Notes, birds, nature, meanderings.

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

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Counting Migrants, Tillamook County NAMC

This year we volunteered to help with the Tillamook County North American Migration Count.  In our few other NAMCs, we've stayed in our home county.  Coordinating our route with others who are regulars in Tillamook, we were able to see a few new places in addition to a number of our favorites.  Our route (see it on a google map) started at Hebo Lake, looped up to Tillamook Wetlands then back down the coast to end with dinner at the Pelican Pub.

There was no PYGMY OWL beside the road on our way up Mt Hebo Road, but Hebo Lake was alot more active than when I had scouted it a few days before. 

Pacific Wren

A juvenile PACIFIC WREN greeted us when we stepped onto the lake trail, not a very good picture, but he was so cute!

We saw three kinds of Jays - two STELLER'S, a single WESTERN SCRUB JAY (he was quite a surprise!), and two GRAY JAYS (the only shot I got that was even slightly in focus):
Gray Jay
One end of the lake is still covered in Water Lilies.  My hubby asked "What's that on the lily pad?"  By the time I looked he was flying across the lake, but landed on a stick in the water -

American Dipper (juv)

... another surprise, an AMERICAN DIPPER.  These guys are normally only seen by rapidly moving water!

Continuing around the lake, I was trying to pick out the various birds we were hearing when a sound suddenly came into focus.  "Do you hear that?" I asked my hubby.  "It's our owl!"  We both stopped to listen - sure enough, it was the single note call of the PYGMY OWL.  Our friend Linda had encouraged me to get familiar with the call, saying it's easy to learn and replicate.  That exercise enabled me to recognize him when we heard him - so thanks, Linda!

Our next stop was a clear-cut near the lake, where we saw our only PILEATED WOODPECKER.  Then we were off toward Tillamook - first stop, Hoquarten Slough, one of my favorite stops and it's right in town! I'm going to have to do a blog about this spot one of these days - a delightful little park, which I understand is being added to sometime in the near future.

Common Yellowthroat

It was not nearly as active as the day I scouted it, but we found 12 species, including a few COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, several CEDAR WAXWINGS and our only ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER of the day. 

Common Raven

On Goodspeed Road driving in to Tillamook Wetlands, a COMMON RAVEN was standing guard - he took off when we stopped to get a photo.

We had planned to only walk to the first pond, but we had skipped Munson Creek Falls and had some time so we walked further in - boy am I glad we did, the rest of the way was hopping with both residents and migrants - we netted 36 species at this one stop.  
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Marsh Wren

Greater Yellowlegs
Wilson's Snipe

I got my first (terrible) photos of a WILSON'S SNIPE - four of them flew into the mud and just vanished.  I was finally able to sort them out from the grass...  such interesting looking birds!

Having missed seeing a BLACK PHOEBE on our two previous stops, we made a quick tour of Fraser Road.  Still no luck, but we did see a group of TURKEY VULTURES circling above a hill.  Stopping to count them, we found four COMMON RAVENS with the 18 vultures.  Pretty impressive!
Turkey Vultures and Common Ravens
Our long, albeit fruitful, stop at the wetlands meant that we missed the optimal tide at Netarts Bay.  The bay was quiet - not sure we saw a single bird on it other than GULLS and CORMORANTS.  We stopped at Hamm Road (my favorite stop along the bay - you get the bay on one side, then walk across the road for a marsh with RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and BARN SWALLOWS (sometimes others), along with a few fir trees for passerines and some scrub brush with sparrows.  One stop shop - but pretty quiet this day.

Driving south toward Cape Lookout, the fog slowly settled in around us - visibility at the Fish Hatchery was nil, and Cape Lookout wasn't much better.  We did manage to see some CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES and GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS along the parking lot.  But I was beginning to wish we had stayed in Tillamook!

Whalen Island was our last stop, and as we neared, the fog cleared and temperatures rose 11 degrees - it was warm, sunny and beautiful! 
Red-breasted Nuthatch

We walked the whole loop and encountered a nice mix of shorebirds and songbirds - 17 species.  Not a bad way to end the day!


  1. Oh! I'll have to do a bit more image searching -but I think I spotted two American Dippers along the river yesterday. They kept just a few feet too far for me to see clearly, but I saw them generally. For the 201 class, I think just mroe observation. Migration patterns. Keeping track of when they appear. I'm still waiting for my coots.

  2. Saw my first Coots at Sawyer's Landing (Yaquina Bay) yesterday - would love to see some Dippers here in Lincoln County :o)