These field notes are from the Sandpiper, a publication of Yaquina Birders & Naturalists, Lincoln County, Oregon.
Comments about abundance or seasonality refer only to LINCOLN COUNTY. There is room only for some of the many Lincoln County sightings to be included here of those sent to me or posted to the Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) or Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html) email discussion lists.
If you have any field notes to share, please email (range.bayer at gmail.com) or mail (P.O. Box 1467, Newport, OR 97365) them to Range Bayer by the 20th of the month.
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 30 ------------------------------- August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 -------------------------------
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations (numbers refer to the site number in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide (http://www.oregoncoastbirding.com/): BEAVER CREEK (#78, in part): creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, BOILER BAY STATE WAYSIDE (#59): about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, ECKMAN LAKE (#84): lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, HMSC (#75): OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, IDAHO FLATS: large embayment just east of the HMSC, MIKE MILLER PARK (#76): county park 1.2 miles south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on the east side of Hwy 101, ONA BEACH (#77): State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, SPANISH HEAD: pullout north of Inn at Spanish Head at 4009 SW Highway 101 in Lincoln City, SP: State Park, THORNTON CREEK: about midway between Toledo and Eddyville along HWY 20, YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty, YAQUINA HEAD OUTSTANDING NATURAL AREA (#65): headland north of Newport (vehicle fee, http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/yaquina/files/yh_passes.pdf).
We have few observations in Lincoln County above 1,000 ft (e.g., see Saddle Bag Mountain at http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/jspui/handle/1957/8062 and Floyd Schrock's observations above 2,000 ft on Euchre Mountain in Chap. 1 of http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/jspui/bitstream/1957/8047/1/vol.%202%20pg.%20163-207.pdf), in part, because high elevation sites are not easily accessible in Lincoln County, and it is easy to get lost. Subalpine plants occur at lower elevations in the Coast Range than in the Cascades. Some plants indicative of the Canadian Life Zone such as Pacific silver fir, noble fir, and white pine occur above about 2,500 ft on Saddle Bag Mountain in NE Lincoln Co. (RB).
On 7/25, CP was in NE Lincoln Co. near Rocky Point and Elk Wallow at an elevation of about 2,800-2,900 ft. CP saw "hundreds and hundreds of EVENING GROSBEAKS." He had not seen such high numbers of Evening Grosbeaks before. He also saw lots of warblers. On 8/3, RN visited Rocky Point and besides Evening Grosbeaks, there were 1 TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE, 10+ RED CROSSBILLS, 2 MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLERS, 2 HERMIT WARBLERS, 4 CEDAR WAXWINGS, many DARK-EYED JUNCOS and a RED-TAILED HAWK. At dawn on 8/4, RN returned and thought he heard the booming of a SOOTY GROUSE, though it may have been the first sequence of a RUFFED GROUSE drumming; other birds included Common Nighthawk, Band-tailed Pigeon, Rufous Hummingbird, Varied Thrush, American Robin, Cedar Waxwing, Hermit Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Dark-eyed Junco, Evening Grosbeak, Red Crossbill, and Pine Siskin.
The late May northerly flight of Western CANADA GEESE ended on 6/1 (MN; JL, BB; JW). On 6/25, BB observed 15 northbound geese flying quietly over Yachats that seemed larger than Brant, but they were obscured in the fog, so they were unidentifiable other than as geese. On 8/8, WH spotted a flock of 55 Western Canada Geese flying south at Boiler Bay-- Westerns move around and are not as sedentary as it was thought when the ODFW released them along the Oregon Coast in the early 1980's.
Lingering BRANT in June included as many as 19 at Yachats during 6/2-11 (BB), two flocks of 5 Brant each flying north during a 6/11 seawatch at Lost Creek SP (south of South Beach) (DB), 1-2 at various other coastal sites during 6/8-23 (KB; S&CG; WH; JL; S&MR; LO; RB), and 16 "very scruffy" Brant at Marine Gardens at Otter Rock on 6/14 (WH). Brant have often been here in June in the past. For example, during 1988-1992, Brant were recorded in 4 out of 5 years in early June and in all 5 years in late June (search for "Brant" in SemiL). On 7/16, WH saw a pair of adult BALD EAGLES repeatedly swoop down on and finally catch a single, apparently flightless Brant at Alsea Bay.
At least one nonbreeding HARLEQUIN DUCK was at Yaquina Head on 6/9 and 7/2-3 (BLM; S&CG).
Field trip leader EH writes that one of the highlights of the 6/27 YB&N Field Trip to Mike Miller Park was appreciating a female HOODED MERGANSER "fly by quickly, and land in the entrance opening to a large rot pocket in an old hemlock--she then went inside and stayed. ... Rare to see one land and go into a tree nest hole!" At a freshwater lake north of Sandpiper Road and north of Alsea Bay, RL saw a female Hoodie with a brood of 7 on 6/11.
In early August, we had a report of some RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, but no COMMON MERGANSERS, at Siletz Bay. However, Commons nest in the Siletz, Yaquina, and Alsea watersheds and often show up in the lower estuaries this time of year at sites where Red-breasted Mergansers are common in winter. Distinguishing Common and Red-breasteds is easy in winter, as illustrated in field guides. However, female and juvenile Common Mergansers in summer and early fall can look very similar to female Red-breasted's in winter. Unfortunately, several field guides are not helpful in illustrating this. Ken Kauffmann's article (1990. The Practiced Eye: Common Merganser and Red-breasted Merganser. Am. Birds 44:1203-1205 at http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/NAB/v044n05/p01203-p01205.pdf) is useful in pointing out the similarities of these two species in summer and that they can only be safely told apart then by bill and head shape and nostril position. In summer, when large mergansers are closely examined here for more details than just the presence or absence of a sharp white demarcation on the neck, they are almost always identified as Common Mergansers, though we do have a few records of well-studied Red-breasted Mergansers.
A few other waterfowl sometimes linger as nonbreeders at areas such as the GP Settling Ponds in Toledo. Identifying them can be tricky as they are often molting and do not fit the tidy images shown in many field guides. This summer, DF found a RUDDY DUCK in odd plumage at the Lincoln City Sewage Ponds on 7/22. For records through 1992, we also had summer Ruddy Duck records in late June and on 1 August 1977 and another on 25 July 1990 (SemiL).
On July 5, J&GP detected a male NORTHERN BOBWHITE in a semi-wooded area off Wakonda Beach Road south of Waldport--it probably escaped or was released from captivity. At Nashville in eastern Lincoln Co., BLl found a pair of CALIFORNIA QUAIL on 7/11.
PACIFIC LOONS, RED-THROATED LOONS, and COMMON LOONS are regularly here in June and July, but this year we did not have any July reports, though WH found all 3 during a 6/14 Boiler Bay seawatch, and DB found Pacific and Red-throated Loons during 6/11 & 19 Lost Creek and Gleneden Beach SP seawatches.
RH found 2 CLARK'S GREBES with 2 WESTERN GREBES at Yaquina Head on May 19 and noted that "At one point, a Western was courting with one of the Clark's." During a 6/18 Gleneden Beach SP seawatch, DB found 1 Clark's with 7 Westerns. On 8/1 or 2, DCr found 2 Clark's near Common Murres in the ocean near Salishan Spit. Clark's are uncommonly reported here, though they may be more common than our records indicate because they are overlooked amongst the much more abundant Western Grebe.
Nonbreeding Western Grebes often oversummer, and we had 10 reports of 1-7 in June along the coast or near the HMSC (S&CG; DB; WH; JL) and 3 days at Yaquina Head in July (S&CG).
There were many reports of tubenoses. While salmon fishing offshore of Newport on 8/3, BLo noted PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS, and Bird Guide's 8/13 pelagic trip to Perpetua Bank (BGPT) tallied 225 NORTHERN FULMARS, 115 SOOTY SHEARWATERS, 600 PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS, 10 BULLER'S SHEARWATERS, and 700 FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS. During a 7/9 boat survey about 3-4 miles offshore between Newport to Boiler Bay, fulmars and Sooties were abundant (RL).
From shore, Sooties were often surveyed during seawatches at several locations during 6/11-14 (DB) and August (PP; WH; MP; DT; JR & PM). Sooties have a fascinating migration--for satellite tracking of Sooties in 2009 along the Pacific Coast (including Oregon)(see especially "WA-56 to -60" at http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/?project_id=396). A rare MANX/BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER was noted at Boiler Bay on 6/14 (WH) and 8/7 (PP) and at Depoe Bay on 8/16 (DT). At Boiler Bay, 2 Pink-footeds were discovered on 8/7 (PP), and at Spanish Head in Lincoln City, 10+ Pink-footeds, 20+ fulmars, and 1 Buller's were viewed on 8/8 (PP).
In July and August, 4 fulmars and 3 Sooty Shearwaters were found dead along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO).
On 7/11, DD was driving south from Lincoln City on Hwy 101 and saw the LITTLE BLUE HERON on the west side of the Highway wading in the first slough north of Drift Creek. "It was still mostly white with some blue gray parts." It had last been reported in that area on April 5.
Our only BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON was calling in the darkness as it flew over the HMSC on 8/18 (RB).
"Squawker" the GREAT BLUE HERON that calls almost continually while flying went over the HMSC on 6/9 (RB), and JL heard it next on 7/14. On 7/15, RB was walking outside the HMSC Library, when he heard Squawker flying north over the Library; MH, a HMSC graduate student, then walked outside from a different building, looked up, and without prompting exclaimed, "It's Squawker!" She had been to one of the YB&N meetings where we had talked about it. Great that she was there to witness it! In 15 seconds, it squawked 10 times (RB). It was next heard at the HMSC on five days during 8/5-26 (RL; JL; RB).
In recent years, a few GREAT EGRETS remained during the nesting season and even showed in Great Blue Heron colonies, but they appeared to have disappeared this summer. PK observed a single one in pastures or perched in a tree between Newport and Toledo on 6/3-4. Our next report was a singleton at Yaquina Bay on 7/27 (RB)--this is surprisingly late because many usually arrive in mid-July. They became common in August.
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's August 26 photo of a Great Egret with a Rough-skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa) in its bill at Eckman Lake. Note that the newt is in a defensive posture ("unken" reflex) that displays its warning coloration (reddish-orange) that it is distasteful/poisonous. Some wild birds have been found dead after eating Taricha newts; in the laboratory, all birds that ate Taricha died.]
