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 here for only some of the many Lincoln County sightings posted to Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/OBOL.html), Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO), eBird.org or BirdNotes.net or emailed, telephoned, or mailed to me. If the same date and number of birds of a species given in eBird.org are reported in OBOL, LCBNO, or BirdNotes.net, I will assume the eBird report is a duplicate and will use the other reports that give more details, including location and observer.
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 32 ------------------------------- August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011
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 that includes Beaver Creek State Natural Area (http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_261.php), 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, SALMON RIVER ESTUARY (#44 and 45): estuary at north end of Lincoln Co.; the mouth is in Tillamook Co., 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, http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/yaquina/).
Although a few BRANT sometimes appear in summer, none were reported this June-August.
The late May Western CANADA GEESE flights did not continue into June this year, like they have done in some years. The first flock of the season in lower Yaquina Bay appeared on 8/6 (RB), where there were 75 on 8/10 (TW) with a peak count of 274 on 8/28 (RB). At dusk on 8/31, RB heard and then saw a flock of about 25-50 Canada Geese flying south in a flock over southwest Newport.
The first "fall" surface-feeding ducks that included at least some MALLARDS appeared at Yaquina Bay embayments on 8/14 (RB). Arrivals include: NORTHERN SHOVELERS near Knight Park on the Salmon River estuary on 8/19 (ER), NORTHERN PINTAILS and GREEN-WINGED TEAL at south Siletz Bay on 8/25 (DV), and AMERICAN WIGEON at south Siletz Bay on 8/28 (DV).
1-3 lingering GREATER SCAUP were at Eckman Lake on 6/7 and 7/5 (DH), and 10+ scaup remained at Sally's Bend on 7/6 (RB)--there were no reports thereafter.
Some SURF, WHITE-WINGED, and BLACK SCOTERS oversummered, with most reports along the coastline, though a flock of about 30-50 mostly Surfs and a few White-wings were at Sally's Bend through 8/14 (RB; KM).
A late LONG-TAILED DUCK flew north past Yaquina Head on 6/17 (RB). We also had June records in 1982 and 1990 (SemiL).
On 6/3, JP spotted a female COMMON MERGANSER with about 8 closely following juveniles about 1/2 mile upstream of the Salmon River hatchery. DH watched one near Fall Creek Road in the upper Alsea on 6/5, and KM counted 3 at Sally's Bend on 8/14. There was a Red-breasted Merganser report in eBird that didn't have details, and the observer did not report the more-expected-in-summer Common Merganser. Distinguishing Red-breasteds from Commons in summer can be problematic. Common Mergansers nest here, but Red-breasteds do not (e.g., Oregon Breeding Bird Atlas; p. 34 in Herlyn & Contreras' Handbook of Oregon Birds). Female and immature Commons in summer can look very similar to female Red-breasteds and can only be safely told apart then by bill and head shape and nostril position (Kaufman 1990 Am. Birds 44:1203-1205 at http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/NAB/v044n05/p01203-p01205.pdf and in his "A Field Guide to Advanced Birding"). Sibley's "Guide to Birds" (p. 102) also indicates that female Commons during July-October lack the sharply contrasting white on the neck that easily distinguishes them from female Red-breasteds in winter. Red-breasteds have occurred here rarely in summer, but details are needed to confirm them.
1-3 nonbreeding COMMON LOONS lingered in Yaquina Bay or along the coast during 8 days in early and late June and 4 days in early and late July (m.ob.). A few typically oversummer (SemiL; FN).
Other June loons included 1-20 PACIFIC LOONS along the coast or at YBSJ during 4 days in early and late June (DH; BO & RB).
WESTERN GREBES oversummered as usual near the coastline with 4 reports throughout both June (DH; BO & RB) and July (DH; JM; AC, DF, TiM, ThM). An uncommon CLARK'S GREBE was with the Westerns near Yachats on 7/25 (ThM, AC, DF, TiM).
A RED-NECKED GREBE was a fall arrival during a Boiler Bay seawatch on 8/28 (WH).
3 NORTHERN FULMARS and 1 FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS were found in July along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). EH watched 4 live Fork-tails at the green bell buoy 1/2 mile off the Yaquina Bay jetties on 7/18. On 6/5, BB & SaL found a dead BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS along their CoastWatch mile south of Waldport.
GREAT BLUE HERON numbers this July-August were lower than usual at Yaquina Bay embayments (RB). The peak this July-August was 114 compared to 156 (2007), 152 (2008), 143 (2009), and 160 (2010)(RB). RB hasn't dug out data for previous years. Guesses for the reason for the decline this year could be the cold, wet weather during their early nesting season that reduced their nesting success, poor feeding conditions that resulted in reduced nesting success, or Bald Eagle predation on nestlings or adults. In Washington, Bald Eagle predation has been a factor (e.g., see "Birds in conflict: Bald eagles attack colonies of herons across Western Washington" in Seattle Times, http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2011454352_eagleheron27m.html also http://www.jstor.org/pss/1521343). Here in Oregon, Bald Eagles may not only be impacting Common Murres (see below), but also other birds. Unfortunately, RB has no data for Yaquina herons about nesting success, food availability, or eagle predation this year, so determining the cause of the lower numbers is speculative.
Our only GREAT EGRETS in June were 2-6 at Yaquina Bay on 6/9 & 30 (DH; RB). There usually is an influx in July, and this year was not an exception with an increase to 40 at Yaquina Bay on 7/20 (RB), with a July high count there of 41 (BO). It is uncommon to directly see egrets migrating, but on 7/24 at RC's and WN's Wandemere home, RC remarked "This evening at about 7 PM we saw a flock of 12 GREAT EGRETS flying north in single file, about 100 yds offshore from the beach. Never saw that before!" The August high count was 48 on 8/4& 28 at Yaquina Bay (RB).
In some years, NORTHERN HARRIERS may nest in Lincoln County, and they were reported as "possible" breeders in 2 hexagons in Lincoln County during the 1995-1999 Oregon Breeding Bird Atlas. This year, our first sighting after 5/4 was on 7/23, when MR saw a female/juvenile working the beach grass along Alsea Bay. It may have recently fledged and dispersed here from elsewhere. In many years, harriers have re-appeared in July after an absence (SemiL).
DV found a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK at the Cutler City Wetlands Nature Trail (Lincoln City) on 8/5. EH also saw one at Beaver Creek on 8/24 and at the HMSC on 8/30.
BB detected our first-of-season MERLIN on 8/19 at Yachats, and EH viewed another on 8/28 at north Alsea Bay.
We had many PEREGRINE FALCON reports (m.ob.).
EH heard our only SORA at Beaver Creek on 6/6.
As many as 16 oversummering, nonbreeding WHIMBRELS were noted during 4 observations at Yaquina Bay during 6/1-19 (DH; RB). RL watched about 50 on 6/21 & 22, but it is not clear if these were oversummering or migrants. In the past, migrants were first noted the first week of July (RB*). Other oversummering shorebirds included a lingering GREATER YELLOWLEGS at Alsea Bay on 6/12 (DH).
First of season: WESTERN SANDPIPER on 6/30 at Idaho Flats (RL) and Seal Rocks (DH), GREATER YELLOWLEGS (5) at Eckman Lake on 7/5 (DH), SEMIPALMATED PLOVER south of Depoe Bay on 7/8 (FR), BLACK TURNSTONE and SURFBIRD near Yachats on 7/13 (JW), BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER at Idaho Flats on 7/15 (RB), LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER at Eckman Lake on 7/17 (DH), WANDERING TATTLER near Yachats on 7/25 (AC, DF, TiM, ThM), RED-NECKED PHALAROPE at Boiler Bay on 7/30 (GG), RUDDY TURNSTONE on 7/31 at Yachats (AF), PECTORAL SANDPIPER on 7/31 at Lincoln City Sewage Ponds (RN), and, on 8/4, MARBLED GODWIT and LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Idaho Flats (DH). 1-5 Marbled Godwits were also at south Siletz Bay during 8/14-16 (DV). After being first sighted, Red-necked Phalaropes had a good showing with 8 observations (m.ob.) through at least 8/31 (PP).
WH spotted our first HEERMANN'S GULLS of the season passing Yaquina Head on 6/26.
KM studied 320 CALIFORNIA GULLS at Idaho Flats on 8/14; 70% or more were juvenile or in their first year. On 8/14 at Sally's Bend, KM roughly estimated about 600 gulls that were approximately 55% WESTERN GULLS, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS, or hybrids between the two; 41% were California Gulls, and about 4% were MEW GULLS.
We had 9 reports of as many as 18 nonbreeding CASPIAN TERNS in June (BO & RB; WH; eBird). Some typically oversummer (SemiL; RB*).
ELEGANT TERNS were intermittent with 12 at Seal Rocks on 7/3 (RL) and singletons at Boiler Bay on 7/30 (GG) and near the Yaquina Bay Bridge on 8/10 (WH).
