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 31 ------------------------------- January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 -----------------------------------------
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, 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, YBNJ: Yaquina Bay North Jetty, 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).
BLo completed his annual report for the 32nd year of approximately weekly beached bird surveys along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach. Participants included B&SLo, L&VO, and BOl. Some of the highlights from BLo's summary follow.
Birds other than Common Murre chicks totaled 356 in 2009, below the average for the previous 31 years (477). The most numerous beached birds were Northern Fulmars (165) and murre chicks (39). The only rare species was 1 Horned Puffin in January.
Monthly counts of fulmars peaked in November (103), which coincided with fulmar migration offshore, and 35% of these fulmars were light-phase.
Sooty Shearwaters (23) had the highest total since 1998.
Adult Common Murres (37) had the second lowest count on record. Murre chick counts were similar to recent years.
The toxic foam-caused seabird "wrecks" observed along the northern Oregon and southwestern Washington coast in Sept. and Oct. did not appear in counts of dead birds here.
[Ed. Note: Thanks to BLo and his team of observers for doing this, to BLo for sharing his results, and to the Wildlife Diversity Program of the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, whose support covers report distribution costs!]
BRANT continued to overwinter at Yaquina Bay embayments, with a peak count of 240 on 1/10 (RB). On 1/17, 5 TUNDRA SWANS flew up the Alsea River over the bridge (AC)--only our 3rd report of the winter, and none of them have lingered.
HARLEQUIN DUCKS remained at Yaquina Head during 10 days in Dec. (BLM), and 2 were also there on 1/26 or 27 (DSt). As many as 7 were at the YBSJ on 1/2, 9, 11, & 24 (RW; GA, JL, & MF; LCAFT; CW; JG). Harlequins also wintered at Seal Rocks on 1/7 (RA & others).
A male hybrid COMMON GOLDENEYE X BARROW'S GOLDENEYE at Yaquina Bay discovered in late Nov. continued on 1/1 & 2 (WH; YBCBC). A BARROW'S GOLDENEYE was also at Siletz Bay on 1/2 (MC, PV, MG, BC).
A male LONG-TAILED DUCK was near the YBSJ on 1/26 (DSt).
A CLARK'S GREBE was noted during the 1/2 YBCBC and east of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on 1/26 or 27 (DSt).
On 1/29, 8 COMMON LOONS had already formed a resting raft in the water to the west of the first rock finger west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge (RB). They have traditionally rafted there at dusk for many years. Sunset was at 5:20 PM, and there were 41 there at 5:34 PM (RB).
A sign of changing seasons--a PELAGIC CORMORANT with a white flank patch at Seal Rocks on Jan. 17 (LO)!
Four adult BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS on 1/26 and 1 immature on 1/27 were at the southeast end of the pond north of the Oregon Coast Aquarium (DSt).
Pelican abundance in December 2009 was higher than usual, but not as great as in December 2008. It appears that pelican abundance declined in late December 2009--in addition to the two previous reports in late Dec. of more than 25 pelicans, KMe found 89 on the YBNJ and YBSJ on 12/17; almost all were adults.
Pelicans were not reported here in January prior to the 1982/1983 El Nino (SemiL). But seeing pelicans in January has not been rare since 1982. During 1983-1992, they were found in 50% of January's (SemiL).
During 1993-2008, this trend continued with pelicans recorded in 50% of the 16 January's (FN). There was an average of 2.4 reports (1-4) in the 8 years when they were recorded. Usually singletons were noted, but 2-6 were counted in 1998, 1999, 2003, and 2008 (FN).
January 2009 broke the previous January records with 11 reports, and as many as 11 were counted (FN). However, 5 of the 11 reports were from out-of-county birders that were in Lincoln County to see a rare bird. With their added observation effort, it can be expected to get more pelican reports than we would have had in other years. But even without their reports, there were more sightings (6) and higher numbers (4 reports of 8-11) than in previous January's.
This January, the re-appearance of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak in Waldport attracted some out-of-county birders on 1/7 that led to 4 pelican reports, but we had an additional 36 pelican sightings by many observers! So we had more records this January than the sum for all previous January's combined (30)! The previous high count in January was 11 pelicans, but this year, we had 22 counts greater than 11!
In the first week this January, the peak count was 87 during the Yaquina Bay CBC, which set a new high count for this CBC (RC), but some of these pelicans may have been recounts of the same birds by different CBC groups.
During 1/7-16, there were 12 counts of 100 to about 900 (many observers)! During 1/17-25, we had 5 reports of 1-25 pelicans, but observation effort appeared less then than during the time of peak counts, so it is not certain if this dramatic decline was real. During 1/26-21, there were 8 reports with as many as 25 pelicans (1/31), and observation effort then appears adequate to show that pelican abundance had greatly declined.
The increased pelican abundance this winter is not an isolated event. Gulls (see below) and California sea lions (see Other Nature Notes for this and last month) were also unseasonably abundant this winter. All may have been responding to increased food availability. WH wrote that a commercial fisherman, who was crabbing, reported that there were a lot of baitfish/forage fish (http://foragefish.org/, http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/forage/forage.htm) nearshore last winter, but that there were more than he had ever seen this winter. He saw the "bait" on his depth finder. They were reportedly abundant from at least Nov. through mid-January (fide WH), but it would be helpful to know more data about forage fish abundance and when they declined. WH adds that they were likely anchovies, but he had not seen that this had been confirmed. From the number of gulls inside Siletz, Yaquina, and Alsea Bays (see below), the forage fish were presumably also inside these bays.
At about the time that forage fish abundance reportedly declined (mid-January), the number of pelicans appears to have decreased from hundreds to 25 or less, and certainly had by 1/26. So it appears that the vast majority of departed, since the number of dead pelicans that were found would not make up the difference.
However, not all pelicans left and some starving and begging pelicans began appearing. On 1/16 about a mile north of Siletz Bay, FS wrote that "An adult pelican came in with a flock of gulls to grab some bread crumbs being tossed up onto a house roof." During the week of 1/17, JMa said that 4 dead pelicans had been found near the Port of Alsea Docks. A 1/26 USFWS News Release "Brown Pelicans Dying on the Oregon Coast" (http://www.fws.gov/oregoncoast/news/) noted that they had been receiving many reports of dying pelicans or pelicans approaching people. Many were emaciated or starving and this is the reason for their seemingly lack of fear of humans. USFWS guidelines include:
* If you find a live pelican that appears to be starving along the coast from Astoria to Yachats, please call the Wildlife Center of the North Coast at 503-338-3954 (http://www.coastwildlife.org/Home.html) or if it is along the coast from Florence south to Gold Beach, please call Free Flight Bird Rehabilitation at 541-347-3882 (http://www.freeflightwildlife.org). It is against the law to capture, kill, or possess pelicans. Anyone found in violation of this law could face penalties of up to $15,000 in fines and/or 6 months imprisonment for each violation.
* If you find a dead Brown Pelican, please leave it where you found it. Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act it is illegal to possess any part of a migratory bird, dead or alive. If you find a dead pelican, please contact the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team at 206-221-6893 or see http://depts.washington.edu/coasst/
* Finally, please DO NOT pelicans. This will only lead to further habituation of these birds to handouts from humans. It is important that these birds continue on their migratory route. Good intentions of feeding pelicans the bones and heads of fish can cause damage to the pelicans' throat pouch. Also, fish bait can be contaminated with harmful bacteria or may be treated with chemicals to promote better fishing or preserve the bait, but it can make a pelican very ill.
In previous January's, RB's impression was that most pelicans were immatures with brown heads. But this January, most were adults. In a sample of 26 photographed by RL at the YBSJ on 1/8, all were adults. On 1/13, WH estimated that 95% of about 500 pelicans at the YBSJ were adults. On 1/16, 71 of 74 in one of RL's photographs at the Alsea Bay Spit were adults. On 1/30, 11 of 13 pelicans seen near the LNG tank at Yaquina Bay were adults (RB).
Since so many adult pelicans were here, and their breeding season normally starts in January, many were coming into full breeding plumage, which also involves a more brightly colored pouch and bill. In RL's 1/8 photo of 20 adults with at least a partially visible hindneck at the YBSJ, 40% had the brown hindneck of breeding plumage, 20% had a transitional hindneck, and 40% had a white hindneck of nonbreeding plumage (DJ). In RL's 1/16 photo of 56 adults with a visible hindneck at Alsea Bay Spit, 82% had a brown hindneck, 7% had a transitional hindneck, and 11% had a white hindneck (RB).
Conclusions: pelicans are large and conspicuous and draw our attention, so our focus has largely been on "Wow, look at all the pelicans! They shouldn't be here!" But we also need to look at what we don't see and for which we need fisher's depth-finders--forage fish--that are probably the key to understanding pelican abundance and movements. Like other creatures, pelicans are linked to the shifting abundance and availability of their food in the world around them.
Brown Pelicans have also been lingering along the East Coast longer than usual in recent years and have been rescued from frostbite and malnutrition for the past 4 years in Maryland (e.g., Google "Brown Pelican frostbite" or see http://www.somdnews.com/stories/01152010/recmor135631_32192.shtml). Has pelican food availability in winter changed on both coasts?
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's Jan. 16 photo of two adult Brown Pelicans. The bird on the left does not yet have the brown hindneck of breeding plumage, the one on the right does. Both have bills with more colorful, breeding season colors. Pouch color is not visible in this photo, but also becomes reddish or orangish during the breeding season. Brown Pelicans on the West Coast are more colorful than those on the East Coast. In both, the iris of the eye is light-colored, which the Brown Pelican account in the Birds of North America Online indicates lightens to straw white or light sky blue as courtship approaches and darkens to brown at the onset of incubation.]
----------------------------------------- Lincoln County Raptor Routes Coast_________ Inland_______ 11/29 1/10 11/21 1/25 ----------------------------------------- No. Harrier 2 3 0 0 White-t. Kite 0 0 1 1 Sharp-sh. Hawk 0 1 0 1 Cooper's Hawk 1 1 3 1 accipiter sp. 0 0 0 0 Red-shld. Hawk 0 1 1 0 Red-tail. Hawk 15 12 10 15 hawk sp. 1 0 0 0 Bald Eagle ad. 4 7 0 0 " subadults 2 0 0 1 " unknown 0 1 4 0 Golden Eagle 0 0 0 1 Am. Kestrel 0 1 4 1 Merlin 0 0 0 0 Peregrine Fal. 2 3 1 1 RAPTOR SUM 27 30 24 22
Oregon Winter Raptor Surveys are a good relative index to the abundance of wintering raptors and are coordinated by the East Cascades Birds Observatory (http://www.ecbcbirds.org/Default.aspx?tabid=73).