A WHITE-TAILED KITE was near Logsden on 6/21 (BLl) and the HMSC on 8/10 (RL). One RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was regularly in the south Siletz Bay area, including on 8/1 or 2 (DCr), 8/13 or 14 (MP), and 8/27 (D&LF). In August, D&LF saw it perched several times on a Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge sign! Elsewhere, a juvenile was at the HMSC on 8/21 & 28 (RL).
There were many BALD EAGLE sightings. TW saw some interesting eagle behavior on 7/22. A Bald Eagle stooped on the water in the main channel at Idaho Flats and came up holding a sub-adult Dungeness crab. The eagle then flew off southward with its catch. "Looking upstream, there were three sport fishing boats sorting crabs about 50 yards away" (TW), so it is possible that the eagle picked up one of the discards rather than caught a crab on its own.
PEREGRINE FALCONS were also reported from a variety of locations, but BO's observation of a flyby of 3 at once near the mouth of Alsea Bay on 7/15 was extra-special because he was accompanied by family, including two grandkids!
[Image Not Included: Barry McPherson's June 8 photo of a pair of Osprey and their nest on a Yaquina Bay navigation marker near the southwest side of the Yaquina Bay Bridge. Barry notes that the Osprey in the nest to the right of the silver light on the pole appears to be sitting on eggs, while the Osprey stretching its wings on the rail is guarding. Note the large pile of sticks and nesting material from the base of the platform to the top of the railing! This is the first Osprey nest on a navigational marker at Yaquina Bay. Their nest does not appear to be blocking this light this year. If it does, it becomes a safety hazard to boaters who use this marker for navigation.
RL of the USFWS notes that the expanding Osprey population along the Columbia River has been a problem for the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) as many of their channel markers are used as nest platforms with nests blocking lights and/or burying solar panels. RL writes that rather than battle Osprey nests annually, the USCG are, in many cases, building a side extension off of their structures and moving the nest during the nonbreeding season. RL adds that "Osprey are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so once eggs or chicks are in the nest it can not be destroyed. It is legal for the USCG to remove nests that have no eggs or young, but this requires being out there routinely to prevent nesting and they don't have the personnel to do that." Yaquina Bay navigation markers are maintained by the USCG Aids to Navigation (ATON) crew from Coos Bay and not by the USCG boat crews here in Newport (RL).]
Up to 3-4 BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS are often counted in summer. But BM saw 9 bathing in the mouth of Schooner Creek, just north of Yaquina Head on 6/5, and WH counted 8 at Boiler Bay on 6/14.
Migrant WHIMBRELS depart in May and arrive in July, but we regularly have had some nonbreeders remain in June (SemiL). This year was no exception, with a high count of 85 on 6/8 near the HMSC (JL), and 43 near the HMSC on 6/15-16 (RL). There were 7 other observations along the open coast or near the HMSC in June (DB; LO; RB), including a flock of 28 hunting mole crabs on the ocean beach near Yaquina Bay Lighthouse on 6/11 (DB).
A MARBLED GODWIT near the HMSC Nature Trail on 6/8 (JL) was late (SemiL) and our only June record. The next one was at Idaho Flats on 7/10 & 12 (JL; DB). One was also near Depoe Bay on 8/1 or 2 (DCr) and at Idaho Flats on 8/22 (JR & PM).
GG saw and photographed an uncommon SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER at Idaho Flats on 8/7, and WH found presumably the same one there the next day.
A possible juvenile SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER was found on the beach near the YBSJ on 8/9 (RM).
Phalaropes are uncommon in June (SemiL), but DB found 1 RED-NECKED PHALAROPE on a beach north of Yaquina Head on 6/3 and in the ocean near Gleneden Beach SP on 6/18. The next phalaropes were 70 Red-necks and 6 RED PHALAROPES during Bird Guide's 8/13 pelagic trip to Perpetua Bank (BGPT).
Bird Guide's pelagic trip (BGPT) on 8/13 also tallied 9 SOUTH POLAR SKUA, 10 POMARINE JAEGERS, 1 PARASITIC JAEGER, and 3 LONG-TAILED JAEGERS. Seawatches from shore revealed 1 Pomarine at Depoe Bay on 8/15 (DT), 1 Parasitic at Boiler Bay on 8/7 (PP) and Spanish Head on 8/8 (PP), and a Long-tailed Jaeger at Spanish Head on 8/8 (PP).
WH found an uncommon first-summer FRANKLIN'S GULL on 8/3 at theYBSJ "gull puddle." It was still there on 8/4 (CP).
On warm afternoons in late summer, ants and other insects sometimes fly up into the sky in mating swarms. These swarms generally occur after most insectivorous birds such as swallows and flycatchers have left. This year, RB saw the first flock of gulls (including at least some WESTERN GULLS) hawking swarming insects about 50-100 ft above the ground in the early evening of 8/26 over the HMSC; flying ants and some other flying insects were visible at ground level.
Nonbreeding CASPIAN TERNS have regularly lingered in June (SemiL). This year 1-13 were noted at Yaquina Bay or along the open coast during 9 days in June through 6/28 (DB; RB; WH). An influx at Idaho Flats was apparent on 6/30, when JL counted 76, and on 7/1, when DB tallied 85.
COMMON MURRE chicks jump from their nesting colony when they are flightless and only about 1/3 of adult size--they swim off with and are cared for by their fathers. With thousands of Common Murres nesting along the Oregon Coast, it is not surprising that some murre chicks don't survive after they leave the colony. This July and August, 14 adults and 32 chicks were found dead along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). This is less than the 28 adults and 32 chicks in 2008 and much less than the highs in July and August since 1977 of 279 adults in 2005 and 1,217 chicks in 1982.
2-33 MARBLED MURRELETS were noted at coastal sites during 6/11, 14, & 18 (DB; WH). During a 10:20-11:20 AM seawatch on 6/18 at Gleneden Beach State Wayside, DB observed: "One Marbled Murrelet I saw through the scope surfaced with a fish hanging out of its gape. It then took off from the water flying low at first, but quickly it ascended at a very steep angle to maybe 300 m (984 ft) before I lost it in the sky. The entire time I watched the bird it was over the ocean. I could not make out if the fish was still hanging from the bill or not, but with such a high flight I strongly suspect that this bird had a late breakfast and was headed inland to trade spots with a mate on the nest, or it was carrying a fish back to feed a newly hatched chick. ... I wonder if these birds normally ascend over the ocean to such heights before heading inland."
Our only July Marbled Murrelet record was a recent fledgling during a 7/9 boat survey of seabird colonies from Newport to Boiler Bay (RL). As many as 4 were counted during four August seawatches at Boiler Bay, Depoe Bay, and Yaquina Head (PP; WH; DT; JR& PM).
TUFTED PUFFINS were noted at Yaquina Head on 5/29 (BLM), and 1-2 flew by Lost Creek SP, Boiler Bay, and Yaquina Head on 6/11, 14, & 21 (DB; WH; EH). We had additional reports at Yaquina Head, but I do not know if they were flying or had landed during 6 days in June (BLM; AG). Our next reported was of two during the 8/13 Perpetua Bank pelagic (BGPT).
Although they first appeared in May 2006 (FN), our EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES reports were few and scattered until 2009. This year they became relatively common and probably nested. We had reports in June (6), July (6), and August (2) of as many as 4 at various areas in Newport, the HMSC, Toledo, Criteser's Moorage downstream of Toledo, Newton Hill between Toledo and Siletz, and Siletz (JL; CP; PR; B& PR; DB; SK; RS; EH).
MOURNING DOVES had a good showing and were regularly noted in various locations during June-August (L&JM; TS; CP; LO; DB).
We had two BARRED OWLS--one near Eckman Lake on 8/15 (RL) and another on Newton Hill between Toledo and Siletz on 8/20 (JL). EH found a SPOTTED OWL along North Horse Creek Trail in Drift Creek Wilderness on 6/15. A BARN OWL swooped over MD's head as she walked in a Logsden field on 7/16 (fide BLl).
A male, rare CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD visited Toledo on 7/12 (CP).
RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKERS are rarely reported in summer, and our only one this summer was of one in MD & BLl's backyard in Logsden on 6/10. JL detected a rare ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER along the HMSC Nature Trail on 6/8.
Single WESTERN SCRUB-JAYS were at the HMSC on 6/10 (BO) and 6/15 (DG) and in Newport on 6/30 (CP) and 8/9 (EH).
On 8/24, TS discovered GRAY JAYS while hiking at Cape Perpetua. In summer, they are found in older forests, even at low elevations. They are most often reported here in fall and winter in habitats they don't use in summer.
On 7/5, CP discovered a rare ROCK WREN singing in a clearcut at the head of North Beaver Creek Road near the junction with the GP 1000 Line road.
[Image Not Included: Gloria and Herb Baum's photo of 2 nestling Northern Flickers peering out into the world from a nest cavity in a dead alder south of Depoe Bay on July 7. They appear to be a brother and a sister, with the one above a male, based on a partial red malar stripe.]
Our first report of nocturnal calls of migrating SWAINSON'S THRUSHES was over the HMSC just after midnight the morning of 8/24, when there was 1 call in 3 minutes (RB). Numbers should pick up in September.
A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD invasion! On 5/30, J&KC had one at their home about 4 miles east of Waldport. The last weekend of May, SS reported 3-4 near Camp Westwind and Salmon River, and LO found one on 6/1 at Ona Beach SP. One was appreciated around the HMSC on 6/8 (DCo), 6/11 (RL; JL), and 6/15 (RL). Mockingbirds are uncommon, and more than 1 at a time is rare.
A male LAPLAND LONGSPUR in breeding plumage was late at the YBSJ on 5/22 (WH). For records through 1992, our latest record was on 7 May 1978, with only 2 years with any May records (SemiL).
[Image Not Included: Tom Nelson's Aug. 24 cropped photo of 14 adult and juvenile CEDAR WAXWINGS taking a shower under a sprinkler and lounging in Tom and Robin Nelson's backyard in Newport (fide RN). There were 39 adults and juveniles in the whole photo! Adults have a warm brown crest, nape, and throat, not gray like juveniles.]
A male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK was at PPa's feeder at Makai north of Ona Beach SP on 6/6 and for a few days thereafter. They are still uncommon, though in recent years, we have had a scattering of reports in May-June.
Our only record of a LAZULI BUNTING this summer was of a male on DF's Thornton Creek feeder on 7/2. We did not have any July records for Lazuli's during 1970-1992, but we had early July records in 1926 and 1930 (SemiL).
