Notes, birds, nature, meanderings.

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

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A bird or two at Boiler Bay

Decided to drive down to Yaquina Bay yesterday morning to see the shorebirds that were being reported.  Passing Boiler Bay, hundreds of specs in the water caught my eye -- I quickly pulled over and turned into the south entrance.

And stayed... for three hours...  Never did get to Newport!

Specs in the water caught my eye
There were dozens of very noisy rafts of birds - mixed species, as far as you could see.  And hundreds of birds - I probably could identify maybe half.  Plus, there were thousands of birds flying by without stopping (the resident expert estimated over 200,000 birds in the 3 or so hours he counted).

Pacific Loon

PACIFIC LOONS were plentiful and glorious.  There were probably 1,000 in the water and thousands more that flew by.

Brandt's Cormorant
Common Murre

I expect the hundreds of COMMON MURRE accounted for some of the noise.  Along with the many PIGEON GUILLEMOT.

I spent most of my time studying the rafts - leaving the waves of passing migrants to the experts (I get frustrated trying to figure out who those flying birds are).
Mixed Raft of Birds

The water was so clear, and the raft so near the rocky shore, that you could see the birds underwater as they dove (front, just to the right of center).

Double-crested Cormorants

Some of the fly-bys were familiar regulars, like this line of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS.


Or distinctive like the groups of WHIMBRELS that flew by.... (well ok, not always distinctive, like when they're right above the water).

But most were small and medium shorebirds, or PEEPS (Western Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Dunlin, etc.).   You can see some of the PEEPS that flew by in the foreground here...

I started noticing that some of the little birds were joining the rafts -- their flight made me think of Phalaropes -- sure enough, there were dozens, and then hundreds of RED-NECKED PHALAROPES!
Red-necked Phalaropes

California Gulls
Pacific Loon, Common Murre and Red-necked Phalarope

This was a nice shot showing the size difference - look how tiny the Phalaropes are!

A line of SURF SCOTERS flew by - a little too far to get a camera shot, but here's a fuzzy pic:
Surf Scoters

Ring-billed Gull?

And, of course, there were the ever-challenging gulls (can you help me ID any of them?):

California Gull?
Glaucous-winged Gull (center)

I'm told the all-white gull is a GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL in a weird molt. 

And just as I was about to leave, a pair of BROWN PELICANS gracefully joined the raft...
Brown Pelicans
It was a wonderful experience watching the birds arrive and depart, picking out the familiar movements and colorations.  Studying differences with so many birds side-by-side.  Truly awe-inspiring!

Common Murre

Common Murre

Common Murres arrive....

and splash down to join the raft.

Wish you could've been there with me!


  1. This is wonderful, Dawn! Thanks so much for taking us with you on an exciting ride at the coast!

  2. It was fun! By the way, I need to thank the folks who helped me with some of the ID's -- I updated the blog accordingly so now all that are left are the gull questions.

  3. Wow, sounds awesome! Glad you shared this!