These field notes are from the Sandpiper, a publication of Yaquina Birders & Naturalists, Lincoln County, Oregon. This group is independent of the Audubon Society of Lincoln City.
Comments about abundance or seasonality refer only to LINCOLN COUNTY. There are too many Lincoln County sightings that have been sent to me or that I have compiled from Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL) to report them all. Only those considered particularly noteworthy are included here.
Many Lincoln Co. birding sites are in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide.
Semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 are in 1995 Journal of Oregon Ornithology 4:395-543 that is archived at ScholarsArchive@OSU (http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070).
------------------------------- Month of Sandpiper, Volume 29 ------------------------------- August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 -------------------------------
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations: BEAVER CREEK: creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, DRIFTWOOD BEACH STATE PARK: park about 2 miles north of Alsea Bay, ECKMAN LAKE: lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, GOV. PATTERSON MEMORIAL STATE PARK: park just south of Waldport along HWY 101, HMSC: OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, IDAHO FLATS: large embayment just east of HMSC, LNG TANK: large green Liquefied Natural Gas tank on the north side of Yaquina Bay about 1.5 miles east of Yaquina Bay Bridge, MIKE MILLER PARK: county park 1.2 miles south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on the east side of Hwy 101, ONA BEACH: State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, SALLY'S BEND: large Yaquina Bay embayment east of the LNG tank, YBSJ: Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
13 BRANT visited Seal Rocks on 6/13 (KB; RL), with a loner lingering to at least 6/21 (KB). 19 were at Otter Rock on 6/17 (DS & DD).
RL had our last report of northerly flying WESTERN CANADA GEESE on 6/1 over Lincoln City--that flight regularly occurs in late May and early June. On 7/29, BBa saw a flock of about 40 Canada Geese flying north over Yachats--this flight is probably unrelated to the late spring flight. On 8/6, about 100 Canadas were reported to come in around midnight and leave by morning at King Slough, east of Idaho Flats (fide JL). About 50-60 foraged at Sally's Bend during 8/5-20 (JL; RB).
On 8/12, a flock of about 150 unidentified geese flew south past the YBSJ in the ghostly fog (JL). They could have been Canadas, since it was too early for Gr. White-fronted Geese.
The TUNDRA SWAN at Siletz Bay reported in early May in the May newsletter lingered there until 5/16-17 (MN). MN visited the Lincoln City Sewage Ponds on 5/21 and found GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON, BLUE-WINGED TEAL, NORTHERN SHOVELER, and GREEN-WINGED TEAL. A male AMERICAN WIGEON at Eckman Lake on 7/14 (RL) was probably an oversummering nonbreeder--they have done so here before (SemiL).
Migrants include two flocks of NORTHERN PINTAIL and TEAL sp. passing Yaquina Head on 8/21 (WH).
HARLEQUIN DUCKS were reported almost daily in May at Yaquina Head (BLM). Our only report since then was 5 at Seal Rocks on 8/2 (DA).
All 3 scoter species regularly occur along the open coast during June-August as nonbreeders (SemiL). 60+ SURF SCOTERS were at Yaquina Head on 7/6 (KM, BC, & RY). During at-sea surveys, 300+ WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS and 2 Surf Scoters were counted south of Lincoln City on 7/16 (MB, RT, & AW), and about 275 White-winged Scoters were in two rafts off Lincoln City on 7/16-18 (MB). Other reports include 1 male BLACK SCOTER at Yaquina Head and "hundreds" of Surf Scoters and a few White-wings along the Lane or Lincoln Co. coasts on 7/17 (RH), a flock of White-wings and Surf Scoters just offshore of Yachats on 7/19 (SS), and 100 White-wings and 2 Surfs at Gov. Patterson Memorial State Park on 7/26 (PS & CK).
The 6/21 YBNFT to Mike Miller Park saw a HOODED MERGANSER hen with 6 chicks (EH).
JW was surprised by a quail, probably a CALIFORNIA QUAIL near her Waldport home on 7/8.
A RED-THROATED LOON and 3 WESTERN GREBES were at Yaquina Head and a COMMON LOON lingered at Yaquina Bay on 7/6 (KM, BC, & RY). 50 PACIFIC LOONS and 2 Western Grebes were also at Gov. Patterson Memorial State Park on 7/26 (PS & CK). A few nonbreeders of these loons and Western Grebes often oversummer along the open coast (SemiL).
WH found an apparent YELLOW-BILLED LOON just west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on 6/4. Singletons have also been found in summer at Yaquina Bay in June 1987 and July-August of 1985, 1992, 2005, 2006, and 2007 (FN).
The abnormally high number of beached NORTHERN FULMARS continued through June. Since January 1978, BLo and his team have been doing approximately weekly beach walks along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach. Their January total of fulmars this year (12) is the sixth highest for those 31 years, and February (17), March (103), April (49), May (11), and June (5) are the most ever found during those months (B&SLo, L&VO). Finally, in July, they found no beached fulmars (or any other birds!). The 8/3 BGPT out of Newport tallied 321 live fulmars.
Oregon's first GREATER SHEARWATER was discovered during the 8/9 BGPT out of Newport. Many other pelagic seabirds were found during BGPT's 8/3, 9, 10, & 16 trips--see http://thebirdguide.com for records.
TG reports that 7 SOOTY SHEARWATERS were satellite-tagged and released at the Columbia River Plume (CRP) as part of the "Sooty Shearwaters in the California Current: 2008" project of the Pacific Procellariid Research Consortium (see results at http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/?project_id=282&dyn=1215014031). After release, some Sooties went south by Lincoln County to southern California and others went north to southeast Alaska. Clearly some diversity in travel direction!
A rare MANX SHEARWATER was about 0.6 mile offshore south of Lincoln City on 7/16 (MB, RT, & AW).
A beached LEACH'S STORM-PETREL north of Ona Beach at the end of June is unusual (B&SLo, L&VO).
BROWN PELICANS were recorded during 12 days in May at Yaquina Head (BLM). Later reports include over 200 at Alsea Bay in mid-June (fide BBa), 100 at Gov. Patterson Memorial State Park on 7/26 (PS & CK), over 250 at Yaquina Head on 8/21 (WH), over 300 at Yaquina Head and 200-400 west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge during the YBNFT on 8/22 (WH; RB), 200+ at Yaquina Bay on 8/24 (CA), and 800+ near the mouth of Salmon River (Tillamook Co.) on 8/25 (PP). Pelicans usually do not go upstream in Yaquina Bay further than River Bend (River Mile 5.7), but on 8/29, CP found 60 perched on the Oregon Oyster dock (RM 7.5), and another 25 feeding/flying/floating from Oregon Oyster to Criteser's Moorage (RM 10.8). So they were very abundant in late August, but in past years, they reached peak numbers in September-October (e.g., Oct. 2007). Time will tell if they will continue to increase this year.
"Squawker" the GREAT BLUE HERON that calls continuously was often reported during June-August (TW; RL; JL; RB). On 7/20, RL was leaving work at the HMSC, heard something weird overhead, and said "What is that?" He looked up to see the Squawker for the first time and a few minutes later discussed the Squawker with RB, who happened to be driving by. The Squawker's call gets your attention! RB timed the rate of its calls as averaging about 0.5-1 per second during periods of up to 37 seconds in August.
6-10 GREAT EGRETS were spotted in lower Yaquina Bay during 6/3-9 (TW; RB). On 6/19, MR & FC kayaked near an active Great Blue Heron colony in lower Yaquina Bay and saw 10 Great Egrets with breeding plumes among the herons but not on nests. On 6/30, 23 were at Idaho Flats (TW), and on 7/1, JL saw 24 egrets perched in trees at the colony but not in nests. So far, Great Egrets have not been documented as nesting in Lincoln County but I believe that this is at least the second year where they have been seen in an active Great Blue Heron colony during the nesting season. Egret numbers swelled at Idaho Flats by August with 73 on 8/6 (JL), 64 on 8/10 (CP), and 52 on 8/21 (MP). The number of Great Egrets is high but not yet more than the number of Great Blue Herons, as RB counted 152 herons at Yaquina Bay embayments on 8/5. In the past, egret numbers approach but have not reached heron abundance in September and October when they often have become more numerous and as heron numbers decline. Perhaps this is the year in which the number of egrets will equal those of herons?
On 7/3, several TURKEY VULTURES were feeding on a road-killed rabbit east of Toledo when a BALD EAGLE flew in, picked up the rabbit, and flew off with it (GT fide MH).
SK spotted a NORTHERN GOSHAWK flying through the trees at the north end of Criteser Loop, southwest of Toledo on 6/29.
A PEREGRINE FALCON chased a ROCK PIGEON in the middle of Toledo on 6/10 (CP). Other singletons were at Yaquina Head on 7/6 (KM), CP's Toledo home on 8/10, and the HMSC on 8/12-13 (JL; RB).
[Image Not Included: Janet's Lamberson June 30 photo of a Western Sandpiper and a breeding-plumaged female Wilson's Phalarope at Idaho Flats.]
[Image Not Included: Janet Lamberson's July 8 photo of a Long-billed Curlew at Idaho Flats.]
JL discovered 4 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS at Idaho Flats on 6/17. They were presumably oversummering nonbreeders, and we have had a few records of them in June before (SemiL).
A SNOWY PLOVER hung out with Semipalmated Plovers at Driftwood Beach State Park on 8/8 (JG). In the past 10 years, this is only our fourth record, all of singletons: Sept. 1999, June 2001, and Sept. 2007 (FN).
Arriving migrants include DOWITCHERS (4) at Idaho Flats on 6/30 (JL), WESTERN SANDPIPERS (45) at Idaho Flats at 8 AM on 6/30 (RL)(their numbers swelled to 300 by mid-day [JL]), GREATER YELLOWLEGS at Eckman Lake on 7/2 (RL), a SEMIMPALMATED SANDPIPER at Idaho Flats on 7/16 (TS fide RN), 2 WANDERING TATTLERS at Yaquina Head on 7/20 (WH), 1 WILLET and 2 LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Idaho Flats on 7/25 (JL), SURFBIRD and BLACK TURNSTONE at Yaquina Head on 7/27 (WH), RUDDY TURNSTONE at YBSJ during the 8/3 BGPT, and SANDERLING and BAIRD'S SANDPIPER at Driftwood Beach State Park on 8/8 (JG).
