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://birding.aba.org/maillistdigest/OR01), 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 34 ------------------------------- January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013
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., YBCBC: Yaquina Bay Christmas Bird Count on 12/29, YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty, YAQUINA HEAD OUTSTANDING NATURAL AREA (#65): headland north of Newport (vehicle entrance fee without a recreation pass such as the Oregon Pacific Coast Passport or America the Beautiful Passes honored by federal agencies).
Forty-one birders, a Count record, enjoyed a partly sunny and relatively warm day on Saturday, December 29, 2012. We had a few people who had never participated in a CBC and some that had participated in over 40 counts. We had birders from as far away as Hawaii and Colorado to Portland and of course Lincoln County. We also had six participants who counted birds at their feeders.
Count compiler and organizer Dawn Grafe entered count data for the National Audubon Society and reported a total of 142 different species on Count Day, also a record for the Yaquina Bay CBC (the previous high was 137 and average was 117 species [http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/yaquina-bay-cbc.pdf]).
Three species were seen/heard for the first time in the Yaquina Bay Count's history. Barred Owl, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Nashville Warbler. David Adamson found the grosbeak at his feeder in the Agate Beach area. It was determined to be a first winter male. Ram Papish found the Nashville Warbler, and Harve Schubothe was fortunate to get a good look at the bird before it flew away.
High record counts occurred for many species including: Northern Pintail (493 individual birds), Green-winged Teal (675), Cooper's Hawk (6), Red-shouldered Hawk (8), Mourning Dove (102), Eurasian Collared-Dove (31), Hairy Woodpecker (15), Steller's Jay (207), Chestnut-backed Chickadee (435), Pacific Wren (81), Marsh Wren (35), Red Crossbill (606) and Pine Siskin (405).
Two relatively frequent CBC birds were missed on Count Day and were not picked up in Count Week: Savannah Sparrow and Purple Finch that had been recorded during 24 and 25 of the previous 39 Counts, respectively.
A few species had very low counts, though not necessarily a record low, including Lesser Scaup, White-winged Scoter, Pacific Loon, and California Gull.
Thanks so much to all who participated!
[Editor's note: And a very big Thank You to Dawn for organizing and compiling the Count and after-Count Social!]
A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE at Toledo was the only one during the 12/29 YCBC, but, on 1/13, a flock of at least 33 were "hanging out in the pasture north of the Otis cafe, about one mile east of the junction of HWY 18 and US 101" (D&LF).
BRANT overwinter at Yaquina Bay embayment areas east of the Yaquina Bay Bridge, and the high count in January was 277 on 1/6 (RB). Occasionally, some Brant have come up on land at the YBSJ, especially near the "Gull Puddle" area about 0.6 mile from Yaquina Bay Bridge, but this month 5-6 were feeding on the lawn near the HMSC Visitors Center during 1/23-28 (PL; WH), with a report of "about 30" there on 1/25 by a HMSC custodian (fide PL).
On 1/23, PL photographed a white-cheeked goose with the Brant on the HMSC lawn that RL identified as an ALEUTIAN CACKLING GOOSE. Other Cackling Geese included 7 at Toledo on 1/3 (JL) and 9 at Yaquina Bay on 1/20 (PO).
4 EURASIAN WIGEON were tallied during the YCBC, and singletons were also noted at Sally's Bend or Idaho Flats during the 1/12 ASLCFT (ME) and on 1/1, 11, 20, & 26 (DH; JL; PO; BC). BC also found an American X Eurasian Wigeon hybrid at Idaho Flats on 1/26; these hybrids have occasionally been found if looked for here.
HARLEQUIN DUCKS were most reported at Yaquina Head where they were noted during 24 days in December (BLM), and 14 were tallied during the YCBC. The high count in Jan. was 6 at Yaquina Head on 1/16 (DH).
A LONG-TAILED DUCK was found during the YCBC and was at the YBSJ-Newport Bayfront area on 1/2 & 20 (DH; AC & THy).
A male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE was on the YCBC and also found in lower Yaquina Bay during 7 days in January as late as 1/27 (WH).
[Image Not Included: 4 of the 5 Black Brant feeding on the lawn near the HMSC Visitor Center (note downspout and gravel covered concrete wall in the background) on Jan. 23. The 2 Brant in the foreground are first-winter young birds, based on the white-tipped wing coverts. Photo by Pete Lawson.]
MOUNTAIN QUAIL were missed during the YCBC, but at least one lingered outside the Count Circle at BB's Yachats home. ME visited and found it on 1/26.
11 WESTERN GREBES were beached along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach during December (B&SLo, L&VO). This is higher than average for December for surveys that began in 1978.
A rare AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN flew 7 miles up the Siletz River on 12/24 (fide ME). Our previous report, only our 7th, was of a singleton near the Newport Bayfront on 8 May 2009.
A dead BROWN PELICAN washed ashore in December north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). 5 live ones were surveyed during the YCBC, but some could be recounts of the same bird. We had 10 reports in early Jan., usually singletons, though 4 were counted at the YBSJ or Newport Bayfront on 1/10-11 (JR; JL). After 1/15, there were 8 reports (latest on 1/27 at Yaquina Head [DH]) and a high count of 2 pelicans near the HMSC on 1/18 (J&KF).
The 12/29 YCBC had 4 GREAT EGRETS. In Jan., 1-3 were at Devils Lake on 1/4 (T & GG; JL), Tamara Quays north of Lincoln City on 1/11 (DV), Idaho Flats on 1/21 (DH), and Beaver Creek on 1/4, 14, & 26 (DH).
Great Blue Herons sometimes fly into power lines at night or in low visibility and are killed or injured.
On 1/22, PD drove HWY 20 between Newport and Toledo near the junction with Fruitvale Road when she was surprised to spot a GREAT BLUE HERON perched on a thick electrical wire away from the power pole. Its neck was retracted. This was the first time that PD had seen this, and the first time that one has been reported to RB.
The only time that RB has seen one on a wire or power line was 30-40 years ago. Then, a recently fledged (inexperienced) heron in summer flew towards a power line at King Slough in Yaquina Bay and alighted on the line. The heron's momentum may have started the line to move a bit, and the long-legged heron looked ungainly and comical as it tried to stand with its neck extended and balance itself by moving its wings and body back and forth on the wire, which only served to "pump" the power line more, like a person "pumping" on a swing to move in ever larger arcs. The power line finally swung so much that the heron flew off. And RB still regrets not having a camera for this!
PD's heron in January would have at least been 5 or more months older and more experienced in landing gently on tree limbs (which herons often do) without "pumping" the limb than RB's heron. So PD's heron probably had more finesse with the power line than the one RB saw.
Yet, a Great Blue Heron perched on a power line is rare here and apparently elsewhere, too. In a quick Internet search, RB could find many entries for them hitting power lines, but only one for a written description of a heron briefly alighting on a power line in Iowa but "wobbling dreadfully" before it flew off (http://wapellowarbler.wordpress.com/tag/great-blue-heron/).
Birds can be "copycats" of the behavior of others, so will other herons see PD's heron and start perching on power lines?
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).
Lincoln Co. has 3 Raptor Routes. The North Lincoln Raptor Run is around the Salmon River Estuary and was under 10 miles long when it was done on 11/1 by DV and 11/15 by DV & LF; it was 17-19 miles long with the addition of East Devil's Lake Road when it was done on 12/6 and 1/11 in 175-185 minutes (DV). The Inland or Yaquina River-Siletz Raptor Route is about 65-70 miles long; it was done on 11/2, 12/5, and 1/1 by JL & CP; the 1/1 Route took 292 minutes. The Coastal Route is about 60-62 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 done in 300-330 minutes on 12/8 by WN & RC and on 1/5 by WH, WN & RC. Because of space constraints, the Table here has only the results for Routes in Dec.-Jan.
For all Jan. Routes, the most numerous raptor was Red-tailed Hawk with a total of 41. The second-most abundant raptor was Bald Eagle, with a total of 25! This is a big increase in eagles from a couple of decades ago when one would be lucky to maybe find a half dozen eagles after covering an area as large as the Coastal Route! On 1/25, BLo found 4 adult eagles just near Thiel Creek.
A record 8 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS were tallied during the 12/29 YCBC, 1-2 were recorded during each Raptor Route in Jan., 2 were still in Toledo on 1/3 (JL), and singletons were in South Beach and at the HMSC on 1/5 & 26 (DH; BC). So they continue their increase in numbers and distribution.
RL found our only OSPREY at Eckman Lake on 1/19, and ME discerned our only ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS. One Rough-legged was off Three Rocks Road near Salmon River on 1/25, and another was near the Visitor Center at Beaver Creek State Natural Area on 1/27.
AMERICAN KESTRELS were regularly watched at Yaquina Head, where they were noted 11 days in December (BLM).
2 MERLINS were recorded during the YCBC, and singletons were also found during each of the Raptor Routes in Jan.
5 PEREGRINE FALCONS graced the YCBC and were widely reported during the Jan. Raptor Routes and elsewhere.
----------------------------------------- Dec-Jan. North |Inland|Coastal 12/ 1/|12/ 1/|12/ 1/ Raptor 6 11| 5 8| 8 5 ---------------------------------- Wh-tail. Kite 1 0| 1 2| 0 0 Bald Eagle " adults 2 3| 2 4| 14 14 " subadults 0 1| 0 0| 0 2 " unknown age 0 0| 0 0| 0 1 North. Harrier 2 3| 1 0| 2 0 Sharp-sh. Hawk 2 1| 0 2| 2 0 Cooper's Hawk 0 0| 0 0| 1 1 Red-shld. Hawk 2 1| 0 2| 1 1 Red-tail. Hawk 9 9| 26 18| 5 14 Am. Kestrel 0 0| 2 1| 1 0 Merlin 0 1| 1 1| 0 1 Peregrine Fal. 2 0| 0 2| 1 2 RAPTOR SUM 20 19| 33 32| 27 36The new American Ornithologist's Union phylogenetic order used by eBird places falcons after woodpeckers. However, continuing to include falcons with hawks and eagles here seems more helpful in discussing Raptor Route results.
The only "plover" other than Killdeer was an unseasonal but well-described SEMIPALMATED PLOVER west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on 1/1 (JeO & KP).
14 BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS were bunched together at Seal Rocks during the 12/29 YCBC (KM).
A late WANDERING TATTLER was last reported at Yaquina Head on 12/15 (BLM).
5 ROCK SANDPIPERS were tallied during the YCBC, 2-3 were at Seal Rocks on 1/5 & 26 (DH; ME), and another was at Depoe Bay on 1/11 (DH).
Only 15 GREATER YELLOWLEGS and 4 WILSON'S SNIPE were counted during the YCBC, but in a wet pasture near the south end of South Beaver Creek Road, ME espied 32 Greater Yellowlegs and 28 Wilson's Snipes on 1/27.
