Notes, birds, nature, meanderings.

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

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fogarty Creek State Recreation Area

AKA The Tale of the Wandering Tattler

Everyone has been reporting WANDERING TATTLERS, I mean it -- EVERYONE!  So yesterday when I saw the eBird report showing that my Newport friend and friendly competitor had reported one, I thought, ok I need to see one of these birds.   Hmmm, what exactly is a Wandering Tattler?  How will I know if I've seen one?  Where do I go to find one?

So I read about them in my two favorite bird books, my Stokes and my Sibley's field guides:

From Stokes, I found out that they are medium sized shorebirds, a type of SANDPIPER, and that they bob their bodies like SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, but are larger. From Sibley, I found that they are "uncommon", usually alone but sometimes join other birds on coastal rocks.

Hmmm, "uncommon" didn't sound too promising, so I checked my favorite Oregon reference book, the Handbook of Oregon Birds by Hendrik Herlyn and Alan Contreras (a must have if you live and bird in Oregon).

Found it on page 87, and discovered that it's "a fairly common migrant" along the Oregon coast.  In the fall, they can be seen from July through October.  Ok, great -- in fact, awesome!  So now, where should I look?  And when should I go?  (Yes, here's where I actually talk about Fogarty Creek!  Thanks for your patience :o)

So today, September 4, tourist season is officially over, people are back at work and kids are back in school.  Not to mention that it is cool, windy and foggy (yes!).  So I gathered my gear and headed out -- and ended up at Fogarty Creek.  The east side of the recreation area is a gorgeous park through which Fogarty Creek meanders to the ocean.  I walked the path that runs next to the creek and under the highway to get to the beach on the west.  Did I mention that it was FOGGY?  Oh yes.  But that also meant very few people.

As I walked down to the water, it appeared that it also meant very few birds!  Sigh, had I struck out again?  I set my mind to enjoy the wind and waves, walking along the water's edge toward the rocks where the low, incoming tide exposed bare rocks and seaweed.  As my mind wandered -- you know what's going to happen, don't you -- yup, I startled 3 birds who flew up and away into the fog before I could ID them.  Drat, ok so now I'm mentally berating myself, how am I ever going to get any good at this bird-stuff if I can't even remember to WATCH for them!

And I nearly step on a BLACK TURNSTONE and a lonely LEAST SANDPIPER who are calmly feeding on the exposed rock, ignoring me totally (hallelujah!).  Uncropped photos of my new best friends:

Black Turnstone
Least Sandpiper

Believe me, I have LOTS of photos of these two little guys!  They not only delighted me with their casual scavenging, they also helped me to adjust my attitude!  Today is today, take what it brings - it is all GRACE.

So blessed, I continued to walk to the largest rock -- and I heard a "shorebird" call approaching through the fog.  It landed.  It bobbed its butt.  It scrabbled around the rock.  YES! 
Wandering Tattler

Here's the first photo I snapped.  

Wandering Tattler

It only stuck around for a few poses, but it was so fun to watch!  And a new life bird (number 201).

When he (or she) was gone, a movement to the south caught my eye -- several PELAGIC CORMORANTS were flying out from a cliff.  Looking closer, I could see them in nests on the cliff face.  Beyond that, even more were standing in the fog.

Pelagic Cormorants in the fog
Black Turnstones

Heading back, three more BLACK TURNSTONES landed on the edge of the surf and proceeded to bathe.

As I neared the spot where the creek runs across the sand, another shorebird landed in the creek.  For a minute I thought it was the Tattler, but no -- more fun!

Greater Yellowlegs


He  strutted and posed for several photos before taking off.

So, now you know, I had a really terrifically tremendously wonderful day (I didn't mention tripping over a rock while walking backwards to beat the tide, falling, getting moderately soaked and nearly losing a flip-flop) but hey, it would've taken a lot more than that to spoil this day!

Fogarty Creek State Recreation Area is located just south of Lincoln City on Highway 101.  There are north and south entrances on the east side of the highway.  Multiple bridges cross the creek so park on either side to get to the beach.  Or bring a picnic and enjoy the lovely park.  It's all good!


  1. Great post Dawn. I can totally relate to many things you experienced (how many times have I let my mind wander only to have a bird flush :-)). Congrates on the Wandering Tattler! I never got to enjoy my only sighting as I didn't realize what it was until I reviewed the bird on my computer at home. It was a gloomy, rainy day and I thought it was a Surf Bird. Lucky I took a few shots.

    1. Funny I was just reading Jen's blog about going back through photos and discovering something you didn't know you had! I can relate to that too!

  2. Loved this post, Dawn. You had me walking right along with you. And congrats on that Wandering Tattler!

  3. Ooh congrats!! Great story-telling too- I tend to leave out the parts where I fall down too haha...

    1. Ah yes, life's embarrassing moments :o)