Nonbreeding Whimbrels are to be expected in June (SemiL). Their numbers appear to be up this June at Idaho Flats, with at least 40 on 6/2 and 89 on 6/9 (RL), 99 on 6/8 (A&SL), 69 on 6/18 (RL), and 47 on 6/30 (JL). DI & DP also found several at Alsea Bay on 6/26. KB had 25 near Seal Rocks on 7/1, and these may have been migrants.
JL discovered a LONG-BILLED CURLEW (see photo) eating burrowing shrimp at Idaho Flats on 7/8. The bill lengths of Whimbrels vary, and those with longer bills are sometimes misidentified as curlews. JL's photo shows a bill that is about 4 head-widths (base of forehead to back of head) long, which fits photos of curlews; in contrast, photos of Whimbrels have bills that are 2 head-widths or less long.
Nonbreeding MARBLED GODWITS occasionally oversummer (SemiL). It is unclear if a "few" at Alsea Bay on 6/26 (DI & DP) and 1-2 at Idaho Flats on 7/19 (SS), Driftwood Beach State Park on 8/8 (JG), and Idaho Flats on 8/10 (CP) oversummered or were migrants, as migrants were usually first recorded in late August (SemiL).
JL detected three female WILSON'S PHALAROPES (see photo) in breeding plumage at Idaho Flats on 6/30. This is only our 10th record and the first since 12 June 1999 (SemiL; FN). Except for the record in 1999 and this year, all our records were in May or August-September (SemiL, FN). However, they were confirmed as nesting in Polk County, which is adjacent to northern Lincoln County, during the 1995-1999 Oregon Breeding Bird Atlas.
The long-awaited catalog of Oregon seabirds is available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Region, Migratory Birds and Habitat Programs, 911 NE 11th Ave., Portland, OR 97232-4181. It is 481 pages long and as of Aug. 27 does not appear to be available online. A copy is in the Guin Library at the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center. The citation is Naughton, Maura B., David S. Pitkin, Roy W. Lowe, Khemarith J. So, and Craig S. Strong. 2007. Catalog of Oregon seabird colonies. U.S. Dept. of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Biological Technical Publication FWS/BTP-R1009-2007, Washington D.C. [On Sept. 3, RB learned that The Coast Range Association has put this seabird catalog on the Coast Range Association's web site, http://coastrange.org/Estuaries_Marine.html The PDF file length is 16.7 MB.]
This is a great informational resource!
SOUTH POLAR SKUAS and jaegers as well as other pelagic seabirds were found offshore during one or more of BGPT's 8/3, 9, 10, & 16 trips out of Newport--see http://thebirdguide.com for records.
DF located an uncommon FRANKLIN'S GULL west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on 8/7.
An occasional MEW GULL is sometimes found during June-July (SemiL). On 7/17, RN & TS found an odd Mew Gull (possibly molt retarded) at Idaho Flats. On 8/22 at the YBSJ, WH saw what "I think is the first fully juvenal Mew Gull I have seen in Oregon."
In 2007, two pairs of Ospreys had built nests, one atop each of two light poles, at the Waldport High School football field. In mid-June, BH discovered a pair of WESTERN GULLS nesting in the nest atop the eastern pole, and one pair of Osprey were nesting in the other nest. Many Western Gulls appeared to nest on buildings in Newport this summer, cursory looks in August revealed adult pairs with large young on the north and southwest sides of the Lincoln County Courthouse and West Coast Bank (RB).
As is customary (SemiL), nonbreeding CASPIAN TERNS oversummered throughout June at Yaquina Bay (RB), with a peak count of 30 on 6/8 (A&SL).
In the past 10 years, ELEGANT TERNS were identified in only 4 years (FN). They were most commonly noted in June-August 1998 (4 reports) and August-Sept. 2000 (3 reports), with only single reports in August of 2005 and 2007 (FN). This year is exceptional with 6 reports so far: 9 south of Lincoln City during an at-sea survey on 7/16 (MB, RT, & AW), 17 at north spit of Alsea Bay on 7/19 (SS), 2 flying by Yaquina Head on 7/20 (WH), 2 at Depoe Bay on 7/22 (DS), 3 at YBSJ on 8/16 (BGPT), and 2 at the YBSJ on 8/27 (CK).
60+ MARBLED MURRELETS were beheld during an at-sea Marbled Murrelet Survey about 0.3 mile off the beach south of Lincoln City on 7/16 (MB, RT, & AW). On 7/26, PS & CK counted 5 at Gov. Patterson Memorial State Park and 1 that was unusually inside Yaquina Bay, near the Newport Bayfront. Others were viewed during BGPT offshore trips in August.
RHINOCEROUS AUKLETS were noted offshore during BGPT trips in August but are harder to find from shore. MD saw 5 from the Whale Center at Depoe Bay on 6/26, and JL found one west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on 8/19.
CASSIN'S AUKLETS were observed offshore during BGPT pelagic trips in August, but 1 near the Newport Bayfront on 7/27 (PS & CK) is rare in an estuary.
TUFTED PUFFINS put on a fair show at Yaquina Head this year: 4 on 6/13 (CL & BBe), 1 on 7/6 (KM, BC, & RY), 2 on 7/15 (JT), and 1 on 7/17 (RH). An immature HORNED PUFFIN was just north of the Yaquina Bay North Jetty during the 8/16 BGPT.
The only doves were 1-3 MOURNING DOVES at LO's north Beaver Creek home from 7/19 through 8/25.
COMMON NIGHTHAWKS aren't commonly reported, but 1-4 were flying over the HMSC the evenings of 6/19 & 7/1 (RB), over north Newport on 7/1 (BO), over Tillicum Beach campground between Waldport and Yachats on 8/3 (DA), and at Yachats on 8/10 (KB).
J&KC's home is about 4 miles east of Waldport, and JC writes about RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS on 6/6:
"At our place, there is the spring migration, and then things settle down so much that only a few hummers visit the feeders for about six weeks. Then, a week before Memorial Day weekend, the hummers start coming back to the feeders. We assume they have been too busy nest building and raising their young to visit the feeders. This year they were nearly 2 weeks later than normal and are back. Presently they are going through 10 cups of sugar water every day but the amount they consume increases daily. What is surprising during this lull of approximately 6 weeks is that the male ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRDS also feed at the feeders less frequently. When the feeders get crowded again, we also notice the male Anna's feeding more regularly too."
On 7/30, BBa saw a confrontation between a male Anna's and a male Rufous amongst flowers at Yachats.
BM found a juvenile and an adult PILEATED WOODPECKER about 25 ft away from him in Mike Miller Park on 7/16.
RL detected a WESTERN KINGBIRD lingering at the HMSC on 6/9 & 11.
AMERICAN CROWS, jays, and COMMON RAVENS are particularly vulnerable to West Nile Virus. This virus was first discovered in Lincoln County in Sept. and Oct. 2006, when 2 crows tested positive (TD). One dead crow found in Beverly Beach State Park on 6 Sept. 2007 also tested positive (TD). As of 8/6, none have been found yet this year (KR). Anyone finding a fresh, dead, ill corvid (e.g., one with no visible causes of death such as being a roadkill) in Lincoln County should call 541-265-4127 to ask about testing (KR). It is best to avoid direct contact with any dead birds, so use disposable gloves or invert a plastic bag over your hand (KR). About 80% of infected people show no symptoms--the best defense against West Nile is to prevent mosquito bites (TD, KR). No human with West Nile Virus has yet been reported in Lincoln County (KR).
A poor showing this year of WESTERN SCRUB-JAYS, since our only one was in Newport on 6/9 (CP).
On 8/31, a STELLER'S JAY perched in a holly tree at CP's Toledo home. It used its bill to grab one of many ants going up the trunk and rubbed the ant against its body under its feathers for about a second before letting it go and grabbing another ant. It did this form of anting to remove parasites for several minutes.
On 6/30 at the HMSC, TW saw a COMMON RAVEN.
"on the sidewalk outside my office window, under attack from 5-6 crows. The crows gave up, and the raven walked straight down the sidewalk, turned the corner, and followed the sidewalk out to the library parking lot. I guess it's been brought up well and won't cut across the grass!"
An apparent juvenile (gray-naped) raven, perhaps the same bird, also unconcernedly walked around the lawns of the HMSC on 7/9-10 (RB). Adults are much warier around the HMSC, where they usually fly around or perch in a tree or snag (RB).
The 6/21 YBNFT to Mike Miller Park watched parents bring food to cavities in large snags for 2 CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE nests (EH).
DP & DI found our first NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD this year on 6/26, an immature at the Yachats Community Park.
On 7/25-26, DF found 3 BREWER'S SPARROWS at his Thornton Creek home, midway between Toledo and Eddyville. The morning of 7/26 "there was at least one which was a juvenile bird, and on one occasion I saw it being fed by an adult," which suggests that they may have nested nearby. The 1995- 1999 Oregon Breeding Bird Atlas did not have any nesting records for western Oregon. This is only the fourth record for Lincoln Co.--PP found singletons at D River (Lincoln City) in Oct. 1999, June 2000, and Sept. 2005 (FN).
On 6/22, SaL found a SAVANNAH SPARROW perched near the Yachats 804 trail. They nest along the coast, but are not often reported there.
It appears to have been a good year for BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAKS, with 7 pairs at BLl's Logsden home on 6/9, which was more than BLl had found there in the past.
A male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK visited KN's north Lincoln City home on 6/10, and a pair were near the same area on 6/11 (J&SB fide KN & DD).
