Notes, birds, nature, meanderings.

Musings about birds, nature, and our meanderings on the Central Oregon Coast

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hatfield Marine Science Center Nature Trail

We love a drive down to Newport to visit HMSC and walk the nature trail - a short easy walk along Yaquina Bay.  We always follow it with a drive down the South Jetty road.

On a recent visit (November 6, 2010), there was a huge flock of ducks on the bay, mostly NORTHERN PINTAIL, with a few MALLARDS and AMERICAN WIGEON in the mix.


Two adult BALD EAGLES appeared overhead 

causing the entire flock of ducks to take to the air.

In the brush along the path, we spotted a SAVANNAH SPARROW (my first).

The drive down to the South Jetty yielded even more firsts for me.  A late WHIMBREL caused me to yell STOP THE CAR.

Further down the road, we stopped to watch the SURF and WHITE WINGED SCOTERS, and also enjoyed seeing several WESTERN GREBE (identified later from the photos with help from some birding friends).

I was fascinated by the way their head fits like a ball in the center of their bodies when they rest.

Some HARBOR SEALS waited for a scuba diver who was putting on his gear by the road.

The BROWN PELICANS and some CORMORANTS (PELAGIC?) preened on the rocks in their usual spot.  For some reason, I only photographed a cormorant this trip.

A WESTERN GULL posed near the car with his dinner as we got ready to leave (my favorite shot of the day).

We always see something we enjoy, whether on the NATURE TRAIL or in the VISITOR's center or driving down the SOUTH JETTY.  Definitely worth the trip!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Whalen Island

Another of our favorite nature areas is the Clay Myers State Natural Area at Whalen Island in Tillamook county.  My sister, who lives in the area, took me there a few years ago and I treasure that memory and the very special place it is.

Rain describes it lovingly and well in her blog at

A wonderful "secret", it's one of the most beautiful and unusual spots along the coast, with a myriad of eco-systems, including mixed woodlands, grasslands, fresh and saltwater wetlands.  Only in winter's high tide is it an island, but birds and other wildlife are plentiful year round.

We visited the area again in September this year (April and September are the best if you love birds).

A GOLDEN CROWNED KINGLET greeted us when we started our walk, he was part of a good-sized flock that included kinglets, warblers, nuthatches and chickadees.

CHESTNUT BACKED CHICKADEES filled the small pine trees.

A HAIRY WOODPECKER was busy across the path.

As we walked further, we could hear the ocean as well as the YELLOW RUMPED WARBLERS high in the trees.

This one posed at the very tip of a tree branch, but nicely revealed his yellow rump.

We saw a COYOTE, and heard the yip of pups - didn't catch them with the camera, though.

At one lookout, we could view a large meadow, with GREAT EGRETS and other birds.

Finally the trail took us to a more heavily wooded area, with larger deciduous trees.  A PACIFIC SLOPE FLYCATCHER caught our attention (note, these are tricky to ID - if I got it wrong, please let me know).

This photo of an AMERICAN ROBIN gives a pretty good idea of the fauna in this area of the park.

When we emerged from the trail, we walked toward the parking lot, where I grabbed another photo to show the diverse landscape.  Most of the WESTERN CROWS took off when we approached, but one remained to pose in the distance.

A GREAT BLUE HERON sitting on the far edge of the water casually ignored us as we drove out of the parking area.

The area is also well known for the migrating shorebirds, especially in the fall.  All in all, it is a beautiful place, a casual walk (even in my flip-flops), priceless in serenity and treasures.

It's a moderately easy walk, not much more than a mile.  There is an adjacent campground as well.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Salishan Nature Trail

We're enjoying discovering the various walking paths and nature trails along the central Oregon coast.  One that we've visited a few times is the Salishan Nature Trail on south Siletz Bay. 

Our first visit was September 22, 2010.  A cool, sunny day with little wind.  It took us a few minutes to find the trail head, but we finally were there, armed with camera and field glasses. 

Around the first corner, the bay was full of MALLARDS - this batch all appeared to be resting.

Further down the path, we heard noise in the reeds between the path and the bay.  It took us quite awhile, but he finally appeared - our first ever MARSH WREN.  Noisy but secretive, and very quick!

Further down the path, we could see a majestic GREAT BLUE HERON - I must've taken 100 photos of this beautiful bird, but this was my favorite.

Just past the heron we found a Y in the path - we chose to continue west, and were delighted by the discovery of a full grown juvenile GREEN HERON in some marshy reeds.  In fact, he had his head straight up and was trying to disguise himself as a reed.  I don't know which of us was the more startled, but when he flew off, he was kind enough to stop on a branch across the pond - posing for several photos.

When we reached the path to the beach, we turned around and walked back, choosing to take the little side path we'd seen before.  In that marshy area, we found one of my favorite birds, a COMMON YELLOWTHROAT.  While not showing off its distinctive call, it did pose on the branches for a few photos.

Couldn't have asked for a nicer day or nicer selection of birds to see.  The trail is only about a mile long, the trail head is behind the gift shops.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Learning to photograph birds

We have a new camera, a Canon T1i and are learning to photograph birds.  We use a 55x200 zoom lens for now (we figure we'll learn more about the camera before we get a bigger lens).

Here's a link to our bird photographs.

We're also learning about bird identification, having "graduated" from backyard birding in the valley, so feel free to correct any mis-identified birds.  Any tips about bird photography also welcome - post them here!


I know nothing about mushrooms, but I enjoy their beauty.  Here's a couple we found this fall in our wanderings.

Found this beauty at Devil's Lake park - it was about 7 inches tall.

Found this one walking the west Salishan Nature Trail - I think it was about 5 inches tall and wide

While I love looking at them, I don't eat mushrooms and wouldn't know an edible one if I saw it.