5 dead CASSIN'S AUKLETS were found in December along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach (B&SLo, L&VO). This is above normal but far less than the 59 in December 1987. On 1/27, DF saw one flying close enough to shore that he could easily identify it with his binoculars at Boiler Bay--they are usually farther away and require a scope to identify.
ANCIENT MURRELETS are to be expected along the coast, but 2 inside Yaquina in the channel north of the "Gull Puddle" on 12/30 (AC & THy) is a rare estuarine record here for them.
On 12/28, 8 MOURNING DOVES were feeding on the ground at RC's & WN's home at Wandemere north of Ona Beach, which is a record for that location. RC notes: "In our yard they have been on a slow increase for the past 10 years, even with the influx of Eurasian Collared-doves (those have also been slowly increasing and nested nearby for the first time in 2012)." The Yaquina Bay CBC also set a record with a total of 102. The large numbers linger, with 29 at L&JM's home near the east side of Sally's Bend on 1/12.
A BURROWING OWL and a BARN OWL during the 12/29 YCBC were among the 6 species of owls recorded this YCBC, which in itself must be a record because RB thinks owls have sometimes been entirely missed on some Counts. The only owls to be recorded in at least 10 of the 40 YCBCs are GREAT HORNED OWL (23 counts) and WESTERN SCREECH-OWL (13 counts). One owl that was missed was NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL, which has been recorded in 9 of 40 Counts.
A BARRED OWL was recorded for the first time during the YCBC, and our only other report was daily from 12/27 through at least 1/19 at BLl & MLl's Logsden home, where one regularly called around 8:30 PM and 6 AM.
A RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD at L&JM's home east of Sally's Bend during the YCBC remained until at least 1/17. Last year the first Rufous for the YCBC was also at L&JM's home.
RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKERS were missed during the YCBC, and our only report was of a singleton at JL's home between Toledo and Siletz (and outside the Count Circle) on 1/2, 3, & 6.
On 1/21 along the beach near Thiel Creek between Ona Beach and South Beach, B&JO spotted a flycatcher foraging along the beach bank that appeared to be a kingbird with white outer tail feathers, like a Tropical Kingbird.
The sudden increase in BLACK PHOEBE sightings that began in October continued with singletons near Lincoln City on 12/27 (P&RS), Hidden Valley during the 12/29 YCBC, and Ona Beach State Park on 1/19, 26 & 27 (fide BF; DH; ME).
[Image Not Included: Black Phoebe momentarily perched between hunting sallies for insects at Hidden Valley between Toledo and Newport during the Dec. 29 YCBC. Photo by Rick Sorensen.]
A WESTERN SCRUB-JAY was in Newport during YCBC Count Week (SS), and singletons were also reported at Yaquina Bay on 1/17 (JR) and the HMSC on 1/20 (PO).
2 AMERICAN DIPPERS were recorded during the YCBC, and our only other report was of 3 by DH while traveling in the Fall Creek area of eastern Lincoln County on 1/20.
At least 1 WESTERN BLUEBIRD was at Yaquina Head on 12/15 (BLM) and 5-7 were also there on 1/26 & 27 (BC; WH; DH). But none were recorded during the YCBC.
An unseasonal ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER visited DG's and RP's suet feeder in Toledo on 1/26-27.
WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS appear to be less common this winter, and only 1 was discovered during the 12/29 YCBC. JL had our only other at Toledo on 1/1.
10 WESTERN MEADOWLARKS were viewed during the YCBC, and 1-3 were south of Lincoln City on 12/27 (R&PS), the YBSJ on 1/1 (THa), and the HMSC on 1/10 (DH) and 1/19 (J&KF).
JQ discovered an adult male BULLOCK'S ORIOLE at his South Beaver Creek home on 1/23. It is the only oriole reported so far this winter.
[Image Not Included: First-year male Rose-breasted Grosbeak with a few red feathers on its upper breast at a feeder in Agate Beach (Newport) during the Dec. 29 YCBC. It was also present the day before. Photo by David Adamson.]
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Audubon Society of Lincoln City (http://www.lincolncityaudubon.org/) field trip (ASLCFT) led by ME, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Birding Oregon (http://birdingoregon.info/), http://BirdNotes.net, Bureau of Land Management staff and volunteers at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (BLM), Rebecca Cheek, Alan Contreras, Bryan Crawford, Pat Dickey, http://eBird.org (location and observer not accessible in "View and Explore Data" for "All Observations" but available through "Bar Charts"), Mark Elliott, Jim & Karan Fairchild, Darrel & Laura Faxon, fide ("as reported by" someone other than the observer), Linda Fink, Brian Fowler, Tristan & Gretchen Gingerich, Dawn Grafe, Tyler Hallman (THa), Wayne Hoffman, Deb Holland, Tristen Hynes (THy), Janet Lamberson, Pete Lawson, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Bob & Martha Llewellyn (BLl & MLl), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Linda & John MacKown, Kathy Merrifield, Walt Nelson, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are searchable at http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/bird.htm#recent), Jeff Oliver (JeO), Bob & Jerryann Olson, Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdnews.aba.org/maillist/OR01), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Pam Otley, Ram Papish, Chuck Philo, Katy Prudic, J.R. Quarles, John Riverso, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Patty & Rick Sorensen, Stacy Strickland, Dawn Villaescusa, Yaquina Bay CBC (YCBC) on 12/29 compiled by DG, and 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, DEVIL'S PUNCHBOWL STATE NATURAL AREA (#63): western side of town of Otter Rock, 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, OLALLA SLOUGH: slough on E side of Toledo meandering S into Yaquina Bay, 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., YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty (the "Gull Puddle" area on the YBSJ is about 0.6 mile from Yaquina Bay Bridge), YAQUINA HEAD OUTSTANDING NATURAL AREA (#65): headland north of Newport.
The 35th year of surveys along 4.6 miles of beach between Beaver Creek and Henderson Creek has been completed. Laimons & Vicki Osis covered the northern portion, and Shirley and Bob Loeffel covered the southern part. Filling in, Bob Olson did 2 surveys, and Dave and Jean Dempster often accompanied the Loeffels and also did 2 surveys. The surveys were conducted at intervals of 8 days or less, except for three 9- and two 11-day periods.
Birds found including murre chicks totaled 524 in 2012. The average annual count for the previous 34 years of the survey is 474.
A winter die-off led the count of Rhinoceros Auklets (167) with 105 being found in February. This die-off started in November 2011 and continued through March 2012. It was accompanied by the finding of 36 Tufted and 12 Horned Puffins, very unusual numbers for these species, which often are absent from counts. This makes one wonder why Pigeon Guillemots, murrelets and other auklets with summer habits similar to Tufted Puffins and Rhinoceros Auklets weren't afflicted.
Common Murre at 97 birds (including 5 chicks) was the second highest species. In 2011, 171 murres (including 56 chicks) were counted.
Northern Fulmar was the third highest at 45, the Tufted Puffins, mentioned above, being the next highest. The fulmar count (45) was not only low (41 in 2011 but 165-358/year during 2007-2010), but contrasted with the seemingly large numbers of southbound fulmars passing the area in mid-October--Phil Pickering reported 10,000+ fulmars during a squally 4-hour count at Boiler Bay on Oct. 20. Light-phase fulmars (4) made up a low 9% of the beached fulmars.
Sooty Shearwaters at 29 birds were at usual levels. Only 1 Short-tailed Shearwater was recovered.
Scoter species were scarce with only one bird, a White-winged Scoter. 2 adult and 1 hatch-year Pigeon Guillemots, 1 Marbled and 5 Ancient Murrelets, and 8 Cassin's Auklets were found. 1 Parakeet Auklet, an unusual find, was located. Only 3 phalaropes, all Reds, were recovered. 4 Brown Pelicans were found, 2 in spring and 2 in fall.
No geese, but 4 ducks including 3 Northern Pintails and 1 Mallard were encountered.
Shore or terrestrial birds included 2 Varied Thrushes, 1 Black Turnstone, and 1 Rock Pigeon.
Thanks to the Wildlife Diversity Program of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, whose support covers report distribution costs.
[Editors note. And a big thanks to Bob Loeffel and his team for continuing these surveys and sharing their results! Their long-term nature and data accessibility are exemplary.]
30-33 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were in the Otis/Salmon River area on 2/8, 10, & 23 (DV; DH), and a singleton was at Boiler Bay on 2/21 (JS).
5-6 BRANT continued in the lawn or on the parking lot of the HMSC through at least 2/12 (RLo; PL), with 2-3 of them being first-year birds. Perhaps these are the same 1-2 family groups? The times of day for these reports indicate that these Brant were present when the tide height as measured at the HMSC was +3.2 ft or higher above MLLW (RB). Brant are known to feed particularly on Zostera marina eelgrass, which would be submerged and not available to upending, non-diving Brant until tide level is approximately below +1.5 ft (RB), though Brant could and do steal some eelgrass brought to the surface by diving American Coots, or, as RLo points out, Brant could also feed eelgrass blades that have broken free and are floating in the water at high tide. But eelgrass is readily available to Brant only when eelgrass beds are exposed. The few Brant that fed on the HMSC lawn may have been taking advantage of an alternative food source while eelgrass was unavailable. Still, it is unusual to have a concern for Brant being hit by motor vehicles because they are walking across a parking lot! The high count for Brant out in Yaquina Bay embayment areas where they are normally was 339 on 2/22 (RB); it appears that their spring migration is underway as this is about 50 Brant more than were present earlier in winter (RB). More information about Yaquina Bay Brant through 1996 is at http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/8081/vol.%206%20pg.%20723-780.pdf
On 2/24, a flock of about 60 ALEUTIAN CACKLING GEESE flew north over Yaquina Head (RLo), which might be a sign of their spring migration. Our only other Cackling Geese were 6 apparently in a pasture at Otis on 2/10 (DV).
At Olalla Slough, DG found the first WOOD DUCK of the year (a male) on 2/3 and saw an odd scaup with feathers hanging behind its head on 2/24. She told RP, who confirmed it as a TUFTED DUCK and photographed it--it is the first for Lincoln Co. It was also seen in the Olalla Slough area through the end of these field notes on 2/25 (CP, JL, TSm; DF) and beyond to at least 2/28.
HARLEQUIN DUCKS were regularly reported, and a LONG-TAILED DUCK was at Yaquina Bay on 1/29 (DF), 2/2 (AC, TM & SB), 2/9 (WH), and 2/21 (ME; PW).
A male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE was in the Newport Bayfront-YBSJ area on 2/2, 3, 17, & 22 (AC, TM & SB; WH; PS & CK; JG & JM). With the male was a female on 2/22 (JG & JM), and a hybrid male COMMON X BARROW'S GOLDENEYE was in the same area on 2/3 (WH).