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Don Albright, Cindy Ashy, Betty Bahn (BBa), Jim & Sherril Barry, Range Bayer, Bob Berman (BBe), Matt Brady, Kitty Brigham, Bureau of Land Management staff at Yaquina Head (BLM), Barbara Carlson, Jorrie & Ken Ciotti (http://www.birdsamore.com), CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast), Fawn Custer, Dick Demarest, Terry Dillman (14 Sept. 2007, West Nile Virus Shows Up Again, Newport News-Times), Maureen Doherty, Darrel Faxon (some of DF's bird records are at bird.htm#thornton_creek), Joel Geier, Bird Guide Pelagic Trip (BGPT; info about pelagic trips, http://thebirdguide.com), Troy Guy, Bill Hanshumaker, Wayne Hoffman, Mary Holbert, Eric Horvath, Richard Hoyer, David Irons, Carol Karlen, Steve Kupillas, Janet Lamberson, Cindy Lippincott, Aaron & Sara Liston, Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Barry McPherson, Kathy Merrifield, Russ Namitz, Kathleen Nickerson, Mark Nikas, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are searchable at bird.htm#recent [all lower case letters]), Bob Olson, Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Mike Patterson, Diane Pettey, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Mike Rivers, Kate Rowland (6 August 2008, West Nile Virus Still Active in County, Newport News-Times), Stefan Schlick, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Tim Shelmerdine, Don Stein, Paul Sullivan, Ryan Terrill, John Thomas, Greg Torland, Tom Wainwright, Jean Weakland, Alexis Will, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (YBNFT Field Trip), Ruth Yoder.
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations: BEAVER CREEK: creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, ECKMAN LAKE: lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, HMSC: OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, IDAHO FLATS: large embayment just east of HMSC, LNG TANK: large green Liquefied Natural Gas tank on the north side of Yaquina Bay about 1.5 miles east of Yaquina Bay Bridge, MIKE MILLER PARK: county park 1.2 miles south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on the east side of Hwy 101, ONA BEACH: State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, SALLY'S BEND: large Yaquina Bay embayment east of the LNG tank, THORNTON CREEK: about midway between Toledo and Eddyville along HWY 20, YBSJ: Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
Our first flock of south-bound GR. WHITE-FRONTED GEESE passed over Thornton Creek on 9/12 (D&LF). The next report for them was of a flock calling over the HMSC in the darkness on 9/21 (RB). Other flocks were reported flying over the HMSC on 9/22 (RB), Newport LNG tank on 9/23 (CP), and Criteser's Moorage downstream from Toledo on 9/24 (SK).
During migration, some geese may drop out, presumably because they are unable to keep up. 1 White-fronted Goose was spotted on the ground at the YBSJ on 9/25 (RP & DG), and 4 juveniles were there on 9/26 (WH).
No BRANT reports this month, but migrants could start showing up as early as Oct. 22, so be on the lookout! YB&N is a project partner of the International Brant Monitoring Project (IBMP) (http://www.padillabay.gov/brant/). RB relays on sightings of significant numbers of Brant in Lincoln County to their Observation Log (see link on the left side of their web page).
On 8/31 & 9/1, BB saw a total of 2 flocks of 6 and 15 CANADA GEESE flying south past Yachats. Some are local residents, but others appear migratory.
A TUNDRA SWAN at Siletz Bay during the 9/13 LCAFT is very unseasonal--could it be the one that was there abnormally late last May?
Other first arrivals of fall included AMERICAN WIGEON and NORTHERN SHOVELER at Eckman Lake on 9/7 (KM) and GADWALL and GREEN-WINGED TEAL at Eckman Lake during the 9/19 YBNFT.
Seal Rocks was the place to see HARLEQUIN DUCKS with 4 in late August (GM), 2 on 9/6 (RI) and 9/19 YBNFT, 6 males on 9/21 (PP), and 7 males on 9/22 (LO).
KM found a few hundred mostly WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS and some SURF SCOTERS at Seal Rocks on 9/7.
A RED-THROATED LOON lingered at Siletz Bay on 8/23 (JSha). 4 RED- NECKED GREBES and 70 WESTERN GREBES were at Seal Rocks on 9/7 (KM). The Red-necks were our first reported this season. KM also reported our first PIED-BILLED GREBES (3) of fall at Eckman Lake on 9/7.
The 9/13 Bird Guide pelagic trip out of Newport was truly graced-- they found the second record for North America of a WANDERING ALBATROSS (Antipodean form)! Other tubenoses they viewed offshore included 1 LAYSAN and 40 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES, a rare FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER, 3 BULLER'S, 100 PINK-FOOTED, and 150 SOOTY SHEARWATERS; 45 NORTHERN FULMARS, and 5 FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS.
On 8/25, RL saw some BROWN PELICANS foraging 6-7 miles west of Yaquina Head, which is farther offshore than normal. In Sept., not as many Brown Pelicans were reported as late last month, but it is not clear if this is because there were really fewer pelicans or if observers had became habituated to them. High counts this month included 100+ at Seal Rocks on 9/1 (KB) and 9/19 (YBNFT), 163+ on Elephant Rock at Seal Rocks on 9/22 (LO), and 122 at Yaquina Bay on 9/28 (CA).
Usually, Brown Pelicans are along the coast or in late summer in lower estuaries, but on 9/11, CP and D&LF found immature and adult pelicans at about Yaquina River Mile 10-11, with some headed upstream. This is exceptionally far upstream for them.
Squawker, the GREAT BLUE HERON that nearly continuously calls while flying, was noted at the HMSC near dusk on 9/3, 4, & 23 (RB).
OSPREY mostly fish on lakes, where the water is relatively calm. Yet, some fish along the coast, where the water is rougher. On 9/2, KB saw an OSPREY catch a big fish in the surf north of Seal Rocks. It was unable to fly away before it was "slapped by 4 breakers" and "lay splayed out on the ocean"! The fish got away, as did the Osprey!
2 WHITE-TAILED KITES surveyed the grasslands near the Newport Airport on 8/31 (BM).
A juvenile SHARP-SHINNED HAWK appeared at L&JM's home east of Sally's Bend on 9/18. It was teased by several Steller's Jays, which appeared to be playing "tag" with the hawk.
First of fall immigrants include a juvenile RED-SHOULDERED HAWK that struck EG's window in Yachats on 9/17, and a MERLIN chasing European Starlings at the HMSC on 9/28 (TW). The Red-shoulder left an oil/feather- powder impression on the window, but recovered and flew away -- apparently the same one was seen the next day, when it was harassed by Steller's Jays and a "murder" of American Crows (EG).
1 PEREGRINE FALCON was at Siletz Bay during the 9/13 LCAFT, and 2 were at Yaquina Bay during the Bird Guide pelagic trip the same day.
The 35-40 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS at Siletz Bay during the 9/13 LCAFT was our high count.
BB & SaL saw 2 WHIMBRELS walking along the driftline along CoastWatch Mile 198, south of Waldport, feeding on mole crabs.
Single MARBLED GODWITS were widely reported on 9/4 & 5 near the HMSC (JL; RI), on 9/11 near Seal Rocks (MC), on 9/13 at Siletz Bay (LCAFT), and on 9/30 at Idaho Flats (TW).
While bicycling along Beaver Creek Road about a half mile from HWY 101 on 9/19, MN glimpsed without binoculars what appeared to a BLACK-NECKED STILT. Unfortunately, it was not relocated. Our first and only previous report was in April 1985 (SemiL; FN). [Dennis Comfort's photos of 9/22 that confirmed it as a Black-necked Stilt were received on 10/6.]
On 9/19, CP found an uncommon SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER with 3 WESTERN SANDPIPERS near Mile Post 8 along north Yaquina Bay Road.
On 9/7 at Seal Rocks, KM watched 4 SANDERLINGS that were following the waves less than usual. They were feeding higher up the beach on little red polychaetes in the sand.
The 9/19 YBNFT had an exceptional view of 2 WILSON'S SNIPE at Eckman Lake. They were in bright sunshine--not overcast and drizzly like when we often seem them in winter. They were richly brown with striking stripes along their back. Nearby, the YBNFT also had side-by-side comparisons of GREATER YELLOWLEGS and LESSER YELLOWLEGS.
[Image Not Included: Maxine Centala's Sept. 11 photo of a Marbled Godwit strolling near the waterline at Seal Rocks.]
[Image Not Included: Kitty Brigham's Sept. 1 photo of a Red-necked Phalarope and its rippled reflection at Seal Rocks.]
This USFWS catalog is also now available for downloading for free on the Oregon Coastal Refuges web site as a complete document or by sections at http://www.fws.gov/oregoncoast/seabird_colony_catalog.htm. This is a great informational resource!
2 SOUTH POLAR SKUAS and 2 POMARINE, 4 PARASITIC, and 1 LONG-TAILED JAEGER were tallied offshore during the 9/13 Bird Guide pelagic trip out of Newport.
In late summer on warm days, insect swarms sometimes launch into the sky, apparently to mate and disperse. Regularly, gulls and even EUROPEAN STARLINGS will fly around and try to snatch these insects in the air. Before dusk on 9/7, RB saw flying ants in the sky at the HMSC, and a loose flying flock of 5 gulls trying to catch them.
KM detected our only BONAPARTE'S GULL, a juvenile, at Eckman Lake on 9/7.
JShr spotted 2 COMMON TERNS or ARCTIC TERNS at the YBSJ on 9/11. 2 were also at Sally's Bend on 9/15 (RB).
Seabirds die and often wash up on beaches. In August, along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach, 25 adult and 43 juvenile COMMON MURRES were found (B&SLo, L&VO). For BLo's counts that started in 1978, this number of adults is slightly more than normal but far less than the 85 in 1980 and 98 in 2005. Their count of juveniles is less than normal, though numbers are quite variable with 1,201 in August 1982. Beached murres were also reported in September (BB & SaL), and BLo's team tally will be helpful in determining if there were more than usual.
A juvenile PIGEON GUILLEMOT also washed ashore on the beach north of Ona Beach in August (B&SLo, L&VO).