JC photographed a YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD at J&KC's home about 4 miles east of Waldport on a feeder on 8/30. The white on the wing coverts suggest that it was an immature male--definitely not an adult male. This was a first for that location.
Sadly, DG reports that the partially albinistic HOUSE FINCH that appeared at the feeders at the USFWS building at the HMSC 3 springs ago has avian pox, and its left eye was looking bad on 6/19. Avian pox and House Finch eye disease (avian conjunctivitis) have been hard on them (http://www.birds.cornell.edu/hofi/recognizing.html; http://www.birds.cornell.edu/private/Publications/Birdscope/Autumn2004/epidemic_northwest.html).
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Betty Bahn, David Bailey, Range Bayer, Kitty Brigham, Bureau of Land Management staff at Yaquina Head (BLM), Jorrie & Ken Ciotti (http://www.birdsamore.com), CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast; http://oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5), Doug Cottam (DCo), David Crisman (DCr), Dick Demarest, Martha Doldt, Darrel & Laura Faxon (see http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/bird.htm#thornton_creek and http://www.oregoncoasttoday.com/fieldguide.html), Greg Gillson, Amanda Gladics, Dawn Grafe, Sandy & Carl Greenbaum (fide BLM), Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport (BGPT; info about pelagic trips, http://thebirdguide.com/pelagics/), Margot Hessing-Lewis, Wayne Hoffman, Eric Horvath, Rich Hoyer, Penelope Kaczmarek, Steve Kupillas, Janet Lamberson, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Linda & John MacKown, Poody McLaughlin, Barry McPherson, Richard Messenger, Russ Namitz, Michael Noack, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are at http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/bird.htm#recent), Bob Olson, Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Pam Parker (PPa), Mike Patterson, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Jan & Gary Power, Joe Regan, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Seth and Michelle Reams, Paul Reed, Bill & Pam Rogers, Trent Seager, Sumner Sharpe, Rob Suryan, Dave Tracy, Tom Wainwright, Jean Weakland, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (http://ybn.yaquina.info/;YBNFT Field Trip led by EH).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations (numbers refer to the site number in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide (http://www.oregoncoastbirding.com/): BEAVER CREEK (#78, in part): creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, BOILER BAY STATE WAYSIDE (#59): about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, HMSC (#75): OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, IDAHO FLATS: large embayment just east of the HMSC, ONA BEACH (#77): State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, THORNTON CREEK: about midway between Toledo and Eddyville along HWY 20, YBNJ: Yaquina Bay North Jetty, YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
KB and SS independently glimpsed a mystery SWAN flying low and southward in the Ona Beach/Seal Rocks area the morning of 9/28. Perhaps it was a Tundra Swan, but they usually first appear in late Oct. or November (SemiL). Intriguingly, MP reports that 2 Mute Swans were on the Necanicum in Seaside (Clatsop Co.) the morning of 9/26 and gone that afternoon--both were flight capable. Our previous Mute Swan was at Alsea Bay in 1994 (FN).
The first GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE migrated south over Toledo and Thornton Creek on 9/24 (CP; DF). Many were flying so high that they could be barely heard. During migration some often drop out and rest, and a single juvenile white-front was "poking around in the wildflower patch near the kiosk in the HMSC Visitor Center parking area" on 9/26 (JL). In the darkness on 9/27 & 28 over the HMSC, geese were indistinctly heard and could have been white-fronts or CACKLING GEESE (RB). A lone Cackler, probably a dropout from migration, was swimming in the Siletz River near Siletz on 9/25 (PK).
BLACK SCOTERS are regulars throughout much of the year at favored locations along the coast. One of those sites is north of Yaquina Head. On 9/5, CL wrote "This is the first day that I've noticed that the Black Scoters are back in the Surf Scoter flock that winters a mile north of Yaquina Head."
Our only HARLEQUIN DUCKS were 7 at Seal Rocks during the 9/19 YBNFT (LO).
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's April 20 photo of a first-year (top left) and two adult Gr. White-fronted Geese flying low over Idaho Flats. It can be seen why hunters call adults "speckle-bellies" or "specks." The speckling pattern looks to differ between adults, though this may only be useful to distinguish individuals if there were a few birds (e.g., a mated pair). The immature does not have a speckled belly.]
The 9/12 Bird Guide pelagic trip (BGPT) went from Newport to 30 miles west of Depoe Bay to the American Dynasty hake fishing fleet. They found a variety of tubenoses, including 120 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES, 1 LAYSAN ALBATROSS, 135 NORTHERN FULMARS, 650 PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS, 500 SOOTY SHEARWATERS, 1 BULLER'S SHEARWATER, 1 rare MANX SHEARWATER, and 550 FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS.
From shore, SOOTY SHEARWATERS were noted from the YBSJ and Yaquina Head on 9/4 (A&CH & ES) and from Boiler Bay on 9/20 & 26 (WH) -- "1000s were feeding on surface baitfish approximately 100 yards SW of the end of the YBSJ" on 9/13 (D & AH). WH also saw 4 Buller's and 2 Pink-footed Shearwaters at Boiler Bay on 9/26.
Our only BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON was calling over the HMSC on 9/27 & 30 (RB).
SQUAWKER, the GREAT BLUE HERON that nearly continuously calls while flying was heard by several birders at Idaho Flats while they were searching for a Hudsonian Godwit in early Sept. (CP; JL; LO) and at the HMSC on 9/9 (RB).
A WILD TURKEY surprised PR along North Yaquina Bay Road west of River Bend Moorage on August 5! Our previous report was in Dec. 2006 at Hidden Valley, less than a mile to the east as the crow flies. But there is some uncertainty in identifying Wild Turkeys here as wild or not, since the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife has mostly released turkeys of the Rio Grande subspecies that can also be purchased from turkey breeders and escape or be released (see management plan at www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/management_plans/wild_turkey/).
Our only grouse was a dead RUFFED GROUSE in BBe's and CL's Newport backyard on 9/25. Odd to have one there, but tis the season for wandering!
A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK remained at the HMSC on 9/12 & 30 (RN & TS; JL; RL). On 9/30, one was also at Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge (SG) and on wires near Beaver Creek (RL).
MERLINS were the most-reported falcon this month. HH spotted a Merlin over Idaho Flats on 9/13, JSh & RB witnessed one scoot past them as they were standing near the HMSC Visitor Center Parking Lot on 9/20, and RB saw another fly by his SW Newport apartment on 9/14, 22, & 27. A PEREGRINE FALCON was at Siletz Bay 9/14 (ME) and perched on the dead alder along the HMSC Nature Trail on 9/28 (JL). We had no kestrels.
1 SNOWY PLOVER was near a Newport beach on 9/12 (DB & AM). Since 1999, this is only our 4th record--all were singletons and occurred in June (1), Aug. (1), or Sept. (2); each was a different location (FN).
A juvenile PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER visited Idaho Flats on 9/10 (MP); and a Golden-Plover not identified to species was near the YBNJ on 9/12 (DB & AM).
A WANDERING TATTLER foraged at YBSJ on 9/13 (D&AH) and Seal Rocks for the 9/19 YBNFT (LO).
The biggest news this month was the discovery by A&CH & ES of two juvenile, rare HUDSONIAN GODWITS and 3 MARBLED GODWITS. As a result of their prompt reporting and the Hudsonian's cooperation, many Oregon birders were able to see them. The resulting increased observation effort resulted in many other uncommon birds being discovered. DI identified the Hudsonian's as a juvenile male and a juvenile female that was larger and with a longer bill. The 2 Hudsonian's were noted together through 9/9, and thereafter just one was found until the last reports on 9/17 (ME; JL) and 9/18 (D&AH). This is the third record for Lincoln Co. (SemiL; FN), but the only one confirmed with photos.
A RUDDY TURNSTONE was identified at Idaho Flats on 9/7 (RM; LO; SN).
RN discovered 2 RED KNOTS near Cutler City (Lincoln City) on 9/13. Knots were last reported on May 21.
A PECTORAL SANDPIPER was near the YBNJ on 9/12 (DB & AM). Several were also in lower Beaver Creek during the 9/19 YBNFT, along with 4 WILSON'S SNIPE (LO). The snipe were our first of the season.
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's Sept. 5 photo of a juvenile Hudsonian Godwit stretching a wing out. In so doing, it reveals a wing pattern and rump and tail coloration that distinguishes it.]
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's Sept. 5 photo of a juvenile Hudsonian Godwit standing in front of a larger Marbled Godwit. Note that the Marbled Godwit's bill alone appears longer than the Hudsonian's head and bill together. Also note that one could hastily glimpse these birds and mistakenly assume that they are all the same species. It takes patience to note differences!]
From shore, 1-30 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES were noted on 9/4 at Yaquina Head (A&CH & ES), 9/12 at Lincoln City Sewage Ponds (RN), and 9/14 at Siletz Bay (ME). Offshore, 75 RED PHALAROPES and 350 Red-necks were tallied during the 9/12 BGPT.
The 9/12 BGPT detected 5-15 SOUTH POLAR SKUAS, POMARINE JAEGERS, PARASITIC JAEGERS, and LONG-TAILED JAEGERS. An apparently weakened or injured PARASITIC JAEGER was at Idaho Flats and near the YBNJ on 9/12 (K, K&JF; HS; DB & AM).
Offshore, the 9/12 BGPT found 10 SABINE'S GULLS and 2 COMMON TERNS. Neither species was observed from shore this month.
JSi & MA discovered an uncommon FORSTER'S TERN at Idaho Flats on 9/6. This is only our 7th record since 1992--all were singletons except one record of 2 in 1993 (FN). I suspect that they are more frequent than our records indicate but may be misidentified as Common or Arctic terns or overlooked.
3-4 MARBLED MURRELETS were appreciated in the water north of Seal Rocks on 9/5 (KB), 25 were tallied during the 9/12 BGPT, and 7-9 were at Boiler Bay on 9/20 & 26 (WH). Unusually, 2 were also in the channel between the Yaquina Bay jetties near the car turnaround (end of the road for most vehicles) on 9/6 (JSi & MA), an uncommon record of them inside of an estuary.
From shore, 2 CASSIN'S AUKLETS visited Yaquina Head on 9/4 (A&CH & ES) and, offshore, 600 Cassin's and 850 RHINOCEROS AUKLETS were numerous during the 9/12 BGPT. The BGPT also found 2 rare SCRIPPS'S race of XANTUS'S MURRELETS!