Oregon State University researchers (RS, CH, AGl, AGu, & LF) continued studying COMMON MURRE nesting at Yaquina Head and graciously provided updates of their research. Some of the highlights follow. In their 6/21 report, they "noticed an increased amount of Bald Eagle disturbance this year with many sub-adult eagles (approximately eight individuals to date) hunting the colony.."; "We've also noticed multiple eagles, primarily sub-adults (but also some adults) perching on the colony for periods of one hour or more. ... This year, Turkey Vultures joined the ranks of secondary predators eating murre eggs during these extended disturbance events. Together with gulls and ravens, this suite of nest predators has done an impeccable job of clearing eggs from exposed portions of the colony. We've even observed eagles eating eggs while perched on the rocks."
An excerpt from their 7/19 report: "Since May 25th, we have spent 277 hours watching this murre colony and we have observed 135 disturbance events, 111 of which were caused by Bald Eagles. One fairly minor disturbance resulted from a medical helicopter flying closely over the colony, but the remaining 23 events were caused by Turkey Vultures, ravens, a pelican and a Peregrine Falcon. In most cases, these species are secondary predators. They seem to only be successful in causing a primary disturbance when murres are already agitated from multiple eagle induced events and no longer have eggs or chicks to protect."
And an excerpt from their final 8/4 report: "Originally, we had expected the last [murre] chicks to fledge next week, but a jaw dropping turn of events disturbance to the colony intensified last week. Juvenile California brown pelicans began landing on both Colony and Flattop Rocks. These birds spent much of the day roosting on the murre colony with little disturbance, but intermittently flapped and traveled across the rock, causing adult murres to flush. Murre chicks were subsequently displaced and huddled in groups. At first, it appeared that pelicans were searching for and eating discarded fish on the colony, but they were also observed eating some murre chicks. Lone, unprotected chicks were often eaten by gulls, Turkey Vultures, eagles, ravens and pelicans, or were pushed prematurely into the water where they did not survive."
OSU researchers are working up their results, but it appears that this was a poor nesting season for murres at Yaquina Head.
The first COMMON MURRE fledgling was found dead on 7/28 along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO) in the past, the first were often found the last week of June, but one of the impacts of eagle disturbance can be to delay nesting. Several observers reported seeing adult/chick pairs on the ocean or in Yaquina Bay in August (m.ob.), but these murres may have come from the south rather than from Yaquina Head.
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's July 25 photo of an immature Brown Pelican flapping its wings in the middle of the Common Murre colony on Flat Top Rock, west of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. The adult murres in front of it scatter to escape and leave their lingering murre checks (at least a dozen) unprotected. Adult murres behind the pelican remain in place.]
CASSIN'S AUKLETS are generally not seen from shore or are only seen in low numbers, but PP tallied 475+ in pairs or small flocks about 0.5-1.0 mile offshore during his 8/31 Spanish Head (Lincoln City) seawatch.
We had more TUFTED PUFFIN reports this summer than in recent years, but they were still uncommon and hard to find. Reports include 2 at Yaquina Head on 6/26 (WH, RL), 1 about 2-3 miles offshore between Newport and Waldport on 7/17 (EH), 1 near Cape Perpetua on 7/18 (JW), 1 near Seal Rocks on 7/30 (AP), 2-3 during Boiler Bay seawatches on 7/30 (GG) and 7/31 (RN), 2-6 near Gull Rock (northwest of Otter Rock State Park) on 8/9 (DD & DS) and 8/12 (JS), and 1 during a Spanish Head seawatch (Lincoln City) on 8/31 (PP).
GG discerned a rare HORNED PUFFIN flying about 1/3 mile offshore along with a Tufted Puffin on 7/30 during a Boiler Bay seawatch.
A BARRED OWL called near the Drift Creek Falls trailhead near Lincoln City on 8/1 (RN), and another was photographed near Devils Lake in August (fide CW).
Our first of season COMMON NIGHTHAWK was at north Beaver Creek on 6/3 (LO). They used to be regulars near the coast, but RP only saw the first for his South Beach home on 8/13. PK had our only other report of them near the mouth of Poole Slough in Yaquina Bay where they were "booming" the evening of 7/22.
EH encountered a WESTERN KINGBIRD at the HMSC on 7/1; this is only our 2nd July record--the other was on 6 July 1982 (SemiL).
We have little birding effort in summer, interior habitats where WESTERN BLUEBIRD nest, but CP saw many with at least one in a nesting cavity on 7/2 on the Lincoln County side of Grass Mountain in eastern Lincoln County. WH found 2 at the north end of Seal Rocks, on 7/30, which as WH notes are: "Very unusual this close to the beach in summer."
[Image Not Included: Herb & Gloria Baum's June 21 photo near their Depoe Bay home of an adult male Downy Woodpecker, with its chick's head poking out in anticipation from the nesting cavity to the left. Later in the photo series, the chick was fed by the male. The white arrows point to the middle of the adult's feet perched on the trunk -- the long toes are more visible on the left side. Propped in place by its tail, its feet are in front of it and above most of its weight.]
Prior to 1993, WESTERN SCRUB-JAYS were most likely to be reported during May-June and September-October. But they didn't occur every year in those months, and there were also scattered records in other months (SemiL). Since then, it seems that they have become more regular in June, with records every June during 2004-2009 (FN), but they were absent during March-August 2010 (FN). This year an influx started on 5/10 (PRe) and continued with 9 sightings of 1-2 in June (R& LL; RP; B&PR; DH; fide CP).
Additionally, a very exceptional report came from feeders at RC's and WN's Wandemere home--RC wrote on 6/24: "This morning our platform feeder was invaded by a group of 5 (!) WESTERN SCRUB-JAYS, an unprecedented number for this location. They remained on and near the feeder table for 6-7 minutes, to the great confusion of the Steller's Jays who usually have the run of the place. One of the Scrub Jays still had fluffy feathers on its back and belly so was clearly quite young, and judging by coloration and behavior I believe they were all HY [hatched this year] birds rather than a family group. The young Steller's Jays seem to form loose flocks in their first summers, and I think this was a similar juvenile gang. Seeing so many young birds together makes me wonder if Scrub Jays are now breeding in western Lincoln Co." We only had 3 July reports of singletons during 7/18-30 (EH; DV; GG), and only 1 sighting of a singleton in August on 8/19 in southwest Newport (RB), so that influx has diminished.
Scrub jay status in Lincoln County is intriguing and perhaps changing, but 2010 illustrates that they may still not occur each summer. It is also interesting to note that almost all these records were within a few miles of the coastline, not inland as one might expect for a bird that is common to the east in the Willamette Valley. The only exception this year to the coastal scrub jays was DH's singleton at Nashville in the east central county on 6/9.
In north Newport, K&DR saw AMERICAN CROWS this summer with white-wings and KR noting on 8/29 that they "Watched as the parents - who had white in the wings, but only seen when in flight or flapping - feed the young, who had and still have large areas of white seen even at rest." On 8/28, WH saw 3 with white-wings in the same general area near Agate Beach in north Newport and commented "I have seen crows with white in wings numerous times since about 1999 in coastal Lane and Lincoln County, but 2 of these had more white than I have ever seen on a crow. Looked like most if not all the primaries and secondaries were white. Even showed a lot of white when on the ground."
[Image Not Included: Ram Papish's June 15 photo of an adult Western Scrub-Jay on the ground near Ram's South Beach feeder.]
There were many PURPLE MARTIN sightings, but our only interior report was on 7/2 by CP, who was on the Lincoln County side of Grass Mountain. He was above 3,000 ft elevation in a cleared area with sparse vegetation that was logged 3 years ago. He saw an adult male and an adult female. The male was singing and flying around, and they were flying and landing on snags. He did not see them going to a nest. P. 429 of Birds of Oregon: A General Reference indicates that martin nests are built from May through July and that nests with eggs have been found from mid-May through late July in Oregon, so it is possible that these martins may try to nest there. CP has been to that area several times since 1995, and this is the first year that he had seen martins there.
DH had our only NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (a singleton) at Drift Creek Camp Road near Lincoln City on 8/11.
2 WESTERN TANAGERS found dead on the beach north of Ona Beach the first week of June are unexpected (B&SLo, L&VO), but suggests that some birds found along the beach may have died inland and washed out to sea before being deposited on a beach.
A ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK was at DD's feeders south of Depoe Bay on 6/7 & 17 and at nearby feeders during 6/26-7/2 (fide DD). 1 was also inland from Ona Beach State Park on 6/29 (fide CP). A few singletons have been appearing in late May and June in recent years.
Our only BULLOCK'S ORIOLE was at Cape Perpetua on 6/16 (JB).
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Julie Bacon, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer (RB), RB* (Bayer, R. D. 1984. Oversummering of Whimbrels, Bonaparte's Gulls, and Caspian Terns at Yaquina Estuary, Oregon. Murrelet 65:87-90), Birding Oregon (http://birdingoregon.info/), BirdNotes.net, Rebecca Cheek, Alan Contreras, Dick Demarest, eBird.org (location and observer not accessible in "View and Explore Data" for "All Observations" but available through "Bar Charts"), Daniel Farrar, fide ("as reported by" someone other than the observer), Laura Filliger, Andy Frank, Greg Gillson, Amanda Gladics (AGl), Alex Gulick (AGu), Wayne Hoffman, Deb Holland, Cheryl Horton, Eric Horvath, Penelope Kaczmarek, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy & Laurie Lowe, Tim Meinzen (TiM), Thomas Meinzen (ThM), Kathy Merrifield, Jym Mooney, m.ob. (multiple observers), 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), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Ram Papish, Andy Paulios, Chuck Philo, Jody Picconi, Phil Pickering, Fran Recht, Paul Reed (PRe), Maggie Rivers, Kathy & Dennis Roberts, Bill & Pam Rogers, Ernie Rose, Jeanne Saylor, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Don Stein, Rob Suryan, Dawn Villaescusa, Tom Wainwright, Jason Wilder, Jack Williamson, Caren Willoughby, 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 http://www.oregoncoastbirding.com/): BEAVER CREEK (#78, in part): creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park that includes Beaver Creek State Natural Area (http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_261.php), BOILER BAY STATE WAYSIDE (#59): about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, CUTLER CITY: part of Lincoln City between north and south Siletz 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, 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, YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty, YAQUINA HEAD OUTSTANDING NATURAL AREA (#65): headland north of Newport.