CASSIN'S AUKLETS are rare in estuaries, but one floated near the HMSC on 9/5 (RI).
12 MOURNING DOVES were at DG's Toledo home on 9/18.
BAND-TAILED PIGEONS were abundant this summer, and 20-30 lingered at BB's Yachats feeders on 9/23 --most should be gone by November.
A BARRED OWL hooted near LO's north Beaver Creek home on 9/14, and N&EE saw another near their home south of Depoe Bay on 9/15 (fide DS; DD).
DG & RL commented that a female RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD nested in a small bush outside of an office in the USFWS building at the HMSC. Two chicks hatched on 6/12. On 6/30, the juvenile COMMON RAVEN seen at the HMSC by TW raided the nest. DG writes that "The nest was strewn about 10 feet from the bush, and the chicks were gone. After a few minutes of sleuthing we found the chicks huddled up under the bush, alive and well. We reassembled the nest, put the chicks back in the nest, and then built an elaborate 'cage' to keep out any more marauders." The chicks fledged on the 4th of July at 23 days old.
Our last RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD report was at Toledo on 9/16 (CP).
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's photo of a female Rufous Hummingbird feeding one of her two chicks in June 2008. The chicks are in a tiny lichen adorned nest cup outside the office of the USFWS Building at the HMSC. To the right of the chick with barely open eyes, the other chick's yellow bill gapes upwards in expectation of a meal. According to the Birds of North America Online, Rufous Hummingbird nests are bound together with spider silk, the inside diameter of the nest cup is only about 0.9 inch wide, the average egg size is 0.5 inch long by 0.3 inch wide, and a chick's eyes open when it is about 9-12 days old.]
A small flock of 6 BELTED KINGFISHERS were "raising quite a ruckus" near PK's home near Siletz for several days through 9/14. PK watched one feed another. These were probably a family group of 4 young and the parents, since the Birds of North America Online indicates that young remain with the parents and are fed by them for about 3 weeks after leaving the nest.
In fall, RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKERS often show up along the coast, and the first this fall appeared at EH's South Beach home on 9/16.
Signs of emigration of summering birds include the last seen dates for BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK of 9/3 at the HMSC (RL), WESTERN TANAGER of 9/4 at Mike Miller Park (RI), WILSON'S WARBLER of 9/5 at Mike Miller Park (RI), PURPLE MARTIN of 9/10 at the HMSC (RB), and BARN SWALLOW on 9/19 at Eckman Lake (YBNFT). Another emigration sign is migrating SWAINSON'S THRUSHES giving call notes in the darkness, as heard at north Beaver Creek on 8/26 (LO) and at the HMSC on 8/28 (RB).
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES often appear nomadic, rather than having regular, predictable migrations--they may arrive or not in early fall. This year, their arrival was widely noted on about 9/11 east of Sally's Bend (L&JM), Newport (SM), and South Beach (EH).
While many summer residents have departed, fall immigrants include AMERICAN PIPIT and LAPLAND LONGSPUR at the YBSJ on 9/4 (RI), and FOX SPARROW at north Beaver Creek on 9/21 (LO). TS found 12 Laplands at the YBSJ on 9/13.
DARK-EYED JUNCOS nest in appropriate habitat in Lincoln County, but at many locations they are migrants. The first of fall arrived at the HMSC on 9/21 and 2 days later at BB's Yachats home.
WESTERN MEADOWLARKS have not been found nesting here, and TW heard the first fall immigrants at the HMSC on 9/28.
RED CROSSBILLS are also nomadic. 4-5 were making daily visits to BB's feeders in Yachats until 9/1, and 1 was at Beaver Creek on 9/6 (RI).
EVENING GROSBEAKS continued to put on an exceptional show, with many at LO's birch tree in north Beaver Creek on 9/6 and feeding on ripe berries at BLo's mountain ash tree in Thiel Creek (about 3.5 mi south of Yaquina Bay) where they rarely are on 9/18-21. DF has been hearing them daily for the past few months at Thornton Creek, and notes that they have been much more common than in the past 8-10 years.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Cindy Ashy, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Kitty Brigham, Maxine Centala, CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one- mile segments of the Oregon coast), Dick Demarest, Nancy & Eddie Edwards, Darrel & Laura Faxon (some sightings at bird.htm#thornton_creek, Elizabeth Gates, Dawn Grafe, Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport (BGPT; info about pelagic trips, http://thebirdguide.com), Wayne Hoffman, Eric Horvath, Robert Ingle, Penelope Kaczmarek, Steve Kupillas, Janet Lamberson, Lincoln City Audubon Field Trip (LCAFT led by DD), Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Linda & John MacKown, Sue Martin, Barry McPherson, Kathy Merrifield, Guy Monroe, Michael Noack, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are searchable at bird.htm#recent [all lower case letters]), Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Ram Papish, Pam Parker, Chuck Philo, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Julie Shafer (JSha), Joline Shroyer (JSh), Tom Snetsinger, Don Stein, Tom Wainwright, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (YBNFT Field Trip led by RB).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations: BEAVER CREEK: creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, BOILER BAY: State Wayside about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, ECKMAN LAKE: lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, HY=hatch year (bird hatched in the current calendar year), HMSC: OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, IDAHO FLATS: large embayment just east of HMSC, LNG TANK: large green Liquefied Natural Gas tank on the north side of Yaquina Bay about 1.5 miles east of Yaquina Bay Bridge, ONA BEACH: State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, SALLY'S BEND: large Yaquina Bay embayment east of the LNG tank, WANDEMERE: about 0.5 mi north of Ona Beach State Park near HWY 101, YBSJ: Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
Based on the Pacific Flyway Council's Management Plan for White- fronted Geese (scroll down http://pacificflyway.gov/Abstracts.asp), 97% of Pacific Flyway White-fronts nest in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) in Alaska. Their numbers dropped precipitously after 1973, bottomed in about 1976-1985, grew at an annual average of 10% during 1985-1996, reached 1970- 1972 levels in 1996, and were at an uneven plateau during 1997-2003 with a peak in 2001. In fall, "most" appear to fly nonstop from the YKD over the Pacific Ocean to Oregon.
DF commented that there seemed to be more migrating over his Thornton Creek home between Toledo and Eddyville this year than in the past. Others also thought that there were more migrating flocks of White-fronts than usual in western Oregon this October. DI noted that this could be from the increased number of White-fronts, but cautioned,
"However, it is important to remember that increased detection can invariably be linked to an increase in observer effort/coverage. Since there are exponentially more active birders in Oregon than there were 20+ years ago, I think we can safely assume that there are exponentially more folks who instantly recognize the unique calls of Greater White-fronted Geese passing overhead."
I would add to DI's comments that I think exponentially improved communication via email (especially Oregon Birders OnLine) has also resulted in considerably more sightings being reported.
In Lincoln Co., White-fronted migration continued from late September into early October. Several flocks flew over Toledo in darkness the night of 10/2 (CP), and a juvenile flew in off the ocean at Boiler Bay on 10/4 (PP). Our latest reports of migrating flocks were over the HMSC on 10/10 (JL) and over Wandemere on 10/13-14 (RC).
We had many reports of White-fronts resting on the ground. Reports were on 10/2 & 6 with 2-5 near Newport Middle School (TW; BM), on 10/5 with 13 near Seal Rock Stable along South Beaver Creek Road (LO) and a "tired" one on the outer rocks at Little Whale Cove south of Depoe Bay (DD), on 10/7 with 2 at Ona Beach State Park (CP), on 10/9 with 1 at the YBSJ (DG), and on 10/26-28 with 4 at the Yachats Community Park ball field (BB).
As "most" are thought to migrate over the ocean in fall, some of those that dropped out over the ocean may have died. 2 dead, beached White-fronts were found between Thiel Creek and Beaver Creek on 10/7 (BLo). BLo's team started doing approximately weekly beached bird walks along 4.6 miles of beach there in 1978. BLo writes that the 10/7 birds were "almost a first" for their beach.
For Lincoln Co., I do not think that the reports of migrating White- fronts seemed unusually high this October, but the number of reports of grounded White-fronts (1 dead and 7 live reports) is higher than has been reported in recent Octobers. Searching the October Sandpipers of 2000-2007 (FN), we had an average of 1.5 reports/October (range of 0-4 [4 in 2005]), with 0-1 reports in Oct. 2006 and 2007. Perhaps greater abundance, increased observation effort, and/or greater reporting are factors that resulted in more records of grounding. However, I wonder if the increased groundings may have resulted from more geese being tired out during their migration, perhaps as a result of unfavorable weather during their flight or inadequate energy reserves (body fat) before they started their long nonstop flight. If so, more would have had to stop and rest. However, it is not possible to determine the effects of each factor, and a combination of factors may have resulted in the increased grounding reports.
On 9/30, 1 dead CACKLING GOOSE washed ashore along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). Our first live report of migrating Cacklers was of 60 at Boiler Bay on 10/4 (PP); we also had several other reports (RL; JL; WH; RB), and our latest report was over Newport on 10/26 (RB). 1 floated on the middle Reservoir of Newport Reservoir on 10/16 (BO).
AR reports that the WOOD DUCK Project at Devils Lake had its most successful year in 2008, with 127 hatchlings making it to the Lake. Since 1995, an average of 95 ducklings/year have jumped from an average of 30 nest boxes (AR). In 2008, nearly 90% of the eggs successfully hatched, which is also a record high (AR). They also got some interesting videos of action inside the nest boxes (AR). Thanks to AR and the other volunteers of this Project!
JL found the first EURASIAN WIGEON of fall with 293 AMERICAN WIGEON at Idaho Flats on 10/8.
A large flock of scoters north of Yaquina Head on 9/30 were 93% SURF SCOTERS, 5% BLACK SCOTERS, and 2% WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS (KM). In contrast, PP noted 200 White-wing, 150 Surf, and 3 Black Scoters at Boiler Bay on 10/4. Scoter species often differ among locations.