[Image Not Included: Lincoln Co.'s first Tufted Duck--a drake, with its rippling reflection, at Olalla Slough on 2/24. Photo by Ram Papish.]
Beached bird numbers along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach in January were low with the most numerous being 4 WESTERN GREBES (B&SLo, L&VO).
We had 3 additional January BROWN PELICAN reports (BLM; ME) bringing the January total to 21 reports with a high count of 4. Like usual, they were scarcer in February with only 5 reports so far through 2/25. ME had the latest, with 6 on 2/21 on Gull Rock about 0.5 mile to the westnorthwest of Devils Punchbowl at the town of Otter Rock. PS & CK had the high February count of 37 about an hour before sunset on Gull Rock on 2/17; the high numbers probably reflects pelicans arriving to spend the night because Gull Rock has been noted in the past as being the site of a large night roost (e.g., using a spotting scope, RB estimated 800-1,000 there in the early morning of Sept. 25, 2010).
The names of islands (including Gull Rock) near the town of Otter Rock can be confused. Gull Rock is a close 0.5 mile away and to the westnorthwest (see http://goo.gl/maps/eiOI9), but the island of Otter Rock is further at about 1.0 mile to the south of the town of Otter Rock and off Beverly Beach State Park (http://goo.gl/maps/Hpd6m). According to the Coast Pilot, Gull Rock is about 56 ft high but the island of Otter Rock is only about 11 ft high, so it could be swept by high waves. To add to the confusion of the names for these islands, Gull Rock has also been known as Otter Rock in the past (e.g., in 1974, p. 85 in http://www.oregongeology.org/pubs/OG/OBv36n05.pdf), and RB recalls reading somewhere that at one time the names for these islands were reversed. Further, it would be easy for people to assume that the island closest to the town of Otter Rock is also the island of Otter Rock, especially since the names of these rocks are not on most maps. In any case, the 56 foot high Gull Rock is closer to the town of Otter Rock than the 11 foot high island of Otter Rock.
Fewer pelicans have been viewed roosting on the lower island of Otter Rock, but its distance makes it hard to view, especially if viewing conditions (e.g., haze) intervenes. In the USFWS' "Catalog of Oregon Seabird Colonies" (see section 243, http://www.fws.gov/oregoncoast/seabird_colony_catalog.htm), Gull Rock (Colony 243-010) is much more important for nesting than the lower island of Otter Rock (243-010.2).
In 2008, 2010, and 2012 (even-year pattern!), we have had Brown Pelican records every month of the year. Pelicans are the fewest and often entirely not reported at all during February and March, so will this year be the first odd-numbered year with records each month? Scoping out Gull Rock or maybe even the island of Otter Rock off Beverly Beach in the early morning or before sunset may reveal not only some March records this year, but also surprisingly large numbers of pelicans. Any observers?
On 2/11, SP counted 28 GREAT BLUE HERONS roosting in a tree at Lint Slough (Alsea Bay). Herons often perch in trees between tides or during the day, but such congregations now could also be related to pairing and early nesting season activities. In the 1970s, the first eggs were laid in mid-March, so nesting is not far away for them.
Last month, PD reported a Great Blue Heron perched on a thick powerline near the junction of HWY 20 and Fruitvale Road east of Newport on 1/22. After reading about this, CP noted one perched on the lowest, heaviest, black insulated telephone line between power poles in the same area on about 2/4; a heron may better perch on such a line, not only because a thick wire would be easier to perch on and would sway less but also because an insulated wire would prevent heat loss through its feet that would occur if a heron perched on a non-insulated wire. Herons are masters of energy conservation!
We had 15 reports of single and one report of 2 GREAT EGRETS in Feb. at several sites.
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).
Lincoln Co. has 3 Raptor Routes. The North Lincoln Raptor Run is around the Salmon River Estuary and was under 10 miles long when it was done on 11/1 by DV and 11/15 by DV & LF; it was 17-19 miles long with the addition of East Devil's Lake Road when done on 12/6 and 1/11 by DV and 2/8 by DV & RM in 170-185 minutes. The Inland or Yaquina River-Siletz Raptor Route is about 65-70 miles long; it was done on 11/2, 12/5, 1/1, and 2/14 by JL & CP; the 1/1 & 2/14 routes took 292-304 minutes. The Coastal Route is about 60-62 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 done in 270-330 minutes on 12/8 by WN & RC and on 1/5 & 2/2 by WH, WN & RC. Because of space constraints, the Table here only has results for Dec.-Feb. Routes.
Doing these Routes is a practice of patience as well as discovery. While the totals of about 30 raptors for the much longer Inland and Coastal Routes are impressive, so these Routes may seem at first glance to be action-packed, 30 raptors in about 300 minutes, is an average of 1 new raptor per 10 minutes, which is also approximately the rate for the Northern Route in Dec.
The sum for Feb. Routes indicates that the most numerous raptor was Red-tailed Hawk with a total of 39. The next most abundant raptors in Feb. were Bald Eagle (23), Peregrine Falcon (4), and American Kestrel (3).
TURKEY VULTURES were first found over Toledo during the 2/14 Inland Raptor Route (JL & CP).
During Dec.-Feb., 1-2 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS were recorded during 7 of 9 Raptor Routes, which shows how widespread they have become. We had 12 additional reports of scattered singletons in Feb. through 2/25, including during the 2/23 YBNFT (DG).
Single Red-shoulders have been regularly seen at the HMSC and other sites, but that does not mean that only 1is there. On 2/7, an observant PL was walking the HMSC Nature Trail and spotted 1 adult on the north end of the trail on the seawater tank, and another adult further south atop a swallow box. PL added "I could see both at once, so no question that there were two."
A MERLIN graced the Salmon River on 2/1 (DV).
Besides on the Raptor Routes, 1-2 PEREGRINE FALCONS were seen on 7 other days, and kestrels were found at Yaquina Head during 4 days in Jan., Gleneden Beach on 2/16 (LL), and the Salmon River on 2/17 (ME).
------------------------------------------- Dec-Jan. North |Inland |Coastal 12/ 1/ 2/|12/ 1/ 2/|12/ 1/ 2/ Raptor 6 11 8| 5 8 14| 8 5 2 ------------------------------------------- Turkey Vulture 0 0 0| 0 0 2| 0 0 0 Wh-tail. Kite 1 0 0| 1 2 2| 0 0 0 Bald Eagle " adults 2 3 0| 2 4 7| 14 14 14 " subadults 0 1 0| 0 0 0| 0 2 0 " unknown age 0 0 0| 0 0 0| 0 1 2 North. Harrier 2 3 1| 1 0 1| 2 0 0 Sharp-sh. Hawk 2 1 0| 0 2 0| 2 0 0 Cooper's Hawk 0 0 0| 0 0 0| 1 1 0 Red-shld. Hawk 2 1 0| 0 2 1| 1 1 1 Red-tail. Hawk 9 9 13| 26 18 14| 5 14 12 Am. Kestrel 0 0 1| 2 1 2| 1 0 0 Merlin 0 1 0| 1 1 0| 0 1 0 Peregrine Fal. 2 0 0| 0 2 2| 1 2 2 RAPTOR SUM 20 19 15| 33 32 31| 27 36 31
The new American Ornithologist's Union phylogenetic order used by eBird places falcons after woodpeckers. However, continuing to include falcons with hawks and eagles here seems more helpful in discussing Raptor Route results.
[Image Not Included: Adult Red-shouldered Hawk balancing on top of a pine tree at the HMSC on 2/17. Yes, they do have a red-shoulder! Photo by Roy Lowe.]
Seasonal concentrations of 10 or more BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS included 11-23 at Depoe Bay seawall area on 1/30 (TSh; ME) and 10-11 at Seal Rocks on 2/18 & 23 (RLe; LO).
1-2 ROCK SANDPIPERS were at Depoe Bay on 1/30 (ME; TSh) and at Seal Rocks on 2/2, 17, & 18 (AC, TM & SB; PS & CK; RLe).
COMMON MURRES started making their seasonal approach toward their Yaquina Head nesting colonies, with 10-15,000 approaching within a mile on 2/3 (GK; WH).
A dead adult HORNED PUFFIN in winter plumage was photographed near Wakonda Beach south of Waldport during a 2/16 CoastWatch survey (http://oregonshores.org/report.php5?rid=5551).
Single BAND-TAILED PIGEONS appeared at Waldport on about 2/10 (RLo) and at Lost Creek south of Newport on 2/20 (KS). Stragglers sometimes start occurring in about mid-February, but they don't become common for about another month.
Continuing the trend of increased reports and numbers of MOURNING DOVES, we had 5 reports in Feb., with a maximum of 37 at L&JM's home where they are fed east of Sally's Bend.
A BARRED OWL was calling at 3 PM in afternoon at Thornton Creek between Toledo and Eddyville on 2/16 (D&LF), and 2 were duetting at Hudson Loop between Toledo and Siletz on 2/24 (JL).
A female ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD was collecting seed fluff, presumably for nesting, at L&JM's home east of Sally's Bend on 2/2.
A RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD continued to overwinter at L&JM's home east of Sally's Bend, and the first migrant (a male) was reported at Waldport on 2/16 (RLo).
Our latest RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER was at Hudson Loop between Toledo and Siletz on 1/21 (JL), and a NORTHERN FLICKER with yellow-shafts was at Depoe Bay on 2/15 (JRe).
[Image Not Included: A flock of 33 Mourning Doves feeding at John & Linda MacKown's home east of Sally's Bend on 2/22; more were nearby. Photo by John MacKown.]
Single BLACK PHOEBES continued from Jan. at Ona Beach on 1/30 (JRi) and Hidden Valley between Toledo and Newport on 2/14 (JL & CP).
After an absence of over a month, a WESTERN SCRUB-JAY reappeared in the SW 9th and Angle neighborhood of Newport on 2/25, and it had a bill abnormality, perhaps a broken bill (DA). Other single scrub-jays were reported in Toledo on 2/11 (RJ & others) and at Devils Lake on 2/20 (JS).
The only WESTERN BLUEBIRD reports were at Yaquina Head during 1/24 to at least the end of Jan. (BLM); they may have continued there into Feb.
AMERICAN ROBIN numbers can wax and wane this time of year, though it is not clear if this because of migration or local aggregating. On 2/18, PR had a marked increase to 22 in his Newport yard.
1 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was near Olalla Slough in Jan., in the Toledo area on 2/16 & during the 2/23 YBNFT (DG), and in Toledo on 2/25 (BD & TJ).
WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS continued their apparent scarcity this winter with our only report since Jan. 1 on 2/25 at Toledo (BD & TJ).