BARRED OWLS were calling at north Beaver Creek on 9/7 & 20 (LO), and a PILEATED WOODPECKER graced Siletz on 9/11 (PK).
On 9/6, JSi & MA listened to a calling BLACK PHOEBE on an old post south of where SE 35th Street meets the southwest corner of Idaho Flats. Since 1992, this is only our 8th or 9th onshore record--additionally, a halibut-fishing RL found one 15-16 miles offshore of Newport on 2 June 2007 (FN). We only had 2 records prior to 1993 (SemiL), so it appears that they have become slightly more regular than they used to be, but they are still uncommon to rare here.
An uncommon late juvenile WESTERN KINGBIRD was at the Yachats Community Park on 9/5-6 (DI; JSi & MA).
EH garners our latest PURPLE MARTIN of the season at South Beach on 9/8.
On 9/1-2 at his South Beach home, WH noted birds of the following species partaking of his Mountain Ash berries: American Robin, Swainson's Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, Black-headed Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeak, Western Tanager, Northern Flicker, and Wrentit. "I watched a Wrentit pick a fruit with its bill, then hold it under its foot and bite chunks out of it." Mountain Ash fruits on his tree are usually devoured by mid-September.
At his north Beaver Creek home on 9/6, LO wrote that the "black berries of our Cascara trees are very popular with robins, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Swainson's Thrushes, and Steller's Jays."
On 9/6, VO saw 2 BROWN CREEPERS at an alder at their north Beaver Creek home.
[Image Not Included: Kitty Brigham's Sept. 2 photo of a juvenile Bushtit on an alder branch with an alder leaf background north of Seal Rocks. Its gray color hints why one of the subspecies was called Lead-colored Bushtit.]
On 9/1, DF wrote about his experience at Thornton Creek: "I was out a little before six this morning, and the vocalizations of SWAINSON'S THRUSHES filled the sky from horizon to horizon, so many in number it was impossible to even think of counting them. It will likely be the same way each morning for a couple more weeks. Here on Thornton Creek I usually begin hearing the thrushes overhead in mid-August, and continue to hear them until around the tenth of October. However, the movement peaks in early to mid-September, so now is the time to take in what I consider to be one of Oregon's great birding experiences."
1-2 AMERICAN PIPIT fed along the grass line on the slope of the bluff near beach between Beaver Creek and Surfland in South Beach on 9/14 & 9/22 (BLo; L&VO).
A FOX SPARROW arrived at CP's Toledo home on 9/14 and sang for at least 3 days in a row.
On 9/30, a LAPLAND LONGSPUR was in a grassy area about a mile east of Mooloch Beach, north of Yaquina Head (CP) and at Boiler Bay (SG).
Also on 9/30, JL had 3 WESTERN MEADOWLARKS "perched on a bush top outside my office window at the HMSC, trying out a few flute-like notes."
Correction. In the August Sandpiper, I mistakenly listed the date of the Bird Guide Pelagic Trip as Aug. 13--it was on Aug. 8.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Mark Aron, Daniel Battaglia, Range Bayer, Bob Berman (BBe), Kitty Brigham, CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast; http://oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5), Mark Elliott, Karl, Karan, and Jim Fairchild; Darrel Faxon (see some of DF's bird records and his articles at http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/bird.htm#thornton_creek and http://www.oregoncoasttoday.com/fieldguide.html), Steve Gordon, Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport (BGPT; info about pelagic trips, http://thebirdguide.com/pelagics/), Dan & Anne Heyerly, Hendrik Herlyn, Adrian and Christopher Hinkle, Wayne Hoffman, Eric Horvath, David Irons, Penelope Kaczmarek, Janet Lamberson, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Cindy Lippincott, Bob Loeffel (BLo), Roy Lowe, Richard Messenger, Ariel Muldoon, Russ Namitz, Steve Nord, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are searchable at http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/bird.htm#recent), Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Mike Patterson, Chuck Philo, Paul Reed, Em Scattaregia, Harv Schubothe, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Tim Shelmerdine, Joline Shroyer (JSh), Jamie Simmons (JSi), Stacy Strickland, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (http://ybn.yaquina.info/; YBNFT Field Trip led by LO).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations (numbers refer to the site number in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide (http://www.oregoncoastbirding.com/): BEAVER CREEK (#78, in part): creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, BOILER BAY STATE WAYSIDE (#59): about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, HMSC (#75): 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 (#77): State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, SALLY'S BEND (#66): large Yaquina Bay embayment east of the LNG tank, YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty, YAQUINA HEAD OUTSTANDING NATURAL AREA (#65): headland north of Newport (vehicle fee, http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/yaquina/files/yh_passes.pdf).
JL has the honors of finding the first BRANT this fall--a flock of 6 at Idaho Flats on 10/29!
On 10/14, BB saw 40-50 CANADA GEESE flying back and forth over Yachats that were apparently undecided about which way they wanted to go. On 10/26, SaL counted 390 Canada/Cackling Geese standing at the waterline of the beach near Mile 159 between Waldport and Yachats.
Migration can be stressful, and 3 GR. WHITE-FRONTED GEESE and 1 NORTHERN SHOVELER were found dead in Sept. along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). Another sign of stress is some dropping out from migration, and WH found a juvenile White-front on 10/9 and 10 on 10/10 along the YBSJ. Some may decide to linger if the habitat is appropriate and perhaps this may be the case for a flock of 20 white-fronts together with a similar number of ALEUTIAN CACKLING GEESE near Mile 3.5 along north Beaver Creek Road on 10/19 (LO). 1 Aleutian Cackling Goose also dropped out and was feeding on the ground near DS' Depoe Bay home on 10/15. On 10/18, WH estimated a total of 2,970 Aleutian Cackling Geese flying south during a 2.5 hour morning seawatch at Boiler Bay; one of the flocks included 4 CANADA GEESE. It is worth checking out goose flocks to see all species because mixed-species geese flocks occur. PP tallied 60 Aleutians flying south during an hour-long Boiler Bay morning seawatch on 10/19.
A female BLUE-WINGED TEAL or CINNAMON TEAL flew south by Boiler Bay on 10/14 (PP)--they are uncommon in fall.
On 10/11, LO found a small raft of 5 HARLEQUIN DUCKS just offshore of Seal Rocks.
Scoter migration is underway with observations of WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS and mostly SURF SCOTERS flying south past Boiler Bay during 8 days in Oct. (PP; WH), though some were also on the water. Not all were going the expected direction: south. On 10/14, most of 800 Surfs were going north (PP). The Surf Scoter peak count was on 10/4, when PP tallied 7,000 in steady strings flying south. Our only BLACK SCOTER report was of a singleton at Boiler Bay on 10/19 (PP).
PP detected our first LONG-TAILED DUCK of fall at Boiler Bay on 10/19.
On 10/8, CP birded at an elevation of about 2,800-3,100 ft in the Rocky Point and Elk Wallow areas of northeast Lincoln County and discovered MOUNTAIN QUAIL and 5 uncommon BLUE GROUSE. LO flushed a RUFFED GROUSE at north Beaver Creek on 10/16.
2 CLARK'S GREBES were in a flock of 30 WESTERN GREBES on the south side of the YBSJ on 10/10 or 11 (RM & AK).
As many as 2,500 SOOTY SHEARWATERS were regularly noted during Boiler Bay seawatches in Oct., and PP first noted SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATERS on 10/14. 2-150+ PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS and 1-30 BULLER'S SHEARWATERS were recorded during 2 and 3, respectively, of PP's and WH's 8 Boiler Bay seawatches through Oct. 27.
WH had a tantalizing look at a possible, rare GREATER SHEARWATER at Boiler Bay on 10/18.
At Boiler Bay, PP spotted a FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL on 10/14, and 3-25+ NORTHERN FULMARS were counted during only 2 of 7 Boiler Bay seawatches until 10/27 when PP spotted 300 (2 light-phase) there during a 2 hour morning seawatch. 3 fulmars were also found dead along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO) in Sept.
The 10/3 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip (BGPT) out of Newport to Perpetua Bank discovered 350 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES, 65 Pink-footed Shearwaters, 100 Sooty Shearwaters, 4 Short-tailed Shearwaters, 40 Buller's Shearwaters, 750 Northern Fulmars, and 8 Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels (GG). 75% of the Black-footed Albatrosses and Northern Fulmars were near a small dragger fishing boat about 35 miles off Yachats (GG). AF's video of some of the albatrosses and fulmars coming to the BGPT's chum is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8xUia-1IXE
Satellite tracking of a SHORT-TAILED ALBATROSS hatched this year on Torishima Island (Japan) revealed that it was along the Oregon Coast during Sept. 25-29--analysis of the satellite map suggests that it was sometimes about 30-35 miles offshore of the Oregon central coast (RS fide GG's http://oregonseabirds.blogspot.com/2009/10/radio-tagged-short-tailed-albatross.html).
BROWN PELICANS were in abundance in Oct, with peak counts of 1,300 at Yaquina Head on 10/9 (WH) and 1,800 passing in "steady small flocks" during a 10/19 Boiler Bay seawatch (PP). During the 10/3 BGPT, GG noted that "It was strange to see numerous Brown Pelicans out to 12 miles offshore" and that several hundred were also near the Yaquina Bay bridge. On Sept. 30, 1 was found dead along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO).
[Image Not Included: Jean Weakland's Oct. 20 photo of Brown Pelicans and gulls along the south side of Alsea Bay, west of the bridge. Jean has lived in that area since 1972 and never before seen such a gathering of pelicans and gulls. "Quite a sight! Meanwhile another huge gathering rested on Bayshore Spit."]
[Image Not Included: Gloria and Herb Baum's Oct. 6 photo of Brown Pelicans, with breakers in the background at the beach south of Yaquina Head.]
GREAT EGRET numbers were down this year, and only 3 were counted during RB's census of Yaquina Bay embayments on 10/16--this was also our only report of them this month.
Squawker, the nearly continuously calling GREAT BLUE HERON was recognized on 10/8 (JL) and 10/27 (RB) at the HMSC. Will it remain this winter?
2 WHITE-TAILED KITES hunted the grasslands north of Newport Airport on 10/2 (BM) and the new Beaver Creek State Park wetland on 10/11 (LO). A singleton hovered over the cattail marsh of lower Beaver Creek on 10/16-17 (LO).
1 RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was at Bi-Mart in north Lincoln City on 9/24 (ME), Three Rocks Road near the Salmon River on 9/25 (ME), the turn-off to South Beach State Park on 10/3 (TSe), and the HMSC Nature Trail on 10/7 (JL).
