Notes, birds, nature, meanderings.

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

Friday, April 29, 2011

D River Open Space

While driving around yesterday, I discovered that the D River Open Space is a much larger area than I had thought.  I stopped in the small turnaround area east of Highway 101 and walked around looking for birds.  What I found was another larger parking area across a narrow wooden bridge. 

I didn't have time to stay, so today I returned with camera and binoculars to see what I could see.   
Canada Geese with Goslings

Parking in the gravel beyond the bridge, I immediately spotted a pair of CANADA GEESE herding their goslings into the river.

Canada Geese with Goslings

Another goose approached them, earning a warning hiss from the male.

Mallard Pair

A pair of MALLARDS rested on a log near the bridge.  I wondered if the female was actually nesting on the log?  She never moved, while the male was watchful and vigilantly prowling close by.

Wooden Bridge providing access to the area
Orange-Crowned Warbler

Movement caught my eye, and I could see that the shrubs behind the mallards were alive with birds -- through the binoculars, I could see at least 8 to 10 ORANGE CROWNED WARBLERS flitting from branch to branch. 

Continuing to investigate the area, I found an opening in the fence on the north side of the parking area that lead to a long boardwalk.

Boardwalk Looking North

Looking East
Looking West

I did more looking than photographing, and tallied 18 different species of birds, including CASPIAN TERNS overhead, BLACK CAPPED and CHESTNUT BACKED CHICKADEES in the trees, and a WILSON'S WARBLER singing in the brush. 
Black-Capped Chickadee
The boardwalk twists around between shrubs, grasses and trees.  Signs along the path have information on the wetlands and the building of the incredible walking path. 

The shrubs next to the boardwalk were full of warblers, I counted 20+ ORANGE CROWNED, 2 WILSON'S, and 3 YELLOW RUMPED WARBLERS.

Past the shrubs, the boardwalk passes over a small bridge and trees take over the landscape.

Here a small stream full of skunk cabbage and other vegetation runs next to the walk.

The north end of the boardwalk ends in the Devil's Lake camping area.  The camping area is currently closed, probably because most of the sites are under water.  AMERICAN ROBINS washed in the puddles and fussed from the branches.  A pair of ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRDS zipped around in the brush.

Song Sparrow

Turning back, I re-crossed the bridge, where SONG SPARROWS ran back and forth.

Boardwalk Looking South
D River Open Space is another beautiful Lincoln City secret.  There's plenty of parking, and the boardwalk will keep your feet dry.  An easy stroll, not too far from end-to-end.  Another treasure we'll plan to visit again and again.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cutler City Wetlands Nature Trail

As I mentioned, I used part of a day off to visit both the Josephine Young Memorial Wayside on Siletz Bay and the Cutler City Wetlands Nature Trail.   

Our previous visit to the wetlands was in December -- truly WET-lands and few birds, but with the promise of a habitat that would be filled with birds in the spring.  And spring is here!

This wonderful dead tree looked like a perfect place for woodpeckers and nuthatches. 

Scanning it with my binoculars, I found a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH working around the trunk near the top.

Townsend's Warbler

The air was full of singing WARBLERS and SPARROWS - at least 8 to 10 TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS flew in and out of the large conifers.

The area most heavily populated with the warblers and other singing birds was clearly marked "You Are Here" (ok, probably a coincidence).
Warblers Are Here!

When we returned on Saturday, the area was still full of song and birds.

In addition to the warblers, we enjoyed watching and listening to GOLDEN- and RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, BLACK-CAPPED and CHESTNUT-BACK CHICKADEES, a HUTTON'S VIREO, and several HERMIT THRUSH.

Lincoln's Sparrow

We think we spotted a LINCOLN'S SPARROW along with the numerous SONG SPARROWS.

Downy Woodpecker

A DOWNY WOODPECKER hung from a branch over our heads.

Deeper in the woods, I spotted a bit of red at the tip of a tall conifer.  First studying it in the binoculars, then snapping several distant photos, I was excited to see that we were looking at a RED CROSSBILL - a first for us!
Red Crossbill

After visiting Turtle Lake (no turtles that we could see), we looped around the western edges, where there were fewer birds but tons of beautiful scenery. 

As we reached the path that led back to the car, we heard a familiar song and stopped to try to locate the shy PACIFIC WREN. 
Pacific Wren

To our delight, he was perched on a branch in the shadows and stayed for a couple of photos before fleeing into the brush. The wren brought our total to 30 species for the two-day visit to the wetlands. 