GG discovered our only BRANT (a singleton) near the HMSC on 9/9; their migration may start in late October or early November.
A skein of unidentified migrating geese over Alsea Bay on 9/2 (MR) is a sign of the changing seasons! Other signs include arrivals: "wave after wave" of GR. WHITE-FRONTED GEESE over Thornton Creek the morning of 9/11 (DF), EURASIAN WIGEON at Alsea Bay on 9/18 (HS) and at Siletz Bay on 9/19 (DV), and GREATER SCAUP at Alsea Bay on 9/25 (DH). The White-fronted flights have continued through at least 9/25 (CP; RL).
Sporadic in fall, a CINNAMON TEAL was at south Siletz Bay on 9/23 (AH & DW).
A pair of REDHEADS at Eckman Lake on 9/7 (DH) and a COMMON GOLDENEYE at Newport on 9/24 (GG) are several weeks early and probably not an indicator of their migration.
A flock of 50 COMMON MERGANSERS rafted Siletz Bay on 9/24 (DV). Such flocks regularly occur in bays at this time and can be misidentified as Red-breasteds (e.g., Kaufman 1990 Am. Birds 44:1203-1205 at http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/NAB/v044n05/p01203-p01205.pdf).
2 SOOTY SHEARWATERS and 1 PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER were noted along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). Many Sooties were seen alive from shore (PP; TL; JD; WH) or during pelagic trips, but Pink-footeds were only recorded during the Bird Guide Pelagic Trips (BGPT) out of Newport on 9/10 & 24 (GG). Other live tubenoses included BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES, NORTHERN FULMARS, and BULLER'S SHEARWATERS during the 9/10 & 24 BGPT (GG) and FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS during 9/10 BGPT (GG).
On 9/9 at the YBSJ, JJ & SD found a first-year BROWN PELICAN with a red collar around its neck--the collar is most likely debris. This collar will make it hard for the pelican to swallow food and consequently can weaken the pelican. Brown Pelican researcher DJ advises: "If anyone does see this bird again, please call Sharnelle Fee at the North Coast Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (503) 338-0331. Maybe it could be captured and assisted."
[Image Not Included: Dawn Villaescusa's Sept. 21 photo of a juvenile Green Heron in mid-step at D River Open Space. Cropped from http://s1014.photobucket.com/albums/af261/villaesc/Birds/?action=view¤t=IMG_2750_1.jpg]
On 9/10, ME saw a COOPER'S HAWK fly into the tall trees that border the west end of the Beaver Creek Visitor Center parking lot, and it was followed by a NORTHERN GOSHAWK that landed in a tree next to it. A Cooper's was also at Beaver Creek on 9/24 (CP & BF).
Single RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS were in the Salmon River valley the first week of September & 9/16 (LD; KC) and at the HMSC on 9/7-18 (RL; PL; DV, DH, HS & KH). On 9/10, a MERLIN at Beaver Creek Visitor Center (ME & BF) "flew through a high flying circle of swallows and caught one and while still circling around took a bite, all the while being attacked by the swallows." On 9/15, BB & SaL saw another near Mile Marker 162 along HWY 101.
6 AMERICAN COOTS at Eckman Lake on 9/25 (DH) are our first of fall, though it is possible that a few may still nest near Toledo.
WILLETS have become scarce and our only report was of 4 along the beach south of Waldport on 9/4 (BB & SaL).
5 MARBLED GODWITS were at Seal Rocks on 9/3 (TL). An unhealthy one rested in grass near the HMSC Nature Trail on 9/25 (DV), and probably the same one was found dead in that area on 9/27 with 2 puncture wounds (PL & DG) that suggest that it was mortally wounded by a raptor that was unsuccessful in capturing it.
2-6 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS graced the HMSC on 9/12 (BO), Salmon River on 9/16 (KC), Beaver Creek on 9/18 (WH), and Newport on 9/24 (GG).
1-2 BAIRD'S SANDPIPER visited Ona Beach on 9/2 (TL) and Idaho Flats on 9/9 & 18 (GG; WH).
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's Sept. 8 photo of a Red-shouldered Hawk turning in flight at the HMSC.]
4-5 SOUTH POLAR SKUAS graced the 9/10 and & 24 BGPT (GG).
A POMARINE JAEGER was at Boiler Bay on 9/4 (JD), and a PARASITIC JAEGER visited Boiler Bay on 9/3 (TL). Pomarines and Parasitics were also viewed during 9/10 & 24 pelagics (GG, AH). LONG-TAILED JAEGERS (4) were only located during the 9/10 BGPT (GG).
First of season gulls include HERRING GULL at the HMSC on 9/9 (GG) and THAYER'S GULL during the 9/10 BGPT (GG).
SABINE'S GULLS were noted offshore during the 9/10 BGPT (GG), and a juvenile was spotted from shore near Newport on 9/25 (TSn).
On 9/21, many mating swarms of insects (perhaps mostly ants or termites) went airborne, where flocks of mostly CALIFORNIA GULLS and some MEW GULLS flew around to catch them. RC first reported at 10:40 AM that there were hundreds of California Gulls flying around and "hawking" flying ants west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge to the beach by the YBSJ. There were many California Gulls also walking around on the ground picking up flying ants that had landed. The flights there ended by 11:45. The mating swarms of insects that morning must have been immense because RL independently reported many gulls also hawking insects over the EPA building area at the HMSC and also over the Oregon Coast Aquarium area from at least 10-11 AM, when the high temperature was only 70F. The weather at the HMSC was 5-6F warmer than at the YBSJ, so these flights did not occur when it was hot, but there was no or little wind during the flights. The time of year must have been right!
2 ELEGANT TERNS were 0.3-1.5 mile off Boiler Bay on 9/3-4 (TL; JD), and 5 were offshore during the 9/10 BGPT (GG). 2 COMMON TERNS were also at Boiler Bay on 9/3 (TL) and offshore during 9/24 BGPT (GG).
During August, only 1 COMMON MURRE (an adult) was found dead along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). Rather than being good news that so few died, it might actually be bad news and reflect that few murre chicks fledged this year, so few could die, like they commonly do. In marked contrast, 1,201 hatch-year murres were found along that beach in August 1982.
A rare XANTUS'S MURRELET was detected during the 9/10 BGPT (TSh).
CASSIN'S AUKLETS continued their good showing from last month at Boiler Bay on 9/3-4 (TL; JD) and during the 9/10 & 24 BGPT (GG).
2-3 TUFTED PUFFINS were at Boiler Bay on 9/4 (JD) and offshore during the 9/10 & 24 BGPT (GG).
Our only BARRED OWL was at DF's Thornton Creek home on 9/2.
GRAY JAYS lingered late this spring but were not reported since then until 9/23, when one briefly was at a feeder near Eckman Lake (LL). No Western Scrub-Jays this month.
Latest dates include PURPLE MARTIN at Beaver Creek State Natural Area on 9/3 (WH, BF, & CP), NO. ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW at Newport on 9/3 (DH), VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW at Salmon River on 9/16 (KC), and WILLOW FLYCATCHER at Beaver Creek during 9/24 YBNFT (DG).
Flocks totaling perhaps 200 BARN SWALLOWS and, after an absence "of a few weeks," 15+ VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS were at Beaver Creek State Natural Area on 9/3 (WH, BF, & CP). There often seems to be a few weeks in late summer when we don't have any Violet-greens before more appear. On 9/15, CP saw a huge, mixed flock of Barn and Violet-green Swallows along Yaquina Bay Road.
Like last month, WESTERN BLUEBIRDS continued to be reported more than usual. One flock of 6-8 surveyed Thornton Creek on 9/3 (DF). On 9/21, CP was at a clearcut 4.5 miles east of HWY 101 on a ridge that is west of HWY 229 between the towns of Siletz and Toledo. That evening at 6:32 PM, he counted 32 Western Bluebirds perched in the tops of nearby trees flying out to hawk flying termites. He also saw a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW flying out to capture flying termites, which he had not seen before. Then another flock of 23 bluebirds flew in and also started hawking termites, so he had a total of at least 55 bluebirds! That is a very high number of bluebirds for Lincoln County.
In the pre-dawn darkness of 9/11, "thousands" of SWAINSON'S THRUSHES migrated overhead at Thornton Creek as determined by their calls (DF).
2-16 AMERICAN PIPITS were at Boiler Bay on 9/4 (JD), the HMSC on 9/9 (GG), and the Salmon River on 9/16 (KC).