RM & AK reported a flyover ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK of unspecified age class over the HMSC Visitor Center parking lot on 10/10 or 11. Since 1992, we have had single sightings in the fall of 1994 and 1995, spring of 1999, a cluster of sightings during Oct. 2000-March 2001, and a sighting in Nov. 2003, Jan. 2004, and Oct. 2006 (FN).
1 COOPER'S HAWK was at Yachats Community Park on 10/1 (BB) and Saddleback Mountain in NE Lincoln Co. on 10/13 (CP).
A MERLIN cruised through SW Newport on 10/2 & 4 (RB). In Yachats, SaL saw one 2-3 times in early Oct. through at least 10/12. Another visited the HMSC briefly on 10/29 (JL). We had no Peregrine reports.
The biggest concentration of BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS was 9 on the rocks at the north end of mouth of the Yachats River on 10/27 (SaL). A MARBLED GODWIT lingered at the "Gull Puddle" along the YBSJ road on 10/18 (CP), and our latest WHIMBREL was on the YBSJ rocks on 10/20 (WH).
The 10/3 BGPT tallied 10 RED PHALAROPES, 35 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, 3 SOUTH POLAR SKUAS, 1 POMARINE JAEGER, 1 PARASITIC JAEGER, and 4 SABINE'S GULLS (GG). Each of these species is sometimes noted from shore, but the only ones reported from shore this month were 3 Pomarine and 1 Parasitic Jaegers at Boiler Bay on 10/14 and 10/19, respectively (PP).
The BGPT found 8 MARBLED MURRELETS (GG), and PP counted 6 at Boiler Bay on 10/16. WH discovered 7 ANCIENT MURRELETS "on the water just off the rocks" at Boiler Bay on 10/17 (WH).
The evening of 9/25, DF was surprised to hear and see an unidentified PARROT in the top of a hemlock tree near his Thornton Creek home between Toledo and Eddyville. DF could not see its coloration, but estimated it was 16 inches long. Exotic, escaped birds are rarely reported these days. RB thinks they were much more common in the 1980's, when LO was called to help identify them.
At South Beach State Park, RM & AK heard NORTHERN SAW-WHET and BARN OWLS on 10/10 or 11. LO had our only BARRED OWL -- one hooting at north Beaver Creek on 10/21; they have been scarcer this fall than last year.
A RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER was active in trees at LO & VO's north Beaver Creek home during 10/16-23.
On 10/4, TSh found a rare BLACK PHOEBE near the south end of the HMSC Nature Trail. As noted last month, one was also reported at the southwest corner of Idaho Flats on Sept. 6. These locations are near enough together that the same bird may have lingered in that area during that time.
On 10/8, CP birded at an elevation of about 2,800-3,100 ft in the Rocky Point and Elk Wallow areas of northeast Lincoln County and was surprised by a CLARK'S NUTCRACKER. It is only the 7th Lincoln Co. record, and 6 of the 7 records were in October--the exception was our most recent record in March 2000 about 10 miles east of Logsden.
When birders go out, we may think we are doing all the watching. But are we?
There was a news story this summer on NPR and last year in the New York Times about crows being able to identify individual people (Nijhuis 2008, Inskeep 2009). If so, wouldn't crows be better observers than us because how many crows have we individually identified?
Recently, I was talking to a friend who had read or heard about this as if it was a new discovery. But I mentioned about reading a story about Larry Spears, who had a similar experience with nesting Western Gulls that he was banding at the Farallon Islands off San Francisco for Point Reyes Bird Observatory in the 1980's. He wore Halloween masks so that they would leave him alone, and his story was published in their newsletter and in Natural History (Spears 1988). During his studies of gull movements from the Farallons, Larry visited Lincoln County as an eager, though under-funded researcher, where I met him.
Then my friend recalled an embarrassing incident that had happened to him about 30 years ago. He was at a fish hatchery and saw swallows perched evenly on a wire. Just to scare them, he threw a rock at them with the intent only to scatter them. He didn't figure there was any chance that he could hit or kill one, but he did. He regretted doing so. When he returned to the hatchery on subsequent days, many swallows would hover over him, and some dive-bombed him. They did this only to him, so they evidently not only individually recognized him but also reacted to him.
Sounds like crows, gulls, and swallows are watching us more closely than we are them!
Inskeep, Steve. 2009. The Crow Paradox. July 27 Morning Edition of National Public Radio. This is at http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=106826971 [for more about this, Google "Marzluff crows" or "McGowan crows"]
Nijhuis, Michelle. 2008. Friend or Foe? Crows Never Forget a Face, It Seems. August 25 New York Times. This is at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/science/26crow.html
Spear, Larry. 1988. The Halloween Mask Episode: A Gull Researcher Learns the Barefaced Truth about Western Gulls. June issue of Natural History. On 25 Oct. 2009 this is one of the archived links at http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/htmlsite/index_archivepicks.html
On 10/22, CP discovered a single HORNED LARK near a gravel road going into Eureka Cemetery in Newport, east of the Fairgrounds. We have not had any reported since January 2004, when DF found one along the YBSJ road.
On 10/13, CP saw 5 WESTERN BLUEBIRDS at Gorton Road southeast of Cutler City in Lincoln City. In the past, Western Bluebirds have been uncommon to rare near the coast here, except when we have icy or snowy weather.
In blackberries along the paved road to the big green LNG tank at the west side of Sally's Bend, CP found an uncommon NASHVILLE WARBLER as well as many sparrows (including LINCOLN'S SPARROWS) on 10/2.
Portland Audubon's School of Birding found a first of season PALM WARBLER along the HMSC Nature Trail on 10/10 (DvdB).
Some SAVANNAH SPARROWS nest but different plumaged Savannahs appear during migrations, and PP photographed a lone, large, bright, heavily-marked Savannah at Boiler Bay on 10/19.
Two very buffy longspurs landed at the "gull puddle" along the YBSJ on 10/20 (WH). They seemed "unusually buffy" for LAPLAND LONGSPURS, but they were probably first-winter Laplands (WH).
A lone juvenile BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK has been lingering at BB's Yachats feeders through at least 10/18. This is over a month later than usual, but BB noticed "that one wing seems to hang a little lower than the other" so it appears to be injured. It is capable of short flights.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Dan van den Broek (DvdB), CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast; http://oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5), Mark Elliott, Darrel Faxon (see some of DF's bird records and his articles at http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/bird.htm#thornton_creek and http://www.oregoncoasttoday.com/fieldguide.html), Andy Frank, Greg Gillson, Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport (BGPT; info about pelagic trips at http://thebirdguide.com/pelagics/), Wayne Hoffman, Adam Kotaich, Janet Lamberson, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Barry McPherson, Randy Moore, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are searchable at http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/bird.htm#recent), Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Trent Seager (TSe), SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Tim Shelmerdine (TSh), Don Stein, Rob Suryan, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (http://ybn.yaquina.info/).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations (numbers refer to the site number in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide (http://www.oregoncoastbirding.com/): BEAVER CREEK (#78, in part): creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, BOILER BAY STATE WAYSIDE (#59): about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, ECKMAN LAKE (#84): lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, HMSC (#75): 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 (#77): State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, SALLY'S BEND (#66): large Yaquina Bay embayment east of the LNG tank, THIEL CREEK: creek about 3.5 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge, YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
National Audubon's database of Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) at http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/hr/index.html is a great resource for us to look up CBC results! However, using the online database, JL wondered about the report of 497 American Kestrels for the January 3, 1976 Yaquina Bay CBC. There were no flags on the data, yet a total of 497 kestrels for a Yaquina Bay CBC is beyond incredible. For example, only a total of 6 were reported during 2 Raptor Routes and supplemental observations this month (see below).
RB looked in the paper copy of this CBC (1976 American Birds 30:578) and read that no kestrels were reported during that CBC and that there were 497 American Coots. But the online CBC version indicates no coots were recorded during that CBC. So, the number of kestrels and coots appears to have been switched during inputting the data for that Yaquina Bay CBC.
The National Audubon's CBC web page http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/hr/index.html states "Currently our CBC historical database is undergoing another round of proofing of the data. A large dataset such as this requires continual proofing, and we welcome any reports of apparent irregularities." On 10/30, RB emailed the CBC contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) that he found through their "Contact Us" link on their web page but has not yet received a response or acknowledgement.
The bottom line--the online CBC database is wonderful! But be cautious in interpreting online reports, especially those that appear unusual by checking the paper copy of the CBC to see if there may have been an error in inputting data into the online database.
Migration can be strenuous on birds, and 1 ALEUTIAN CACKLING GOOSE and 1 CACKLING GOOSE were found dead in Oct. along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). On 11/28, WH reported 150 Aleutians flying south during a Boiler Bay seawatch, our only report of them for November.
LO had 20 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, including one exceptionally light-colored, in flooded fields at about Mile 3.5 on north Beaver Creek Road on 10/19. On 11/20, 19 were still in the same area, including the light goose. On 11/24, WH was not able to locate the light goose, but he surveyed 28 CANADA GEESE swimming downstream of the causeway at Seal Rock Stables (about Milepost 1.6 along South Beaver Creek Road) and 35 or so White-fronted Geese grazing in the pasture just south of the barn at the Stable.
On 11/24, 2 SWAN sp. flew north before circling and flying southeast over Idaho Flats (JL).
During a 11/13 Boiler Bay seawatch, 3 BLUE-WINGED TEAL or CINNAMON TEAL flew by (PP). They are unusual here in winter.
JL found the first BRANT at Yaquina Bay on 10/29 (6). They had increased to about 50 on 11/9 (JL), 146 on 11/13 (RB), and 202 on 11/28 (RB). Numbers of Brant regularly winter in Oregon only at Tillamook, Netarts, and Yaquina Bays, but large numbers were seen during Boiler Bay seawatches heading south, presumably to California or Mexico, since they were many more than were found at Yaquina Bay (see following Table). During his 11/13 seawatch, PP noted a single flock of 370 heading south past Boiler. On 11/20, JL detected a Brant at Idaho Flats with a metal leg band and a plastic leg band with yellow numbers on black - the number looked like it read "+45" --be on the lookout for this and other Brant with color bands and report them to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl/homepage/recwobnd.cfm). Hopefully, we can learn more about this individual Brant and how long it stays!
Flyby REDHEADS during Boiler Bay seawatches included a singleton on 11/17 (PP) and a possible female on 11/28 (WH).