RR discovered our first LONG-TAILED DUCKS this fall--a flock of 4 flying north past the YBSJ on 10/24. Another was at Boiler Bay on 10/28 (PP).
On 9/30 at Idaho Flats, KM counted 87 COMMON MERGANSERS in a tight flock swimming upstream with "heads up, but a few peered into the water while swimming." On 10/3, TW saw 40-50 in the same area, but he observed that they were gone the next day.
[Image Not Included: Gloria & Herb Baum's Sept. 14 photo of 2 female Common Mergansers in the Salmon River Estuary. They were part of a flock of at least 5 Commons. Commons are often in large flocks in Lincoln County estuaries in summer. Note the sharp contrast between the red on the upper neck with the white lower neck.]
In mid-Oct., 1 RUFFED GROUSE was reported at Beaver Creek (LO) and above Yachats (PR). 3 MOUNTAIN QUAIL foraged under BB's bird feeders in Yachats on 10/28.
2 PACIFIC LOONS at Yaquina Head on 9/30 were still in breeding plumage (KM).
During a 3-hour morning seawatch at Boiler Bay on 10/4, PP saw many tubenoses, including 5,000 SOOTY SHEARWATERS and 3,500+ PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS flying south; 6+ BULLER'S SHEARWATERS, 2+ SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATERS, 3+ NORTHERN FULMARS, and 3 FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS. 2 Buller's and several Pink-footed Shearwaters were also noted at Yachats State Park on 10/8 (DI & DP). On 10/28, the only tubenoses that PP found at Boiler Bay were 2 Short-tailed Shearwaters.
A dead Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel washed ashore in Sept. along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO).
The peak abundance of pelicans this year appeared to be in October. There were many sightings, those with estimates of 500 or more included 800+ flying mostly north at Boiler Bay on 10/4 (PP), 2,050 (about half immatures) on 10/7 at Yaquina Head and west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge (WH), 2,850 on 10/10 at Yaquina Head and Agate Beach (WH), 3,600 at Yaquina Head on 10/11 (CA), 1,300 in the Lincoln City area on 10/12 (see photo of part of 800 on Salishan Spit at http://philliplc.com/images/sb01.jpg [PP]), 1,600 on the Yaquina Bay north and south jetties on 10/24 (RR), and 1,100 in "continuous small flocks" flying south during a 8-9:30 AM seawatch at Boiler Bay on 10/28 (PP). It is often not possible to accurately count pelicans when they are close together--try counting them in PP's photo (http://philliplc.com/images/sb01.jpg).
Pelicans were also numerous elsewhere with "more than I can count" on Alsea Bay Spit on 10/4 (JW) and the "rocks again covered" at Seal Rocks on 10/5 (LO). On 10/10, DD "saw approximately 80 pelicans on the outer rocks north of Whale Cove. I see these rocks almost every day and I have not seen any Pelicans on them in the last 4 years."
Experienced birders WH and RR independently noted that they saw more Brown Pelicans than they had seen before in Oregon.
Many pelicans were reported abnormally far upstream in the Yaquina River last month, and this month 1 was about 10 miles up Alsea River near Tidewater on 10/5 (BH).
[Image Not Included: Janet Lamberson's Oct. 14 photo of Brown Pelicans
perched and preening on the first rocky "finger" west of the Yaquina Bay
Bridge. The pelicans with white heads and necks are adults in nonbreeding
plumage. The flying bird is an immature with a grayish brown head, and the
preening pelican to the right with a dark brown head and neck is probably a
juvenile that hatched this year.
Determining age classes of immature Brown Pelicans is uncertain. The Birds of North America (2002) Brown Pelican account states that they undergo a " complex and incompletely understood molt pattern prior to acquiring Definitive [adult] plumage at 3-5 yr of age, at which time an annual molt cycle is undertaken. Molts continuously during first 2-3 yr, making it difficult to define plumages."]
With all the migrating geese, one may assume that any large bird migrating south is a goose. Wrong! "Faux" geese, DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS were also migrating. RB spotted the first flock of 12 flying south past southwest Newport on 10/8; he also noted a flock of 20-25 on 10/9, a flock of 300-1,000 the afternoon of 10/18, and 50-75 on 10/24. Oct. 18 must have been their big flight day, since at Florence (Lane Co.) AC estimated a flock of 800 passing by during mid-day and flocks of "200 or so constantly during the day."
GREAT EGRET numbers declined with only 2 at south Beaver Creek on 10/5 (LO), 12 along the Yaquina River near Toledo Airport on 10/6 (SK), and 10 at Sally's Bend on 10/8 (JL). Our high count was 24 at Yaquina Bay embayments on 10/13 (RB).
Our latest OSPREYS included a "really wet" one near the Oregon Coast Aquarium on 10/3 (DG) and another over Beachside State Park along CoastWatch Mile 198, south of Waldport, on 10/5 (BB & SaL).
PL spotted our only WHITE-TAILED KITE at the HMSC Nature Trail on 10/22, and our only falcon was a PEREGRINE FALCON perched atop the dead alder along the HMSC Nature Trail on 10/23 (JL).
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS have not been as common as they used to be. We had reports of 6-8 at Yaquina Bay during the 10/18 YBNFT (BO) and on 10/24 (RR).
BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS sometimes form flocks of 10 or more in winter, but our high counts were of 6 at Depoe Bay on 10/18 (RA) and 5 at South Yachats Wayside on 10/24 (LO).
On 10/7, CP reported a TELL-TALE GODWIT in lower Beaver Creek. Bird names change over time, and Tell-Tale Godwit and TELL-TALE TATLER were the names given in John James Audubon's 1840 Birds of America (http://www.audubon.org/bird/BoA/BOA_index.html) for today's GREATER YELLOWLEGS. Audubon wrote about its supposed telltale warning of other birds (http://www.audubon.org/bird/boa/F36_G4d.html):
"It is my opinion that they who have given so much importance to the cry of this bird, as to believe it to be mainly instrumental in ensuring the safety of other species, and in particular of Ducks, have called in the aid of their imagination to increase the interest of what requires no such illustration. A person unacquainted with this Godwit would believe, on reading its history as recorded in books, that the safety of these birds depends on the friendly warning of their long-billed and long-tongued neighbour. And yet it is at no season more noisy or more vigilant than the Kildeer Plover, nor ever half so much so as the Semipalmated species, the reiterated vociferations of which are so annoying. It is true that the Tell-tale is quite loquacious enough; nay, you, reader, and I, may admit that it is a cunning and watchful bird, ever willing to admonish you or me, or any other person whom it may observe advancing towards it with no good intent, that it has all along watched us. But then, when one has observed the habits of this bird for a considerable time, in different situations, and when no other feathered creatures are in sight, he will be convinced that the Tell-tale merely intends by its cries to preserve itself, and not generously to warn others of their danger. So yon may safely banish from your mind the apprehension, which the reading of books may have caused, that duck-shooting in the marshes of our Middle Districts, is as hopeless a pursuit as 'a wild goose chase.'"
5 MARBLED GODWITS were viewed at Yaquina Bay on 10/14 & 24 (JL; RR).
As reported last month, MN reported a BLACK-NECKED STILT on 9/19, approximately 0.5 mile east of Highway 101 along North Beaver Creek Road. On 9/22, DC confirmed it with photos in the same general area (see photos below)[fide MR]. This becomes our second confirmed record--the first was in April 1985 (SemiL; FN).
[(Left Photo) One of Dennis Comfort's Sept. 22 photos of a marsh scene on the north side of Beaver Creek Road just past the Ona Beach State Park boat ramp (fide MR). The tiny white speck in the center of the photo is not identifiable as a bird, let alone the Black-necked Stilt that it is.]
[(Right Photo) Enlarged and cropped image of the bird in the center of Dennis Comfort's photo on the left. This and enlargements of his other 3 photos similar to the photo on the left show enough details to identify the bird as a Black-necked Stilt and its reflection. Accordingly, one may not need a powerful lens to take a digital photo that can sometimes be enlarged to identify a distant bird. If you have a digital camera with just 1-3X optical magnification, it can be worth taking a photo of a distant bird to try to document it. A photo does not have to be of National Geographic quality to be useful.]
PP discovered 1 PARASITIC JAEGER and 2 POMARINE JAEGERS at Boiler Bay on 10/4. DI & DP also saw a Parasitic near Yachats on 10/8. On 10/11, WH noticed an unidentified jaeger at Boiler Bay.
GL photographed Oregon's second LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at Idaho Flats on Aug. 29 (fide GG).
On 10/7, BLo observed a flight of CALIFORNIA GULLS heading south along the shoreline north of Ona Beach. Many gulls were moving south past Boiler Bay during PP's 8-9:30 AM seawatch on 10/28, including 800 CALIFORNIA GULLS, 800 WESTERN GULLS, 600 GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS, 600 HEERMANN'S GULLS, 150 BONAPARTE'S GULLS, 70 MEW GULLS, and 5+ HERRING GULLS.
PP saw 4 juvenile SABINE'S GULLS flying south at Boiler Bay on 10/4, and another was offshore during the 10/25 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip (GG).
There was a BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE at Boiler Bay on 10/11 (WH) and 10/28 (PP).
6 adult and 61 juvenile (hatch-year) COMMON MURRES were found along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach in Sept. (B&SLo, L&VO). This is within the range of normal for BLo's surveys that began in 1978. In 1987 and 1989, his team found 303 and 261 juveniles, respectively.
On 9/30 KM spotted at least 6 PIGEON GUILLEMOTS in winter-type plumage close to Yaquina Head; 5 had dark head plumage like juvenile birds. One was also at Boiler Bay on 10/4 & 28 (PP).
2-5 MARBLED MURRELETS were at Boiler Bay on 10/4 & 28 (PP).
The first ANCIENT MURRELET of fall was at Boiler Bay on 10/11 (WH), and one was also there on 10/28 (PP). They were also noted offshore during the 10/25 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip (GG).