CEDAR WAXWINGS were often noted with a high of "hundreds" at Beaver Creek State Natural Area on 9/3 (WH, BF, & CP).
More arrivals include TOWNSEND'S WARBLER at Cutler City on 9/2 (DV), GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW at Yaquina Head on 9/18 (RB), and FOX SPARROW near YBSJ on 9/23 (EV) and the next day at Beaver Creek during the YBNFT (DG).
A rare BLUE GROSBEAK appeared at Cutler City on 9/9 (JG) but was not relocated.
[Image Not Included: Dawn Villaescusa's Sept. 2 photo of a Brown Creeper. It is perched on the side of a Douglas fir trunk with lichens near a Cutler City Wetlands trail. Note the long tail feathers that prop it up woodpecker-fashion. This is cropped from http://s1014.photobucket.com/albums/af261/villaesc/Birds/?action=view¤t=IMG_1753_1.jpg]
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Birding Oregon (http://birdingoregon.info/), BirdNotes.net, Ken Chamberlain, Rebecca Cheek, Jim Danzenbaker, Sherry Daubert, Laura Doyle, eBird.org (location and observer not accessible in "View and Explore Data" for "All Observations" but available through "Bar Charts"), Mark Elliott, Darrel Faxon, Brian Fowler, Jeff Gilligan, Greg Gillson, Dawn Grafe, Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport (BGPT; info about pelagic trips at http://thebirdguide.com/pelagics/), Andrea Hanson, Kelle Herrick, Wayne Hoffman, Deb Holland, Deborah Jacques, Jim Johnson, Pete Lawson, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Sally Lockyear (SaL), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Tom Love, Roy & Laurie Lowe, 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, Harvey Schubothe, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Tim Shelmerdine (TSh), Tom Snetsinger (TSn), Dawn Villaescusa, Elaine Vokoun, Don Wardwell, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (http://yaquina.info/ybn/) Field Trip (YBNFT) led by DG.
Abbreviations, terms, and some Lincoln Co. site locations (numbers refer to site numbers in the Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide http://www.oregoncoastbirding.com/): BAYSHORE BEACH: ocean beach along north Alsea Bay Spit, BEAVER CREEK (#78, in part): creek flowing through Ona Beach State Park that includes Beaver Creek State Natural Area (http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_261.php), BOILER BAY STATE WAYSIDE (#59): about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, BOONE SLOUGH: freshwater slough at about mile 8.9 along north Yaquina Bay Road, 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, SALMON RIVER ESTUARY (#44 and 45): estuary at north end of Lincoln Co.; the mouth is in Tillamook Co., SPANISH HEAD: pullout north of Inn at Spanish Head at 4009 SW Highway 101 in Lincoln City, THORNTON CREEK: about midway between Toledo and Eddyville along HWY 20, USFWS: US Fish & Wildlife Service, 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.
Before she retired from the EPA, JL spent a year studying bird distribution and use of intertidal habitats at Yaquina Bay. The resulting 83 page EPA report by Lamberson et al. (including WN) is available for free by searching for "birds" at http://www.epa.gov/wed/pages/publications/authored.htm The database and supporting files are at http://www.epa.gov/wed/pages/models/Yaquina.htm
An excerpt from the Summary: "Z. marina [native eelgrass] beds, the habitat lowest in the intertidal, were an important foraging area for gulls, crows, dabbling ducks, geese and coot when exposed, and for diving ducks, other diving birds, as well as herons and egrets when flooded. The eelgrass was consumed by some species of dabbling ducks, coot, Brant and Canada geese. The Upogebia [mud shrimp]/mudflat, typically located above the Z. marina beds in the intertidal, supported large numbers of foraging gulls, crows and shorebirds when exposed, and diving ducks when flooded. Neotrypaea [ghost shrimp]/sandflat was utilized by ducks and gulls for roosting when lower habitats were flooded at high tide, and by large flocks of shorebirds for foraging during spring migration. The nonindigenous dwarf eelgrass, Z. japonica was little used in winter when above-ground biomass was reduced, but was more important during other seasons and was used by foraging shorebirds, gulls, crows, ducks and Canada geese. Emergent marsh was used as shelter and for foraging by ducks and coots in winter, as a roost area for herons, geese and shorebirds at high tide, and for foraging by land birds including swallows, European starlings and Song Sparrows. Emergent marsh tidal channels supported foraging shorebirds when exposed and fishing herons and egrets when flooded. Habitats/sectors with the highest bird densities were Z. marina, low marsh, Neo/sand, and Upo/mud habitats in Idaho Flat, and low marsh in the Sally's Bend sector."
On 10/3, JD photographed an introduced WESTERN CANADA GOOSE with 244R in black numbers and letters on a white neck collar at Chinook Winds Golf Course in north Lincoln City and asked "Where did this bird come from?"
Previous records I have compiled indicate that it was at Eckman Lake and the Alsea Bay area on 8/1/1994, 4/13/1995, 10/15/1995, 1/14/1996, and 10/24/2004. I reported JD's sighting and relayed on his question to the ODFW, and Brandon Reishus (firstname.lastname@example.org) promptly replied that "244R was banded as a female gosling on June 29, 1994 on the Alsea River about 3 km E of Waldport. So as of this spring she was 17 years old. The most recent sighting of her I have in our records is from 11/12/2007 near Waldport."
So this fall she decided to go venturing to Lincoln City, but her sojourn appears to have been brief, since RL saw and photographed her back at Eckman Lake on 10/22!
If you see neck-collared Western Canada Geese please report them! It is fascinating to know more about the lives of individual birds!
[Image Not Included: Jack Doyle's Oct. 3 photo of 244R surveying the Chinook Winds Golf Course in north Lincoln City. In her approximately 17.5 years, it appears that 244R is most familiar with the Alsea Bay area. The 244R code is repeated around the neck collar, so it can be read from different angles.]
The last migrating GR. WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were reported on 10/21-- 65 past Boiler Bay (GG). During their migration, several dropped out for breaks, with 4-7 grounded at Chinook Winds and Salishan golf courses near Lincoln City (JD; DV; JP), 3-4 near the HMSC (LM; DG; RL), and, our latest record on 10/23, at YBSJ (2) and Boone Slough (1) (JH).
ALEUTIAN CACKLING GEESE were on the move with 3 in water at YBSJ and later 1-3 at Sally's Bend on 10/9 (KM). Flying migrants passed during the 10/11 (120) & 10/23 (3,840) seawatches at Spanish Head and/or Boiler Bay (PP). A small flock of about a dozen circled and then landed at south Siletz Bay during the 10/22 YBNFT (RB).
There were 1,000+ dabbling ducks at south Siletz Bay during the 10/22 YBNFT, and with long, diligent sorting a male EURASIAN WIGEON was appreciated (RB). Another Eurasian was also there on 10/13 (DV).
Arrivals include RUDDY DUCK at Sally's Bend on 10/9 (KM), LESSER SCAUP at Boiler Bay on 10/9 (PP), LONG-TAILED DUCK at Boiler Bay on 10/11 (PP), and BUFFLEHEAD at Sally's Bend on 10/23 (JH).
"One swallow does not make a summer" (sometimes "summer" is translated as "spring")--Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC). It takes a few weeks to determine if abnormally early arriving birds are a vanguard for many more, and our unseasonal awards this month goes to our single, separate reports last month of 1 pair of Redheads and of 1 Common Goldeneye that I noted then as being very early and probably not an indicator of early migration. We did not have any additional reports of either so far this month, which fits seasonal patterns of previous years.
A flock of 50 or more COMMON MERGANSERS all in female-type plumage swam together at Idaho Flats on 10/9 (KM), continuing their lower estuary expansion before Red-breasted Mergansers arrive and become abundant.
A MOUNTAIN QUAIL covey has taken up residence near BB's Yachats home through 10/25.
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES were viewed on 9/26 from a cruise ship off Lincoln County (JW) and on 10/8 & 22 Bird Guide Pelagic Trips (BGTP)(GG). There were also 2 LAYSAN ALBATROSSES during 10/22 BGPT (GG).
Only 1-9 NORTHERN FULMARS were seen during 3 Spanish Head and Boiler Bay seawatches during 10/3-23 (PP). Octobers with many fulmars seen from shore have been associated with large numbers of dead fulmars washing ashore. Many fulmars were also noted from a 9/26 cruise ship (JW) and the 10/8 & 22 BGPT (GG).
Shearwaters were reported offshore and from shore, with the rarest being 1 MANX-TYPE SHEARWATER 3/4-1+ mile from Boiler Bay on 10/23-24 (PP).
55 FORK-TAILED and 1 LEACH'S STORM-PETREL were distinguished from a 9/26 cruise ship (JW), and 32 and 1 Fork-taileds were also located for the 10/8 & 22 BGPT, respectively (GG). None were espied from shore.
A dead BROWN PELICAN was found in September along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). Live ones were very common, with the high counts at one time of about 500 on Elephant Rock at Seal Rocks on 10/9 (KM). 1,200-1,500 were noted passing during Boiler Bay and Spanish Head seawatches on 10/24 & 29 (PP).
With all the noisy geese skeining south, it is easy to overlook the at-first-glance similarly appearing flocks of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS also heading south. Between flights of geese on 10/15 at south Siletz Bay, BO & RB saw 3 flights of up to 150 Double-crests that were obvious by their silence and the heron-like crick in their necks.