HARLEQUIN DUCKS were appreciated at Yaquina Bay during 7 days--the peak count at the YBSJ was 10+ on 11/7 (WH; RA & 4 other Corvallis birders). 3 were also at another favored location, Seal Rocks, on 11/12 (LO), and a singleton passed Boiler Bay on 11/17 & 19 (PP).
---------------------------------------- Table. Seawatches with 90 or more Brant during Nov. 2009. Seawatch No. of Date Time (PST) Brant Observer ---------------------------------------- 11/6 0630-0930 1,100 PP 11/7 0630-0830 680 PP 11/8 0750-0900 98 WH 11/13 0900-1215 2,080 PP 11/17 0645-1015 1,530 PP 11/18 0645-0815 118 PP 11/27 0700-0900 213 PP ----------------------------------------
On 10/31, a female LONG-TAILED DUCK was near the HMSC (SSc & IB), and singletons were also noted during Boiler Bay seawatches on 11/13 & 27 (PP). On 11/18, WH found a drake with a long tail at the YBSJ, and a male was actively diving near the Yaquina Bay jetties on 11/28 & 29 (PS & CK; PO).
On 11/28, JD, DI, and SF appraised a hybrid male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE x COMMON GOLDENEYE in the channel just west of the Yaquina Bay bridge.
A flock of 21 HOODED MERGANSERS with only 2 adult males graced Logsden Lake across from Logsden Store on 11/2 (BLl), and at least 29 were at Eckman Lake on 11/14 (AC & NR).
SaL observed a RUFFED GROUSE at HWY 101 Milepost 166 in Yachats on 11/18.
An uncommon CLARK'S GREBE was with 9 WESTERN GREBES at Newport on 11/1 (M&MD).
On 11/22, PP detected a LAYSAN ALBATROSS just over a mile offshore and probably an adult female BROWN BOOBY less than a half mile offshore during his 11/22 Boiler Bay seawatch. A Laysan is rare from shore, and a Brown Booby is rare in Oregon.
Beached NORTHERN FULMAR numbers picked up in Oct. with 17 along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). The heavy storms as we had in early Nov. often bring many fulmars close to shore, which happened this year. 2-80 were recorded during 6 of 12 Boiler Bay seawatches, but many more were recorded during the other 6 seawatches (see following Table). Usually the color-phase of most fulmars here are dark, but light-phase fulmars were common during many seawatches (see Table).
A MANX-TYPE SHEARWATER glided north past Spanish Head (Lincoln City) on 10/31 (PP). Shearwater numbers were down dramatically from Oct. with only 1-2 Sooty or Short-tailed Shearwaters noted during 3 Boiler Bay seawatches, except on 11/22, when PP counted 1 Sooty and 15 Short-taileds.
----------------------------------------- Table. PP's Boiler Bay Boiler Bay Seawatches with more than 100 Northern Fulmars. No. of Estimate of Date Time (PST) Fulmars Light-phase ----------------------------------------- 11/6 0630-0930 400 10% 11/7 0630-0830 120 60+% 11/13 0900-1215 350 50% 11/17 0645-1015 150 67% 11/18 0645-0815 200+ 67+% 11/22 0645-1100 3,000+ less than 50%* * Continuous 5-30/min south; hundreds within 1/2 mile early; majority dark but full spectrum of plumages present. -----------------------------------------
WH found a FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL only about 100 yards from shore at Boiler Bay on 11/8.
BROWN PELICANS were reported throughout Nov. as they usually are. However, they seemed more numerous than usual with 1,500 at north Siletz Bay/Salishan Spit on 11/5 & 13 (PP), and 1,000+ (including 800 flying north) during a 11/14 Boiler Bay seawatch (PP & WH). Extraordinary numbers appeared in bays, with 385+ at dusk on the first rocky finger west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on 11/13 (RB) and 400+ at dusk on 11/19 at Idaho Flats with more coming in (JL). Usually they roost along the coast at night--what did the pelicans that came into the bay at dusk do at night when high tide flooded their roosts?
Each fall flocks of "faux" geese migrate south along the coast. These flocks of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS appear at first glance and sometimes even at second glance to be geese. This fall our only report of southbound Double-crests was by WH on 11/14 who saw a flock of 400 flying south past Boiler Bay.
Our only GREAT EGRETS (7) were at Yaquina Bay embayments on 10/31 (RB). They have been less abundant and less frequent in 2009 than in recent years.
A BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON called about an hour after sunset over the lagoon north of the HMSC Visitor Center Parking Lot on 11/1 (RB), and CK & PS found an adult at the west log pond between the HMSC and the Oregon Coast Aquarium on 11/28.
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 Coast Route is about 63 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 during 5 hours on 11/29 by WH, WN, & RC.
The Inland or Yaquina River-Siletz Raptor Route is about 55-73 miles long 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 and can include Hidden Valley. It was done during 4.5 hours on 11/21 by JL & CP.
For both Routes, Red-tailed Hawks were the most numerous raptor. Bald Eagles were the second-most abundant on the Coast Route, but were tied for second with kestrels with Cooper's Hawk a close third on the Inland Route. A Red-shouldered Hawk was a surprise as none were recorded during the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 Winter Raptor Routes.
----------------------------------------- Lincoln County Raptor Routes Coast_________ Inland_______ 11/29 11/21 ----------------------------------------- No. Harrier 2 0 White-t. Kite 0 1 Sharp-sh. Hawk 0 0 Cooper's Hawk 1 3 accipiter sp. 0 0 Red-shld. Hawk 0 1 Red-tail. Hawk 15 10 hawk sp. 1 0 Bald Eagle ad. 4 0 " subadults 2 0 " unknown 0 4 Merlin 0 0 Am. Kestrel 0 4 Peregrine Fal. 2 1 RAPTOR SUM 27 24 -----------------------------------------
[Image Not Included: Jack Doyle's Nov. 8 photo of an adult Red-shouldered Hawk perched on a snag at Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge.]
On 11/28, DF was surprised by a TURKEY VULTURE walking around in his pasture at Thornton Creek, midway between Toledo and Eddyville. On closer examination, he determined that it had a broken wing. This is about 6 weeks later than usual, and for records through 1992 our latest was on Nov. 16 in 1992 (Semi).
TS had our latest OSPREY--one hunting King Slough at Yaquina Bay on 10/31. A WHITE-TAILED KITE was at the HMSC on 10/31 (SSc & IB), Beaver Creek marsh on 11/14 (AC & NR), and the Inland Raptor Route.
A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was at the HMSC or South Beach during 5 days from 10/31-11/28 (TS; CP; BO; SSt; PS & CK). Another was at Gorton Road southeast of Lincoln City on 10/17 (ME), Siletz Bay NWR on 11/8 (JD), Newport on 11/21 (HR, JLe, & JO), and about 10 miles south of Kernville along Hwy 229 on the 11/21 Inland Raptor Route. Besides those on Raptor Routes, PEREGRINE FALCONS included one in Toledo twice in late Oct. and on 11/1 (CP), an adult circling over toward King's Slough in Yaquina Bay on 11/1 (TS), one at Road's End north of Lincoln City on 11/10 (ME), a juvenile near the back gate to the HMSC on 11/11 (SSt & TD), one at the HMSC Nature Trail bridge that "actually stayed perched and let me get a good look from about 30 ft. away" on 11/12 (SSt), one during the 11/21 YBNFT led by DD, and another at or near Boiler Bay on 11/28 (WH; PS & CK).
On 11/11-13, A & SL saw a single Red Phalarope at the start of the HMSC Nature Trail. On 11/13, they made one last stop at the HMSC and "soon found the Red Phalarope at the same location, feeding and swimming adjacent to shore. As we both watched with our binoculars, the phalarope seemed to 'fall over', and then a moment later we both gasped as we realized it had been snatched by a Peregrine Falcon! We watched in shock and amazement as the peregrine flew with the struggling phalarope in its talons, and then reached back with its beak to deliver a fatal peck, eventually disappearing to the west, over the roof of the HMSC. We wonder if the strange 'falling over' we observed was the phalarope trying to dive to evade the falcon, but the water was too shallow?" The phalarope may have realized too late that it could not fly away, so "falling over" (a form of ducking), if timed at the right moment, could have caused the peregrine to miss it and given it a chance to fly away before the peregrine could return. But it sounds like it may have fell over too soon, and the peregrine was able to compensate.
Our only MERLIN was an adult male Taiga-type on 11/17 near the LNG tank (WH).
Besides those seen during the Inland Raptor Route, our only AMERICAN KESTRELS were singletons at Bayview Pasture on the north side of Alsea Bay on 11/1 and at about Mile 1.8 on North Beaver Creek Road on 11/3 (RC).
Our only report of ROCK SANDPIPERS was 2 with other rockpipers at the YBSJ on 11/7 (RA & 4 other Corvallis birders; WH).
A single WHIMBREL frequented the Yaquina Bay jetties or Newport area on 10/31 (SSc & IB), 11/1 (M&MD); 11/7 (RA and 4 other Corvallis birders); 11/24 (R&NA); and 11/29 (PO). 1-2 MARBLED GODWITS lingered at the Yaquina Bay jetties, sometimes near the Whimbrel, on 10/31 (SSc & IB), 11/24 (R&NA), and 11/29 (PO). A Marbled Godwit was also at Idaho Flats on 11/7 (RA & 4 other Corvallis birders).
The early November storms were hard on RED PHALAROPES, which were blown onshore. Peak counts during Boiler Bay seawatches were 4,000+ on 11/6 and 1,000+ on 11/13 (PP). On 11/17, a neighbor brought BB a shaky Red Phalarope that was unable to maintain itself and soon died. BB found that it was not oiled and had no injuries, but it had no breast fat. As BB suggested, the storms probably depleted it of energy and fat stores.
PP discovered a rare SOUTH POLAR SKUA during his 11/13 Boiler Bay seawatch. 1-9 POMARINE JAEGERS graced the 11/6, 13 & 17 Boiler Bay seawatches (PP), and a Pomarine or a PARASITIC JAEGER was there on 11/8 (WH).
An adult TUFTED PUFFIN in winter plumage passed about 200 yards off Boiler Bay on 11/8 (WH).
1-38 MARBLED MURRELETS were tallied during each of 11 Boiler Bay seawatches in Nov. (PP; WH). There were no reports of Ancient Murrelets.