3-4 RHINOCEROS AUKLETS were at Boiler Bay on 10/4 (PP) and 10/18 (RA), and 25 were there on 10/28 (PP). Others were offshore along with CASSIN'S AUKLETS during the 10/25 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip (GG).
A BARRED OWL lingered at Little Whale Cove south of Depoe Bay on 10/14 (D&JD).
Our latest RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD was at SK's home near Criteser's, downstream of Toledo, the weekend of 10/4-5.
A RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER chipped away at a corkscrew willow at DG's Toledo home on 10/4.
Flickers arrive at many locations here in the fall. The male Red shafted X Yellow-shafted NORTHERN FLICKER, our first reported this fall, appeared at RC & WN's Wandemere home on 10/10. RC writes that it "has the same set of markings as one seen occasionally last winter and spring so is presumably the same individual" and "a few years back we had an identifiable intergrade flicker who returned for 4 consecutive winters." While bicycling South Beaver Creek Road on 10/23, RC found a road-killed flicker with "all yellow wing & tail linings, and head markings of a Yellow-shafted female: brown face & throat, gray crown & nape, and no malar streak." The red crescent on the nape that Yellow-shafts have "was present only as a scattering of red feathers." During her 10/23 bicycling, RC noted that there were more flickers than usual, including a flock of 6; she saw a total of about 12, but only one of them had yellow wing and tail linings to indicate that it was a Yellow-shafted or hybrid.
On 10/7, CP found a first-of-season NORTHERN SHRIKE at a Beaver Creek marsh a third of a mile east of HWY 101. SM & DS found a juvenile along the HMSC Nature Trail on 10/10.
A VARIED THRUSH arrived at Little Whale Cove in mid-Oct. (DD). They may appear elsewhere with freezing weather.
Several TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS arrived in Newport on 10/15 (VC).
1-2 late YELLOW WARBLERS were in Yachats on 10/8 (DI & DP) and D River in Lincoln City on 10/12 (PP). These are abnormally late as we only had one Oct. (10/5/1988) record of them during 1973-1992 (SemiL).
5 LAPLAND LONGSPURS at the YBSJ graced the 10/18 Corvallis Audubon field trip (RA); CW took some photos of one that approached within 3 ft of the group (scroll down to "Oct. 18 upload" at http://www.flickr.com/photos/vgswallow16/). 2-3 remained near the "gull puddle" there on 10/27 (JL).
Our first WHITE-THROATED SPARROW of fall visited DG's Toledo home on 10/5.
On 10/10, JL paused for a work break at the HMSC and saw a
"brilliant rainbow out the window, with gulls and Brown Pelicans flying through it. I had to go outside to take it all in, a complete arc. As if that weren't enough already, a WESTERN MEADOWLARK flew in and perched at the top of a bush with the double rainbow in the background and his yellow breast gleaming in the late afternoon sun. Whew!"
There were many reports of increased PINE SISKIN numbers, and PP estimated a total of 500 flying south in flocks "at altitude" over D River in Lincoln City on 10/12. Time will tell if they will become abundant this fall and winter.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Rich Armstrong, Cindy Ashy, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Rebecca Cheek, CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast), Dennis Comfort, Alan Contreras, Virginia Crook, Dick & Judy Demarest, Darrel Faxon (some of DF's bird records are at bird.htm#thornton_creek), Greg Gillson, Dawn Grafe, Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport (BGPT; info about pelagic trips, http://thebirdguide.com), Bill Hanshumaker, Wayne Hoffman, Dave Irons, Steve Kupillas, Janet Lamberson, Pete Lawson, Glen Lindeman, Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Sylvia Maulding, Barry McPherson, Kathy Merrifield, Walt Nelson, Michael Noack, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are searchable at bird.htm#recent [all lower case letters]), Bob Olson, Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Diane Pettey, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Paul Reed, Al Rice, [Mike Rivers], Roger Robb, Don Schrouder, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Tom Wainwright, Jean Weakland, Cheryl Whelchel, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (YBNFT Field Trip led by BO).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations: BEAVER CREEK: creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, BOILER BAY: State Wayside about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, HMSC: OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, IDAHO FLATS: large embayment just east of the HMSC, LNG TANK: large green Liquefied Natural Gas tank on the north side of Yaquina Bay about 1.5 miles east of Yaquina Bay Bridge, ONA BEACH: State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, SALLY'S BEND: large Yaquina Bay embayment east of the LNG tank, SPANISH HEAD: pullout north of Inn at Spanish Head at 4009 SW Highway 101 in Lincoln City, YBSJ: Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
LO found our only GR. WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE this month, an immature hanging out with 14 CANADA GEESE at Beaver Creek on 11/8.
PP saw the first BRANT (2) of the season during his 11/5 seawatch at Boiler Bay. No Brant were seen in Yaquina Bay on 10/31 and 11/3-8 (JL; RL; RB), but poor visibility from fog and sheets of rain may have hid them on some of those days. On 11/9 during PP's 5 hour morning seawatch at Boiler Bay, he counted 800 Brant (average=160/hour), and in the late afternoon RB counted the first (22) at Yaquina Bay. Since Yaquina Bay is the southernmost of the three Bays in Oregon where Brant overwinter (the others are Tillamook and Netarts Bays in Tillamook County), it appears that at least 778 of the 800 Brant migrating south past Boiler Bay on 11/9 were en route to California. Since then, Brant have trickled into Yaquina Bay, as they increased to 30 on 11/10 (JL; RB), 74 on 11/13 (JL), 84 on 11/14 (JL), 120 on 11/17 (JL), and 130 on 11/21 (JL). YB&N is a project partner of the International Brant Monitoring Project (IBMP) (http://www.padillabay.gov/brant/), and RB relays on sightings of significant numbers of Brant in Lincoln County to their Observation Log (see link on the left side of their web page).
There were 23 Canada Geese and at least 4,500 ducks at Yaquina Bay embayments on 11/7, with 2,042 surface-feeding ducks (mostly American Wigeon), 1,189 scoters (90% or more Surf Scoters), 916 BUFFLEHEAD, 340 scaup, 5 CANVASBACKS, and 8 RUDDY DUCKS; mergansers were not counted (RB).
At Idaho Flats, RL spotted 2 EURASIAN WIGEON drakes on 11/6, and JL patiently sorted through about 1,600 American Wigeon to find 9 Eurasian drakes on about 11/24.
LO had 2-3 WOOD DUCKS at Beaver Creek on 11/8 and the 11/22 YBNFT. On 11/23, JL spotted a drake Woody foraging across the Yaquina River from the Milepost 11.1 pullout on the Newport-Toledo Bay road.
In early November, AR noted that a black mallard-type duck was showing up around Devils Lake. It was hanging around with semi-tame or domestic MALLARDS, so it may have been a "Black East Indian" type of domestically reared and selectively bred Mallard. Domestic Mallards and their hybrids are not pictured in bird field guides, so see http://10000birds.com/manky-mallards-domestic-feral-or-just-plain-odd- mallards.htm (fitting web name for the subject!) for info and photos.
The 11/22 YBNFT studied a female HARLEQUIN DUCK at Seal Rocks (LO), and 5 males were at the YBSJ on 11/29 (M&MD).
Many scoters have been heading south. For example, on 11/4, during PP's 6:45-10 AM seawatch at Boiler Bay, he estimated 30,000+ SURF SCOTERS, 2,000+ WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, and 6 BLACK SCOTERS.
Black Scoter distribution is patchy, and sometimes they show up at favored locations such as north of Yaquina Head in numbers. On 11/15, DP estimated a minimum of 150 and probably at least 200 there. PP tallied 2-6 during 7 of his Nov. Boiler Bay seawatches.
PP had our only LONG-TAILED DUCKS--1-5 during 5 of his Nov. Boiler Bay seawatches. JL discovered the first COMMON GOLDENEYES of the season at Sally's Bend on 11/17.
BBa saw what first appeared to be 3 Mountain Quail under her Yachats feeders on 10/28, but upon further investigation they were NORTHERN BOBWHITES. Bobwhites are not native and do not do well here, but people sometimes raise them, so they may have escaped or been released. On 11/6, a COOPER'S HAWK tried to feast in BBa's flower garden on one of the Bobwhites that it had killed.
Many loons were migrating south during Nov. For example, during PP's 6:45-10 AM seawatch at Boiler Bay on 11/4, he estimated 6,000 RED-THROATED LOONS, 8,000 PACIFIC LOONS, 30,000+ Red-throated/Pacific Loons, and 500+ COMMON LOONS.
Many NORTHERN FULMARS in several recent years have been found dead in fall, but not so far this season. A total of 2 were found in Sept. (1) and Oct. (1) along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO).
Pelicans continued to attract attention. On 11/1 near the Yaquina Bay Bridge, CP saw 2 flocks. Pelicans in each flock were flying higher and higher in a counter-clockwise circle. When he first saw them, he thought that they were gulls because they were already so high that they appeared gull-size. He estimated about 80-130 pelicans in each flock.
On 11/4, TW estimated over 1,000 perched on rocky areas along the YBSJ, and CP estimated "hundreds" east of the Yaquina Bay Bridge near the Newport Bayfront.
During seawatches at Boiler Bay, PP estimated 1,300-3,500+ passing on 11/4, 5, 9, 10, 13, 16, and 17. Their numbers appear to have declined after 11/17.
Some observers expected Nov. pelicans to all be flying south, but that has not been the case. PP noted 800-3,700 flying north past Boiler Bay on 11/5, 9, 10, 12, 15, 17, and 18. He noted 150-400 flying north on 11/20 & 21.
Our latest reports were at YBSJ on 11/20 (BO), Boiler Bay on 11/21 (PP), Seal Rocks during the 11/22 YBNFT (LO), and the YBSJ on 11/29 (M&MD).
We need pelican records in December! Although we have records for all months of the year, 2008 would be the first year in which we have records for every month if we get a December record.
[Image Not Included: Gloria & Herb Baum's photo of a string of Brown Pelicans flying down over surf breakers at Mooloch Beach on Oct. 25.]