WESTERN MEADOWLARKS wintered at Yaquina Head on 1/29, and 5 were at the YBSJ on 2/4 (DH).
[Image Not Included: Our only Northern Shrike so far this winter was at 3 Rocks Road near the Salmon River on 2/19. Photo by Jack Doyle.]
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: David Adamson, Range Bayer, Birding Oregon (http://birdingoregon.info/), Bureau of Land Management staff and volunteers at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (BLM), Sean Burns, Rebecca Cheek, Alan Contreras, Pat Dickey, Barbara Dolan, http://eBird.org (location and observer not accessible in "View and Explore Data" for "All Observations" but available through "Bar Charts"), Mark Elliott, Darrel & Laura Faxon, Linda Fink, Jeff Gilligan, Dawn Grafe, Wayne Hoffman, Deb Holland, Rodger Johnson, Tim Johnson, Carol Karlen, Gretchen Kazebier (BLM), Janet Lamberson, Pete Lawson, Rick Leinen (RLe), Leslie Lewis, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe (RLo), Linda & John MacKown, Rick Mark, Thomas Meinzen, Judy Meredith, Walt Nelson, 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://birdnews.aba.org/maillist/OR01), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Ram Papish, Sylvia Pauly, Chuck Philo, Paul Reed, Jim Regali (JRe), John Riverso (JRi), SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Tim Shelmerdine (TSh), Julia Siporin, Terry Smith (TSm), Keith Stratton, Paul Sullivan, Dawn Villaescusa, Paula Von Weller (PW), 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/): 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, DEVIL'S PUNCHBOWL STATE NATURAL AREA (#63): western side of town of Otter Rock, ECKMAN LAKE (#84): lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, GULL ROCK: large island about 0.5 mi to westnorthwest of Devil's Punchbowl, HMSC (#75): OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, OLALLA SLOUGH: slough on E side of Toledo meandering S into Yaquina Bay, 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., WANDEMERE: about 0.5 mi north of Ona Beach State Park near HWY 101, YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty (the "Gull Puddle" area on the YBSJ is about 0.6 mile from Yaquina Bay Bridge), YAQUINA HEAD OUTSTANDING NATURAL AREA (#65): headland north of Newport.
During Feb.-April, waterbird and marine mammal activity and abundance in Yaquina Bay are greatly influenced by herring that come into the Bay to spawn (also see Kathy Merrifield's Other Nature Notes column in this Sandpiper). As discussed below, fish-eating marine mammals and birds feed on herring, and birds feed on herring eggs deposited intertidally on vegetation (particularly native Zostera marina eelgrass), rocks, pilings, and other objects. At Yaquina Bay, spawning has been noted as early as December 26 and generally 3-7 spawnings per year occur from mid-January to mid-April (Bayer 1980). There are often high concentrations of birds after herring spawns, and bird activity at Yaquina Bay is described in Bayer (1980), for which the abstract states:
"[RB] observed 17 bird species feeding on herring eggs throughout high and low tides at high rocky intertidal and low intertidal areas [at Yaquina Bay]. At low tide gulls fed directly on eggs, but at high tide they pirated eggs from diving birds or picked up eggs drifting in water. Brant, wigeon, and coots picked up eggs while walking, or tipping up or through piracy; in deeper water coots dove for eggs. Diving ducks obtained eggs by diving, by piracy, or by picking up eggs while swimming. Less than 25% of the gulls, coots, or Buffleheads, but as many as 45% of the scaups and 83% of the scoters observed in the lower estuary were in groups feeding on herring eggs. The species composition and abundance of birds varied within [Yaquina Bay] and probably reflected: 1) the onset of spring migration; 2) immigration of birds into the estuary to feed on eggs; 3) the presence of birds near a site of egg deposition: and 4) the domination of herring egg deposits by gulls in the upper intertidal zone."
Birders or biologists knowledgeable of bird behavior at herring spawns can monitor bird activity to determine where and when there has been a spawn, since birds seem to quickly find a herring spawn and can do so easier than humans trying to cover a large area, particularly when the eggs are submerged.
Unfortunately, many birders may not be aware of herring or their spawning at Yaquina Bay and how that influences the birds or bird/marine mammal aggregations they see during Feb.-April.
The numbers of birds at a spawn can be very impressive. For a particularly large spawn seen after his paper in 1980, RB estimated 10,000+ scoters just in lower Yaquina Bay.
This year, the "Marine Zone Recreation Report" by the ODFW (http://www.dfw.state.or.us/rr/marine/) for March 21 indicates that herring had already spawned at least 3 times in Yaquina Bay. So there were multiple occasions for birds to feed on eggs. Perhaps there will be more.
In the following sections, more is mentioned about herring and birds at Yaquina Bay this month, and some of the bird reports in lower Yaquina Bay not mentioned as being related to herring may have been.
References to Herring Spawning at Yaquina Bay (where there is the only commercial herring roe fishery in Oregon)
Bayer, R. D. 1980. Birds feeding on herring eggs at the Yaquina Estuary, Oregon. Condor 82:193-198. At http://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/condor/v082n02/p0193-p0198.pdf
Leal, D. R. 2008. A fishermen's agreement and co-op in Yaquina Bay roe herring. P. 415-423 in Case Studies in Fisheries Self-Governance. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 504. At ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/a1497e/a1497e36.pdf
During 2/8-23, 30-33 GR. WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were in the Otis/Salmon River area (DV; DH), and they lingered until at least 3/20, when 33 were tallied there (RN).
BRANT migration is underway with PP seeing a flock of 20 flying north past Lincoln City on 3/20. Brant customarily only migrate low over the ocean and not over land. The high count in Yaquina Bay was on 3/23, when no Brant were east of the Yaquina Bay Bridge where they winter, and 318 were west of the Bridge on the north side of the channel at a flat rock, intertidal shelf (RB).
On 2/24, RL watched 60 ALEUTIAN CACKLING GEESE fly over Yaquina Head. Other goose flights that may have been Aleutians included a "V" of about 200 geese winging north over the HMSC on 2/25 (PL), a big "V" of about 300-400 Cacklers heading north about a quarter mile offshore in southwest Newport on 3/1 (RB), and 60 small geese flying north slightly offshore of Wandemere on 3/4 (RC).
A CANADA GOOSE with a mostly white head that may have been a cross between a Western Canada Goose and a domestic goose was at Olalla Slough on 3/2 (BO & RB), and also there was our only EURASIAN WIGEON on 2/26 (DH).
The male TUFTED DUCK, first found by DG & RP in the Olalla Slough area on 2/24, was seen by many observers until at least 3/21 (DG & RP). It may still be lingering.On 3/19, JG reported a rare COMMON EIDER about a mile north of Depoe Bay that was not relocated.
HARLEQUIN DUCKS were recorded every day in Feb. at Yaquina Head (BLM). In March, we had 15 records (m.ob.), with a peak count of 11 (10 males and 1 female) at the YBSJ on 3/21 (ME).
On 3/9, WH wrote:
"Over the past several days we have had some herring spawning near the South Jetty. The herring stick their roe to the substrate - rocks, seaweed, eelgrass, etc. Anyway, the behavior of the diving ducks has changed radically in the area, as presumably they are feeding on the roe. This morning a flock of about 100 Surf Scoters, accompanied by 1-2 White-winged Scoters, 3 Black Scoters, several Buffleheads, and 1 female-plumaged Long-tailed Duck were feeding between the 1st and 2nd fingers. Earlier on several Brant were swimming with them. The ducks would gather on the surface 50-200m offshore, then swim toward the rocks, and when within 50m a portion of the flock would dive synchronously. After 1-2 synchronous dives they would swim quickly back out, regroup, and do it again. Their approaches were not all in the same place, but moved up and down a 300m stretch of the rocks."
On 3/15, WH noted:
"The herring roe feast in lower Yaquina Bay continues, although I suspect the spawning is done and the birds are just continuing on the accumulated eggs. Today at noon west of the 1st finger: 275 Surf Scoters, 3 Black Scoters, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 5 Bufflehead. Same group-feeding behavior as all week."
There were 8 reports of single LONG-TAILED DUCKS (m.ob.), with a high count of 3 at the YBSJ on 3/20 (RN).
We also had 8 reports of BARROW'S GOLDENEYES, with an exceptionally high count of 10 in lower Yaquina Bay on 3/11 (JG), and these were probably drawn into Yaquina Bay to feed on herring eggs. There were also 3 reports of a male hybrid COMMON X BARROW'S GOLDENEYE at Yaquina Bay during 3/8-15 (WH; JL).
PK saw and photographed a CHUKAR in the Siletz area on 3/3. It probably escaped from captivity, as people can raise them. Chukar, Bob-white, Ring-necked Pheasant, and Hungarian Partridge eggs and day-olds are available for purchase (e.g., http://olesensflyway.com/PHEASANT_CHICKS__HUNGARIAN.html). Even so, Chukars are rarely reported here, and we only have 3 records since 1992, with the most recent in August 2000 (FN).
On 3/1, RL was at the YBSJ and noted:
"Several California sea lions, a few harbor seals and about a dozen Common Loons were working over a school of herring and may have had them trapped in the corner. At times one of the mammals would force the school of herring to go airborne, and the water would 'boil'. I could never anticipate where it was going to happen or it would only last a few seconds so I never got a [photo] of the fish. The entire time I was there the loons would utter peeps when they surfaced, and I'm sure they were coordinating with one another as I've never heard loons talk this much. They also spent a fair amount of time swimming around with their heads in the water looking for the fish from the surface."
Only 6 birds were found dead along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach in February, including 1 white-phase NORTHERN FULMAR (B&SLo, L&VO).
PP saw our only FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL passing Spanish Head in Lincoln City on 3/20.
We had another BROWN PELICAN report for Feb. at Yaquina Head (BLM), which brought our Feb. total to 6 records. There were more March records, with 15 through 3/24 (m.ob.). It is unknown if the greater number of records is from more pelicans or from more observation effort. The Feb. peak count was 37 pelicans that were seen an hour before sunset on 2/17 at Gull Rock (where they roost at night) (PS & CK), but the March peak count for one site was fewer (10) at Depoe Bay on 3/19 (JG).
GREAT BLUE HERONS have been aggregating as they do in the early nesting season, with JW noting 29 "hunkered down along the west side of Lint Slough - south of HWY 34 bridge" in Waldport the last week of Feb. In past years, the eggs of the earliest nesters hatched in about mid-April (RB).
[Image Not Included: Adult Brown Pelican in breeding colors coming in for a landing near the Yaquina Bay South Jetty on March 1. It may have been landing to feed on herring. Photo by Roy Lowe.]
WH found the first-of-season OSPREY at the HMSC on 3/3, and the next day JL & CP saw an Osprey on its nest at Ichwhit (Bear) County Park on Hwy 229 at about Siletz River Mile 6.7. We had 5 additional reports thereafter, which suggests that these weren't just scouts, though in many other years they have been first seen in April.