DV found a GREEN HERON at Eckman Lake on 9/29--will it be the last one of the year?
DHo observed a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK at Beaver Creek State Natural Area on 10/1 & 15 and at the HMSC on 10/2.
Many PEREGRINE FALCONS were appreciated, with a high count of 2 putting on a show at Yaquina Head on 10/4 (GK).
Singleton MERLINS were near Road's End in north Lincoln City on 10/2 (ME), north of Yachats 10/4 & 9 (BB), at south Siletz Bay on 10/13 (DV), and at Ona Beach State Park on 10/29 (DHo).
Latest reports include TURKEY VULTURE between Otis and Lincoln City on 10/16 (DV) and OSPREY at Devils Lake on 10/25 (QN).
11 BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS at Seal Rocks on 10/9 (KM) were our high count, and our only WHIMBRELS were 2 during the 10/8 BGPT (GG).
Bayshore Beach has often been a good place for shorebirds during fall migration in the past and on Aug. 28, KM found about 250 there, about 60% of which were SANDERLINGS, 30% LEAST SANDPIPERS, and 10% WESTERN SANDPIPERS as well as 26 SEMI-PALMATED PLOVERS.
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS may be more common this fall, with 10 at Yaquina Bay on 10/6 (TJ), 15 at south Siletz Bay on 10/15 (BO & RB), at least one during the 10/22 YBNFT (RB); and 3 "working the wave wash of the incoming high tide" north of Ona Beach on 10/24 (BLo).
DHo discerned our first WILSON'S SNIPE at Big Creek Reservoir (Newport) on 10/1.
Latest reports included RED-NECKED PHALAROPE during the 10/8 BGPT (GG) and RED PHALAROPE during the 10/24 Boiler Bay seawatch (PP), though more Red Phalaropes may get blown in with big storms.
1-2 SOUTH POLAR SKUAS were recognized during the 9/26 cruise ship voyage (JW) and 10/8 BGPT (GG).
3-11 POMARINE JAEGERS graced the Spanish Head or Boiler Bay seawatches on 10/3-11 (PP), the 9/26 cruise (JW), and 10/8 & 22 BGPT (GG). 2 PARASITIC JAEGERS were distinguished the 10/8 BGPT (GG) and on 10/11 at Boiler Bay (PP).
PP found our only FRANKLIN'S GULLS (2 separate adults) at Boiler Bay on 10/9.
12 SABINE'S GULLS were seen from the 9/26 cruise ship off Lincoln County (JW) and 1 was also viewed from shore on 10/9 at Boiler Bay (PP).
Counts of 3,500+-12,000+ CALIFORNIA GULLS were tallied during 5 Boiler Bay and Spanish Head seawatches during 10/9-29 (PP). They were not all migrating south, as many were noted flying north and south on 10/23 and north on 10/24 (PP).
Departures include ARCTIC TERN for the 9/26 cruise ship (JW) and CASPIAN TERN at Siletz Bay on 9/27 (DV).
An ANCIENT MURRELET and a CASSIN'S AUKLET were found dead in mid-Sept. along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). 5-25 live Ancients were reported during the 10/8 BGPT (GG) and the 10/11, 23 & 29 seawatches at Boiler Bay or Spanish Head (PP). Live Cassin's were noted at Spanish Head or Boiler Bay (1-8) on 10/3-29 (PP; CG & JuW) and during 10/8 & 22 BGPT (GG). We had 6 reports of MARBLED MURRELETS.
Our only TUFTED PUFFINS were 2 during the 10/8 BGPT (GG) and 1 on 10/11 at Boiler Bay (PP).
Our only MOURNING DOVE was at Beaver Creek State Natural Area on 10/1 (DHo).
BURROWING OWLS migrate to and from Lincoln County on their own. They were first reported in Lincoln County in 1969, with 6 records in the 1970's, two records in the 1980's, one record in the 1990s, 2002, and 1 owl during November 2006-April 2007. One was also seen near the YBSJ during November 2007-February 2008, but it is unknown if it was the 2006/2007 owl that had lingered after capture and release. This year, a Burrowing Owl appeared in an urban Newport area on 9/30 (fide SK), only a few blocks from where one was first found in November 2006. The Burrowing Owl in 2006-2007 attracted a lot of attention, especially after the mistaken report in the local newspaper that this was the first-ever report in Lincoln County, and this owl may have been a victim of being transported here by people. This healthy owl was captured after well-meaning people mistakenly thought that it needed human aid because it must have been ill to allow people to approach so closely, may have had one bad leg as it often stood on one leg (which healthy birds often do), and just stood around and didn't hunt during the short time that they watched it. Hoping to avoid a repeat of that saga, I did not relay on the sighting this year near the same location. If it had been at a place with fewer people or where it could get away from people (like the YBSJ), I would have relayed it on.
Other owls include a BARRED OWL on 10/5 at Thornton Creek (DF). DF had a 5-owl day there on 10/24 when he heard calls by Barred Owl, WESTERN SCREECH-OWL, GREAT HORNED OWL, NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL, and NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL.
On 10/18, SM & SH detected 2 TROPICAL KINGBIRDS between the HMSC and Oregon Coast Aquarium and as a result of SM's prompt reporting, others (DG & RL, DHo; CP; BLl) were also able to see or photograph them. Late on 10/25, CP found another in Toledo at the north end of the Butler Bridge; this may be the furthest inland a Tropical Kingbird has been noted in Lincoln County.
DD & DS reported a rare EASTERN PHOEBE south of Depoe Bay on 10/15. It is an Oregon Review Species with only 10 records for the State (only 1 of which is from the coast)(see "Accepted Records" link at http://www.oregonbirds.org/ofo3.html). There is also a hypothetical report from Lincoln County in 1983 (SemiL).
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's photo of one of the two Tropical Kingbirds between the HMSC and Oregon Coast Aquarium on Oct. 18.]
A WESTERN SCRUB-JAY was near the Newport Post Office on 9/27 (DHo), in Newport on 10/4 (CP), and near the Newport Post Office during 2 days in early October (ML).
A CLARK'S NUTCRACKER on the Snaggy Point Loop Viewpoint graced the Saturday Bird Survey at Beaver Creek State Natural Area on 10/8 (CP, BF, KA). This is only our 8th record, with 7 of 8 reports in October (SemiL, FN).
An AMERICAN CROW with almost complete white wingtips was with about 60 other crows near Sam Case School in northeast Newport on 10/28 (PR).
DHe had the season's first HERMIT THRUSH near the Salmon River on 10/15, and WH discovered an uncommon NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD at Boiler Bay on 10/16.
PP had our only AMERICAN PIPIT (1) at Spanish Head or Boiler Bay on 10/23, and our latest CEDAR WAXWINGS were 34 at Eckman Lake on 10/29 (DHo).
A rare adult male BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER flew along with the 10/8 BGPT about 20 miles off Newport (GG). On 9/23/1987, PS found and photographed our only other record: a female 33 miles offshore of Lincoln Co. at a fishing trawler (see "Accepted" records link at http://www.oregonbirds.org/ofo3.html).
On 10/19, DG appreciated a female WESTERN TANAGER near the USFWS building at the HMSC. This Western Tanager is not only unusual for South Beach Peninsula, she is also very late! For our Lincoln Co. records prior to 1993 our latest date was 9/26 (SemiL). However, p. 532 of Birds of Oregon: General Reference indicates "Straggling individuals through Oct, rarely Nov."
Our latest COMMON YELLOWTHROAT was at Yaquina Bay on 10/5 (TJ).
On 10/24, DF found a HERMIT WARBLER at Thornton Creek. For records prior to 1993, we only had 2 records after Sept. 17 (10/12/1990 and 9/17/1991)(SemiL), so this one is late.
ME & DHe found our first of season WHITE-THROATED SPARROW on 10/15 at Beaver Creek State Natural Area.
On 10/24, DG examined an uncommon CLAY-COLORED SPARROW near the USFWS at the HMSC that RL photographed. It is only our 6th record since 2000 (FN).
eBird received a report of a rare winter or juvenile LARK BUNTING along Yachats Ocean Road on 9/29 (RF fide GG); it was not relocated. Our last record was of a singleton on 9/13-14/1998 at RC's & WN's Wandemere home that was also seen by 3 others; we also had 5 records during 1969-1979 (FN; SemiL).
A very late adult male BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK was at a USFWS feeder at the HMSC on 10/13 (DG)--they usually have left by mid-September (SemiL).
JH discovered our first WESTERN MEADOWLARK this fall at the HMSC on 10/23.