GREAT EGRET numbers continue their seasonal decline. During censuses of Yaquina Bay embayments on 11/10 & 23, RB counted only 6 and 1, respectively. M&MD found 1 at Idaho Flats on 11/29. At Beaver Creek, LO found 1 on 11/8 and during the 11/22 YBNFT. Perhaps they have migrated south as PP recorded 2 flying south during his 11/7 morning seawatch at Boiler Bay.
Singleton GREEN HERONS used to be reported here in winter along the Yaquina River near Toledo and at Alsea Bay, but there have been no records in the Sandpiper for the past 7 winters. So it is great that JL discovered a Green Heron fishing from a float at Criteser's Moorage, downstream of Toledo on 11/23. Hopefully, it will linger for the Jan. 3 Yaquina Bay Christmas Bird Count!
JC had our only WHITE-TAILED KITES--1 seen on 4 different days the first week of Nov. near Siletz.
BALD EAGLES were regulars, with the high count on 11/23 of 5 adults at Yaquina Bay embayments (a pair and a singleton at Idaho Flats and a pair at Sally's Bend)(RB).
2 SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS flew over the Newport Safeway on 11/24 (CP). EC saw a RED-TAILED HAWK chase away an immature NORTHERN GOSHAWK perched in a tree along the Salmon River on 11/15.
Our only RED-SHOULDERED HAWK in the past 2 months perched on a bird box along the HMSC Nature Trail on 11/3 and remained in that area on 11/12 (RL).
PP detected a juvenile GOLDEN EAGLE about a half mile out from Boiler Bay on 11/20. They are rare here, with only 3 records (the last in Sept. 2005) and one possible record since 1992 (FN).
MERLIN reports are down this fall. Our only report this month was by WH, who saw one chasing EUROPEAN STARLINGS over Yaquina Bay on 11/23.
PEREGRINE FALCON reports increased this month. 1 was at Boiler Bay on 11/7, 9 & 10 (PP), and another perched atop a large snag in north Newport on 11/10 (CL & BBe). At the HMSC, a male chased ROCK PIGEONS off feeders on 11/12 (RL), and 1 perched on a rail atop the HMSC/EPA water tank on 11/13 (JL). At Idaho Flats on 11/17, JL appreciated
"a Peregrine and a BALD EAGLE playing tag team, as they stirred up all the ducks and gulls. The Peregrine grabbed a duck off the water but dropped it, and then the eagle took off with the duck!"
[Image Not Included: Gloria & Herb Baum's Sept. 14 photo of a juvenile (hatch-year=hatched this calendar year) Great Blue Heron along the Salmon River Estuary. Like other juvenile GBH's, it has light-colored feather tips and a scruffy appearance.]
Only 2 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER reports: 1 at Idaho Flats on 11/5 (RB) and another at Boiler Bay on 11/16 (PP).
DR saw and photographed a GOLDEN-PLOVER at the YBSJ on 11/23. WH saw the photos and identified it as a probable AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER.
2-5 MARBLED GODWITS graced Idaho Flats on 11/5-7 & 29 (RB; RL; M&MD), and our only WHIMBREL was near the "gull puddle" at the YBSJ on 11/29 (M&MD).
M&MD also found 2 ROCK SANDPIPERS and a WANDERING TATTLER along the YBSJ on 11/29.
PP discovered our only jaegers this month--2 POMARINE JAEGERS at Boiler Bay on 11/9.
Many observers commented about the large number of gulls flying south. BBa noted in the first week of Nov. that several Yachats residents remarked that they had "never seen so many gulls." On 11/4, during PP's 6:45-10 AM seawatch at Boiler Bay, he estimated 25,000+ CALIFORNIA GULLS, 6,000+ GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS, 3,000+ HEERMANN'S GULLS, 1,000+ WESTERN GULLS, 600+ BONAPARTE'S GULLS, 500+ MEW GULLS, 500+ HERRING GULLS, and 50 BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES. Heermann's numbers dropped after 11/10, and PP had our latest report of them on 11/21 at Boiler Bay. PP found kittiwakes during 8 seawatches, with a peak count of 600+ on 11/9.
1-2 PIGEON GUILLEMOTS were at Boiler Bay during 6 of PP's Nov. seawatches. 30 years ago they were seldom found here in winter.
PP spotted our only MARBLED MURRELETS (2-8) at Boiler Bay during 8 seawatches in Nov. and at Spanish Head during 2 seawatches. PP also reported our only ANCIENT MURRELET (1) at Boiler Bay on 11/5.
In Oct., B&SLo and L&VO tallied 20 adult and 1 juvenile COMMON MURRES along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach. This is the third highest year for adults in Oct., since BLo's team started their surveys in 1978. The top two years were 1987 (150) and 1986 (43); 18 were found in 2006.
On 11/10, PP distinguished a rare PARAKEET AUKLET flying past Boiler Bay. He also noted 1-150 RHINOCEROS AUKLETS there during 6 of his Nov. seawatches.
[Image Not Included: Janet Lamberson's Nov. 14 photo of a juvenile Sabine's Gull at Idaho Flats. This species had been a nemesis for Janet on several pelagic trips.]
1 MOURNING DOVE visited L&JM's feeders near the east side of Sally's Bend on 10/30&31.
BARRED OWL records include 1 perched on a street lamp post near JC Market and the intersection of HWY 20 and 101 in Newport on 11/3 (SD), and one hooting near LO's north Beaver Creek home on 11/5.Sometimes an observer (or an owl) is in the right place at the right time! The night of 11/5 in Toledo, MH
"started up her truck and saw a good sized RED-LEGGED FROG hop a couple times, then stop. So, I turned off the truck, left the lights on and escorted the frog out of the way. For whatever reason, it decided to go down the driveway, rather than straight across. We proceeded until about 6 feet from the edge, at which point a GREAT HORNED OWL picked it up literally at my feet. It then swooped up into a hemlock just above." For the frog, it was the wrong place at the wrong time... (Maybe this sighting also can provide insight into answering the riddle "why did the chicken cross the road?"
The record of the Rufous Hummingbird reported near Toledo in early Oct. in last month's Sandpiper has been withdrawn by the observer. It was probably an Anna's Hummingbird, for which we have had several sightings.
M&MD reported our first HERMIT THRUSH of the season along the YBSJ trail on 11/29 (M&MD). At the HMSC, DB found a PALM WARBLER on 11/16, and R&BR also saw one there on 11/19.
L&JM reported our only WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS -- 1-2 at their feeders near the east side of Sally's Bend on 11/2 and 11/19 through at least 11/22.
On 11/26, DD discovered an AMERICAN TREE SPARROW at a feeder in a private area south of Depoe Bay. This is only our 8th record and second since 1992 (SemiL; FN)--the previous one was at Yaquina Head in Nov. 1999 (FN). I relayed on the sighting to OBOL without giving directions to the site. I should have added that the bird was seen in a private area where strangers, including birders, are not welcome. When seen in such private locations, reporting it can seem like a lose-lose situation--if the bird is not reported, birders are upset; if the bird is reported but birders are not welcome, birders are upset. I try to keep a positive attitude that by reporting the general location, birders can look for it in the vicinity, since it may appear away from the original location. Plus, it can help one be grateful for when a rare bird is not only found but is also located where birders are welcome!
M&MD discovered a LARK SPARROW along with a LINCOLN'S SPARROW near the HMSC on 11/29. It is only our 9th record and the first since May 2003 (SemiL; FN). They also found a SAVANNAH SPARROW and 9 WESTERN MEADOWLARKS at the HMSC.
On 11/30, RH and AC detected a SWAMP SPARROW along Beaver Creek Road near Ona Beach.
LESSER GOLDFINCHES arrived at L&JM's feeders near the east side of Sally's Bend on 10/31 and 1-4 continue through 11/22.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Betty Bahn (BBa), Daniel Battaglia, Range Bayer, Bob Berman (BBe), Ellen Cantor, CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast), Joel Colvin, Alan Contreras, Sam Davidson, Dick Demarest, MerryLynn and Mike Denny, Wayne Hoffman, Mary Holbert, Rich Hoyer, Janet Lamberson, Cindy Lippincott, Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Linda & John MacKown, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are searchable at bird.htm#recent [all lower case letters]), Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Bob Olson, Laimons & Vicki Osis, Dennis Paulson, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Al Rice, Roger & Betty Robb, Don Roberts, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Tom Wainwright, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (YBNFT Field Trip led by LO).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations: BEAVER CREEK: creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, BOILER BAY: State Wayside about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, ECKMAN LAKE: lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, HMSC: OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, ONA BEACH: State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, YBSJ: Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
LO spotted our only SWANS this season the morning of Christmas Eve at north Beaver Creek. He promptly reported them to RC&WN who went out at noon and identified them as 6 TUNDRA SWANS, one of which was a gray juvenile.
LO had our only BLUE-WINGED TEAL, a singleton at Seal Rock Stables along south Beaver Creek on 12/3.
Cold weather hit the coast in mid-month, but right along the coast did not last long. On 12/17, RL observed
"This morning Eckman Lake was almost entirely frozen except right near Highway 36, where the ducks were keeping the lake open [by paddling around]. I haven't seen the lake like that for quite some time. By 2:00 PM much of the ice cover has melted, but perhaps it will begin forming again tonight."
Only 1 NORTHERN FULMAR washed ashore along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach in November, when few dead birds were found (B&SLo, L&VO).
BROWN PELICANS were the top bird topic this December. Contrary to some reports, it is not unusual to see pelicans in December. They were recorded in Lincoln County during December 1-15 each year during 1980-1992 and during December 16-31 during 9 of those 13 years (SemiL). However, they are usually scattered and low in numbers, so they can be easily overlooked or missed.
What was unusual this December was their great abundance. They were so numerous and widespread that even nonbirders could easily see and wonder about them. Pelicans put on their biggest December showing since 2002, when PP found 400 pelicans at Salishan Spit on 12/11/2002, and 580 in adjacent north Siletz Bay on 12/15/2002.