On 3/4, JL & CP did their final Yaquina-Siletz Raptor Run of the season in about 4.5 hours and 72 miles and found 1 OSPREY, 1 WHITE-TAILED KITE, 3 adult and 1 immature BALD EAGLES, 13 RED-TAILED HAWKS, and 2 AMERICAN KESTRELS. Red-tails predominate on their route.
A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was at the HMSC on 2/27 (RL; JR), and RL saw another in different plumage in South Beach the same day. PK saw and heard one in the Siletz area on 3/3, and JMo also found one at South Beach State Park on 3/17. Will they nest or linger every month this year? If so, it would be first.
Other than during the Raptor Run, BLl also found an AMERICAN KESTREL at Logsden on 3/10&15, and our only MERLIN was in southwest Newport on 3/23 (RB).
PEREGRINE FALCONS were reported at Yaquina Head during 15 days in Feb. (BLM), and we had 7 reports of 1-2 in March (m.ob.).
KC had our first WHIMBREL report this year with 2 at the YBSJ that flew north on 3/25, and DH found our only LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS (3) at Eckman Lake on 3/24.
2 ROCK SANDPIPERS were at Seal Rocks on 3/7 (RR), and 1-7 were about a mile north of Depoe Bay on 3/10 & 12 (JG).
Phalaropes are unusual in March, but RMe found 1 RED PHALAROPE offshore on 3/1, and PP saw small flocks of phalaropes that were presumably Red Phalaropes moving 2+ miles off Boiler Bay on 3/20.
On 3/3, RMa was birding just west of Oregon Oyster farm at about Mile Post 6 along north Yaquina Bay Road when he "saw a lot of seagull commotion out in the middle of the river and realized there were about a dozen huge sea lions swimming upstream, occasionally jumping halfway out of the water." The gulls were probably going after herring driven to the surface by the sea lions.
RC spotted our first CASPIAN TERNS, a flock of 20, flying north past Wandemere on 3/13, but none have been reported since.
1 ANCIENT MURRELET was offshore on 3/3 (RMe) and from shore at Boiler Bay on 3/20 (PP). From shore, there were 4 reports of 1-5 MARBLED MURRELETS (m.ob.).
8 rare PARAKEET AUKLETS were discerned offshore on 3/10 (RMe), and 2 RHINOCEROS AUKLETS were found dead along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach in February (B&SLo, L&VO).
We had 2 isolated reports of single BAND-TAILED PIGEONS in Feb., and 2 appeared at Wandemere on 3/4 (RC & WN). Our next reports were on 3/21 between Toledo and Siletz (JL) and on 3/23 in Toledo (JS). In past years, most appear in April, so the 3/21 & 23 pigeons may signal their mass arrival.
A BARRED OWL lingered to 2/19 at Logsden (BLl). At her home between Toledo and Siletz, JL had our only March Barred Owl records (3/1, 8, & 24) and a RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER (3/7 & 13). On 3/21, a NORTHERN FLICKER and a HOODED MERGANSER were contesting ownership of a nest box at DG's & RP's Toledo home.
The unprecedented increase in BLACK PHOEBE reports that began last Oct. continued. By the pond near the restrooms at Ona Beach State Park, 1 was first noted in Jan., and reports have continued through 3/6 &11 (EH; NW). Another reported in Hidden Valley between Newport and Toledo during the 12/29 YCBC may have remained (or there may be more than 1) as JL & CP also spotted 1 there during their 3/4 Raptor Run. While searching for the Tufted Duck on 3/2, BO & RB found 1 Black Phoebe flycatching from shrubs over or near the water on the west side of Olalla Slough, and RB saw another flycatching over water from a shrub at Boone Slough. They were also reported this winter at Beaver Creek and Lincoln City, so singletons were widely dispersed. Patient looking where there are shrubs near or over fresh water may lead to the discovery of even more. It is RB's impression that we have had more reports since last October than the grand total for all previous years! For all years prior to 1993, we only had 2 records (SemiL), but just this month, we had 5 records! Will this be the first year with records each month of the year? Will this be the first year their nesting will be documented here? (Last August, a probable nest was found under a Beaver Creek bridge.) It will be up to observers to determine.
WESTERN SCRUB-JAY numbers, sightings, and distribution were much greater in March than Feb., but it is unknown if this is from more scrub-jays or more observation effort or reporting. 1-2 were in the Inn at Otter Crest/Devils Punchbowl area on 3/3, 13, & 14 (TH; MG; MT), 1 was in the HWY 18 area of the north county on 3/3 (JI), 1 was at NE 8th and NE Eads in Newport on 3/23 (P&PR), 2 were at 363 NW 3rd Street in Newport on 3/23 (MW), and 3 were at Devils Lake State Park on 3/24 (KC). The Newport scrub jays were pretty far apart and probably different birds. Let's try to keep reporting them because we also had records in Jan. & Feb., so this may be the first year with records each month of the year. Unfortunately, they may be so common in some areas that observers take them for granted and don't report them.
TREE or VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS have often appeared in February in past years, though they first became common in March (SemiL). This year, DG first saw Tree or Violet-green Swallows at the HMSC on 3/3, with first reports of Tree Swallows at Beaver Creek on 3/4 (DH) and Violet-green Swallows at the HMSC on 3/8 (TW), the same day when Tree's were checking out SH's nesting boxes in the Siletz Valley.
WESTERN BLUEBIRDS nest in snags in open clearcut areas of Lincoln County, where birders seldom go. Our few winter sightings are usually near the coast where there are birders and mainly have seemed to be during periods of freezing weather. This winter, bluebirds continued at Yaquina Head with 6 days of records until 2/21 (BLM). Our only other report this winter was in the Siletz River Valley, where SH wrote on 3/18:
"A small flock of Western Bluebirds (6 - a family group?) were with us from the 4th week in December through the first week in March, hawking our pasture and perching on the fence and outbuildings. They were here almost daily, but haven't been seen for a week. After 2 years of non-use, the pasture was beginning to fill in with shrubs, so we had it mowed last fall. Prior to this year, we had seen bluebirds sporadically, primarily in the spring and fall."
An uncommon TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE was at the ocean side of HWY 101 at Spencer Creek between Yaquina Head and Devil's Punchbowl on 3/12 (BS).
We had an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER report at Yaquina Head on 2/11 (BLM) bringing the Feb total to 4 records of lone birds, but these probably represent isolated birds, not migration. Our only March report was of 1 at Salishan on 3/17 (DR), which is still early for a spring migrant (SemiL).
The morning of 3/12, PL saw a PALM WARBLER near the east wing of the main HMSC building, and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was in Toledo on 3/13 (RJ & others) and 3/23 (CP). CP comments that White-throated Sparrows seem to be as same abundant and frequent this winter as in past winters.
On 3/3, WH spotted a Cassiar-type Slate-colored DARK-EYED JUNCO coming to DG's and RP's Toledo feeder. WH wrote that it "looks like a Slate-colored Junco, but has some brown in the back. They come from NW British Columbia. They are generally considered hybrids between Slate-colored and Oregon juncos ..." GG discusses and has photos of Cassiar's in Oregon (http://nwbackyardbirder.blogspot.com/2011/04/not-slate-colored-junco-cassiar-junco.html). On 3/25, JL noticed a Slate-colored Junco feeding on birdseed at Hudson Loop between Toledo and Siletz that had "no trace of pinkish color."
Our only WESTERN MEADOWLARK report was of 1 at the YBSJ on 3/15 (MG), and during 3/15-17, DV had a brightly colored male LESSER GOLDFINCH at her feeder in Nelscott (Lincoln City).
We had 2 reports of EVENING GROSBEAKS on 3/23: at BB's feeder in Yachats and at CP's home in Toledo. CP adds that there are more this winter than in the past.
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Bureau of Land Management staff and volunteers at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (BLM), Ken Chamberlain, Rebecca Cheek, Dick Demarest, http://eBird.org (location and observer not accessible in "View and Explore Data" for "All Observations" but available through "Bar Charts"), Mark Elliott, Jeff Gilligan, Greg Gillson, Dawn Grafe, Michael Green; Tyler Hallman, Wayne Hoffman, Deb Holland, Eric Horvath, Signe Hurd, Jed Irvine, Rodger Johnson, Penelope Kaczmarek, Carol Karlen, 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, Rick Mark (RMa), Ryan Merrill (RMe), m.ob. (multiple observers), James Moodie (JMo), 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://birdnews.aba.org/maillist/OR01), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Ram Papish, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Pat & Paul Reed, John Riverso, Roger Robb, Douglas Robinson, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Bill Shelmerdine, Jackie Shipley, Paul Sullivan, Mary Trost, Dawn Villaescusa, Tom Wainwright, Nils Warnock, Jean Weakland, Mark Worden, Yaquina Bay CBC (YCBC) compiled by DG, Yaquina Birders & Naturalists (http://yaquina.info/ybn/) Field Trip (YBNFT) led by DD.
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, 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., 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 (the "Gull Puddle" area on the YBSJ is about 0.6 mile from Yaquina Bay Bridge), YAQUINA HEAD OUTSTANDING NATURAL AREA (#65): headland north of Newport (vehicle entrance fee without a recreation pass such as the Oregon Pacific Coast Passport or America the Beautiful Passes honored by federal agencies).
The challenge in last month's Sandpiper was to try to continue reporting records each month this year for Brown Pelican, Red-shouldered Hawk, Black Phoebe, and Western Scrub-Jay. It would have been the first-ever year for Brown Pelicans in an odd-numbered year and the first-ever year for the other species. Alas, 2 of the 4 species were missed in April, but perhaps not from their absence. We can become so habituated to seeing birds that we take them for granted and stop reporting them.
In late April, massive numbers of many waterbirds were moving through (see species accounts below), and PP commented on 4/27 that this spring migration has not been normal:
"The density and sustained urgency, with birds compressed into a relatively early date compared to average peaks, and abnormally bunched near shore has been unprecedented, at least in the prior 13 years that I have been watching. Normally by the time they reach this latitude in spring, loons, Bonys [Bonaparte's Gulls], phalaropes among other species are much more fanned out, both in timing and distance from shore. Presumably the recent prevailing weather conditions leading to sustained north winds down the entire West Coast have been the cause."
On 4/7, RL saw some leg-banded BRANT at Idaho Flats. He saw 2 with red bands (banded at Wrangle Is./Chukotska Peninsula, Russia), two with green bands (banded at North Slope, Teshekpuk, Alaska), and one bird with only a metal band. He was just about to get the code of one of the green bands when an adult Bald Eagle flushed them. Seeing color leg bands on Brant is difficult, and accurately reading the codes, especially since they can include symbols, often seems nearly impossible. A digiscoped camera may help. But RL's observations do point out that our Brant are not all from the same area.
