I made two trips to the coast this week, once to scout for my Portland Audubon shorebird class, and again for the class itself. It is amazing how much difference a couple of days can make in the make-up of bird life in a given area. On Thursday, I found a total of 11 shorebirds of two species. During the class we found hundreds of individuals of 10 species. I am so glad it was not the other way around. This is the view from the Necanicum River Estuary, looking south. The tiny bump in the middle is Haystack Rock, about 12 miles away.
Whimbrel, Necanicum Estuary
Caspian Terns are common and very vocal all along the coast.
Elk, Necanicum Estuary
This Semipalmated Plover was the only shorebird at the tidal ponds at Fort Stevens.
Raccoon, on the mudflats near Parking Lot D, Fort Stevens (with a Caspian Tern and a California Gull)
This is one of two Ruddy Turnstones we found with a flock of Black Turnstones at the Seaside Cove.
White-crowned Sparrow, Necanicum Estuary
California Ground Squirrel, Hammond Boat Basin
Here is a good example of why this time of year may not be the best for learning gull ID. The plumage on this gull is bleached out and very worn. Judging from the size, shape, and pink legs on this bird (next to a normal non-breeding California Gull) I’m guessing this is a Glaucous-winged Gull, perhaps in his second cycle. I hope he grows some new feathers soon, or it will be a very cold autumn and winter.
Early May is always a good time for seeing returning migrants and other signs of spring. Despite our cool damp weather, spring continues to slowly make inroads. Here are some random images from the past week.
May is warbler month across most of North America. This Wilson’s Warbler was feeding just outside our living room window.
Two River Otters were swimming in the wastewater ponds at Cannon Beach.
This otter had a pink nose, perhaps from an injury.
This male Rufous Hummingbird was flashing his colors at Stanley Lake in Seaside.
Surf Scoters at Fort Stevens
Black-headed Grosbeaks returned this week. After a winter of little finches, these birds make a bold impression when they appear at the feeder.
Like most birds, this grosbeak brings his leg up over his wing to scratch his head. I would think it would be easier to go under, but it seems to be working for him.
This Raccoon was soaking up a bit of sun at the Sandy River Delta.
This large aquatic mammal was also seen at the Sandy River Delta engaging in an activity known as “fetching.” Scientists still have not determined the purpose of this obsessive behavior.