This year, RL of the USFWS did aerial surveys from Seaside to the California border the last week of Nov. He observed "In the 23 years I have been on the Oregon coast I have not seen this many pelicans stay this late over such a large geographical area of the Oregon coast." Estimates of 1,000 or more included were recorded through 12/18 and included: 12/9 (4,000 during a 2.25 hr Spanish Head (Lincoln City) seawatch and 2,100 at Siletz Bay [PP]), 12/10 (2,700 flying steadily northward during a 1.0 Boiler Bay seawatch and 1,400 at north Siletz Bay [PP]), 12/11 (3,700 mostly flying north during a 1.75 hr Boiler Bay seawatch [PP], 1-3,000 at Siletz Bay [PP; B&JO, DD]), and 1-2,000+ at Yaquina Bay [JL; BO]), 12/12 (over 3000 along the YBSJ [WH] and 3,400 flying north during a 1.5 hr Boiler Bay seawatch [PP]), 12/13 (over 1,000 on Salishan Spit [DD during LCAFT]), 12/14 (about 80% of 4,000+ flying north during a 1.75 hr Boiler Bay seawatch and 1,400 on Salishan Spit [PP]), 12/15 (1,900 fly north during a 1.5 hr Boiler Bay seawatch and 1,000+ at Siletz Bay [PP]), 12/16 (90% of 2,000+ flying north during a 2.0 hr Boiler Bay seawatch [PP]), 12/17 (about 1,000 on Salishan Spit [PP]), and 12/18 (1,400 of 1,700 flying south during a 1.5 hr Boiler Bay seawatch and 1,100 in north Siletz Bay [PP]).
Besides the large numbers, it is also of note is that many were flying north, not southward as if in migration.
Pelican abundance declined markedly by 12/21, when 130 flew north during a 0.75 hr Boiler Bay seawatch and only 200 were at Siletz Bay (PP). On 12/24, only 125 lingered at north Siletz Bay (PP). Low numbers of pelicans continued through the end of the month.
I received more photos of pelicans than there is room in our newsletter. However, see PP's 12/11 pelican photos at north Siletz Bay and Salishan Spit (http://philliplc.com/images/sb11.jpg and especially http://philliplc.com/images/sb12.jpg) to get a better idea of the numbers involved than is possible in a small photo or a word description in this newsletter.
Because pelicans remained through some storms as well as ice and snow, there was concern that they might become weak or injured. For example, many dead or injured pelicans were found in Curry County after the 1-3 Dec. 2007 major wind storm (RN--search for "Namitz" at http://oregonbirdwatch.org/pipermail/obol/2007-December/045532.html). If injured pelicans are found the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not pick up injured wildlife so, if you are between Astoria and Yachats, call the Wildlife Center of the North Coast at 503-338-3954 and if you are south of Yachats, call Free Flight Bird and Marine Mammal Rehabilitation at 541-347- 3882 (fide DG of the USFWS). Fortunately, the windstorms this December were not as strong as last year.
I have not seen many reports of injured or weak pelicans in Oregon this December, but the Jan. 7 Seattle Times reports:
"Pelicans suffering from a mysterious malady are crashing into cars and boats, wandering along roadways and turning up dead by the hundreds across the West Coast, from southern Oregon to Baja California, Mexico, bird-rescue workers say." (Also see http://ibrrc.org/pelican_in_peril_sc_2009.html)
BM, an invasive species volunteer at the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge and a nonbirder, spotted an unusual bird there while canoeing on 12/11. He photographed it on 12/20, tentatively identified it as a LITTLE BLUE HERON, even though it was white and looked like a small egret, and sent photos to RL on 12/23, who then sent out a rare bird alert. Based on the photos that RL relayed on, MP commented "It's a juvenile Little Blue Heron. The bill is decurved and dark tipped and you can see the dusky primary tips in the second photo." MP posted two of the photos on his web site at about 10 AM on 12/23, and within a few hours D&KS had relocated it. It has continued to be seen by many couples and singles (PP; RN; RP; B&JO; CP; L&VO; P&PR) into January.
It has been mostly found in the Drift Creek area south of Cutler City. Sometimes on the west side of HWY 101 in the field or along the channel, but more often on the east side, as BO describes "about 0.6 miles east on Drift Creek road. The spot was just past Gorton Road; the bird was feeding along the south bank of Drift Creek as we viewed it from a vantage on Drift Creek road just past a red horse barn." (See RN's link http://maps.google.com/maps?q=44.913307,-124.006376, select "Satellite," and scroll to the east to see more locations where it was seen, including the "red barn.")
This is the third report of a Little Blue Heron in Lincoln County. An immature was reported on the rafts at Oregon Oyster at Yaquina Bay that was seen by many observers in 1991 on 8/29-31; however, the Oregon Bird Records Committee (OBRC) did not accept the details that were sent them because they considered the description did not rule out Snowy Egret. Another immature Little Blue was "tentatively" identified at Siletz Bay on 23 Nov. 1996 (FN).
Little Blue Heron is still an OBRC Review Species, so, hopefully, people who photographed or saw this one will send in reports to the OBRC (http://www.oregonbirds.org/obrc_form.html), and there will be enough details for the OBRC to accept it.
[Image Not Included: Janet Lamberson's Nov. 23 photo of a Green Heron under part of a floating dock at Criteser's Moorage downstream of Toledo. Green Herons used to be occasional in winter, but they have rarely been found in recent winters. Janet also saw it on 12/10, but it has not been relocated since then.]
Oregon Winter Raptor Surveys give a good relative index to the abundance of different wintering raptor species and are coordinated by the East Cascades Birds Observatory (ECBC) (http://www.ecbcbirds.org/Default.aspx?tabid=73).
The Lincoln County Raptor Route that has been run the past 4 winters, usually by WH, RC, & WN, has been split into two. The Coast Route is about 61 miles and runs along Hwy 101 from the north side of Alsea Bay to Taft area of Lincoln City, with nearby inland valleys; it was conducted on 12/6 by WH, WN, & RC. The Inland or Yaquina River-Siletz Route is about 55 miles and runs from the HWY 101 Kernville exit along HWY 229 south to HWY 20, then along Business HWY 20 through Toledo and down the Yaquina River along north Yaquina Bay Road, with some digressions; it was coincidentally also done on 12/6 by JL & CP.
The big difference in results between routes were the 8 kites along the Inland but none along the Coast Route. No immature eagles were seen in either route, which is down from past winters. On both routes, Red-tailed Hawks were most numerous.
In addition to the Raptor Route PEREGRINE FALCONS, there were an additional 5 reports of 1-2 (PL; BO; CL & BB).
MERLINS seem scarce this winter. There were none during the Raptor Routes, and our only reports were by SaL, who saw one briefly land in a shore pine near her Yachats home on 12/14, and by PP, who noted one during his 12/21 Boiler Bay seawatch.
In- Coast land 12/6 12/6 Turkey Vulture 0 0 No. Harrier 3 1 White-t. Kite 0 8 Sharp-shin. Hawk 1 1 Cooper's Hawk 0 0 Accipiter sp. 0 0 Red-should. Hawk 0 0 Red-tail. Hawk 10 9 Bald Eagle ad. 6 2 " " subadults 0 0 " " unknown 0 0 " " total 6 2 Merlin 0 0 Am. Kestrel 0 1 Peregrine Falcon 2 0 RAPTOR SUM 22 22 Hours 4.5 4.3
WHIMBRELS have been scarce in past winters, but 1 was on rocks at the YBSJ on 12/11 (JL; WH) and 12/23 (RL).
HEERMANN'S GULLS normally hang around Brown Pelicans to try to pilfer fish that the pelicans catch, so with the abnormally late abundance of pelicans, it is not surprising that Heermann's also lingered. However, they were rare in December previously, and were only reported during one December prior to 1993 (SemiL). This December, PP noted them during all of 10 Boiler Bay and Spanish Head seawatches through 12/21 and during 5 days of his Siletz Bay observations; they were also reported by WH and by DD during the 12/13 LCAFT.
PP had 10 seawatches at Spanish Head in Lincoln City or Boiler Bay. 2-20+ MARBLED MURRELETS were noted during 4 of these watches, but 3-80 ANCIENT MURRELETS were discovered during 5 and 600+ were recorded a sixth seawatch on 12/16! CASSIN'S AUKLETS are seldom seen in winter, but PP had 1-2 on 2 of his seawatches. He also detected a rare THICK-BILLED MURRE during his 12/15 Boiler Bay seawatch.
A BARRED OWL was at Yaquina Head on Oct. 30 (BLM), and another was photographed near the Lincoln Co. Surveyor's office across from Newport Middle School around Christmas (JLe, fide BLl).
Our first SLATE-COLORED DARK-EYED JUNCOS appeared about a half mile north of Ona Beach State Park on 12/16 (a female)(RC&WN) and a male was noted the next day near the Newport Bayfront (AK). 1-2 are usually found each year, but they can be overlooked.
[Image Not Included: Jill Grover's Nov. 29 photo of a Western Screech-Owl perched in a tree at Sandpiper Village, north of Waldport. Jill writes "I was looking for a Red-breasted Nuthatch that sounded agitated and found the owl instead. What a hoot!"]
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Bob Berman, Bureau of Land Management staff at Yaquina Head (BLM), Rebecca Cheek, CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast), Dick Demarest, Dawn Grafe, Wayne Hoffman, Amy Kocourek, Janet Lamberson, Pete Lawson, Jim Lewis (JLe), Lincoln City Audubon Field Trip (LCAFT led by DD), Cindy Lippincott, Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Bill Medlen, Russ Namitz, Walt Nelson, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are searchable at bird.htm#recent [all lower case letters]), Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Bob & Jerryann Olson, Laimons & Vicki Osis, Mike Patterson, Roger Peterson, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Paul & Pat Reed, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Don & Kate Stein.
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