The Lincoln Co. Raptor 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 during 5.2 hours on 1/10 by WH, WN, & RC.
The Inland or Yaquina River-Siletz Raptor Route is about 55-73 miles long. This month it was done in the opposite direction to that done previously, so that the sun would be behind the observers and raptors would not be backlit. The route was from north Yaquina Bay Road up the Yaquina River to Toledo, through Toledo along Business HWY 20 to HWY 229 and then north along 229 to the HWY 101 Kernville exit. It was done on 1/23 by WH & CP.
On both Routes, RED-TAILED HAWKS were the most numerous raptor. Bald Eagles were the second-most abundant on the Coast Route. An immature GOLDEN EAGLE along the Inland Route was a first for these Routes and is rare in Lincoln Co. RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS were not noted in previous years, but one was along the Coastal Route this month. BALD EAGLES have been strictly coastal during these Routes this winter.
Single WHITE-TAILED KITES were in a field near Logsden on 1/23-25 (BLl), along the 1/25 Inland Raptor Route, and about halfway between Toledo and Newport along Yaquina Bay Road in the last week of Jan. (AS).
Besides single COOPER'S HAWKS detected during the Raptor Routes, an adult was at BB's Yachats home--perhaps it was the one rescued there in 2007?
A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK graced the HMSC during the 1/10 Coastal Raptor Route, 3 Rocks Road (Salmon River) on 1/13 (ME), the HMSC on 1/14 (RL), near the old grange hall in North Beaver Creek on 1/18 (LO), and near Oregon Coast Aquarium on 1/25 (TS).
A MERLIN flew by a feeder in northeast Newport on 1/24 (fide CP) and Nye Beach (Newport) on 1/25 (JG).
AMERICAN KESTRELS were noted during 3 days in late Dec. at Yaquina Head (BLM), and singletons were near HMSC housing on 1/1 (WH), north Alsea Bay on 1/2 (GA, JL, & MF), Yaquina Bay on 1/9 (LCAFT), the 1/10 Coastal Raptor Route, the 1/25 Inland Raptor Route, the Newport area on 1/26 or 27 (DSt), and Beaver Creek daily during Jan. through at least 1/30 (LO).
1-3 PEREGRINE FALCONS were viewed during 21 days in Dec. at Yaquina Head (BLM), north Alsea Bay on 1/2 (GA, JL, & MF), the 1/10 Coastal Raptor Route, the 1/25 Inland Raptor Route, and the Newport area on 1/26 or 27 (DSt).
On 1/2, 10-17 BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS were independently tabulated by three sets of observers (GA, JL, & MF; KMe; WH). If you see concentrations of 10 or more anywhere along the Oregon Coast, please email oystercatcher researcher Elise Elliott-Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The WHIMBREL on YBSJ rocks was espied during 5 days in Jan. through 1/28 (RW; GA, JL, & MF; JG; DSt; RB).
The only species of jaeger this month was POMARINE JAEGER during the 1/2 YBCBC.
Our records of gull abundance are not as good as for Brown Pelicans. The best ongoing indices of gull abundance in winter are Christmas Bird Counts. The Dec. 20 Coos Bay CBC broke their record for CALIFORNIA GULLS, MEW GULLS, and HEERMANN'S GULLS (TR), and the Jan. 2 YBCBC (RC) and Coquille Valley CBC (AC) also had record highs of California Gulls.
During 1/7-13, gull abundance, particularly of California Gulls, appeared to be much higher than usual for January along the Lincoln Co. coast. On 1/8, PP wrote that this was not "... a late migratory movement [of California Gulls]. There was a decent south flight during November, but on Dec. 1 many thousands were moving back north and tens of thousands now appear to be wintering further north than is typical."
Estimates at Siletz Bay included 3,000 California's on 1/7 (PP); 15,000 California's on 1/9 (DSt & KMa); 16,000 California and 4,000 Herring Gulls on 1/10 (PP); 25,000 California, 5,000 Herring, 4,000 Glaucous-winged, and 1,000 Western Gulls at 8:30 AM on 1/11 (PP); a total of about 30,000 gull sp. at dusk on 1/11 (PP), and about 10,000 gull sp. on both 1/12 & 13 (PP).
Estimates at Yaquina Bay included 3,500 California's at Sally's Bend on 1/9 (WH); 5,000 gull sp. on 1/9 (DSt); and 5,890 gull sp. at Yaquina Bay embayments on 1/10 (RB).
Estimates at Alsea Bay included about 1,000+ on 1/7 (RA); 10,000 gull sp. on 1/8 (MaR); 6,200 nearly all California Gulls in lower Alsea Bay on 1/9 (WH); "thousands" of California Gulls at the Alsea Bay Spit on 1/16 (RL), and 1,200 gulls (California's most numerous, then Western Gulls, Mew Gulls, Herring Gulls, and small numbers of Thayer's Gulls and Glaucous-winged Gulls) at Waldport on 1/17 (AC).
Alas, there were no estimates of gull numbers at Siletz Bay after 1/13, Yaquina Bay after 1/10, and Alsea Bay after 1/17. So, it is uncertain what then happened with gull abundance.
HEERMANN'S GULLS lingered longer than usual this winter. Since they often feed with or from Brown Pelicans and pelicans lingered, it is not surprising that Heermann's also lingered. Prior to 1993, we only had one record of Heermann's during December-March in Dec. 1987 (SemiL). During 1993-2009, we had January records only in 1998 and 2009 (both were of singletons) (SemiL; FN), and they were only recorded once on a YBCBC in Jan. 2009. This January, 3 were sighted during the 1/2 YCBC (RC), and we had additional records of 2 at both Boiler Bay on 1/9 (LH & HR) and Alsea Bay on 1/16 (RL).
1-2 immature GLAUCOUS GULLS were at the mouth of Alsea Bay on 1/7 (RA & others) and at Siletz Bay on 1/10 (PP). PP viewed an adult from Spanish Head (Lincoln City) on 1/11.
In 2009, EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES became established in Lincoln Co., with records each month since March. Our first-ever January records included 2 during the 1/2 YBCBC (a first for that CBC)(RC), and a singleton was reported in Newport on 1/13 (DF). All other reports were of pairs east of Fred Meyers in northeast Newport and across from JC Thriftway in Toledo on 1/9 (DSm), at a feeder at NE Grant Street in Newport where they were copulating at least twice in mid-Jan. (fide CP), in southeast Newport regularly in Jan. through at least 1/20 (MS fide EH), and near the Newport Bayfront often in Jan. through at least 1/28 (HS).
MOURNING DOVES are uncommon in winter, but 1 fed on the ground near BLo's Thiel Creek home on 1/10, and another hit a window near Yaquina Bay on 1/12 (NC).
A GREAT HORNED OWL called in the woods near BOu's home in north Newport in early Jan.
PPJ & LP were surprised by a BARRED OWL periodically near Newport Middle School in December and through at least mid-Jan. On 1/9, another visited a tree near BLo's Thiel Creek backyard.
Our December-January results were inconclusive. So far, a total of 3 males, 3 females, and at least 12 kingfishers of unknown gender were reported. With these records, it is clear that both males and females can be here. But not enough kingfishers were identified to gender to determine if one gender was predominant.
A female seen inland at Depot Slough near Toledo (CP) was our furthest inland record. However, we did not have any reports of people looking for kingfishers further inland where they are during the breeding season but not finding them in winter. So it is unknown if the lack of kingfisher records further inland is because they were absent or because there was inadequate observation effort to find them.
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's Jan. 8 photo of a female Belted Kingfisher on a boulder at the Yaquina Bay South Jetty. Males and females both have a blue chest band, but females also have a red chest band and the red is also along the flanks as shown.]
On 1/1, WH discovered a BLACK PHOEBE at a beaver pond along HWY 101 south of Seal Rock. Probably a different one was in Hidden Valley between Newport and Toledo during the 1/2 YBCBC.
The unidentified SWALLOW that zoomed by CL's home north of Yaquina Head during 1/10-11 was our only swallow.
A male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK reappeared in Waldport on 1/3 (MR&MaR).
A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD at J&LMc's home east of Sally's Bend on 1/8 appears to be our first January record since 1987 (SemiL; FN)!
On 1/10-11, a female BULLOCK'S ORIOLE visited a feeder at RF's Newport home. They have become rare here any time of year, with our last record in May 2008 (FN).
PINE SISKIN occurrence was spotty. On 1/8, RC's neighbor had 30 on their thistle sock, and a few to over 100 were on and off in January at J&LMc's home east of Sally's Bend through 1/22.
As many as 9 LESSER GOLDFINCHES and 10 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES have been at J&LMc's home regularly in Jan. through at least 1/22.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Gail Andrews, Rich Armstrong, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Bureau of Land Management staff and volunteers Arnie & Elly Weisbrot at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (BLM), Rebecca Cheek, Bev Clark, CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast; http://oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5), Neal Coenen, Alan Contreras, Marcia Cutler, Mark Elliott, Darrel Faxon, Roy Filby, Marie Flamme, Mary Garrard, Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport (BGPT; info about pelagic trips at http://thebirdguide.com/pelagics/), Lauren Harter, Wayne Hoffman, Eric Horvath, Joel Geier, Deborah Jaques, Patricia Patrick-Joling (PPJ), Jan Landau, Lincoln City Audubon Field Trip (LCAFT), Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Cindy Lippincott, Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Linda & John MacKown (J&LMc), Kate Madison (KMa), John Mare (JMa), Kathy Merrifield (KMe), 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 (BOl), Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Bette Ouderkirk (BOu), Lill Patrick, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Holly Reinhard, Mike & Maggie Rivers (MR & MaR), Tim Rodenkirk, Meredith Savage, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Floyd Schrock, Trent Seager, Howard Shippey, David Smith (DSm), Don Stein (DSt), Andi Stephens, Paula Vanderheul, Conrad Willett, Roy Wilson, Yaquina Bay Christmas Bird Count (YBCBC, compiler RC), Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (http://yaquina.info/ybn/).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations (numbers refer to site numbers in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide): 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, 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, WHALE COVE (#61) at Rocky Creek State Wayside about 3 mi N of Otter Rock and 3 mi S of Depoe Bay along HWY 101, YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty, YAQUINA HEAD OUTSTANDING NATURAL AREA (#65): headland north of Newport (vehicle entrance fee).