Our first records of EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES were in May/June 2006. In 2007, we had a smattering of sightings in May and one record in August, and in 2008, there were some records in April/May. 2009 has been an exceptional year with records starting early in March, and we had our first-ever Nov. records. On 11/8, JL saw 5 in the magnolia tree in the front yard of the house across the street (HWY 20 bypass) from the Thriftway store in Toledo and writes "That's the same area where two have been seen occasionally this past spring and summer - maybe a family! It might be a good place to check for that species for the Christmas Bird Count." On 11/11. TW discovered 6 on a roof at Cafe Mundo in Nye Beach (Newport) and noted that they seemed to be a mix of adults and juveniles.
Our only BARN OWL was near Idaho Point on 10/31 (TS).
Some bird species that we assume to be permanent residents throughout the year in Lincoln Co. are partially migratory. This means that even though some individuals are present in winter, others migrate away. Often in partial migration, all or most females migrate, while males remain. We may not appreciate how many species are partially migratory because we see some birds of a species throughout the year and assume that the species is a permanent resident. We also may assume that lower numbers in winter are only a result of mortality rather than migration of part of the population.
The Belted Kingfisher account (2009) in the Birds of North America Online notes
"Most U.S. populations are partial migrants. Capable of surviving winter temperatures throughout much of North American if open water (and hence food) is available; interior populations, particularly in Alaska and Canada, withdraw entirely. Age or sex of nonmigratory individuals not known."
Belted Kingfishers appear to be partially migratory in Lincoln Co. In winter, kingfishers seem fewer in numbers along the coast or in estuaries and appear to be generally absent inland. In Nov. 1993-Jan. 1994, we sought records of males and females and their location. A total of 13 males and 7 females were reported, with almost all near the coast. This sex ratio of about 2:1 is not statistically significantly different from a 1:1 ratio, but this may be because there were too few reported for a robust statistical test. CP found the furthest one inland at Olalla Lake (about 7 miles from shore) on Jan. 23.
Things can change in 16 years, so it is time for an update! Changes could be from the passage of time and/or this winter may be harsher or milder than in 1993/1994, which may affect their abundance and the ratio of males and females. So please look for Belted Kingfishers in Lincoln Co. this Dec. and January, and please report the location and number of males and females that you see to RB! If you look for kingfishers at inland locations where you found them in summer, please report if you looked but could not find any. Negative reports (i.e., no kingfishers) are helpful to determine that kingfishers are absent. Otherwise, a lack of reports could also result from no or little observation effort. Thanks!
[Image Not Included: Greg Gillson's (http://thebirdguide.com) photo of a female Belted Kingfisher from Chester Co. [PA] Parks & Recreation http://dsf.chesco.org/ccparks/cwp/view.asp?A=1554&Q=631592 Female Belted Kingfishers have a red band across the chest below a blue band and red feathers along their flanks--males only have the blue band.]
TS reported our only NORTHERN FLICKER with yellow-shafts (a hybrid red-shafted X yellow-shafted or yellow-shafted) that lingered in late Oct. near Idaho Point (Yaquina Bay).
LO had our only RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER, which continued around his north Beaver Creek home until at least 11/12.
On 11/14, JG saw a PILEATED WOODPECKER in Sandpiper Village, near HWY 101 north of Waldport. It flew across the road ahead, perched in a large wax myrtle, and raked its open bill along one of the wax myrtle branches. It let JG approach to within about 10 feet.
J&PT found 3 TROPICAL KINGBIRDS at the willows, brush, and blackberries to the northwest of the LNG fence in Newport on 11/11. Thanks to their prompt reporting, at least 33 people saw them, making these Tropical Kingbirds the most widely seen in Lincoln Co.! 3 were last reported on 11/14, 2 were last noted on 11/18, and the latest report of a singleton in Nov. was on 11/29 (RN). After 1999, 1 Tropical Kingbird has been reported here each fall, except in 2003 and 2008; in 2000, there may have been a second one (FN), so 3 was very unusual!
GRAY JAYS seem to like the remains of deer or elk carcasses, so maybe that is why they sometimes come to suet feeders? A few years ago, RL observed Gray Jays feeding on the fat in deer gut piles left out in the woods by hunters. On 11/17, within about a minute of a wheel barrel full of elk carcass, hide, and trimmings being dumped near Waldport the first Gray Jay landed on the remains and within in minutes there were 4 Gray Jays feeding (RL)! This is the first time that RL had seen Gray Jays in that area. This is the time of year when they sometimes show up in lowland areas where they are absent during the nesting season.
VARIED THRUSHES appeared to arrive near Thiel Creek and Newton Hill between Toledo and Siletz early this year on 11/15 (BLo; JL). DD found a dead one south of Depoe Bay on Oct. 15, but not a live one until 11/20.
Our first of season PALM WARBLER graced the HMSC Nature Trail on 10/31 (SSc & IB).
The juvenile BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK with the injured, drooping wing continued to visit BB's Yachats feeder often through at least 10/31.
On 11/6, CP found the first of season SNOW BUNTING at the Gull Puddle at YBSJ and promptly reported it so others could enjoy it. Consequently, RA & 4 other Corvallis birders and WH saw it on 11/7 "at a distance of maybe 7 feet." It was last observed on 11/8 (CP; WH).
On 11/13, "huge numbers" of HOUSE FINCHES hung out in the blackberry vines north of the LNG fence (WH), and 100+ were there along with 6 species of sparrows (Lincoln's, Savannah, Song, Fox, White-crowned, and Golden-crowned) on 11/14 (WH). Such large numbers of House Finches are often missed or not reported here in winter, though they used to be of regular occurrence on the South Beach Peninsula.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Rich & Nanette Armstrong Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Ian Boustead, Rebecca Cheek, CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast; http://oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5), Alan Contreras, Dick Demarest, Mike & MerryLynn Denny, Jack Doyle, Todd Dunkirk, Jon Dunn, Mark Elliott, Darrel Faxon (see some of DF's bird records and his articles at http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/bird.htm#thornton_creek), Shawneen Finnegan, Jill Grover, Wayne Hoffman, David Irons, Carol Karlen, Janet Lamberson, Jessie Leach (JLe), Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Aaron & Sara Liston, Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Russ Namitz, Walt Nelson, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are searchable at http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/bird.htm#recent), Bob Olson, John Orsborn, Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Pam Otley, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Niko Ranta, Holly Reinhard, Stefan Schlick (SSc), Trent Seager, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Stacy Strickland (SSt), Paul Sullivan, John & Pam Thomas, Tom Wainwright, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (http://yaquina.info/ybn/; YBNFT Field Trip led by DD).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations (numbers refer to the site number in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide (http://www.oregoncoastbirding.com/): BEAVER CREEK (#78, in part): creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park, BOILER BAY STATE WAYSIDE (#59): about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, ECKMAN LAKE (#84): lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, HMSC (#75): 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 (#77): State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, SALLY'S BEND (#66): 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 (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty, YAQUINA HEAD OUTSTANDING NATURAL AREA (#65): headland north of Newport (vehicle entrance fee, http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/yaquina/files/yh_passes.pdf).
About 30 GR. WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were in lower Beaver Creek on 11/29, 12/3, and during the 12/19 YBNFT, along with a paler white-front that "looks like a white-fronted goose that has been bleached" (LO). The Birds of North America Online account for Gr. White-fronted Goose (subscription access at http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/131/articles/introduction) notes "Leucistic (pale) geese showing white feathers in remiges, body tracts, or rectrices are seen and reported annually; uncommon. Melanistic forms rare." 1-6 CACKLING GEESE were with them on 12/3 and during the 12/19 YBNFT (LO).
WH viewed a Pale-bellied BRANT by itself west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on 12/12 that subsequently was found later the same day there (RB). On 12/22, OS found and photographed perhaps the same bird with Black Brant at Idaho Flats. A lone Brant with other geese and wigeon near the Ona Grange in Beaver Creek during the 12/19 YBNFT (LO) is an unusual sighting of them away from the coast. The peak count of Brant at Yaquina Bay was 217 at embayments on 12/12 (RB).
5 SWANS of unidentified species landed briefly at Sally's Bend on 12/25 (HS).
WH noted that EURASIAN WIGEON drakes appear to be proportionately more abundant amongst AMERICAN WIGEON this winter. On 12/5, he found 3 drake Eurasians among about 180 Americans in the northwest corner of Sally's Bend with hundreds more wigeon further east and one drake Eurasian among 35 wigeon on Eckman Lake.
HARLEQUIN DUCKS were noted at Yaquina Head in Nov. (BLM), and 2 graced Seal Rocks during the 12/19 YBNFT (LO). BBa found 2 at the Yachats Community Park pond on 12/31 that were evidently sheltering from the high winds and rain, since they are usually found nearshore or near the mouth of Yaquina Bay in winter.
1 LONG-TAILED DUCK was off the north side of Yaquina Head on 12/5 (A&ES).
A drake hybrid BARROW'S GOLDENEYE X COMMON GOLDENEYE was at the Newport Bayfront on 12/16 (WH). It may be the same bird as the one reported west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on 11/28 in last month's newsletter. On 12/17 at Siletz Bay, PP encountered a male Barrow's paired with an apparent female Barrow's that had a mostly dark bill; separating female Barrow's and Commons based on the amount of yellow on their bill can be challenging.
WH detected an immature male eider, either a KING EIDER or COMMON EIDER, flying low over the water 1+ mile off Boiler Bay on 12/12.
[Image Not Included: Part of Phil Pickering's Dec. 15 photo of some of the estimated 800 Brown Pelicans flying or swimming in the channel at the mouth of Siletz Bay. It appears that 90% or more of those in the water are adults. Phil's entire photo is at http://philliplc.com/images/sb18.jpg]
98 NORTHERN FULMARS were found beached in Nov. along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). The five highest totals in November for BLo's 1978-2009 records are 2003 (298), 2007 (146), 2009 (98), 1992 (88), and 2005 (55), so 4 of the 5 greatest years have been recently. In Nov., live fulmars were recorded in 6 of 12 seawatches, but they appear to have moved elsewhere as none was recorded during 8 seawatches in Dec. at Spanish Head or Boiler Bay (PP, WH, A&ES, M&MD).
A LEACH'S STORM-PETREL was beached in Nov. along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). No live storm-petrels were seen during 8 seawatches in Dec.
1 BROWN PELICAN was beached in Nov. along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO); it is unusual to find any dead ones there. On 12/21, BH had a live, lone pelican grounded on the edge of her driveway about a mile inland near Waldport; "it didn't appear injured, but didn't fly either - just walked away when approached." It was dead the next morning.