The high count of Brant inside Yaquina Bay where they winter was a total of 245 at Sally's Bend and Idaho Flats on 4/13 (RB), with 100 at the YBSJ on 4/24 (WH). However, the biggest Brant numbers were during Boiler Bay seawatches by PP or WH with 600-8,000 during 4/13-4/27.
GR. WHITE-FRONTED GEESE and CACKLING GEESE were the geese most seen in April. Sometimes it was difficult separating the two, since both were migrating on some of the same days, both could be in the same flock, and/or they were too distant to see or hear.
16 White-fronts that had been feeding in the Salmon River/Otis area lingered until at least 4/8 (ME). At 2 AM on 4/19, CP heard many white-fronts flying over his Toledo home, and that afternoon at about 1:45 PM, he saw thousands flying north as far as he could see to both the north and south over the Newport Fred Meyer's!
On 4/20, flocks woke up MLl at Logsden, and BLl saw 12-15 huge skeins of probable white-fronts across the sky in the afternoon. The morning of 4/20, WH estimated 600 flying north over the YBSJ and minutes later RB saw presumably the same flock in southwest Newport flying north about 1/4 mile west of the shoreline of southwest Newport (near Hallmark Motel). At first, some were close enough that RB could visually identify them as white-fronts with binoculars. As RB continued to watch them, they noticeably turned to start flying to the northwest, farther offshore, and higher. Glancing at a compass at his location, they seemed to be heading a roughly estimated corrected for declination 316 degrees (uncorrected 300 degrees) (northwest) after changing direction. They disappeared out of sight from RB's vantage point and seemed to be continuing farther offshore. These white-fronts may have been taking a Great Circle Route to southwest Alaska that would shorten their migration distance compared to migrating north and then west along the coastline. Such flights have also been noticed in the past (e.g., in April and May 1996, RL saw flocks of white-fronts flying westward out over the ocean at Alsea Bay and Seal Rocks [FN]). These flights may be more common than our records indicate because observers have to be along the coastline, need to watch these flights for long distances, and have a compass to determine their heading. Additionally, if the geese change direction after they are far from the observer, estimating the new direction of the flight with a compass after they have changed direction is problematic other than they appear to be flying offshore or farther offshore. But probably the biggest obstacle to seeing and reporting these possibly Great Circle flights is our mindset that geese migrate north in spring, so we automatically assume they are flying north and don't look closely for a deviation from what we take for granted. Too often, we see only what we expect to see!
This year on 4/23, RL also saw flocks of 60 and 70 white-fronts passing over his house 3 miles east of Waldport and flying from the SE to the NW. They were likely passing over the Coast Range via the Alsea River drainage as has been noted in past years (Spring and fall migration of geese across the Coast Range of Lincoln Co., Oregon; by R. Bayer, R. Lowe, and D. Faxon. 1995. Oregon Birds 21:10-12 at http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/oregon-birds-1995-goose-migration.pdf).
Migrating flocks of white-fronts were also recorded during 4/21-30 (JWe; LO; BLl; RL; PP; and others). At dusk on 4/23 & 25, 2,000-2,500 landed in south Siletz Bay and may have spent the night (MMe fide RL; PP). On 4/27, WH saw a flock of 180 about 0.5 mile off Boiler Bay land on the water and remain for about 15 minutes before flying away.
A scattered few flocks of migrating CACKLING GEESE had been recorded in February and March (FN), and on 4/10, RL saw 160 Aleutian Cackling Geese passing north over the HMSC. During 4/14-25, many flocks of migrating Cacklers were spotted near the coastline (PP; WH; RB). On 4/20, hundreds were flying to the north in large skeins across the sky over the HMSC as illustrated in a short video by LT (fide RL); in a quick scan of the video, RB estimated about 700-900!
[Image Not Included: Geese migrating over Siletz Bay on April 30. They do not always migrate in perfect "V" or line. Photo by Dawn Villaescusa at http://i1014.photobucket.com/albums/af261/villaesc/Birds/IMG_5864_1_zps25050256.jpg]
April was a teal month with a hybrid EURASIAN X AMERICAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL at Siletz Bay on 4/11 (ME); see information at GG's http://thebirdguide.com/identification/Eurasian_Teal/teal_hybrid.htm), a pair of BLUE-WINGED TEAL in the YBSJ channel on 4/23 (WH), and a male CINNAMON TEAL at Boiler Bay on 4/25 (PP).
HARLEQUIN DUCKS were recorded 21 days in March at Yaquina Head (BLM), and we had many reports in April (m.ob.). The latest was on 4/29 at Boiler Bay (PP), and our latest LONG-TAILED DUCK was at the YBSJ on 3/29 (TB).
SURF SCOTER and WHITE-WINGED SCOTER northward migration continued from March through 4/29 (m.ob.).
On 4/28, DG & RP saw a CALIFORNIA QUAIL on the entrance road to South Beach State Park, and on 4/30, DG discovered a male California Quail on the road by student housing at HMSC. DG wondered if these were released or were escapees. It is hard telling because some are regularly found and are probably locally resident, but the occurrence of these 2 on roadways in populated areas suggests that they are used to and perhaps reared by people.
Loon migration along the coast was heavy from 4/14 through at least 4/29. They were mostly PACIFIC LOONS, with many RED-THROATED LOONS, and some COMMON LOONS (PP; WH; others). During a 10 hr Boiler Bay seawatch on 4/25, PP estimated 180,000 Pacifics (45,000 in the first hour), 12,000 Red-throateds, and 500 Commons. PP has an impressive video clip of part of the 4/25 Pacific Loon flight at Boiler Bay at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BpMdI3w5cU
MMa saw a YELLOW-BILLED LOON at Yaquina Bay on 4/15 (fide HN), and WH & PP had a CLARK'S GREBE at Boiler Bay on 4/24.
8 of 16 dead birds in March along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach were NORTHERN FULMARS (B&SLo, L&VO).
A MANX-type SHEARWATER was at Boiler Bay 4/23 & 25 (PP).
With so many geese migrating north it would have been easy to miss the DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT migration, especially since they sometimes appeared mixed with migrating geese (PP). Peak counts were 900-1,000 during Boiler Bay seawatches on 4/23 & 25 (PP). The latest flock was flying north over the YBSJ on 4/27 (BO & RB).
On the other hand, 90% of 500 BRANDT'S CORMORANTS were flying south on 4/16 at Boiler Bay (PP), but only about 60% of 2,000 were flying south on 4/25 there (PP). So their movements were mixed.
We had 14 records of BROWN PELICANS in April (m.ob.). JWi counted 99 on 4/26 during seawatches at Boiler Bay and Whale Cove/Rocky Creek State Wayside, and this was the only count above 20.
In the area near a GREAT BLUE HERON colony near Toledo, CP saw 10 fly up, circle, and fly in different directions on 4/10, and DF counted 54 fly up in a tight "kettle" on 4/22 that he thought might be a response to a Bald Eagle. In past years, the first heron eggs hatched around April 15, so the 4/22 flight may have occurred when there were eggs or some small young in the nest. In 2005-2007, JL was monitoring a heron colony in lower Yaquina Bay and saw such flights with up to about 100 herons in mid-March (FN), the timing of which suggests that it may have been related to courtship. The flights this year are a month later, which suggests that either courtship is delayed at this colony or these flights are unrelated to courtship and could be a response to Bald Eagles which prey on young and adult herons and have caused the abandonment of heron colonies elsewhere.
There were 4 reports of GREAT EGRETS, with reports of either singletons or uncounted egrets. We are still waiting for our first egret nesting record. We had more reports of 1-2 GREEN HERONS (6) than egrets.
MLl saw a possible NORTHERN GOSHAWK scooting through the Logsden area on 3/29 (fide BLl). Our last previous report was in 2011 (FN).
There were no April records of RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, so this year will not be the first with records throughout the year. Their status during April-July remains unclear, so records are welcome.
On 4/23, WH had "a short but good look at a pale-phase SWAINSON'S HAWK soaring over Communication Hill" at Yaquina Head. This is only our 3rd report, with the previous one in January 1993 (FN).
An AMERICAN KESTREL was at YHONA on 3/23 (BLM), in Logsden on 4/3 & 5 (BLl), in Toledo on 4/8 (AA & 34 others), and at the HMSC on 4/13 (DI & SF). Single MERLINS were common with 6 sightings (m.ob.), and PP tallied a total of 7 flying separately during his 4/25 Boiler Bay seawatch. PEREGRINE FALCONS were often reported, especially at Yaquina Head (BLM).
Departing shorebirds included WILSON'S SNIPE on 3/24 at Fall Creek in the east County (DH), and ROCK SANDPIPER on 3/28 at Seal Rock (TB). However, snipe have nested at Lost Prairie in the northeastern part of the County and may nest at other high elevation marshes.
Some arrivals include WHIMBREL on 3/25 at the YBSJ (KC), BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER on 3/31 at the HMSC (GG), SEMIPALMATED PLOVER on 4/22 at Boiler Bay (PP), and RUDDY TURNSTONE on 4/23 at Boiler Bay (PP).
On 4/23 at Boiler Bay, PP found 1 AMERICAN AVOCET flying north about 300 yards offshore and our only LONG-BILLED CURLEW. The avocet is only our 8th record and the first since 2009 (SemiL; FN).
On 4/24, WH discerned an uncommonly reported SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER at the HMSC, which is the first since 2009 (FN).
1-7 MARBLED GODWITS were at Seal Rocks, Yaquina Bay, Boiler Bay, and south Siletz Bay during 4 days between 4/17-30 (PS & SM; RS; DH, WH; DV), and 1-16 RED KNOTS passed Boiler Bay during PP's seawatches on 4/22, 23, & 29.
Thousands of mostly WESTERN SANDPIPERS plus many LEAST SANDPIPERS and DUNLIN were noted passing north during 4/20-28 seawatches (PP; WH). PP's peak counts of Westerns at Boiler Bay were on 4/22 (50,000), 4/23 (110,000), and 4/24 (200,000).
Hundreds to thousands of DOWITCHERS and RED-NECKED PHALAROPES passed Boiler Bay during 4/22-4/29 (PP; WH; JWi), with a peak count of 5,000 dowitchers on 4/23 and 150,000 Red-necks on 4/25 (PP). Some were also recorded at the YBSJ on 4/25 (BLl) and at ponds near the coast or Devils Lake during 4/25-27 (RM; JP; AW; BB; DS).
The only RED PHALAROPES were 4 at Boiler Bay on 4/26 (JWi).
[Image Not Included: Immature (left with black tail band) and adult Bonaparte's Gulls at the YBSJ on April 26. Photo by Roy Lowe.]