PINE SISKINS come and go--lately they have been gone. DHo reported our first since May at Beaver Creek State Natural Area on 10/15.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Katie Arhangelsky, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Birding Oregon (http://birdingoregon.info/), BirdNotes.net, Rebecca Cheek, Dick Demarest, Jack Doyle, eBird.org (location and observer not accessible in "View and Explore Data" for "All Observations" but available through "Bar Charts"), Mark Elliott, Darrel Faxon, fide ("as reported by" someone other than the observer), Brian Fowler, Ron Friesz, Greg Gillson, Caleb Gordon, Dawn Grafe, Bird Guide Pelagic Trip out of Newport (BGPT; info about pelagic trips at http://thebirdguide.com/pelagics/), Jeff Harding, Dave Hewitt (DHe), Sally Hill, Wayne Hoffman, Deb Holland (DHo), Tim Jeffers, Gretchen Kazebier, Steve Kupillas, Janet Lamberson, Mary Leech, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Laura Mason, Sylvia Maulding, Kathy Merrifield, Walt Nelson, Quinton Nice, 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, Jody Picconi, Phil Pickering, Paul Reed, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Don Stein, Paul Sullivan, Dawn Villaescusa, Julia Willmott (JuW), Jay Withgott (JW), Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (http://yaquina.info/ybn/) Field Trip (YBNFT) led by RB.
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 that includes Beaver Creek State Natural Area (http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_261.php), BOILER BAY STATE WAYSIDE (#59): about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, ECKMAN LAKE (#84): lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, HMSC (#75): OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, IDAHO FLATS: large embayment just east of the HMSC, LNG TANK: large green Liquefied Natural Gas tank on the north side of Yaquina Bay about 1.5 miles east of Yaquina Bay Bridge, ONA BEACH (#77): State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, SALLY'S BEND (#66): large Yaquina Bay embayment east of the LNG tank, SPANISH HEAD: pullout north of Inn at Spanish Head at 4009 SW Highway 101 in Lincoln City, YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty.
At Yaquina Bay, BRANT arrived during October 22-31 in 12 years and during Nov. 1-4 in another 8 years during 1975-1996 (p. 751 in http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/8081/vol.%206%20pg.%20723-780.pdf). During a 10/31 Boiler Bay seawatch, PP tallied 14 BRANT, so they were on the move. The first Brant reported inside Yaquina Bay were 6 near the HMSC on 11/3 (TJ). On 11/7, RB looked carefully but did not find any at Yaquina Bay embayments where they usually overwinter. On 11/11, RB found 30-34 in a tight, skittish flock at Sally's Bend. On 11/29, RL saw four color-banded Brant near the HMSC Estuary Trail, and observed that two had red bands (banded in Wrangel Island, Russia), 1 had a green band (banded in North Slope Teshekpuk area, Alaska), and 1 had an aqua band (banded in Prudhoe Bay area, Alaska). On 11/30, RL had the high count, with 200 at Idaho Flats.
There were several reports of 1-12 GR. WHITE-FRONTED GEESE on the ground, with a high of 43 (at least 12 adults with speckle bellies) at Beaver Creek on 11/13 (LO).
On 11/16, 2 adult and 4 juvenile SWANS surprised LM at Sally's Bend, and another observer also appreciated them that day (fide CP). They were probably Tundra Swans.
A LONG-TAILED DUCK was at Boiler Bay on 11/6 (PP) and during DF's OFO 11/19 field trip.
PP noted thousands of loons during each of his 11 Boiler Bay and Spanish Head seawatches, with a high count of 40,000+ PACIFIC LOONS and 1,500 RED-THROATED LOONS on 11/8. On 11/9, RC noted many loons also flying off the Ona Beach area.
NORTHERN FULMAR numbers were low with only 1-7 fulmars during 6 of PP's 11 November seawatches.
SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATERS usually replace SOOTY SHEARWATERS along our coast in November, but this year was exceptional. Short-tails were absent or rare, and PP found 1,000-15,000+ Sooties during 8 seawatches at Spanish Head or Boiler Bay through 11/17. PP looked at his previous personal Nov. seawatch high counts during 1999-2010 at Boiler Bay, and the only other November maximum count that was comparable was on 11/1/2004, with 8,000 "mostly" Sooty Shearwaters.
PP detected a rare MANX SHEARWATER on 11/3 & 7 at Boiler Bay or Spanish Head. A FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL on PP's 11/17 Boiler Bay seawatch was the only one during his 11 Nov. seawatches.
An immature GREEN HERON close enough to see the color of its eyes was a surprise at Eckman Lake during the 11/26 YBNFT. GREAT EGRETS were scattered but often reported, with a high count of 4 at Yaquina Bay on 11/7 & 14 (RB; DH).
On 11/6 at Alsea Bay, DV saw two GREAT BLUE HERONS "standing with their bills straight up in the air - after a moment, they lifted their wings, turned with wings spread, lifted slightly off the ground, then resumed their upturned bills. They did this several times - slowly, almost reverse synchronized. Is this related to mating, or territory, or? Not sure why they would be doing this in November?"
DV's description fits the Spread-wings display of Great Blue Herons at feeding areas. This display is seen throughout the year, usually between herons with neighboring feeding territories at or near the border of their territories. Because of its dance-like characteristics such as those described by DV but also often including a slow, measured walk that appears stately, this display has also been described as a Gathering Ground Dance and thought to involve courtship. However, research in British Columbia suggests that only males have feeding territories, and RB's Yaquina Bay research suggests that nonterritorial herons, presumably mostly females migrate away in winter. [RB's 1984. Foraging ground displays of Great Blue Herons at Yaquina Estuary, Oregon. Colonial Waterbirds 7:45-54. http://www.jstor.org/pss/1521081 (abstract free) and 1985. Vocalizations of Great Blue Herons at Yaquina Estuary, Oregon. Colonial Waterbirds, 7, 35-44. http://www.jstor.org/pss/1521080 (abstract free).]
[Image Not Included: Dawn Villaescusa's Nov. 6 photos of 2 adult Great Blue Herons at Alsea Bay giving Spread-wings displays. The most obvious characteristic of this display is the spreading of one and usually both wings. In the top photo, note how the plane of the top of the wings is directed towards the other heron, which is common in this display. In each photo, their bills are pointed above the horizon--as the herons approach each more closely, the bill is pointed more vertically. The wing position can also be changed as shown in the sequence of photos. As part of this display, walking/wading can also be measured. The end of the display episode usually ends with the herons walking/wading apart, but one may fly at and attack the other. These displays are spectacular enough that they often draw an observer's attention and interest. These photos are cropped and, from top to bottom, are in chronological sequence
On 11/11, CP & JL did the Inland or Yaquina River-Siletz Raptor Route that is about 65 miles long in 3.8 hours. JL writes that they "saw a total of 21 raptors comprised of 11 RED-TAILED HAWKS, 1 AMERICAN KESTREL, 1 NORTHERN HARRIER, 5 adult BALD EAGLES, and 3 WHITE-TAILED KITES." 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).
Our latest (and only) OSPREY lingered near the HMSC on 11/3 (TJ). Besides the Raptor Run, 1-4 WHITE-TAILED KITES were at Logsden fields in late Oct. and early Nov. (BLl).
A single RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was at the HMSC on 11/3-30 (RL; WH; DV; DS) and YBSJ on 11/13 (WH). 2 were tallied during DF's OFO 11/19 field trip.
A MERLIN was at the HMSC on 11/8 (RL), Seal Rocks on 11/12 (PW), DF's OFO 11/19 field trip, and Eckman Lake on 11/30 (DH).
Our rarest falcon this month? We didn't have any Peregrine Falcons! They usually far outnumber our Merlin and particularly our kestrel reports, so this month is an exception. Perhaps they have become too common to report?
At high tide, shorebirds often roost together to wait for the water level to drop to where they can start feeding again. One site where they have been roosting in past winters is the emerging marsh in the south end of Eckman Lake. The 11/26 YBNFT found 20+ DOWITCHERS (probably all Long-billeds) and about 30 GREATER YELLOWLEGS there--the yellowlegs often called, so it was a chance to be able to see and hear them at the same time.
Our first and only ROCK SANDPIPER was at Depoe Bay on 11/3 (TJ).
EH had our latest phalarope, a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, near the HMSC Nature Trail on 11/2. Winter storms sometimes blow in more.
A late, uncommon FRANKLIN'S GULL flew north past Boiler Bay on 11/3 (PP), where there was also a juvenile SABINE'S GULL on 11/4& 7 (PP).
A COMMON MURRE die-off that first started in September along the southern Oregon Coast (RL) appeared in Lincoln County in October, with a total of 122 along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). BLo's started in 1978, and there was not an October total of more than 25 adult and hatch-year murres during 1978-1985 and 1992-2010. However, during 1986-1991, there were 43-242 murres, and this October is the fourth highest, after 1988 (242), 1987 (150), and 1989 (127).
PP noted 2-7 MARBLED MURRELETS during 8 of his Boiler Bay or Spanish Head seawatches and 1-35 ANCIENT MURRELETS during 4 seawatches. A CASSIN'S AUKLET was also viewed at Boiler Bay during 11/3-9 (PP).
Our latest TUFTED PUFFIN graced PP's 11/3 Boiler Bay seawatch.
A MOURNING DOVE was at Yachats in early Nov. (BB), but east of Sally's Bend, they had a large showing with a bonanza of 37 on 9/17, 20 on 9/30, 6-10 on 10/9 & 15, and 6-10 during 11/5-15 (L&JM).
BB noted the last 1-2 BAND-TAILED PIGEONS at her Yachats feeder in early Nov.
We get few BARN OWL reports. EH spoke to a landowner with a barn halfway between Eddyville and Nashville, who "gave a detailed, believable report of Barn Owls nesting in her barn this summer (2011) and fledging two young in July."
