Notes, birds, nature, meanderings.

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

Saturday, May 3, 2014

From Depoe Bay to Newport in the Misty Rain

Yesterday was a good day. My friend, Linda, came over from Grand Ronde to meet me and a visitor from Bend for a day of birding around Yaquina Bay. We got a late start (for birders), after chores (for Linda) - around 9:30am we picked up Courtney and headed down toward Newport.

First stop was Fishing Rock, where PIGEON GUILLEMOTS are gathering for nesting. We had hoped for some "Rockpipers" at this exceptionally low tide, but none were around. We were able to pick out a couple of BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS on the exposed rocks to the north. So on to Boiler Bay. Again, things were pretty quiet - we tried to pick through the CORMORANTS on the far rocks, but decided to head down toward Depoe Bay for closer looks.

The rock at Depoe Bay was alive with all three Cormorants, and COMMON MURRES!
Brandt's Cormorant with Nesting Grass

Pelgagic Cormorants - Preening, Resting and Nesting!

Common Murre
It was great fun watching the Murre's flying around the rock, landing, flying off, rafting - and complaining loudly! In addition to these on the rocks, there were hundreds of them in at least 3 large rafts on the water.

From Depoe Bay we headed south - I had forgotten my Yaquina Head pass so we opted to head on down to the spit. The HARLEQUIN DUCKS must be up in the creeks nesting, as we saw none. There was one large COMMON LOON in the water, along with some Guillemots and Cormorants. The OSPREY pair were on their nest by the bridge, but no sign of the PEREGRINES.

Savannah Sparrow

We checked for American Pipits, instead found lots of singing SAVANNAH SPARROWS.

From the Jetty we went to Hatfield Marine Science Center, parking on the west side (by the Oregon Coast Aquarium). On the nature trail, the tide was still pretty far out - lots of expanses of mud - so we decided to hit the Rogue Brewery for some lunch and come back later.
Anna's Hummingbird

After lunch we returned to the nature trail, where we were greeted by the resident ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD guarding his territory.

We could hear quite a few birds, but not see very many. An OSPREY flew over with grassy material in his grasp - headed for the bridge. As we moved up the trail, we ran into a host of school kids on a birding field trip - looked like they were having a great time! On the mud, we could see WHIMBRELS across the bay on Idaho Flats, so decided to head that way - toward the Whimbrels and away from the kids :o)

On Idaho Flats, there were at least 20 or so Whimbrels, along with half-dozen DUNLIN in breeding plumage, some SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS and several WESTERN SANDPIPERS. We pulled out our scopes to pick through the birds, hoping for a Baird's, but no luck. We were getting pretty soaked in the misty rain, and I didn't get any photos of this fun group of birds.

We turned around to scan the marsh on the opposite side of the road, checking out the noisy RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS.
Western Kingbird

As we looked around, Courtney spotted a WESTERN KINGBIRD on the wire - what fun!

Back in the car, we drove to the north side of the bay, stopping at the LNG Tank and Sally's Bend. We found a nice raft of GREATER SCAUP, a few RUDDY DUCKS and a single AMERICAN COOT on the water. Further east, a lovely swamp on the opposite side of the road yielded a HAIRY WOODPECKER and a small flock of BAND-TAILED PIGEONS.
Horned Grebe

We turned around just past Sawyer's Landing, where Courtney spotted a pair of SPOTTED SANDPIPERS. A HORNED GREBE was fishing nearby. 


We had to stop and take a few photos of this WHIMBREL, looking out of place perched on a large piling.

It was a good day...

Monday, February 10, 2014

"Smudge", Our Resident Western Gull

A few days after we got home from our Thanksgiving in Las Vegas, we began noticing that a single gull was returning every day to our deck. At times he would try the seed in the feeder (then gack it up), but mostly he just preened and sat and stared at us (and our cat) through the window.

Here he is on December 7th, 2013, a few days after his appearance.

I thought he was a Herring Gull, and posted the following photo of him on Oregon Birds - discovered that he is a slightly smudgy WESTERN GULL.

Taken 1/6/2014 - he had been hanging around about 4 weeks
Some days he "talks" to us, or to our cat "Don Diego".  Mostly, he just sits watching us through the window. In the above photo, you can see the protruding feather that lets us know it's the same gull.

Taken 1/16/2014, he had damaged his bill and was bleeding slightly
Today, February 10, 2014, he is still returning to his regular spot.  This photo, taken yesterday, shows how he has changed. 

"Smudge" is not so smudgy anymore!
Most of the smudginess is gone!  Getting ready for breeding season?

So now I am curious how long he will be coming around - and how long will we know it's the same bird?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Pre-Superbowl Stroll

Today we decided to stroll down on the beach rather than watching the pre-game hype. It was just past high tide, and there was only one other couple far down the beach.  No other people, no dogs, just us... nice.

We enjoyed watching the aptly-named SURF SCOTERS playing in the surf.

I love their bright, colorful "clown" faces and the way they ride the waves, diving just before the break.
Surf Scoter
On the walk back up the beach, a gull was crying overhead - we looked up to see a beautiful RED-TAILED HAWK being harassed by the gull.  It reeled up and out of sight.  

But as we walked our hill, there was the hawk, perched on a tree on our street. It posed for a few minutes then lifted off into the wind -

I snapped several photos as it rode the wind, every now and then pausing mid-air to "kite" before it finally moved slowly away.

We got home in plenty of time to fix snacks and watch the big game!