The high count of BRANT at Yaquina Bay was 285 on 2/12 at embayments (RB). On 2/7, we had our first report of them west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge, where they often appear during spring migration, but we had no reports there since then (RB). YB&N is a project partner of the International Brant Monitoring Project (IBMP), 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).
RL spotted our only CACKLING GEESE, a flock of 32 heading north over the ocean just before sunset on 2/16 at Seal Rock. He suspected they were Aleutians, but they were too far out to hear.
A male WOOD DUCK at a Logsden pond on 1/31 was probably overwintering (BLl).
HARLEQUIN DUCKS were at Yaquina Head during 6 days in Jan. (BLM). On 2/12, WH watched at least 2 females and 2 subadult and 7 adult males near the YBSJ that were involved in courtship behavior.
The male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE X COMMON GOLDENEYE hybrid continued to linger near Port Dock 5 along the Newport Bayfront on 2/19 (PR).
COMMON LOONS have over the years formed roosting rafts near the first finger west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge at dusk. At that area on 2/27 at 6:06 PM (sunset at 6:01 PM), there were 45 Common Loons in nonbreeding plumage, and 2 that appeared to be in breeding plumage with black heads and also a raft of about 7 HORNED GREBES (RB).
Our only NORTHERN FULMAR report was of a dead one along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach in Jan. (B&SLo, L&VO).
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's photograph of a Common Loon with a Starry Flounder near the YBSJ on 2/2. The stiff extension of the flounder's fins indicate that it is still alive. The loon moved away, so Roy did not see if the loon swallowed this flounder. It may have been too wide for the loon to eat. At Yaquina Bay, Great Blue Herons sometimes caught and abandoned Starry Flounders that were too wide for them to swallow. Their eyes can be wider than their throat!]
As reported last month, January 2010 set a record for sightings of BROWN PELICANS in January. Additional reports have since come in: pelicans were observed at Yaquina Head during 18 days in Jan. (BLM). More dead pelicans (4) than any other species were found in Jan. along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO); 4 pelicans are abnormally high for that beach.
Pelicans were in the news again in February, though some stories had errors. For example, Oregon Public Broadcasting's Oregon Field Guide aired a story about Brown Pelicans on 2/25 & 27 that is also available online. At the start of the story, they state "For decades no one saw Brown Pelicans in the Northwest." Actually, Brown Pelicans were common along the Oregon Coast in late summer and fall prior to 1982 and in the 1970's (e.g., see p. 157 in Fred Ramsey's "Birding Oregon," published in 1978 by Corvallis Audubon Society and p. 483 in SemiL).
Indeed, they have become more abundant and are present for longer throughout the year since the 1970's. In Lincoln Co., we had our first January record in 1983 and, with our first February record in 1992, they were noted each month of the year (SemiL). [Following incorrect--first year with records each month was 1998] Our first and so far only calendar year with records each month was 2008 (FN).
The big news in the news media was weak and dying pelicans in Oregon and particularly in California that appeared to be related to food shortage and/or weather (e.g., J. Leovy. 2010. Pacific Coast pelican illness linked to bad weather, scarce food. Los Angeles Times, Feb. 22).
In Lincoln Co., Brown Pelican reports and numbers broke records this February. Since 1992, we only had Feb. records in 5 of 17 years (1998, 2001, 2007-2009), and we only had 1-2 reports of 1-2 pelicans in those years (FN).
HS lives where he can view the Newport Bayfront and saw pelicans roosting every day this February on the rocky portion of the west end of the breakwater opposite Port Dock 1 where California sea lions also haul out. HS's high counts of 50+ pelicans were on 2/8 & 13; other surveys for that roost site include 25 adults and 2 immatures at dusk on 2/9 (RB), 35 pelicans on 2/12 (HS), and 17-18 adults and 3 immatures at dusk on 2/27 & 28 (RB). In addition, there were 27 other reports by 14 observers at Siletz Bay, Boiler Bay, Depoe Bay Yaquina Bay, or Alsea Bay, with high counts of at least 10 and as many as 30 on 2/7 at Rocky Creek State Park (Whale Cove)(LN), 2/13 at Waldport (TR), and 2/15 at Yaquina Bay (RL). There may be additional reports coming in from Yaquina Head. We had more reports this February than in all previous February's combined!
SaL discovered a dead pelican wedged in rocks south of Yachats on 2/5, and RL found 3 stressed pelicans at the Port of Alsea Bay on 2/15. No dead pelicans were along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach in Feb. (B&SLo, L&VO).
1-2 GREAT EGRETS were at Beaver Creek on 2/6 & 27 (LO) and Eckman Lake on 2/7 (AC, TG, & NR).
----------------------------------------- Lincoln County Raptor Routes Coast_________ |Inland_________ 11/29 1/10 2/28|11/21 1/25 2/19 ----------------------------------------- N. Harrier 2 3 1 | 0 0 1 Wh-t. Kite 0 0 0 | 1 1 0 Sharp. Hawk 0 1 0 | 0 1 0 Coop. Hawk 1 1 1 | 3 1 0 R-shld. Hawk 0 1 0 | 1 0 2 R-tail. Hawk 15 12 6 | 10 15 10 hawk sp. 1 0 0 | 0 0 0 B. Eagle ad. 4 7 5 | 0 0 2 " subadults 2 0 3 | 0 1 1 " unknown 0 1 0 | 4 0 0 Golden Eagle 0 0 0 | 0 1 0 Am. Kestrel 0 1 0 | 4 1 2 Merlin 0 0 0 | 0 0 0 Peregrine F. 2 3 2 | 1 1 0 RAPTOR SUM 27 30 18 | 24 22 18
Oregon Winter Raptor Surveys are a good relative index to the abundance of wintering raptors and are coordinated by the East Cascades Birds Observatory.
The Lincoln Co. Raptor 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 completed during 4.6 hours on 2/28 by WH & WN.
The Inland or Yaquina River-Siletz Raptor Route is about 55-73 miles long. It was done on 2/19 by CP & DF.
This month, the most numerous raptor on the Coast Route was Bald Eagle, and Red-tailed Hawk was the most abundant along the Inland Route. 2 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS were mating in Hidden Valley between Newport and Toledo during the 2/19 Inland Raptor Route.
Significant trends for the 3 surveys this winter suggest that harriers, Bald Eagles, and Peregrine Falcons were more frequent along the Coast Route, while kites and kestrels were more frequent for the Inland Route. No Merlins were found during any of Routes this winter. Combining the results of the two Raptor Routes, Red-tailed Hawks were the most numerous, and Bald Eagles were the second most raptor.
DG discerned our first TURKEY VULTURE of the season over Toledo on 2/20.
The only WHITE-TAILED KITE was in a tree and over fields at Logsden from 1/23-2/6 (BLl). On 2/6, one sang a very clear, loud, rising one- and a two-call note call (BLl).
On 2/7, OPB Oregon Field Guide aired "Murres & Eagles" that is available online as a segment in Episode 2108. It discusses the issue of increased numbers of Bald Eagles along the Oregon Coast resulting in reduced Common Murre nesting. In particular, the failure of all nesting murres along the Oregon Coast north of Yaquina Head. An interesting and challenging story! Local people included in the video are the USFWS' Roy Lowe and OSU's Rob Suryan, who are named and interviewed; OSU graduate student Amanda Gladics is unnamed but included in part of the video with Rob.
On 2/21, BB found the remains of a COOPER'S HAWK in her Yachats backyard. The remains had no head, and it was probably predated by a GREAT HORNED OWL. A Cooper's previously had taken a few small birds near BB's feeder, but evidently, the predator became the prey! Elsewhere, both Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks have been noted as prey for owls (2005 Wilson Bulletin 117:237-244).
Other than the Raptor Route, TS located our only Red-shouldered Hawk near Oregon Coast Aquarium on 2/13.
On 2/9, BB & DS were on Yachats River Road, when a RED-TAILED HAWK took off with a writhing snake! It seems early to be warm enough for snakes to be out, but we have had some warm days.
An AMERICAN KESTREL wintered at Yaquina Head on 1/6 & 9 (BLM), and 1-2 were also at Beaver Creek on 2/5, 6, & 27 (LO).
A MERLIN at Yaquina Head on 1/20 (BLM) was our only report.
Other than along the Coast Raptor Routes, at least one PEREGRINE FALCON was at Yaquina Head during 7 days in Jan. (BLM) and during the 2/20 YBNFT near the HMSC Nature Trail (PR).
AS photographed a WANDERING TATTLER at Yachats on 2/20 (fide AC). In Lincoln County, tattlers used to be seen regularly during December-February with at least 16 records (1.6+ records/period) during 1974-1983 (SemiL). Since then, they have become uncommon to rare with only 2 records (0.2 records/period) during 1984-1992 (SemiL), and only 5 records (0.3/period) during 1993-2009 (FN; Yaquina Bay Christmas Bird Count Records). Migrants often first arrive in April (SemiL).
The lone WHIMBREL wintering on the rocks at YBSJ continued until at least 2/7 (AC, TG, & NR).
On 2/5, LO discovered 2 ROCK SANDPIPERS among 30 SURFBIRDS and 10 BLACK TURNSTONES in the central Seal Rocks intertidal. 3 or 4 Rock Sandpipers were also at YBSJ on 2/7 (AC, TG, & NR).
Our first BAND-TAILED PIGEONS of the season arrived at RL's feeder in Waldport on 2/6 and "quickly relieved the feeder of all its seed!" They arrived at L&JM's home east of Sally's Bend on 2/14, and BB's Yachats home on 2/24.
We had our first-ever February EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES records, and, with these records, we completed the first time that we have had 12 months of records in a row. On 2/9, TW reported that he had heard them every morning for the previous 2 weeks in the trees at NW Nye St in Newport, across HWY 101 from Fred Meyer. 2-3 were also at NE Grant Street in Newport daily in Feb. (fide CP), and others were near the Newport Recreation Center on 2/2 (HS), at HS's home near the Newport Bayfront on 9 days in Feb., in Toledo and near JC Market at the intersection of HWY 20 and 101 in Newport on 2/26 (CP).
L&JM had our only MOURNING DOVES with 1-3 at their home near the east side of Sally's Bend during 1/31-2/7.