PW detected a SNOWY OWL near Driftwood Beach State Park, north of Waldport, on 11/16. This is the first since singleton Snowy Owls were discovered during Nov. 2005-Feb. 2006 and Nov.-Dec. 2006 (FN). Elsewhere in Oregon, Snowy Owls are also being reported this season.
Our only BARRED OWL was a dead one near Lost Creek State Park on 11/10 (PR).
CP studied a rare LEWIS'S WOODPECKER on top of a Douglas-fir near his home in northwest Toledo for about 10 minutes on 11/3, and our only RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER was near Siletz on 11/6 (HJ).
A TROPICAL KINGBIRD graced Yachats on 11/11-12 (TM & AC; K&JF; U&MK), and 1-2 were at the HMSC on 11/12-15 (A&SL; WH; DS).
1-2 WESTERN SCRUB-JAYS lingered at SE 2nd Street, Newport through 11/8 (MS; CP), and 4 GRAY JAYS were daily visitors to BB's home-made suet feeders in Yachats throughout Nov.
I feed birds regularly but have been dismayed by Steller's jays emptying my feeder just as regularly. I decided to explore ways to modify my hopper-style feeder, but first I wanted to make observations to better understand how the jays were able to go through a full feeder in a single day. It appeared that the birds were after the sunflower seeds that made up roughly 10% of the total feed. When the concentration of sunflower seeds appeared sparse they jerked their heads from side to side throwing, in their gluttony, the seed mix on the ground. I needed some way of forcing the jays to pick out the sunflower seeds.
"I settled on drilling holes and installing 1/8 inch wooden dowels spaced 3/4 of an inch apart as shown in the accompanying photograph. The dowels are level with the top of the seed depth. This turned out to be even better than my expectations. Now the area under the feeder has very little seed and is kept relatively clean by ground feeders. The jays (I really do like them) still come around, and a full feeder lasts several days. Paul is happy.
"Feeders come in many varieties, so if you are interested in modifying yours some Yankee ingenuity may be in order. Consider using nails or shish kabob sticks. Wire could weave around small brads. Stainless steel doesn't rust. Keep your work simple and smooth. Last of all clean your feeders regularly with a 10% solution of bleach.
"Okay, now send 25 cents and a box top from your favorite cereal to?..."
[Image Not Included: Paul Reed's photo of his feeder modified to exclude Steller's Jay.]
On 11/29, CP visited a clearcut at about 1,800 ft elevation on the northeast side of Table Mountain from about 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM. He did not see or hear any birds during the entire time, which was eerie, but happens at high elevations in the Coast Range this time of year.
An AMERICAN DIPPER was appreciated near Fall Creek Hatchery on 11/13 (J&KL) and the Siletz River near Logsden on 11/13-14 (BLl).
Our only WESTERN BLUEBIRDS were 8 flying over EH's South Beach home on 11/8, and VARIED THRUSHES arrived at many sites near the coast through the month.
Latest reports include 5 AMERICAN PIPITS at Boiler Bay on 11/3 (TJ) and 30-40 CEDAR WAXWINGS at Logsden on 11/7 (BLl).
CP had an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER at his Toledo home on 11/13--a few sometimes occur in winter. TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS arrive and overwinter, with at least one during DF's OFO 11/19 field trip.
The 2 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS in Newport on 11/5 (DH) were our only report, and DF's OFO 11/19 field trip had our only SLATE-COLORED DARK-EYED JUNCO.
3-5 WESTERN MEADOWLARKS wintered at the YBSJ during 11/10-13 (BLl; DV) and during DF's OFO 11/19 field trip.
MS had a possible male, rare HOODED ORIOLE in southeast Newport on 11/3, but it was not relocated. Our only PINE SISKINS were those that first arrived at USFWS feeders at the HMSC on 11/28 (DG).
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Birding Oregon (http://birdingoregon.info/), BirdNotes.net, Rebecca Cheek, Alan Contreras, eBird.org (location and observer not accessible in "View and Explore Data" for "All Observations" but available through "Bar Charts"), Karan and Jim Fairchild, Darrel Faxon, fide ("as reported by" someone other than the observer), Dawn Grafe, Wayne Hoffman, Deb Holland, Eric Horvath, Herb Jennings, Tim Johnson, Ulo and Mai Kiigemagi, Janet & Karin Lamberson, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Aaron & Sara Liston, Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Linda & John MacKown, Thomas Meinzen, 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 Field Ornithologists (OFO, http://www.oregonbirds.org/), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Paul Reed, Meredith Savage, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), David Smith, Dawn Villaescusa, Pat Wood, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (http://yaquina.info/ybn/) Field Trip (YBNFT) led by RB.
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 that includes Beaver Creek State Natural Area (http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_261.php), BOILER BAY STATE WAYSIDE (#59): about 0.5 mi north of Depoe Bay, CUTLER CITY: part of Lincoln City between north and south Siletz 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, 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 entrance fee, http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/yaquina/).
BLl found a lone SNOW GOOSE at the YBSJ near where all the gulls often hang out on 12/7. It was also appreciated on 12/8-9 (CP; DV; DH; RL; BLl). BLl's sighting inspired him to reminisce: "This reminds me of when I first moved to Newport in December of 1977, and I saw an Emperor Goose on the beach near Jump Off Joe. That led to my meeting BO, LO, PR, and RBa." Though geese and time fly, BLl, BO, LO, PR, and RBa continue bird watching.
[Image Not Included: Dawn Villaescusa's Dec. 8 photo of a Snow Goose grazing on the short grass adjacent to the YBSJ road, presumably to rest and fuel up for its continued migration. This is cropped from http://s1014.photobucket.com/albums/af261/villaesc/Birds/?action=view¤t=IMG_6972_1.jpg]
On 12/19, ME found the remains of a dead EMPEROR GOOSE on the beach north of the mouth of Siletz Bay. This is the first since a live one in Dec. 2001, and only our third record since 1992 (FN).
213 BRANT, all at Yaquina Bay embayments, was our high count on 12/21 (RBa).
We had two reports of SWANS that were most likely Tundra Swans. RBa saw 4 flying north over the ocean past SW Newport on 12/4, and RL found 1 adult at Eckman Lake on 12/13.
Single EURASIAN WIGEON graced Eckman Lake on 12/8 (DH), Beaver Creek on 12/11 (LO), and Idaho Flats on 12/24 (DH).
A pair of REDHEADS were at D River Open Space (Lincoln City) on 12/9 (DV), and singletons were at Idaho Flats on 12/7 (DD) and across the Yaquina River from Nute Slough on 12/26 (CP).
A LONG-TAILED DUCK visited Boiler Bay on 12/6 (BW).
An adult male COMMON X BARROW'S GOLDENEYE was at the YBSJ on 12/4 (DI & SF), and a male Barrow's was at the Newport Bayfront area on 12/24 (MMa & MMi).
Dead NORTHERN FULMARS abruptly started washing ashore the week of 11/21, with a Nov. total of 21 along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). 7 of the 21 (33%) were white-phase, which is a higher proportion of white-phase than normal there. For example, in 2003-2005, 5%, 7%, and 11% were white-phase, respectively; but the proportion of white-phase can sometimes be higher, such as in December 2007 (44%) (BLo's data).
BROWN PELICAN number and frequency dropped down to what used to be normal in December several years ago. The high count was 12 at Boiler Bay on 12/1 (BW), then 2-3 were found intermittently at Seal Rocks or Yaquina Head on 12/9-10 (LO; DH) and Seal Rocks on 12/22 (RL), with DH having our latest report of a singleton at the YBSJ on 12/25.
An adult GREAT BLUE HERON remained at Seal Rocks on 12/9 & 11 (LO). Some have learned to survive the wave action and unimpeded winds of the open coast.
1-3 GREAT EGRETS were at Beaver Creek on 12/11, the 12/17 YBNFT (LO), and 12/19 (LO; DH); and at D River Open Space on 12/2 (DV), Eckman Lake and Alsea Bay on 12/8 (DH), and south Siletz Bay on 12/15 (DV).
[Image Not Included: Roy Lowe's photo of a Horned Grebe running across the water with a wiry Bay Pipefish hanging from its bill. It is being chased by another grebe interested in taking the pipefish.]
Oregon Winter Raptor Surveys are a good relative index to the abundance of wintering raptors and are coordinated by the East Cascades Birds Observatory (www.ecbcbirds.org/Default.aspx?tabid=73).
The Lincoln Co. Raptor Coast Route is about 60 miles and runs along Hwy 101 from the north side of Alsea Bay to the Taft area of Lincoln City, with nearby inland valleys. It was completed in about 5 hours on 12/17 by WN & RC.
The Inland or Yaquina River-Siletz Raptor Route is about 65 miles long. It was done in 4 hours on 11/11 and 12/7 by CP & JL.
The December route observers were surprised by much sunnier weather than usual that may have been the reason for reduced numbers of raptors along both routes.
This month, BALD EAGLES were the most abundant raptor along the Coast Route, and RED-TAILED HAWKS were most abundant along the Inland Route. Continuing the trend of the past, kestrels were more common Inland, while Red-shouldered Hawks were only noted along the Coast.