At Boiler Bay on 4/25, PP detected a SABINE'S GULL and 2 uncommon FRANKLIN'S GULLS.
The spring migration of BONAPARTE'S GULLS is usually unremarkable, but it was remarkable this spring! Their numbers first peaked on 4/24 at Yaquina Head with 1,000+ (WH). On 4/25, PP estimated 35,000+ during a 10 hr Boiler Bay seawatch, and his seawatch may have missed hundreds that were flying north just inland at Newport and Lincoln City (RB; DV). The last count with more than 35 was of 562 at Whale Cove/Rocky Creek and Boiler Bay on 4/26 (JWi).
Our only jaeger was a POMARINE JAEGER flying north past Boiler Bay on 4/22 (PP).
A rare THICK-BILLED MURRE passed Boiler Bay on 4/23 (PP). The previous one was detected in 2008 (FN).
The latest ANCIENT MURRELETS were 34 during a north Depoe Bay seawatch on 3/21 (JG). 1-4 MARBLED MURRELETS were seen during coastal seawatches on 5 days in April (PP; WH; JWi).
On 3/21, JG did a 7 hr seawatch at north Depoe Bay and saw a total of 11 PARAKEET AUKLETS with 6 in one flock. On 4/18, ME found and photographed a dead one at the north end of Lincoln City near Road's End.
1-2 CASSIN'S AUKLETS were at Boiler Bay on 4/26 & 29 (JWi; PP), and 1-2 TUFTED PUFFINS passed Boiler Bay on 4/20, 22, 23, & 25; with an uncommon HORNED PUFFIN there on 4/23 (PP).
Someone's COCKATIEL appeared to have escaped and was flying around the USFWS building at the HMSC on 4/23, where it was chased by swallows when it neared their nesting boxes (RL).
A BURROWING OWL poked out on driftwood logs at a Lincoln City Beach on 3/28-29 and was photographed (CV fide JD; fide RM).
Our only BARRED OWLS were 1-2 at JL's home between Toledo and Siletz on 4/17 & 24.
RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKERS lingered near Logsden to 4/21, where at least one was "pounding on gutters and waking up people" (BLl), and Toledo on 4/29, where one was noted by CT and 34 others.
SC reported the season's first PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER on 4/20 at Lincoln City, and a few days later another arrived in Toledo (DG & RP).
During 3/30-4/18, CP had our only reports of BLACK PHOEBES, with 1-3 in the Toledo area, where they appear to be nesting. So the challenge continues to have Black Phoebe reports each month this year!
Our chance to get WESTERN SCRUB-JAY records each month of the year for the first time fluttered away as we had 2 records in late March (3/27 at Boiler Bay [TB] and 3/29 at SW 10th Street in Newport [CP] ), but none in April. RB suspects that they are present at a few sites, but are not being reported. Will we get reports for each month of the rest of the year?
Spring arrival dates this month for swallows include NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW on 4/2 at the Siletz River (GG), BARN SWALLOW on 4/13 at Ona Beach (LM), CLIFF SWALLOW by 4/18 at Yaquina Head (GK of BLM), and PURPLE MARTIN on 4/20 at Oregon Coast Aquarium (BLl). Rough-wings were first noted at their nesting sites along the beach near Lost Creek south of South Beach on 4/30 (BLo).
2-200 AMERICAN PIPITS flew by Boiler Bay during 4/22-27 (PP; WH), and JL found 4 at a grassy field near the Toledo Post Office on 4/23.
WH first reported an adult male LAPLAND LONGSPUR in breeding plumage near the base of the first rocky finger west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on 4/26, and it was also seen by others that day (RL; KR; FK). It was missed by many on 4/27, but perhaps the same one was also there on 4/28 & 29 (WH; EH; SR).
Spring arriving warblers include COMMON YELLOWTHROAT on 3/31 at Beaver Creek (GG; DH), WILSON'S WARBLER on 4/20 at Cape Perpetua (DG) (and a few days later at Beaver Creek [LO] and Toledo [RJ & 24 others]), MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER at the HMSC on 4/25 (RL), and HERMIT WARBLER at Toledo on 4/27 (DG & RP).
1-2 CHIPPING SPARROWS were at Gorton Road near the south end of Lincoln City on 4/7 (D&LF) and in Toledo on 4/18 & 20 (CP, JL).
Our latest WESTERN MEADOWLARK was at the HMSC on 4/3 (DH). The season's first BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS at Beaver Creek on 3/31 (DH) may have quickly passed through because the next were near Ona Beach on 4/14 (RC & WN).
2 LESSER GOLDFINCHES were in Waldport on 3/29 (DR) and Nelscott (Lincoln City) on 4/6 (DV).
[Image Not Included: Right side of an adult male Lapland Longspur by the YBSJ road on April 26. Photo by Roy Lowe. Note the sprinkled white (leucistic) feathers on its black throat and breast. These feathers may form a pattern that we can use to individually identify this bird. Eric Horvath photographed the left side of an adult male Lapland in the same area on April 28 that also had some leucistic feathers amongst the black feathers that may have been the same bird. But without comparing the pattern of leucistic feathers in photographs for the same side of the Lapland on April 26 & 28, this is uncertain. Internet photos show that it does not appear rare for breeding-plumaged male Laplands to have such leucistic feathers.]
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Aj Aubert, Betty Bahn, Range Bayer, Birding Oregon (http://birdingoregon.info/), Trent Bray, Bureau of Land Management staff and volunteers at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (BLM), Sammi Cadwallader, Ken Chamberlain, Rebecca Cheek, Jack Doyle, http://eBird.org (location and observer not accessible in "View and Explore Data" for "All Observations" but available through "Bar Charts"), Mark Elliott, Darrel & Laura Faxon, fide ("as reported by" someone other than the observer), Shawneen Finnegan, Jeff Gilligan, Greg Gillson, Dawn Grafe, Wayne Hoffman, Deb Holland, Eric Horvath, David Irons, Rodger Johnson, Gretchen Kazebier, Frank Kolwicz, Janet Lamberson, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Martha Llewellyn (MLl) & Bob Llewellyn (BLl), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Rick Mark, Mike Marshall (MMa), Sylvia Maulding, Michael Mefford (MMe), m.ob. (multiple observers), Lissy Moore, Harry Nehls, 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://birdnews.aba.org/maillist/OR01), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Ram Papish, Chuck Philo, Jody Picconi, Phil Pickering, Kathy Roberts, Doug Robinson, Skip Russell, David Schlesinger, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Paul Sherrell, Roger Sleeper, Laura Todd, Conner Tobert, Carol Vanderville, Dawn Villaescusa, Jean Weakland (JWe), Jay Withgott (JWi), Angie Wright.
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, DEVIL'S PUNCHBOWL STATE NATURAL AREA (#63): western side of town of Otter Rock, ECKMAN LAKE (#84): lake 2 mi east of Waldport along HWY 34, GRASS MOUNTAIN (E of Tidewater and NW of Alsea; most [including the top] in Benton Co., but part of north in Lincoln Co.; http://goo.gl/maps/2RQjB and http://www.summitpost.org/grass-mountain/225586), HMSC (#75): OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, ONA BEACH (#77): State Park about 6.6 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge along HWY 101 at Beaver Creek, PIXIELAND: former amusement park near Otis along Salmon River being restored to a natural site (http://www.opb.org/programs/ofg/segments/view/1773), SALLY'S BEND (#66): large Yaquina Bay embayment east of the LNG tank, THIEL CREEK: creek about 3.5 mi south of Yaquina Bay bridge, YBSJ (#71): Yaquina Bay South Jetty (the "Gull Puddle" area on the YBSJ is about 0.6 mile from Yaquina Bay Bridge), YAQUINA HEAD OUTSTANDING NATURAL AREA (#65): headland north of Newport (vehicle entrance fee without a recreation pass such as the Oregon Pacific Coast Passport or America the Beautiful Passes honored by federal agencies).
The challenge put forth in the March Sandpiper was to observe and get records each month this year for Brown Pelican, Red-shouldered Hawk, Black Phoebe, and Western Scrub-Jay. It would be the first for an odd-numbered year for Brown Pelicans and the first-ever year for the other species. With a late report for one species in April, the monthly records for 3 of the 4 species continue into June. The challenge is to continue the observations through the summer. Can we do it?
DV coordinated the May 12 Spring NAMC in Lincoln Co. with 17 volunteers that recorded 113 species and 5,358 individuals. The Oregon NAMC is a project of the East Cascades Audubon Society and the State Coordinator is CG (http://www.ecbcbirds.org/Default.aspx?tabid=69).
There will also be a Fall NAMC in September.
PP had the first report of WESTERN CANADA GEESE (Branta canadensis moffitti) flying north over Lincoln City on 5/1. These flights seem to be more frequent in late May and early June and have been thought to be molt migrations to the Columbia River by failed breeders and nonbreeders. Molt migrations of this subspecies have also been reported inland (e.g., http://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/wilson/v097n03/p0296-p0305.pdf), and the authors of that article wrote in their summary: "The time of molt migration is regular-with peak numbers in late June-but variable in volume. Breeding success the previous year probably affects numbers markedly, as most birds on molt migration are immatures." Molt migration in other species of waterfowl is also known (scroll down http://www.ducks.org/conservation/waterfowl-biology/why-waterfowl-migrate/page2 and see p. 94-98 in http://www.humboldt.edu/wildlife/faculty/black/pdf/O&B90CH5.pdf).
On 5/21, Jo photographed a pair of adult Western Canada geese with their brood of 6 goslings at Eckman Lake. One of the adults was neck-collared (http://pamperingcampers.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/imaginary-goslings/). The photograph reveals the neck collar to be "244" but part of the collar is either hidden under feathers or missing and is probably 244R. Brandon Reishus (firstname.lastname@example.org) reported that "244R was banded as a female gosling on June 29, 1994 on the Alsea River about 3 km E of Waldport." Over the years, we have had 5 sightings of her at Alsea Bay/Eckman Lake until JD photographed her at Chinook Winds Golf Course in north Lincoln City on 3 October 2011, but she returned to Eckman Lake just a few weeks later, where RL photographed her on Oct. 22.
If you see neck-collared Western Canada Geese please report them! It is fascinating to know more about the lives of individual birds! Anyone want to check in on the almost 19 year old 244R to see how she is doing?
[Image Not Included: Western Gull and Bald Eagle at Yaquina Head on May 25. Photo by Roy Lowe from http://www.flickr.com/photos/24707703@N06/with/8885587454/]
PP viewed the latest GR. WHITE-FRONTED GEESE at Boiler Bay on 5/5.
The last count of more than 25 BRANT was 200-300 on water or shore on 5/10 in the Devil's Punch Bowl/Otter Crest area (DD; ME). Brant (21) were last reported at Boiler Bay on 5/18 (DI, SB, SF, TJ).