[Image Not Included: Howard Shippey's Jan. 28 photo of an Eurasian Collared-Dove and a male House Sparrow on the railing of his deck near the Newport Bayfront. A pair of collared-doves had been feeding there almost daily for over a month. Both species were introduced.]
An immature or female RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD overwintered at J&KC's home about 4 miles east of Waldport, and the first male arrived at their home in early Feb. At the HMSC, the first male Rufous did not show up until 2/25 (DG).
Our only RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER glistened in the bright sun in BLo's apple tree in Thiel Creek south of South Beach on 2/27.
MW found a HORNED LARK at the YBSJ on 2/9. On 2/12, WH detected an odd-looking female at the "Gull Spot" on the YBSJ that clearly was not a Streaked Horned Lark; the underparts looked browner than any of the illustrations in Sibley's bird field guide.
EH reported our first VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW on 2/21--it was at his home in South Beach. LO noted the first TREE SWALLOW at south Beaver Creek on 2/27.
BLl listened to 2 AMERICAN DIPPERS "vocalizing and chasing each other around vigorously" along the Siletz River near Logsden on 2/21.
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS sang at BLl's beaver pond near Logsden on 2/14 and south Beaver Creek on 2/27 (LO).
WESTERN MEADOWLARKS are not usually rare along the coast in winter, but there appears to have been a shortage of observers to look for and report them this month. Our only reports were of singletons near the shoreline in Yachats on 2/5 (BB) and at the HMSC on 2/12 (TS).
Our only LESSER GOLDFINCHES were as many as 9 with up to 19 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES present daily in early Feb at L&JM's home east of Sally's Bend.
[Image Not Included: Jorrie Ciotti's Feb. 18 photo of a male Red-shafted Northern Flicker posing at her and Ken's home about 4 miles east of Waldport. Peterson's Western Birds field guide's description of Red-shafted's tail lings as "salmon-red" fits well.]
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Bureau of Land Management staff and volunteers at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (BLM), Jorrie & Ken Ciotti (http://www.birdsamore.com), CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast), Alan Contreras, 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), Tristen Gholson, Dawn Grafe, Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport (BGPT; info about pelagic trips), Wayne Hoffman, Eric Horvath, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO), Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Linda & John MacKown, Walt Nelson, Lars Norgren, 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, Niko Ranta, Paul Reed, Tim Rodenkirk, David Schlesinger, Trent Seager, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU), Howard Shippey, Aaron Skirvin, Tom Wainwright, Monika Wieland, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (YB&N), YB&N Field (YBNFT) led by PR.
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations (numbers refer to site numbers in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide http://www.oregoncoastbirding.com/): BAYVIEW PASTURE: pasture/field near creek about 0.4 mile east of junction of North Alsea Bay Road with South Beaver Creek Road, 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, THORNTON CREEK: about midway between Toledo and Eddyville along HWY 20, YBNJ: Yaquina Bay North Jetty, 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).
4 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were with Canada Geese at Siletz Bay on 3/7 (D&LF), and 23 were at Bayview Pasture on 3/20 (PS & CK).
On 3/13, 209 Brant foraged at Yaquina Bay embayments, and none were west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge (RB). On 3/26, PP spotted 2 Brant migrating north during a seawatch at Boiler Bay, and 32 were at Yaquina embayments while 175 were west of the Bridge on the rock shelf (RB). YB&N is a project partner of the International Brant Monitoring Project (http://www.padillabay.gov/brant/).
A few WOOD DUCKS overwinter, but a pair at the middle section of Newport Reservoir on 3/13 (RW) were probably spring arrivals. Another was spotted by a few participants during the 3/27 YBNFT at Beaver Creek.
10 male and 1 female HARLEQUIN DUCKS graced the YBSJ on 3/13 (RW). On 3/23, about a dozen were on the beach in front of the Inn at Otter Crest (HS), and, on 3/26, 1 was at Boiler Bay (PP).
A pair of LONG-TAILED DUCKS flew south during PP's 3/26 Boiler Bay seawatch.
The 3/6 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport noted a CLARK'S GREBE in lower Yaquina Bay (GG), and another conveniently was with a WESTERN GREBE for comparison up the Yaquina River near Boone's Island on 3/5 (JL).
The 3/6 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport to Perpetua Bank found 2 LAYSAN ALBATROSSES, 21 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES, 36 NORTHERN FULMARS, 4 SOOTY SHEARWATERS, and 2 SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATERS (GG).
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's March 24 photo of a Mallard hen at the HMSC. It's their season for scouting potential nesting sites. RB notes that prior to the construction of the HMSC Nature Trail, they may have nested there.]
March, like January and February, set a record for pelicans. Previously, we had March records (the number of records each March in parentheses) in 1967 (1), 1994 (1), 1998 (3), 2005 (1), 2007 (1), and 2008 (1). 2 pelicans were noted on 3/5/1967 (RBu), but only a single pelican was reported in each of the other records. By March 7 this year, we had more records and more pelicans than for all other March's combined!
For March 1-15, we had 18 reports at 7 locations by 13+ observers. Counts of 10 or more included 12 at the Newport Bayfront on 3/1 (HS), 20 west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on 3/6 (RL), 61-63 at Newport Bayfront on 3/5 (DJ), 47 during the 3/6 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip (GG), 27 at the Newport Bayfront on 3/8 (BM), a "couple dozen" at the Newport Bayfront on 3/10 (JL), 12 on 3/11 at Newport (CW) and Alsea Bay (MR), 41-49 at the Newport Bayfront and Idaho Flats on 3/13 (HS; RB), and 12+ at Seal Rocks on 3/15 (RL).
During March 16-31, the number of pelicans and reports dropped significantly, though this may be in part because we are getting so used to pelicans that they are not being reported! Still, we had 9 records by 9+ observers at 6 locations, but our only counts with 10 or more were along the Newport Bayfront with 15 on 3/22 (HS) and 10 on 3/26 (RB).
HS's home overlooks the Newport Bayfront and the rocks at the west end of the breakwater where pelicans have taken up residence, especially near dusk. Besides individual reports cited above, HS "'noted 'some' pelicans (I'd say average '20 or less') on the rocks every day in March, even during storms, although I didn't specifically count every day."
Most pelicans were adults at the Newport Bayfront. RB tallied 36 adults and 8 immatures on 3/13 and 7 adults and 3 immatures on 3/26.
Some pelicans were stressed. On 3/4, BO "saw 2 adult Brown Pelicans looking for a hand-out from a boat crabbing between the jetties west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge." On 3/13, RB appraised an adult with a badly broken wing walking on the mudflats north of the Newport Bayfront Breakwater.
It is looking like Lincoln County will have pelican records every month of the year in 2010, like 1998 and 2008, since pelicans are usually rarest here in January-March, and we have had record sightings and counts each month so far. However, records were spotty in 1998 and 2008, so 2010 may be the first year in which individual birders may see them every month because they have been so common so far. Time will tell if this will be the new trend or just a one-year phenomenon!
Only 6 birds washed ashore along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach in February, 4 of which were BRANDT'S CORMORANTS (B&SLo, L&VO).
On 3/27, S&RH saw about 50 GREAT BLUE HERONS together at Lint Slough (Waldport). Herons appear to be partially migratory here, and such large aggregations sometimes appear at Bays before nesting begins--in past years, their first eggs hatched on April 15.
3 TURKEY VULTURES arrived over L&JM's home east of Sally's Bend on 2/17, and another was over Toledo on 2/20 (DG). They have been intermittent with our next records at JL's home between Toledo and Siletz on 3/9.
Oregon Winter Raptor Surveys are a good relative index to the abundance of wintering raptors and are coordinated by the East Cascades Audubon Society (http://www.ecbcbirds.org/Default.aspx?tabid=73).
The Inland or Yaquina River-Siletz Raptor Route was done on 3/18 by JL & CP. They found 9 RED-TAILED HAWKS, 3 BALD EAGLES, and, at Hidden Valley between Newport and Toledo, 1 RED-SHOULDERED HAWK. Our only other Red-shouldered was on HWY 18, 0.5 mile east of HWY 101 on 2/27 (PS & CK).
Our first of season OSPREY included a pair at Eckman Lake on 3/20 (RL), 1 south of Waldport (KE) and in Yachats (BB) on 3/22, and 1 sitting in its nest at the Embarcadero (Yaquina Bay) on 3/23 (HS).
At dusk on 3/26, RJ discovered a Bald Eagle standing on the ground north of Yaquina Head that appeared injured; it was still there the next morning so he appropriately called the Oregon State Police. They sent out a trooper to rescue it.
The morning of 3/27, LO led the YBNFT to Beaver Creek. At one stop, participants watched 2 Red-tailed Hawks flying high over a forest until they came together, grasped each other and started falling together. They dropped out of sight behind trees, but then they fly up apart. They then flew together again in the same general area with a third Red-tailed also in view. Then they flew southward. Could this be courtship or fighting? It could be either, according to Preston and Beane (2009. Red-tailed Hawk, The Birds of North America Online. Cornell Lab of Ornithology at http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.bnaproxy.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/052). In one case, two dead females with talons locked together were recovered under a power transformer in January; they had apparently been electrocuted during an aggressive interaction.
A PEREGRINE FALCON flew with a meal in its talons in early March over the Newport Bayfront (HS), and another was in Toledo after the 3/18 Inland Raptor Route (JL & CP).
DF discerned our only MERLIN on the beach at Gleneden Beach on 3/25.
The mottled white underwing linings and mottled white belly in JD's photo are diagnostic of an immature Bald Eagle. At first glance, this eagle may seem to have a white band at the base of the tail with a black terminal band that can be diagnostic for an immature Golden Eagle. However, a close exam of the white band in JD's photo reveals some mottling close to the legs and dark outer tail feathers like that of some immature Bald Eagles. Such detail could be missed as an eagle quickly cruises by.
[Image Not Included: Jack Doyle's March 10 photo of an immature Bald Eagle flying about 25 ft overhead along the Salmon River. Note the worn primaries.]
Immature eagles can show variability in plumage; see Art Arenholtz's "Identifying the Sub-Adult Bald Eagle" at http://www.friendsofthebosque.org/articles/Identifying_the_Sub-Adult_B.pdf (2001. Friends of the Bosque Newsletter Nov./Dec. 8(6):1-2) and "How to Age Golden Eagles: Techniques for Birds Observed in Flight" by J. Liguori at http://www.aba.org/birding/v36n3p278.pdf (2004. Birding: 278-283).