RC wrote about the 12/17 Coast Route: "To make up for the low numbers of birds we got to watch a couple of fascinating dramas. First we were privileged to see an inexperienced first-winter Cooper's Hawk chase a small group of Hooded Mergansers around the willow stumps and snags in a beaver pond by the road (the mergansers won and the Coop left w/o breakfast). Later we observed what seemed to be a Peyton Place kind of interaction among the adult Bald Eagles in Yaquina Bay, when after some initial yelling by unseen parties Eagle 1 came tearing out from the ridgeline trees of Idaho Point (south side of the bay) with E-2 in hot pursuit. Directly overhead there was a brief talon-to-talon tumble, and then the flight resumed but suddenly turned into a graceful side-by-side dance of synchronized flying. They swooped and dove all around Idaho Flat, and we thought it was a bonded pair courting -- until Eagle 3 flew out of the south-side trees and purposefully headed toward the dancers. At that point E-1 and E-2 separated with E-1 heading off toward the north jetty area, E-2 returning to Idaho Point, and E-3 looping back to its perch. Somebody flirting with one of the neighbors till a spouse broke it up?"
----------------------------------------- Coast Route |Inland Route 12/ |11/ 12/ Raptor 17 | 11 7 ----------------------------------------- N. Harrier 2 | 1 0 Wh-t. Kite 0 | 3 0 Sharp. Hawk 0 | 0 0 Coop. Hawk 1 | 0 0 unk. accipit. 0 | 0 1 R-shld. Hawk 1 | 0 0 R-tail. Hawk 6 | 11 9 B. Eagle ad. 5 | 5 0 " subadults 2 | 0 0 " unknown 0 | 0 0 Am. Kestrel 0 | 1 2 Peregrine F. 0 | 0 0 unk. raptor 0 | 0 0 RAPTOR SUM 17 | 21 12
2 WHITE-TAILED KITES continued in the Logsden area, with 1 chasing a Common Raven on 12/25 (BLl).
A BALD EAGLE made an impression to the 12/17 YBNFT participants at Beaver Creek by consuming a lamprey (LO)!
A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was viewed during the Coastal Route and also near the entrance to South Beach State Park on 12/6 (WH) and along the HMSC Nature Trail to Oregon Coast Aquarium on 12/7 & 16 (DD; BLl).
Besides being along the Inland Raptor Route, our only other AMERICAN KESTREL was at Yaquina Head in early Dec. (TF). Our only 1 MERLIN was along Salishan Nature Trail, Siletz Bay on 12/15 (DV).
2 PEREGRINE FALCONS regularly hunted Yaquina Head in early Dec. (TF), and 1-2 were noticed at least weekly at Yaquina Bay through 12/25 (TS; PL; DH).
4 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS lingered at Idaho Flats on 12/7 (DD), and our largest flocks of 9-14 BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS were at Seal Rocks on 12/9-21 (LO).
Last reports of the season include HEERMANN'S GULL at Boiler Bay on 12/1 (BW) and BONAPARTE'S GULL at Seal Rocks on 12/11 (LO).
Our only report of murrelets was of 10 ANCIENT MURRELETS at Boiler Bay on 12/1 (BW).
OSU researchers RS, CH, AGl, & AGu completed their "Yaquina Head Seabird Colony Monitoring 2011 Season Summary." An excerpt:
"In 2011 we logged 372 hours during 79 days of observations between 16 May (some eggs were already present) and 20 August (Table 1). Common Murre chicks were first observed on 28 June and median hatch date was 8 July, similar to 2010, but two weeks later than the previous three years (2007-2009). Colony Rock and Flattop Rock were again synchronous in median hatch date. Among plots, only 36% (+ 0.07 SE, 0.00-0.79 range) of the eggs laid hatched a chick (hatching success) and 22% (+ 0.04 SE, 0.00-0.47 range) of the eggs laid produced chicks that fledged (reproductive success; chicks >15 days were considered fledged; Table 1). Reproductive success in 2011 was less than half of the previous 4 years (Table 1) and the second lowest recorded for this colony during 10 years of data collection. Only the reproductive success during the very strong 1998 El Nino was slightly lower. "Much of the reproductive loss in 2011 was due to egg and chick predators. The total number of disturbances, the number of species causing disturbances, and the rate of murre, egg, and chick loss was much greater in 2011 than the previous 4 years (Table 1). Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) were again the dominant disturbance source (72%, 133 of 186 disturbances) at YHONA (Fig. 5). In 2011, there were more eagles causing disturbances, more regions of the colony disrupted, and the disturbances continued through the murre chick-rearing period into late June and July. This is in contrast to previous years when disturbance by eagles was greatly reduced after mid-June, and more localized on the north end of Colony Rock. A new predator of murre eggs that created the second greatest number of disturbances (11%) was Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura). 2011 is the first year that Turkey Vultures were observed disturbing the colony during the murre breeding season. Disturbance by California Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) was also much greater in 2011 than in 2010 (the first year pelicans were observed eating murre chicks). Pelicans actively pursued and consumed murre chicks and caused general disruption of breeding murres by roosting, flapping and walking through the colony. During 372 hrs of observation, we witnessed 186 disturbance events where 1034 eggs, 142 chicks, and 70 adult murres were taken (Table 1). Depredation rates were three to ten times higher than in previous years. Unobserved disturbance during the early season (before egg laying) does appear to affect lay dates and, again this year, no chicks (murres or cormorants) were reared on the headland itself, likely due to predator disturbance (avian or mammalian)."
CP noted that EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES in Toledo seemed to disappear after cold weather started on about 12/1. As many as 11 MOURNING DOVES continued at L&JM's feeder east of Sally's Bend through 12/15.
[Image Not Included: Jack Doyle's Dec. 24 photo of a Snowy Owl perched on driftwood with a background of Sitka spruce at Siletz Bay. A Snowy can blend in with such bleached driftwood and be harder to detect.]
The second SNOWY OWL this season was at Siletz Bay in a sensitive area where the first observer saw it on 12/13 and told DV about the owl and requested that she not report the specific location. DV saw it on 12/15, 18, & 23, and it lingered to at least 12/24 (DP, J& LD, CW). The third appeared at the YBNJ on 12/24 (D&AB).
A BARRED OWL head was found along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach on 11/25 (B&SLo, L&VO), and live ones were recognized at Devils Lake State Park on 12/2 (DM), north Beaver Creek on 12/21 (LO), and east of Wandemere on 12/22 (RC).
ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRDS are regularly here in winter, but 2 female RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS were an unseasonal rarity at L&JM's feeder east of Sally's Bend in mid-December.
Our only RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER was at the Cutler City Wetlands nature trail on 12/2 (DV).
DF found a late TROPICAL KINGBIRD in Lincoln City on 12/7; prior to 1993, our latest record was on 11/15 (SemiL).
2 GRAY JAYS visited Idaho Point, Yaquina Bay on 12/8 (TS), and 4 were at BB's Yachats suet feeder daily through at least 12/18. On 12/22, RC hiked a mix of clearcut and wooded areas east of Wandemere and "3 (maybe 4) Gray Jays came by to check me out. I've hiked the same area several times since late Oct. and the jays have been fairly reliable."
Our only WESTERN SCRUB-JAY flew and landed in a tree about 1 block south of Newport City Hall in mid-Dec. (fide RBa).
2-6 WESTERN BLUEBIRDS were appreciated at Yaquina Head on 12/13 (BLo), a clearcut east of Wandemere on 12/22 (RC), and near a PUD substation by Olalla Slough in Toledo on 12/26 (CP).
An unseasonal ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was at the HMSC on 12/21 (EH).
A PALM WARBLER was encountered in Toledo on 12/12 & 17 (CP) and at the HMSC on 12/17 & 19 (RBe; EH). They are usually only reported near the coast in Lincoln Co.
EH espied our only LINCOLN'S SPARROW on 12/21 at the HMSC, and CP glimpsed our only WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS (2) on 12/3 at Toledo.
[Image Not Included: Dawn Villaescusa's Dec. 15 photo of a Hermit Thrush at Salishan Nature Trail stretching 1 leg and keeping the other leg short to keep an even keel while perched. Cropped from http://s1014.photobucket.com/albums/af261/villaesc/Birds/?action=view¤t=IMG_7420_1.jpg]
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Betty Bahn, Daniel & Ariel Battaglia, Range Bayer (RBa), Renee Bellinger (RBe), Birding Oregon (http://birdingoregon.info/), BirdNotes.net, Rebecca Cheek, Dick Demarest, eBird.org (location and observer not accessible in "View and Explore Data" for "All Observations" but available through "Bar Charts"), Jack & Laura Doyle, Mark Elliott, Darrel Faxon, fide ("as reported by" someone other than the observer), Shawneen Finnegan, Tim Fisher of BLM, Amanda Gladics (AGl), Alexandra Gulick (AGu), Wayne Hoffman, Deb Holland, Cheryl Horton, Eric Horvath, Dave Irons, Janet Lamberson, Pete Lawson, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Linda & John MacKown, Marcia Marvin (MMa), Mark Miller (MMi), Don Munson, 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, Diana Polisensky, Paul Reed, Trent Seager, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Robert Suryan, Dawn Villaescusa, Bradley Waggoner, Caren Willoughby, Yaquina Bay CBC (YCBC) compiled by DG, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (http://yaquina.info/ybn/) Field Trip (YBNFT) led by LO.
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