought good numbers of Pine Siskins to the Willamette Valley already, so it looks to be a good year for them.
This Short-eared Owl flushed from Broughton Beach and flew out over the Columbia River before heading downstream. Short-eareds winter at this site with some regularity. I felt bad about flushing the bird. If she had just sat still, I probably would have walked right by and not seen her. I would think that birds who roost in such a high-traffic area would learn to adjust to passers-by.
My gull class went to the coast last weekend. We found nine species of gull, one less than last year but still great diversity. One of the first was this first cycle Ring-billed Gull.
Bonaparte’s Gulls get the award for cutest gull on the Oregon coast.
Even though they lose their black hoods in winter, you can still see the white eye crescents when they turn just so.
The Seaside Cove hosted several Surfbirds along with a flock of Black Turnstones. Both of these species are reliable at this site in fall and winter, but it still feels like a treat to find them every time I’m there.
The forecast for the next week calls for cool and rainy weather, so we shall see what changes that brings to the birding.
This 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.
The 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.
This Bonaparte’s Gull was hanging out at the D River.
male Brewer’s Blackbird, D River
female 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 Scoters in the surf
The sand spit at the mouth of Siletz Bay is a favorite haul out spot for Harbor Seals.
happy Harbor Seal
A little farther up the bay, I found two Brant. I don’t get to see then often enough.
Recent storms have brought a lot of Red Phalaropes to the coast and points inland. These birds were hanging out at the Salishan golf course.
It’s nice that a golf course is actually being good for something.
I 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.
One can often get close looks at Black Oystercatchers at Boiler Bay. This bird was particularly vocal.
Black 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.
The Weekday Warblers birdathon team made its inaugural trip on May 12. We birded the north coast from Cannon Beach to Fort Stevens, with a stop at the Sunset Rest Stop on the way. We did well with seabirds and shorebirds, but were sorely lacking in upland species. A few tweaks to the route and a longer day would probably get us a bigger list, but we had a great time with great weather and ended the day with 80 species.
This is one of a couple of Common Ravens who were hanging out in the parking lot of the Sunset Rest Area.
One of many Whimbrels seen on the beach
This flock of Bonaparte’s Gulls was flying around the South Jetty at Fort Stevens.
a distant Roosevelt Elk at Fort Stevens
We made two quick stops at The Cove in Seaside. Most of the few birds that were there were quite a ways out, requiring lots of squinting through a scope, but this White-winged Scoter came close to shore for some nice views.
The best find of the day was the large shorebird flock on the beach at Fort Stevens. The Oregon Coast does not usually get huge numbers of migrant shorebirds. Birders joke about he Shorebird Dome that covers the coast, forcing birds to fly directly from northern California to Gray’s Harbor, Washington. But this past week the dome was breached and good numbers and diversity of shorebirds worked the beaches of the north coast. We found these birds mid-afternoon, so the sun was already in the west causing terrible lighting for photos. But this will give you an idea. The photo above shows a Western Sandpiper with two Dunlin.
Ruddy Turnstone with Western Sandpiper
Red Knot, a rare treat along the Oregon coast
a nice combo of Dunlin, Red Knot, Western Sandpiper, and Ruddy Turnstone
Boat for Sale. Needs work .
A great day on the Oregon coast.
When the tides are right, the area around Parking Lot D at Fort Stevens State Park can be very productive.
On my recent visit, I found about 400 Caspian Terns in the bay. Many of the birds were presenting fish to their lady loves, and a few were rewarded accordingly (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). A Bald Eagle would occasionally take a pass at the flock, sending the terns off in a big swirling mass, but the birds would quickly settle down again.
One of my favorite birds of the day was this breeding plumaged Bonaparte’s Gull. I watched the bird fly in and settle on the mud flat. I snapped a couple of frames from a great distance, planning on getting better views. But, as is often the case, the bird took off before I could get any closer.
Over the past few years, this site has been become a productive spot for shorebirds. The spring shorebirds migration is well past its peak, but there were still a few birds around. This little flock was actively feeding along the shore, so I sat on my knees in the sand and waited for the birds to come to me. Shorebirds are very wary of people standing upright, but if you sit down, or better yet, lie down, the birds will come quite close.
This blurry Dunlin was the only member of her species in the flock.
Semipalmated Plover and Least Sandpiper
Semipalmated Plovers made up the bulk of this flock.
While the spring shorebird movement is about done, the southbound migration begins in about six weeks, so we don’t have too long to wait for another shorebird fix.
Smith and Bybee Wetlands in NW Portland, (Birding Oregon p. 65) is a great spot for waterfowl, waders, and shorebirds in the late summer and autumn. Paved trails lead to observation platforms overlooking both lakes, and primitive paths are available to the more adventurous.
Great Egret, here with a couple of Great Blue Herons and numerous waterfowl on Bybee Lake, are common this time of year. Other waders that have occurred here include Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron.
These Bonaparte’s Gulls were feeding with a flock of Northern Shovelers, picking up little food items stirred up by the ducks.
Many trees in this area have fencing around them to protect them from Beavers. Flood conditions last winter enabled the Beavers to float above the level of the fencing and nibble away.
Three American White Pelicans swim with Double-crested Cormorants on Smith Lake. Ten years ago, pelicans were considered rare in Portland, but large flocks are now expected every summer and fall.
more American White Pelicans on Smith Lake