Based on Arenholtz, JD's eagle has some characteristics of both a 2nd (ragged trailing edge of wing) and a 3rd (gray and yellow bill) year Bald Eagle.
The status of Golden Eagles in Lincoln Co. is unclear, but they appear to be rare. While some Golden Eagles have been carefully identified, other reports may be mistaken. The body color of Bald Eagles can appear dark brown, especially at some angles of sunlight. Further, as Arenholtz indicates, immature Bald Eagles can be misidentified as Golden Eagles. On the other hand, some immature Golden Eagles could be missed because an observer assumes all eagles here are Balds and does not look carefully enough to identify a Golden.
On 3/7, RB was surprised by 4 BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS standing on the sand beach about 100 yards north of the YBNJ at low tide. They were not feeding, and it appears that they were only there because they had been disturbed by people walking atop the YBNJ west of the "hump," since the oystercatchers flew to the south side of the YBNJ after the people departed.
The lone WHIMBREL on the YBSJ lingered on 3/4 (JL), and SD discovered signs of spring immigration with 55 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 5 Whimbrels, and 1 DUNLIN near the HMSC on 3/28. The 2 Greater Yellowlegs at Bayview Pasture on 3/20 (PS & CK) may have wintered in that area.
On 3/11 at the "gull puddle" of the YBSJ, WH studied a first-cycle GLAUCOUS GULL with WESTERN, CALIFORNIA, and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS. WH adds "This is the first Glaucous I have seen this winter. Last winter I saw at least 11 different birds, most of them in or near Newport." Our only other report was a possible immature Glaucous Gull X Herring Gull hybrid near the HMSC on 3/28 (SD).
Gulls seldom perch on wires here, so CP watched with curiosity an immature Glaucous-winged Gull perched along with American Crows on an overhead wire near U.S. Bank in Newport on 3/16. Its webbed feet were flat and sticking out--they were not curled around and clutching the wire. Would it be more accurate to say it was balanced on the wire?
Our first CASPIAN TERN flew south during PP's 3/26 Boiler Bay seawatch.
Along with COMMON MURRES and PIGEON GUILLEMOTS, the 3/6 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport to Perpetua Bank found 32 MARBLED MURRELETS, 33 ANCIENT MURRELETS, 27 CASSIN'S AUKLETS, 13 RHINOCEROS AUKLETS, and 1 TUFTED PUFFIN (GG). On 3/26 during a Boiler Bay seawatch, PP tallied 2,400 Common Murres, 375 Pigeon Guillemots, 350 Rhinoceros Auklets, and 2 Cassin's Auklets.
Our only March sightings of EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES were of 2 in NW Newport on 3/7 (TW) and 1 in Toledo on 3/21 (fide CP). Collared-doves have become so common in the past year that they may now not always be reported. Both collared-doves and Brown Pelicans appear to have taken up residence--is this just a coo-incidence?
1-2 MOURNING DOVES were at L&JM's home east of Sally's Bend regularly from 2/2 to at least 3/18 and at Wandemere north of Ona Beach on 3/5 (RC & WN).
A RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER visited S&BLo's Thiel Creek home south of South Beach in early March and JL's home between Toledo and Siletz on 3/11. A probable RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER stopped at Thornton Creek on 3/31 (DF).
On 3/20, DF discovered a SAY'S PHOEBE at Thornton Creek. Prior to 1993, we only had 3 records (SemiL), but since 2000, they were reported during 2/22-4/4 in 2001, 2006, and 2009 and in 10/31-11/7 in 2001 (FN). The spring 2006 Say's at the HMSC was the most seen one.
PS & CK found our only WESTERN SCRUB-JAY in Newport on 2/27.
On 3/11, CP espied a rare SAGE SPARROW that WH also glimpsed along the YBSJ. It was resighted on 3/12 (CP, JL, WN). This is only the second record for Lincoln Co. (SemiL, FN). DF discovered our first on 12 April 1977--a subadult at Thornton Creek.
8-10 WESTERN MEADOWLARKS were along the HMSC Nature Trail on 2/27 (PS & CK) and 3/4 (JL).
LESSER GOLDFINCHES with AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES continued at L&JM's home through at least 3/18.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Robert Buchanan (RBu), Rebecca Cheek, CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast; http://oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5), Steve Dougill, Jack Doyle, Katie Ellebrecht, Darrel & Laura 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), fide ("as reported by"), Greg Gillson, Dawn Grafe, Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport (BGPT; info about pelagic trips at http://thebirdguide.com/pelagics/), Wayne Hoffman, Sue and Ray Hurst, Deborah Jacques, Ralph Johansen, Carol Karlen, Janet Lamberson, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Linda & John MacKown, Barry McPherson, 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, Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Maggie Rivers, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Howard Shippey, Paul Sullivan, Tom Wainwright, Roy Wilson, Conrad Willett, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (YB&N)(http://yaquina.info/ybn/), YB&N Field (YBNFT) led by LO.
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations (numbers refer to site numbers 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, THIEL CREEK: creek about 3.5 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge, THORNTON CREEK: about midway between Toledo and Eddyville along HWY 20, WANDEMERE: about 0.5 mi north of Ona Beach State Park near HWY 101, YBNJ: Yaquina Bay North Jetty, YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty, YAQUINA HEAD OUTSTANDING NATURAL AREA (#65): headland north of Newport (vehicle fee).
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's April 10 photo of a Common Loon in breeding (definitive alternate) plumage at the Yaquina Bay South Jetty. Roy could see green iridescence on the dark feathering of the head--a hint of that green is visible in his color photo. The green lower-neck collar is also visible in his photo, except on the left side where the green is shaded into black by its head.
Iridescent or feather structural colors are visible when birds are close and the light angle and brightness allow (http://www.birds.cornell.edu/allaboutbirds/studying/feathers/color/). If we see breeding-plumaged Common Loons from a distance or in unfavorable light conditions such as backlighting, their head and neck color will appear black. Some field guides such as Sibley's Guide to Birds indicate that breeding-plumaged Common Loon heads are black. However, the Golden Guide and the 5th Edition of the National Geographic field guides show them with green heads.
The BNA account for Common Loon writes about their breeding plumage: "Sexes alike. Head and neck velvety black; chin, throat, foreneck, and part of side of neck glossed with green; and hindneck glossed with purple ... Upperparts black with slight green to green blue sheen." The Online account also indicates that Common Loons are "thought" not to breed before they are four years old. Data are lacking, but perhaps iridescent colors are more apparent in older loons. There is more to discover! For more info about iridescence, also see two of DI's articles at http://birdfellow.com/journal/archive/2010/4]
Many flocks of GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were migrating during 4/21-24, including inland over Toledo (PP, WH; CP; RL).
During spring migration, BRANT appear at places where they do not winter. This spring there were 6 at Seal Rocks on 4/6 (PW), 12 at Alsea Bay on 4/9 (RL), 25 at Siletz Bay on 4/16 (MM fide RL), 26-28 flying south of Depoe Bay on 4/20 & 25 (DS), and as many as 600 flying during 8 Boiler Bay seawatches from 4/18-30 (PP, WH). Peak counts at Yaquina Bay were 268 on 4/11 and 249 on 4/23 on the rock shelf at the northwest end of the Yaquina Bay Bridge, where they usually only occur during spring migration (RB). On 4/18 on the rock shelf at Yaquina Bay, 1 Brant had a leucistic head with about 10% whitish feathers in its crown and roughly 50% white feathers on both sides of its head behind the forehead/eye and above the white neck marking; it looked somewhat similar to the leucistic Brant in the photo at http://www.redgage.com/photos/becauseuarehere/partially-leucistic-brants-05.html --it was absent on later surveys (RB).
Our latest report of EURASIAN WIGEON was a pair at Sally's Bend on 4/7 (BLl).
The only CINNAMON TEAL were a pair at Sally's Bend on 4/18 (TG & AC).
At Yaquina Head, HARLEQUIN DUCKS were found during 3 days in March (BLM), and 2 pairs were noted on 4/23 (RL). At YBSJ, there were 5 males on 4/10 (RL) and 5 males and 2 pairs on 4/25 (JS; LN). 9 graced Seal Rocks on 4/6 (PW), and a pair flew south past during a Boiler Bay seawatch on 4/30 (PP).
1-2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS transited Boiler Bay during 4/21& 22 seawatches (PP), and 1 was also on the north side of Yaquina Head on 4/23 (RL).
A MOUNTAIN QUAIL drank at a birdbath at BB's Yachats home on 4/5.
RL found 2 CLARK'S GREBES west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on 4/10, and MP found 1 in the same area on 4/28.
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's April 10 photo of 1 of 2 Clark's Grebes west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge with Western Grebes. Roy notes "one thing that really stood out on these two birds is that the back was much lighter (whiter) than the [Western Grebes]." Its bill is also yellowish like a Clark's, not yellowish-green like Westerns. It also has white coming up to its eye and a white patch in front of its eye like a Clark's, but it does not have white surrounding its eye as shown in field guides for Clark's Grebes in breeding plumage. However, the white over the eye may sometimes not be visible, since John Ratti wrote "I observed a few Clark's Grebes that appeared to be intermediate birds while relaxed (such as in a sleeping posture), yet distinctly showed a white margin above the eye when facial feathers were erected" (1981, Western Birds 12:41-46; http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/wb/v12n01/p0041-p0046.pdf).
Storer and Nuechterlein's BNA account for Clark's Grebe recommends reading their 1985 paper (Auk 102:102-119; http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Auk/v102n01/p0102-p0119.pdf). Their paper shows much variation in the amount of white/black in the facial pattern of immatures, adults in nonbreeding plumage (Oct.-Feb.), and adults in breeding plumage (April-July) for museum specimens of "dark-billed" (Westerns) and "light-billed" (Clark's) grebes. There was only a small sample for breeding "light-billed" grebes, but, nevertheless, there were at least two "light-billed" adults in breeding plumage in Category 4 (white patch in front of the eye but no white above the eye) like the grebe in Roy's photo.
The one distinguishing feature that appears to be agreed on is if white surrounds the eye, then it is a Clark's. If not, but if there is white up to the eye, some white on the face above the bill, a yellow bill, and light-colored flanks and back, it probably also is a Clark's. The Sibley Guide to Birds and Pete Dunne's Essential Field Guide Companion both indicate that the best feature to identify Clark's is bill color, although Dunne suggests using several traits to identify Clark's. However, Ratti strongly disagrees and indicates that white facial feathers are the best and that bill, flank, and back color can be variable.