Live pelicans in December are not unusual, since 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). This December, they were abundant throughout December, but not as numerous in early December as last year. During Dec. 1-15, 2009; live pelicans were recorded on 11 days (many observers), with 11 counts of more than 25 pelicans; the peak counts of 800 were during a Boiler Bay seawatch on 12/6 and at north Siletz Bay on 12/15 (PP). In 2009, pelicans were also noted on 7 days during 12/16-31 (many observers), but numbers were down, with the only counts greater than 25 on 12/16 at Boiler Bay (600+) and on 12/31 at Siletz Bay (300)(PP). In contrast, 1-4 thousand pelicans were often estimated during Dec. 1-18, 2008 (FN); numbers thereafter were comparable to this Dec. Both 2008 and 2009 have had many more pelicans in December than in the past--will this trend continue in 2010?
1-5 GREAT EGRETS lingered at Alsea Bay on 12/11 (MR; BBa) and Beaver Creek during the 12/19 YBNFT (LO).
RC had our only GREEN HERON, which was flying and calling as it flew north of Ona Beach on 12/23.
BALD EAGLES were regularly noted with a peak count of 4 adults together on CoastWatch Mile 198 (south of Waldport) beach feeding on a small, dead fish on 12/6 (SaL & BBa).
A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK flew at Newport Airport on 12/26 (CP), and a COOPER'S HAWK visited the 12/19 YBNFT at Ona Beach (LO).
CP noticed our only MERLIN--it was being chased by an American Crow in Newport on 12/1.
A PEREGRINE FALCON was recorded during 4 days in Nov. at Yaquina Head (BLM). In Dec., sightings include 2 at Idaho Flats on 12/4 (ME), 1 at Seal Rocks on 12/8 (LO), and 2 attacking a group of European Starlings at Beaver Creek during the 12/19 YBNFT (LO).
After a predicted +3 ft low tide, CL & BBe appreciated 15-17 BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS on encrusted mudstone bars located between Yaquina Head and the Schooner Creek beach access at NW 68th (Newport); they had previously only observed 3-4 feeding there. On 12/26, KM & DSt, also saw 15 about a half mile north of Yaquina Head. In both cases, the tide heights were above Mean Tide Level (+1.5 ft), so oystercatchers may have concentrated at available intertidal areas because their favored foraging areas were submerged and unavailable. Additionally, the weather was windy with a very rough sea on 12/26 that may have caused them to concentrate, too. If you see concentrations of 10 or more anywhere along the Oregon Coast, please email oystercatcher researcher Elise Elliott-Smith (email@example.com).
AM reported an AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER along the beach in Yachats north of Smelt Sands Wayside on 12/20. There are no confirmed records of this species in Oregon, and many observers looked but failed to find it. Hybrid American X Black Oystercatchers have rarely been found in California; Paulson (2005:84, Shorebirds of North America) writes that hybrids can vary from American-like with some black on the belly to Black-like with some white in wings and underparts.
A WHIMBREL was with a MARBLED GODWIT at Idaho Flats on 12/4 (ME), and a solo Whimbrel was at the YBSJ on 12/16 (CP).
1 RUDDY TURNSTONE was amongst 55 Surfbirds and 35 Black Turnstones at the north end of Yachats on 12/26 (M&MD).
8 dead RED PHALAROPES were found in Nov. along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO); none was found in Nov. in 2006-2008 along their beach so this appears to be higher than normal. Live reports include 1 alongside HWY 101 in Waldport on 12/21 (JW), 1 at Yaquina Bay on 12/22 (OS), and 3 at the YBSJ on 12/25 (M&MD).
WH discovered a dark-phase POMARINE JAEGER sitting on the ground in the shelter of a clump of grass at the YBSJ on 12/15.
PP found our only GLAUCOUS GULL, a juvenile, during his 12/14 seawatch at Spanish Head.
For the second year in a row, HEERMANN'S GULLS were frequent in December. They were only reported during one December prior to 1993 (SemiL), but in December 2008 we had 16 records during 12/1-21. This December, we had 11 reports during 12/1-15 (PP, WH, A&ES; ME), with at least 40 still at Siletz Bay on 12/15 (PP). Thereafter, they thinned out with only 5 reports of 1-2 (PP; DSr, PS, & SM), with 2 still lingering at Siletz Bay on 12/31 (PP).
Prior to 1986, PIGEON GUILLEMOTS were only recorded in one December (SemiL), but they have become more frequent. This Dec., 1-4 were recorded during 7 seawatches at Boiler Bay or Spanish Head (PP; WH; A&ES; M&MD), and one was at YBSJ on 12/1 (JS).
Murrelets were uncommon, with 2-3 MARBLED MURRELETS at Boiler Bay or Spanish Head on 12/1 & 5 (PP, WH, A&ES). Our only ANCIENT MURRELETS were 2 at Boiler Bay on 12/12 (WH). RHINOCEROS AUKLETS were only seen during 3 seawatches; 1-3 on 12/10, 12 & 28 at Boiler Bay (PP; WH; M&MD).
[Image Not Included: Johnny Sasko's Dec. 1 photo of a Pigeon Guillemot in winter plumage at the Yaquina Bay South Jetty. The white wing patches stand out as in breeding plumage, but they are otherwise largely white rather than black as in breeding plumage. The mostly dark head and nape indicate that this is a juvenile Pigeon Guillemot. The entire photo is at http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2542/4153909446_2a5f82d8dc_o.jpg]
PP spotted our only TUFTED PUFFIN flying north past Boiler Bay on 12/6.
It looks like 2009 is the year that EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES became established in Lincoln County. RC and WN photographed the first in Lincoln County in May 2006 (FN). In 2007, we had a smattering of sightings in May and one record in August, and, in 2008, there were some records in April/May (FN). 2009 has been an exceptional year with records starting early in March, continued throughout the summer, and we had our first-ever November records. We also had our first-ever December records of 1 in Toledo near JC Thriftway on 12/1 (CP) and 2 in Newport on 12/17 (EH). Yet they are still not widely distributed and are infrequent.
A BAND-TAILED PIGEON at Newport Reservoir on 12/28 (M&MD) was our only report. We have occasionally had records of them in Dec.-Jan. (SemiL; FN).
DSl viewed a SPOTTED OWL in Yachats on 12/23 (fide BBa). He saw it from about 15 ft away and noted that it had a speckled rather than a streaked breast as in a Barred Owl. We didn't have any reports of Barreds.
As announced in last month's newsletter, we are seeking records of kingfishers in Lincoln Co. during Dec. 2009-Jan. 2010 to see how far inland they may be and if kingfishers are predominately male.
In Dec., 1 male and 7 kingfishers of unknown gender were reported with all records downstream of Toledo in Yaquina Bay or at Beaver Creek (YBNFT [LO]; K&DR; RC; RB). No females were reported -- females have a red band across the chest below a blue band and red feathers along their flanks--males only have the blue band.
Please look for Belted Kingfishers in Lincoln Co. this January and report the location and number of male and female kingfishers as well as those of unidentified gender to RB. If you look for kingfishers at inland locations where you found them in summer, please report if you looked but could not find any. Negative reports (i.e., no kingfishers) are helpful to determine that kingfishers are absent. Otherwise, a lack of reports could also result from no or little observation effort. Thanks!
As reported last month, J&PT discovered 3 TROPICAL KINGBIRDS just north of the LNG tank on 11/11, and many birders noted 1-3. This month, one remained on 12/1, 3, & 5 (JS; DH; A&ES). Perhaps the same one moved about 1.5 mile northwest to near the Newport Bayfront, near the intersection of Bay Boulevard and SE Eads Street where EA discovered it on 12/17; it was also in that area on 12/22 (EA & AK) and 12/23, when OS photographed it. At least one has remained unusually long!
A flock of BUSHTITS feeding in sword fern at CP's Toledo home on 12/24 is unusual for that site.
CP discovered 11 WESTERN BLUEBIRDS flying near the intersection of HWY's 20 and 101 on 12/11 in Newport, and M&MD counted 7 north of the LNG tank on 12/27.
PD had our first of season report of a HERMIT THRUSH at her Toledo home on 12/14.
A&ES discovered a rare LARK SPARROW in the RV park area at Idaho Point near the east end of Idaho Flats on 12/5 (fide WH). This is only our 10th record; M&MD had our most recent record of one at the HMSC on 11/29/2008 (SemiL; FN).
In early Dec., DG noted that some HOUSE FINCHES coming to her feeder at the HMSC had avian pox. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/News/WinterBirdHighlights2009.pdf) recommends the following steps in order to create a safer environment for birds at feeders and bird baths:
* Clean feeders and birdbaths weekly with a 10% chlorine bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts water). Rinse thoroughly and allow to completely dry before refilling. Only use feeders that are easy to clean.
* Rake and discard seed debris and bird droppings under your feeders regularly.
* Move your feeders around to limit the concentration of fecal material and seed wastes.
* Temporarily remove feeders when sick birds appear.
* Fecal material is more likely to come into contact with food on open trays and platform feeders. Consider using feeders that do not allow the birds to stand or defecate in their food.
* Always discard any seed that has become wet. Harmful molds can grow on wet seeds.
For more information about bird diseases and what to do if you see a sick bird at your feeder, visit: http://www.feederwatch.org/AboutBirdsandFeeding/DiseasedBirds.htm
L& JM had a LESSER GOLDFINCH at their feeder near the east side of Sally's Bend on at least 12/15-17.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Eli Adam, Betty Bahn (BBa), Range Bayer, Bob Berman (BBe), Bureau of Land Management staff and volunteers Arnie & Elly Weisbrot at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (BLM), Rebecca Cheek, CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast; http://oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5), Mike and MerryLynn Denny, Pat Dickey, Mark Elliott, Dawn Grafe, Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport (info about pelagic trips at http://thebirdguide.com/pelagics/), Wayne Hoffman, Diane Horgan, Eric Horvath, Bettye Hunt, Amy Kocourek, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Cindy Lippincott, Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Linda & John MacKown, Kate Madison, Andrew Marshall, Sylvia Maulding, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are searchable at http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/bird.htm#recent), Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Chuck Philo, Maggie Rivers, Kathy & Dennis Roberts, Johnny Sasko, David Schlesinger (DSl), Owen Schmidt, Don Schrouder (DSr), SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Paul Sherrell, Howard Shippey, Don Stein (DSt), Andy & Ellen Stepnewski, John & Pam Thomas, Jean Weakland, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (http://yaquina.info/ybn/; YBNFT Field Trip led by LO).
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