Cutler City Wetlands Open Space has a number of trails. The main entry is on SW 63rd, but there is very little parking (a small turnout on the side of the road).  If you come on a damp day, wear boots or shoes you don't mind getting muddy. 

Josephine Young Memorial Wayside (Siletz Bay)

The combination of spring migration, an incoming minus tide, and a gorgeous day were too tempting to pass up - I spent part of a day off visiting first the Cutler City Wetlands, followed by the tiny Josephine Young Memorial Wayside.

Someone on the Oregon Birders email list had mentioned visiting tidal flats during the incoming tide, when the shorebirds will come closer as they are chased by the incoming sea, so I chose a time about two hours after an especially low tide.

As I stepped from the small park onto the sand, a rapid alarm caught my attention - I turned in time to see four WHIMBRELS fleeing at a brisk trot up the sand.  I followed them for a bit, hiding behind some large driftwood to try to catch some better photos.

Turning back, I headed south toward Drift Creek -- numerous WESTERN and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS were capturing clams and dropping them onto the hard sand, while a few CASPIAN TERNS fed in the shallow water.
Caspian Tern

I added two new birds to my life-list, with a pair of BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER accompanied by a group of four SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS (I believe I correctly identified them, but if not, feel free to correct me in the comment area below!).
Short-Billed Dowitchers

Short-Billed Dowitchers with Black-Bellied Plover
Black-Bellied Plover


There was another lone shorebird a short distance away, I believe this is also a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, in non-breeding plumage.

As I watched him, a movement caught my eye and I swung the camera around in time to catch this bird in flight.  Is this a GREATER YELLOWLEGS or something else? 
Greater Yellowlegs?
Bald Eagle

A bunch of gulls raised a racket south of me, and I watched a BALD EAGLE dive to the beach in the distance, then fly to a snag in the water and perch.

When we returned Saturday, the beautiful day had lured people out of doors and there were few shorebirds to be seen.  We enjoyed watching ten RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS (4 males and 6 females) and a few other ducks in the water.
Savannah Sparrow

 My husband's sharp eyes caught a SAVANNAH SPARROW on some lumber in the riprap.

Josephine Young Memorial Wayside offers only 2-3 parking spots in a tight area with no room to turn around.  However, we've only once found the parking area "full" - it's a nice little "secret" spot.  We recommend visiting at low tide!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tualatin River NWR

Ok, I know it's not on the coast, but a couple of weeks ago we had to make a trip to Portland, and had a couple of hours on our return trip.  We chose to use them at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.  Spring was in the air with WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS singing loudly near the entrance.


A beautiful solitary KILLDEER greeted us in a large puddle in the median.  We walked through the visitor center first, then stopped by the viewing area between the two main buildings.

Rufous Hummingbird

A flash of movement caught our eye, as a brilliant RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD flicked through the flowers.

On the water, large flocks of WHITE CHEEKED GEESE were interspersed with a variety of other waterfowl, including COOTS, BUFFLEHEAD, MALLARDS and RING NECKED DUCKS.
Ring-Necked Duck


Follow the Leaders

A pair of CANADA GEESE appeared to lead a line of CACKLING GEESE in a large loop.

There were a few other visitors on the trail, and we all stopped to watch the BULLFROGS in one of the ponds.

 Along the way towards the woods, WHITE-CROWNED, GOLDEN-CROWNED and SONG SPARROWS were plentiful. 
Golden-Crowned Sparrow
White-Crowned Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

As we watched another unique sparrow, an experienced birder stopped by and told us we were looking at a LINCOLN'S SPARROW - our first!


We found a pair of MALLARDS drifting along the edges of a well-hidden creek - I wonder if they had a nest nearby?


The singing of WARBLERS greeted us as we moved from the open meadows and wetlands to the dense forest.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Audubon's)
Many other creatures were enjoying the rich forest, including SPOTTED TOWHEE and tiny CHIPMUNKS.

Spotted Towhee
Black-Capped Chickadee

A loud knocking caught our attention, and we were thrilled to watch a RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER working its way around a tree.
Red-Breasted Sapsucker
Stopping at the wetlands viewing area, we heard and then saw our first GREATER YELLOWLEGS, along with a GREAT EGRET and a number of waterfowl, including EURASIAN and AMERICAN WIGEON and NORTHERN SHOVELERS.  

Tualatin River NWR is a beautiful place to visit, with a nice visitor center, public restrooms and plenty of parking.  The paved paths are available year round, and other paths are open during the summer.  A wide variety of habitat makes the number and variety of species a constant surprise.  Plan to visit!