Sibley cautions that intermediates between Western and Clark's Grebes are "seen regularly, especially during winter" and "are unidentifiable." Nuechterlein and Buitron note that mixed pairs and intermediates between these grebes vary between 1-5% of populations and intermediates are fertile (1998, Behavioral Ecology 9: 313-321; http://beheco.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/9/3/313). They also reported that genetic differences between Western and Clark's grebes were "somewhat inconsistent."]
In March along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach, only 1 dead NORTHERN FULMAR and 1 COMMON MURRE washed ashore (B&SLo, L&VO). BLo notes that this is the lowest total for March since their surveys began in 1978. PP detected a MANX-type Shearwater passing Boiler Bay during a 4/18 seawatch.
BROWN PELICANS set records for the number of sightings and their abundance this January-March. In addition, we received 4 more records in Feb. and 6 records more records in March at Yaquina Head (BLM)--these records alone would have been more than we have had in previous years!
Since 1970, our first Brown Pelican record in April was in 1982. Starting in 1990, they have been present in April in all but one year (1995)(SemiL; FN). In many years, our first reports were as early as April 1. Years with more than 10 pelicans since 1970 include 1998 (50), 2002 (56), 2006 (18), 2008 (73), and 2009 (75).
This April continued the record-breaking streak with Boiler Bay morning seawatches on 4/21, 22, 29, & 30 having 175, 112, 240, and 285 pelicans, respectively (PP). We had another 10 observations of 20-75 and 15 reports of less than 20 (m.ob.). As typical for April, most records this month were along the coast, but, unusually, they continued to also be regularly at the rocky west end of the Newport Bayfront breakwater with at least 40+ on 4/17 (HS; EA; RB); they roosted there after darkness on 4/13, though they were sometimes illuminated by the lights of incoming fishing boats (RB).
On 4/9 on the Alsea Bay Bridge, RL watched a pair of COMMON MERGANSERS that "were swimming close to shore and occasionally would dive in the shallow water to forage. They didn't seem to be real serious, but a GREAT BLUE HERON was. It would keep pace with them by trotting along the shoreline to stay even with the mergansers, apparently knowing that they might chase fish up to the shoreline where it could easily grab them. I didn't see this happen, but every time the ducks turned around and headed in the opposite direction the heron would do the same."
The only GREAT EGRET was a singleton at Sally's Bend on 4/18 (RB) and at Idaho Flats during the 4/19 SSSP field Trip.
[Image Not Included: Kelle Herrick's photo of a tug of life between an adult Great Blue Heron and a marine polychaete Nereid worm on 4/22 near the outflow stream of west-central Idaho Flats. Kelle has other photos at http://KelleHerrickPhotography.net
A substantial part of the worm is still in its mudflat burrow--if free, it would be coiled and writhing. The exposed worm is about 12 inches (31 cm) long, based on comparing the relative length of the exposed worm to the heron's exposed culmen (bill) length in this photo with the midpoint of the average exposed culmen length of adult male and female Great Blue Herons in British Columbia (13.0 cm)(BNA).
These worms have a variety of common names, including kelp, piling, clam, or sand worm. Based on it being so long, this may be Nereis brandti, though a similar species Nereis vexillosa can also be up to 30 cm (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nereis_vexillosa). The worm's parapodia are barely visible sticking out along its sides.
Note the two feather tassels on back of the adult heron's head and that the heron is in breeding colors with a bright yellowish bill. It seems surprising that so much of the heron's bill is muddy--herons usually seem to be fastidious feeders.]
OSPREY were very conspicuous with 3-4 at a time seen repeatedly over Yaquina Bay (m.ob.). The Oregon Coast Aquarium put up two nesting structures on 3/24, and a pair of Osprey perched on one of them on 3/31 (BLl). Osprey were also active at nests near South Beach State Park, the Central Lincoln PUD yard in South Beach, and the tallest navigation marker on the south side of the channel west of the Yaquina Bay bridge, where they nested last year (WO; BM).
Students in the 4/19 SSSP witnessed a pair of adult BALD EAGLES take turns at swooping down on a duck that had ventured into too shallow of water at Idaho Flats to escape. It was a matter of time, but one of the eagles was more patient than the duck, and it was finally captured. One eagle ate the duck alone, without sharing.
Our only MERLIN was near Newport Bayfront on 4/22 (HS). HS writes "The Merlin was here most of the day, at first sweeping the hillside back and forth in front of my deck at brush-top level, seemingly oblivious to the EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES lounging nearby. At one point, in fact, the Merlin perched in the same tree as the doves, just a couple of branches above them, and they also seemed oblivious! ... But then, toward dusk, the Merlin started chasing the doves. I first saw him fly out of sight behind my condos a couple of times in hot pursuit of doves, then saw him close in on one in mid-air over the hillside, close enough to make them both tumble in flight but not quite close for the Merlin to engage talons, and they fell into the brush and disappeared from sight. When I had watched the brush where they crashed for a few minutes and saw nothing emerge, I drove down to the Bayfront where I could get a better look, and found the Merlin there preening his feathers after his fall, but no sight of the dove. The Merlin flew and I looked around in the brush for feathers or other sign of untimely demise, but found nothing and surmised that the dove probably escaped (I also suspected the Merlin might not have left so quickly if there had been a dove to eat)."
1 WHIMBREL wintered at YBSJ, but the first sign of migrants was 9 on an ocean beach just north of the YBNJ on 4/11 (RB). PP had the high count with 143 passing during a 90 minute morning Boiler Bay seawatch on 4/30.
1-8 MARBLED GODWITS were at Idaho Flats on 4/11 & 23 (WH; LN) or migrating past Boiler Bay on 4/29 (PP).
In some past Springs, flocks of phalaropes appeared onshore, but so far, we only had a single report of a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (1) during a 4/21 Boiler Bay seawatch (PP).
A first winter GLAUCOUS GULL was at the "gull puddle" along the YBSJ on 4/13 & 21 (WH; RC).
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES were uncommon with a singleton only noted during Boiler Bay seawatches on 4/17 & 24 (PP, WH).
A CASSIN'S AUKLET and a RHINOCEROS AUKLET in the channel by the YBSJ on 4/12 (WH) are unusual for that area; they typically occur along the open coast. 2-6 Cassin's were also recorded during PP's Lincoln City and Boiler Bay seawatches on 4/17 & 23, and 7-170 Rhinos were tallied during 9 seawatches from 4/17-30 at Lincoln City and Boiler Bay (PP, WH).
PP spotted a rare PARAKEET AUKLET in breeding plumage about 300 yards off Boiler Bay during his 4/23 seawatch.
1-8 MARBLED MURRELETS were identified during 6 of 8 Boiler Bay seawatches during 4/18-30 (PP, WH).
1-2 TUFTED PUFFINS passed Boiler Bay during 5 of 8 seawatches during 4/18-30 (PP). It is not known why Tufted Puffins have declined along the Oregon Coast, perhaps from decreases in food available to them or from predation. Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons have increased along the Oregon Coast at about the same time as puffins have declined and are affecting Common Murres. Bald Eagles and Peregrines feed on Tufted Puffins as indicated in the Tufted Puffin account in BNA; at one island in Alaska up to 30% of the diet of Bald Eagles was Tufted Puffins.
1 EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE was at Wandamere on 4/15 (RC & WN), where they were first recorded in Lincoln Co. in May 2006. A pair was also near Oregon Coast Aquarium on 4/21 (TD & LM) and were often reported in Newport throughout April (PR; BM; HS), with a peak count of 19 near the Newport Bayfront on 4/21 (HS).
1-2 MOURNING DOVES were spotted near the HMSC on 4/8 (RL), in Newport on 4/9 (RB), and daily at north Beaver Creek starting on 4/13 (LO).
Spring arrivals include EVENING GROSBEAK on 4/4 at TM's Waldport home (though some briefly appeared at LO's Beaver Creek home on 3/18), PURPLE MARTIN on 4/6 at the HMSC (TW), WILSON'S WARBLER on 4/17 at north Beaver Creek (LO), WESTERN KINGBIRD on 4/18 at Thornton Creek (the first there since 1986)(DF); BARN SWALLOW on 4/18 at the HMSC (AS) and Depoe Bay (TG & AC), BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD on 4/18 at Wandamere (RC & WN), CLIFF SWALLOW at north Beaver Creek on 4/19 (LO), HOUSE WREN on 4/19 at Thornton Creek (DF), NO. ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW on 4/25 at their beach nesting burrows near Thiel Creek (BLo), and BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK on 4/30 at BB's Yachats home.
On 4/12, TS beheld a male MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD perched on a log at the beach at South Beach State Park. This is the 6th record for Lincoln Co.--the previous record was at Yaquina Head during 5-11 March 2007 (BLM).
TG & AC found a CHIPPING SPARROW at Fogarty Creek State Park, north of Depoe Bay on 4/18. They were reported here in spring in only 6 of 11 years from 1999-2009 (FN).
On 4/16 at the YBSJ, WH observed that the "area was over-run with SAVANNAH SPARROWS. I saw 2 different "flocks" of about 30 each feeding along the edge of the jetty rocks and others all over the low shrubbery south of the road. ... I photographed about a dozen, and the variation among them was remarkable. They varied in extent of yellow in the supercilium, color of the malar (white versus tawny), color of the auriculars, amount of striping on the underparts, color of underpart striping (clean black, black with brown "halo", or brown), and overall contrast, but did not seem to sort into separate types, at least under those conditions." In past springs, an influx of different-appearing Savannah's also has been noted at or near the shoreline.
ME had our only LINCOLN'S SPARROW at the HMSC on 4/15.
Some GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROWS overwinter, but our first reports of ones singing were in the Beaver Creek/Ona Beach area on 4/15 (RC & WN; LO).
2 LESSER GOLDFINCHES in Toledo on 4/17 (CP) are uncommon for that area.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Eli Adam, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Birding Site Guide of Oregon (http://birdingoregon.info/), Birds of North America Online (BNA)(http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/), Bureau of Land Management staff and volunteers 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), Alan Contreras, Todd Dunkirk, Mark Elliott, Darrel Faxon, fide ("as reported by"), Tristen Gholson, Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport (BGPT; info about pelagic trips at http://thebirdguide.com/pelagics/), Wayne Hoffman, David Irons, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Barry McPherson, Michael Mefford, Lissy Moore, Tricia Morgan, m.ob. (multiple observers), Walt Nelson, Lars Norgren, 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), Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide (http://www.oregoncoastbirding.com/), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Woody Ouderkirk, Mike Patterson, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Paul Reed, Trent Seager, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU), Shorebird Sister Schools Program (SSSP) by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Howard Shippey, Joline Shroyer, Don Stein, Andi Stephens, Tom Wainwright, Pat Wood, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (YB&N).
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations (numbers refer to site numbers 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, 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, SALMON RIVER ESTUARY (#44 and 45): estuary at north end of Lincoln Co.; the mouth is in Tillamook Co., THORNTON CREEK: about midway between Toledo and Eddyville along HWY 20, WANDEMERE: about 0.5 mi north of Ona Beach State Park near HWY 101, YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty, YAQUINA HEAD OUTSTANDING NATURAL AREA (#65): headland north of Newport (vehicle entrance fee, www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/yaquina/files/yh_passes.pdf).
On 5/2, RChe &WN noted at least 7 flocks of GR. WHITE-FRONTED GEESE flying towards the northwest over Drift Creek Wilderness between Newport and Waldport. There were several other scattered reports of a few, and DF had the latest with a flock of 15-20 flying north over Devils Lake State Park on 5/26.
The peak of northerly BRANT migration in May was on about 5/3, when PP tallied 5,500 during 5.0 hours of morning and afternoon seawatches at Boiler Bay and Lincoln City, and DS counted 706 flying north during a 1.75 hour seawatch south of Depoe Bay. The peak count at Yaquina Bay during the 2009/2010 season was 405 on 5/8 (RB). Brant often land at coastal sites during their May migration, and this May was no exception with 60-100 at Alsea Bay on 5/11 (JW), 38 at Yachats Bay on 5/11 (BB), 34 at Seal Rocks on 5/14 (LO; PPa), and 4 at Otter Rock on 5/20 (DS). Our latest report was on 5/29 with 20 at Boiler Bay (EB) and 9-20 at Idaho Flats (PO; GA; EB). A few nonbreeders often oversummer.
On 5/9, PP saw 25 CANADA GEESE flying north past Boiler Bay--the subspecies was not mentioned. If they were Westerns, this was the start of the northerly movement for some nonbreeders or failed breeders, perhaps a migration to molt to the lower Columbia River area that lasts into early June in some years. The first northerly flight specifically noted as being Westerns was on 5/14 over southwest Newport (RB). Their northerly flights were also noted throughout the rest of May (PP; WH; RL; RB) and into June.
Not all Western Canada Geese participate in these northerly flights. On 5/16, JL saw 2 flying south at her Newton Hill home between Toledo and Siletz--these may have been local nesters. RL observes that as of 5/31 that he had seen many pairs of Western Canada Geese at Alsea Bay like he does every year at this time but that he had not yet seen a brood of young, like he has in past years.
HARLEQUIN DUCKS remained at Yaquina Head during 11 days in April (BLM), and 2-9 were also there on 5/17, 22, & 23 (ME; AS;YBNFT). On the bayside of the YBSJ, as many as 8 were counted on 5/7, 22-24 (WH; RB; YBNFT; TJ & CS). On the oceanside of the YBSJ, 5 males were perched during the 5/23 YBNFT, which saw a total of 15 at Yaquina Bay and Yaquina Head! Elsewhere, 7 males and 2 females also lingered at Otter Rock on 5/20 (DS).
On 5/16, RN saw a rare immature KING EIDER in the ocean about 300 yards off Yachats State Park that was amongst a small flock of Surf Scoters. It was not relocated. There have been 5 other reports of a King Eider in Lincoln Co. since 1999, but only one was relocated during 12/5-17/2005 at Alsea Bay (FN).
Our latest dates for departing waterfowl include: LONG-TAILED DUCK (5/3 at Boiler Bay, PP), scaup (5/5 at Boiler Bay, PP), CINNAMON TEAL (5/7 at Yaquina Head, RL), GREEN-WINGED TEAL (5/9 at Boiler Bay, PP), NORTHERN SHOVELER (5/15 at Boiler Bay, WH), NORTHERN PINTAIL (5/20 at Boiler Bay, PP), AMERICAN WIGEON (5/22 at Idaho Flats, WH), and RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (5/29 at Yaquina Bay, EB). Some scoters usually oversummer as nonbreeders.
On 5/18, RH spotted 3 CLARK'S GREBES at Yaquina Head.
From shore where albatrosses are rarely seen, PP discovered 3 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES about 1.5-2 miles off Boiler Bay on 5/3. 35 were found offshore during the 5/1 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip from Newport to Perpetua Bank.
On 5/3, 3+ rare MANX SHEARWATER were noted during Boiler Bay and Lincoln City seawatches (PP).
From a cruise ship, JGi & OS saw a rare MURPHY'S PETREL far off the Lincoln Co. coast on 5/12.
There were only 7 dead birds found in April along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). 2 were NORTHERN FULMARS, and another was a FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL. These surveys began in 1978, and this was the lowest total for any April and any January-April period (BLo)!
We had 21 reports of BROWN PELICANS (m.ob.), with a peak count of 200+ during Boiler Bay and Lincoln City seawatches on 5/3 (PP).
Our only report of a GREAT EGRET was of a singleton near Siletz Keys in south Siletz Bay on 5/27 (DF).
Our last report of a NORTHERN HARRIER was on 4/18 at Yaquina Head (BLM).
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's May 30 photo of an adult Bald Eagle that landed in a Common Murre colony atop the northeast end of Colony Rock at Yaquina Head, scattering the murres. The gulls are opportunistically looking for abandoned murre eggs, some of which are pointed out with arrows. Roy noted that the eagle remained for 41 minutes while gulls consumed the murre eggs, and a flock of gulls kept pushing the eastern line of murres trying to get at more murre eggs.
OPB Oregon Field Guide aired "Murres & Eagles" (http://www.opb.org/programs/ofg/segments/view/1735) in mid-May again. It discusses the issue of increased numbers of Bald Eagles along the Oregon Coast resulting in reduced Common Murre nesting. In particular, the failure of all nesting murres along the Oregon Coast north of Yaquina Head. An interesting and challenging story!]
PEREGRINE FALCONS were at Yaquina Head during 5 days in April (BLM). On 4/29, RL wrote "A male and female Peregrine Falcon worked a flock of WESTERN SANDPIPERS over Idaho Flats as seen from my office at the HMSC. With two Peregrines working the flock, the female easily knocked a sandpiper out of the flock and into the bay. It then doubled back and plucked the bird from the water. It all looked so easy." In May, we had 7 sightings of Peregrines in Lincoln Co. (RL; BO; ME & CP; EB; A&JC).
Our only MERLIN followed a flock of small shorebirds 1/2 mile off Boiler Bay on 5/3 (PP).
[Image Not Included: Jack Doyle's May 8 photo of a Sandhill Crane during the 5/8 Audubon Society of Lincoln City field trip to the Salmon River. He wrote that it "flew over as we were standing in the field next to Crowley Creek. It was heading out towards the ocean and making lots of noise. It appeared that once it got to the ocean it decided to come back because it was heading back up the Salmon River." Since 1992, this is only our 7th record--most (5) of these records were between May 5 and June 3 (FN). This is the only one that has been photographed.]
A LESSER YELLOWLEGS was with GREATER YELLOWLEGS in wet grass south of the YBSJ Road the morning of 5/3 (CP).
A WANDERING TATTLER was on the Yaquina Bay jetties during the 5/1 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip (GG fide JL), at Smelt Sands at Yachats on 5/18 (RH), and at Yaquina Head during the 5/23 YBNFT.
SPOTTED SANDPIPERS nest at some inland freshwater sites in Lincoln Co., and some overwinter in upper reaches of estuaries. But in May, they often show up along the coast, and this year is no exception with 9 sightings of 1-2 during 5/7-23 at Idaho Flats, Yaquina Bay jetties, CoastWatch Mile 212 near Surfland in South Beach, and Yaquina Head (WH; JSh; JL; K&DR; RB).
1 LONG-BILLED CURLEW was with WHIMBRELS at Idaho Flats on 5/23 (JH) and 5/29 (PO; GA; EB).
1-17 MARBLED GODWITS were recorded over South Beach on 5/2 (EH), during Boiler Bay/Lincoln City seawatches on 5/3 (PP), at Yaquina Bay on 5/6 (MP), and at Idaho Flats on 5/19 (WH) and 5/23 (JH).
RED KNOTS were only noted passing Boiler Bay, with a flock of 60 on 5/3 (PP) and 2 on 5/16 (PP & WH).
2-6 RUDDY TURNSTONES were at Boiler Bay/Lincoln City on 5/3-6 (PP) and Yaquina Head on 5/17 (ME).
From a cruise ship, JGi & OS saw 2 probable WESTERN SANDPIPERS about 50 miles off Lincoln Co. on 5/12. Some birds that we think may be migrating over land or close to shore can be much further out!
RED-NECKED PHALAROPES were most abundant during Boiler Bay seawatches on 5/3 & 16, with 4,000+ and 2,000+, respectively (PP, WH). On 5/14 at Yaquina Bay, WH discovered 3 that "had tar on underparts, something I see distressingly often on phalaropes." The last report of a Red-necked was by JH of a singleton at Idaho Flats on 5/24; it and a DUNLIN that was also there appeared to have some oil on their bellies.
The 5/1 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip from Newport to Perpetua Bank tallied 9 LONG-TAILED JAEGERS and 6 SABINE'S GULLS (GG fide JL). Another Sabine's and a FRANKLIN'S GULL were noted during PP's 5/3 Boiler Bay/Lincoln City seawatches.
In the past, we did not have any HEERMANN'S GULL records prior to June, but May records (and even April in 1991) started in 1989 (SemiL). In the past 10 years, we had first sightings in May of 2003 (5/2), 2004 (5/18), 2007 (5/9), and 2009 (5/11) (FN). This year, PP viewed singleton immatures during Boiler Bay seawatches on 5/6 & 9.
A first-year GLAUCOUS GULL was reported at D River beach in Lincoln City on 5/15 (DF) and 5/18 (RH). On 5/22, PP photographed presumably the same gull (http://philliplc.com/images/DR01.jpg, http://philliplc.com/images/DR02.jpg) and wrote "traditionally a 'Glaucous' with the black extending this far proximally on the lower mandible at this late of a date would be considered a likely hybrid, presumably Glaucous x Glaucous-winged in this case." RH responded that it appeared to be the same gull because the smudges on the side of its breast matches those in the photo he took (search for "Glaucous" in May 27 Oregon WINGS tour at http://birdernaturalist.blogspot.com/). Distinctive, individual plumage differences are usually not apparent, but dark smudges on this white bird make it possible!
ME & CP saw 2 possible ELEGANT TERNS near Idaho Flats on 5/31. ME writes: "They were chasing each other above our heads for about 30 seconds and vanished into the low fog." ME & CP noted that the terns were larger than Common, Arctic, or Forster's Terns and their calls were distinctly different from a Caspian Tern. Their bodies and wings were more slender than Caspians, and their bills were too slender to be Caspians (ME). ME adds that after he first heard and saw them he immediately thought Elegant Terns, based on having observed Elegants in southern California for twenty years. However, ME notes he didn't get a good view of the underside of their primaries to make a positive ID.
May 31 would be unusually early for Elegant Terns, which have not yet appeared this year further south in Coos County (TR) or at Humboldt Bay, California (DFi).
Elegants first arrived in Lincoln Co. in 1983 and have not been recorded every year. Most records here have been in August-Sept., but we had earlier records in 1990 (7/22), 1992 (6/28 and early and late July), 1994 (7/24), 1997 (6/10 and 4 records in July), and 1998 (6/22, 6/28, and mid-July) (SemiL; FN). In 2009, one was reported in May, but the observer did not say if the more probable Common or Arctic Terns were ruled out.
PP spotted a late ANCIENT MURRELET passing Lincoln City on 5/3.
MARBLED MURRELETS were often noted. 17 were tallied during the 5/1 Bird Guide Pelagic Trip (GG fide JL), 1-80 were noted during 10 Boiler Bay seawatches (PP; WH; EB), 6 were at Seal Rocks on 5/16 (LO), and at least 6 were near Yachats on 5/17-18 (DP; RH).
On 5/15 at 6:18 AM, WH saw a rare HORNED PUFFIN during a Boiler Bay seawatch approximately 150 yards away. It was an adult in breeding plumage flying north, leading a string of about 40 Common Murres. 1-2 TUFTED PUFFINS were viewed during 7 Boiler Bay seawatches (PP, WH).
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES were more widely distributed than they have been and were not only at Newport (DM; MH) and Toledo (JL) (where they have become somewhat regular) but also at the HMSC (RL), Knight Park (Salmon River) (fide JD), Waldport (TM), and Wandemere (RChe). PP had the high count of 21 at Boiler Bay on 5/9.
2 MOURNING DOVES were at Wandemere on 5/15 (RChe) and Waldport on 5/21 (TM).
A BARRED OWL hooted near P&JK's Siletz home in mid-May.
5+ VAUX'S SWIFTS were at Yachats Community Park wetland on 5/16 (RN).
A RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD nested in a Rhododendron one foot from a window in BLl's home near Logsden. The first of two eggs hatched on Mother's Day (5/9)! 2 chicks were still present on 5/25 (BLl).
A RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER was among a total of 61 species found during D& LF's Big Day at their Thornton Creek farm on 5/7. Sapsuckers are mostly found in winter.
A PILEATED WOODPECKER was at Drift Creek Wilderness east of Beaver Creek on 5/2 (RChe & WN), at Thornton Creek on 5/7 (D&LF), in north Yachats on 5/22 (fide BB), and at Mike Miller Park on 5/31 (JSi).
On 5/4 & 6, a pair of WESTERN KINGBIRDS were near Bayshore Beach north of Waldport (JGr), and singletons were at the HMSC Nature Trail on 5/13 (JL) and Boiler Bay on 5/18 (RH).
A rare ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER in the early morning portended an extraordinary day at the USFWS building at the HMSC on 5/27 (RL). It was also found in that area on 5/30-31 (DP; CP). It is only our 4th record since 1993, with each of these records in late May to mid-June (FN).
This month we had only our 3rd record of an eastern Blue Jay, and the first since 1998 (SemiL; FN).
[Image Not Included: Jack Kaczmarek's photo of a Blue Jay at Jack & Penelope's Siletz feeder at about 7 PM on May 19. Distance and poor light diminished photo quality substantially, so the bird can not be identified on the basis of this photo alone. However, with magnification, cropping, and levels autofix light adjustment by image editing software, the white belly, blue back, nape, and head; and white wingbars of a Blue Jay are clearly visible, and part of the black necklace shows.
The tail appears brownish or grayish, not bluish as might be expected, but the tail appears to be backlit. As http://www.birds.cornell.edu/allaboutbirds/studying/feathers/color/document_view points out, the blue in jays is a structural color so the blue appearance depends on the angle of the light and the distance of the bird. As they write: "If you find the feather of a Blue Jay or Steller's Jay you can see for yourself how this works. First, observe the feather in normal lighting conditions and you will see the expected blue color. Next, try back-lighting the feather. When light is transmitted through the feather it will look brown. The blues are lost because the light is no longer being reflected back and the brown shows up because of the melanin in the feathers." Also scroll down to David Irons' April 23 entry "Feather Iridescence: Now You See It, Now You Don't" that includes several excellent examples for jay feathers in varying light at http://birdfellow.com/journal/archive/2010/4
Jack had another photo that showed a Blue Jay's white throat. His photos together with his observations indicate that it was a Blue Jay--photos do not have to be taken with a high-power camera or be of National Geographic Magazine quality to be useful in showing details for identification!]
On 5/16 at the ocean overlook at W Sixth St. in Yachats, RN discovered a rare BANK SWALLOW flying among the Cliff Swallows. This is the first one since a possible Bank Swallow on April 2000 at the Yaquina Bay Bridge.
A BEWICK'S WREN nested in a carpenter's tool belt in EH's garage in South Beach. They fledged two young on 5/11 and left behind 3 infertile eggs (EH).
A late RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET and a WESTERN BLUEBIRD graced D& LF's Big Day at their Thornton Creek farm on 5/7.
LO reported our first SWAINSON'S THRUSH at Beaver Creek on 5/13, and RBe found an uncommon NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD at the HMSC on 5/30.
D&LF had a MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER and a TOWNSEND'S WARBLER at Thornton Creek farm on 5/7. Another MacGillivray's was a window strike victim in Yachats on 5/23 (fide BB).
A late WHITE-THROATED SPARROW lingered Thornton Creek on 5/7 (D& LF).
A male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK was at a site not conducive for birders in north Newport on 5/29-30 (CP). Rose-breasted's have been reported in May during 5 of the past 7 years (2003-2009), after being rare previously (FN).
A first of season BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK arrived briefly at JL's Newton home between Toledo and Siletz on 4/25, but they didn't arrive and linger until 5/4 at RL's Waldport home. Observers at several widely spread locations noted that there were more this May than in the past (RC&WN; RF & CG; SK). Their abundance declined by the end of the month, and RL noted that only a few were infrequently visiting feeders at the USFWS building at the HMSC on 5/30, although more than a dozen had been present several days previously.
On 5/27, RChu observed a strange looking blue bird in a wax myrtle and willows south of the USFWS building at the HMSC that she tentatively identified as a BLUE GROSBEAK. She told co-workers, and RL and DG confirmed the identification of the immature male. News of the sighting quickly went out, and many people saw it during 5/27-29 (RL). Based on estimates from emails, RB estimates that 30 or more people saw it from at least Portland, McMinnville, Corvallis, and Eugene. Some of RL's photos are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/24707703@N06/ and DB has other photos in her 5/29 entry at http://cannonbeachbirder.blogspot.com/2010/05/blue-grossbeak.html
This is the first Blue Grosbeak for Lincoln County, and there are only 7 previous records accepted by the Oregon Birds Record Committee (OBRC) (search for Blue Grosbeak at http://www.oregonbirds.org/obrc_accepted_2009.html). The OBRC's Checklist of Oregon Birds indicates that it is a Review Species (http://www.oregonbirds.org/checklist2009.html), and RL has already emailed a Rare Bird Report Form to them (http://www.oregonbirds.org/obrc.html).
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's May 28 photo of a first year male Blue Grosbeak at an U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service building feeder at the HMSC. An adult male would show more blue on upper and underparts.]
May 27 was a big day at the USFWS Building at the HMSC. The day started with a rare Ash-throated Flycatcher, then a rarer Blue Grosbeak, and finally a rare LAZULI BUNTING! The female Lazuli was discovered at a feeder and reported intermittently during 5/27-29 (RL; BT, GA; EB). Lazuli's may be more common near the eastern border of Lincoln Co., where we have few observers and bird records. During 1992-2009, we have only had 5 records of Lazuli's west of Logsden or Eddyville (FN).
6-18 EVENING GROSBEAKS were present daily at TM's Waldport home from 4/4 until 5/21, but the first report for other locations commenced with D& LF's Big Day at their Thornton Creek farm on 5/7.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Gail Andrews, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Renee Bellinger (RBe), Birding Site Guide of Oregon (http://birdingoregon.info/), Erik Bruhnke, Bureau of Land Management staff and volunteers at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (BLM), Diana Byrne, Amy & John Chapman, Rebecca Cheek (RChe), Rebecca Chuck (RChu), CoastWatch (a volunteer project monitoring one-mile segments of the Oregon coast; http://oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5), Jack Doyle, Mark Elliott, Darrel & Laura 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), fide ("as reported by"), Roy Filby, David Fix (DFi), Jeff Gilligan (JGi), Greg Gillson, Dawn Grafe, Cathy Grimm, Jill Grover (JGr), Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport (BGPT; info about pelagic trips at http://thebirdguide.com/pelagics/), Jeff Harding, Wayne Hoffman, Mary Holbert, Eric Horvath, Richard Hoyer, Tim Johnson, Penelope & Jack 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, m.ob. (multiple observers), Dave Mellinger, Tricia Morgan, 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, Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide (http://www.oregoncoastbirding.com/), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Pam Otley, Pam Parker (PPa), Mike Patterson, Diane Pettey, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Kathy & Dennis Roberts, Tim Rodenkirk, Owen Schmidt, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Joline Shroyer (JSh), Jamie Simmons (JSi), Carol Soderberg, Don Stein, Andi Stephens, Bill Tice, Jean Weakland, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (YB&N)(http://yaquina.info/ybn/), YB&N Field (YBNFT) led by RB.
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