DV photographed a lingering SNOW GOOSE at Millport Slough at Siletz Bay on 5/1.
PP saw a pair of BLUE-WINGED TEAL on 5/3 and a pair of CINNAMON TEAL on 5/5 migrating north past Boiler Bay.
On 5/4, JL & CP visited Grass Mountain that is mostly in Benton Co., and JL wrote that they heard a SOOTY GROUSE booming in noble fir forest from the Lincoln County side of Grass Mountain. JL adds "It was nice to get up into the 'high country' of Lincoln County - lots of wildflowers were in bloom, including one that CP told me was a 'Grouse Flower,' because it blooms when the grouse are booming." We have not had a Sooty Grouse (formerly Blue Grouse) report since 2010 but that may be because they are in areas with little if any birding effort.
Loon migration (primarily PACIFIC LOONS) continued through at least 5/18 (PP; WH; eBird). Northerly flying loons generally can be seen even into June.
1-2 CLARK'S GREBES graced Boiler Bay, Yaquina Head, or Yachats on 5 days during 5/3-26 (DV; DR; JC & TH; Wild Turkeys team [JW & others]; 5/26 (JW).
In April, mostly tubenoses were washed ashore along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach, with 2 NORTHERN FULMARS, 5 SOOTY SHEARWATERS, and 1 uncommonly beached LEACH'S STORM-PETREL (B&SLo, L&VO).
The BLM reports 5 more April records of BROWN PELICANS for a total of 19 April reports, and we also had 19 records through 5/26 in May with a high count of 130 passing Boiler Bay on 5/5 (PP). In the 1970s, pelicans were common later in the year, starting in June or July (SemiL).
RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS were absent in April and our only May report was a singleton at Alsea Bay on 5/19 by the Wild Turkeys team (JW & others). We don't have any June records, and last year was our first with a July record. Will we have any this June or July?
JL & CP had our only AMERICAN KESTREL on 5/4 as they traveled down Grass Mt. near Harlan in Lincoln Co.
A MERLIN was noted at Boiler Bay, Newport, and Pixieland during 5/3-17 (PP; TD & SS; DV), and there were many PEREGRINE FALCON reports, including of their nesting at Yaquina Head (BLM). On 5/4, JL & CP saw a Peregrine, and JL wrote that it was "riding the wind at the top of [Grass] Mountain," which would be in Benton Co., though we generally think of Peregrines as being coastal.
[Image Not Included: Dunlin in breeding plumage stretching at Yaquina Bay on May 1. Photo by Roy Lowe from http://www.flickr.com/photos/24707703@N06/]
At Boiler Bay, PP viewed 1-9 GOLDEN-PLOVER sp. on 5/3 & 5 and a BAR-TAILED GODWIT on 5/3.
Only single SPOTTED SANDPIPERS are found most of the year, but during May migration, small flocks appear, and this May there were counts of 4 at Sally's Bend on 5/3 (JL) and 10 at Eckman Lake on 5/7 (WHp). Last year the high count in May was 20 at Sally's Bend (DV).
DR heard our only SOLITARY SANDPIPER flying by Boiler Bay on 5/3 and saw our only SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER on the beach by the YBSJ on 5/5.
On 5/5, 1-2 LONG-BILLED CURLEWS were at Boiler Bay (PP) and YBSJ (DR). MARBLED GODWITS, RUDDY TURNSTONES, and RED KNOTS were also noted.
Thousands of "peeps" (primarily WESTERN SANDPIPERS) continued migrating north through 5/5 (PP; WH; RL; DR). There were no counts greater than a hundred thereafter. The highest count was PP's tally of 90,000+ during a 5 hr Boiler Bay seawatch the morning of 5/3.
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE migration also continued en masse through 5/6, with no counts higher than 15 from then on (PP; WH). PP estimated 40,000+ passing on 5/3 during a 5 hr Boiler Bay seawatch. Some RED PHALAROPES may have been with them, but our only report of Reds was on 5/24 at the YBSJ (MG).
On 5/19, the Wild Turkeys team (JW & others) found an adult FRANKLIN'S GULL at Yachats, and the only jaeger was a POMARINE JAEGER at Boiler Bay on 5/3 (PP).
On a hot 5/4, an adult and 2 immature BALD EAGLES but no COMMON MURRES were on the murres' Yaquina Head nesting colony (FS). It's looking like it will be a poor year for murre nesting success.
A rare THICK-BILLED MURRE was reported flying with COMMON LOONS 1/4 mile off Boiler Bay on 5/3 (DR), and 1-4 TUFTED PUFFINS were spotted at Boiler Bay during 7 days (m.ob.).
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES have successfully settled at many coastal locations but could some be migratory? On 5/5, PP saw a flock of 14 flying north at Boiler Bay, and the same day WH spotted a tight flock of 25 flying along the YBSJ and then flying north.
JL found BARRED OWLS at her home between Siletz and Toledo on 5/2-8, and she & CP also found one on the road up Grass Mt. on 5/4.
There was anticipation for migratory landbirds being blown to the coast or out over the ocean during May 4-5 because of the predicted strong winds from the east with the extraordinarily hot weather that could push inland migrating birds (and insects) to the coast. On 16 May 2008, such an occasion occurred when warblers and other birds were seen flying and RL wrote about the 5/16/2008 event: "just returned from Yaquina Head where the wind is gusting to 35 mph and higher, and it is very warm. ... From the west parking lot out to the deck, I saw no less than 50 Wilson's Warblers while I was there for about an hour. ... The warblers were really struggling in the wind. I saw some of the birds come in from the west and then just drop down into the salal and berry bushes exhausted."
This year, the weather predictions for May 4-5 were borne out with high temps of 85 and 87 F and maximum winds of 21 and 27 mph from the NNE and ENE at the HMSC, respectively (http://hmsc.oregonstate.edu/weatherproject/hmsc_weather.html).
On 5/5 at Yaquina Head, WH noted that he was particularly watching for landbird migrants, and saw 1 hummingbird fly "in off the ocean past the Lighthouse," 2 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS surprisingly west of the Lighthouse, and one Orange-crowned flying in from the ocean. The rarest bird he saw was a possible GRAY FLYCATCHER that briefly appeared on top of Salal Hill to the east of the Lighthouse before flying further east.
We had no other reports of landbirds flying from the ocean, but perhaps this is because WH may have been the only one looking. Alternatively, perhaps the winds from the east were not strong enough to blow more landbirds offshore.
SR detected our only RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER along Drift Cr. Camp Road east of Lincoln City on 5/10, and SLo saw our only NORTHERN FLICKER with yellowshafts at Thiel Creek in early May.
The BLACK PHOEBE monthly challenge continues with records each month so far this year, but will the string be broken in summer? Only CP had our April & May records. In May he monitored nests in Toledo. The first nest was abandoned by 5/2 after it had been about 75% completed; there were often 2 crows nearby, so maybe their presence was a factor in the abandonment. On 5/17, CP found a second Black Phoebe nest with an adult sitting inside and another guarding nearby. This nest was inside an empty, open garage near where he had earlier seen the nest that had been abandoned. On 5/20, he saw 2 fuzzy young standing at the edge of the nest that were still there at 6 PM on 5/21. The next day, he checked and the adults and young were gone. But the morning of 5/23, he found 1 or 2 adults sallying forth to catch insects and flying with insects in their bills into a row of approximately 25 foot high Douglas fir and cedar trees about 75 yards from the nest, presumably to feed fledglings that he did not see or hear. So CP's Black Phoebes appear to have fledged the night of May 21. In inland Douglas Co., MH saw that Black Phoebes also fledged sometime by the morning of 5/21. Last August after the nesting season, T&AM found what appeared to be a Black Phoebe nest under a bridge at Beaver Creek, so they may also nest in the Beaver Creek area.
Our WESTERN SCRUB-JAY monthly chase is back on! In Newport, SS reports that she saw one on 4/10 at NE 7th & Eads and one on 5/5 near NE 8th & Douglas. So we have records each month through May.
[Image Not Included: Adult (left) AMERICAN DIPPER feeding an impatient fledgling begging with flapping wings on a mid-stream rock at Schooner Creek near Lincoln City on May 20. The fledgling still has a juvenile's yellowish bill that is visible in another photo. Photo by Dawn Villaescusa from http://s1014.photobucket.com/user/villaesc/media/Birds/IMG_7729_1_zps7bd25cc1.jpg.html]
TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRES have been uncommonly observed in Lincoln County with only 6 records during 2001-2010 (FN). Things picked up with 3 reports during April-May 2011, but only 1 report in 2012 on Grass Mt. in Sept. (FN). This May, we had 3 Lincoln Co. reports, with singletons by DV at Pixieland on 5/2, by SN during the 5/12 NAMC (fide DV); and by CA at >1,000 ft elevation east of Depoe Bay on 5/9. In addition, JL & CP saw one on top of Grass Mountain just across the border in Benton Co. on 5/4.
AMERICAN PIPITS continued into May with 4 reports through 5/4 at Boiler Bay (PP).
A calling LAPLAND LONGSPUR flying along the YBSJ on 5/3 (DR) may have been the male found there in late April.
Departing warblers include 2 PALM WARBLERS in breeding plumage at Pixieland on 5/15 (DV) and a TOWNSEND'S WARBLER at Fall Creek Road east of Waldport on 5/16 (DH).
On 5/19, DF found a first summer or female rare BLUE GROSBEAK at Salishan Spit at Siletz Bay. The 2 previous ones were in May 2010 and Sept. 2011 (FN).
Spring arrivals include BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK on 5/6 at HMSC (DG) and Hudson Loop between Toledo and Siletz (JL) and WESTERN TANAGER on 5/10 at Drift Creek Camp Road east of Lincoln City (SR).
On 5/6 at Yaquina Head, WH got a good look at a rare GRASSHOPPER SPARROW, only our 3rd record (SemiL; FN).
On 5/16, a male BULLOCK'S ORIOLE was at a feeder in Newport near Grant Street (fide CP), and a first year male was near Otis on 5/18 (fide PP).
HS & KH found our only LESSER GOLDFINCH during the 5/12 NAMC (fide DV).
OBSERVERS/SOURCES: Christopher Adlam, Linda & Tom Berkemeier, Shawn Billerman, Bureau of Land Management staff and volunteers at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (BLM), Jenna Curtis, Dick Demarest, Jack Doyle, Todd Dunkirk, http://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), Shawneen Finnegan, Chuck Gates, Dawn Grafe, Merle Greenway, Tyler Hallman, Kelle Herrick, Wayne Hoffman, Deb Holland, Wayne Hooper (WHp), Matt Hunter, Dave Irons, Tom Johnson, Janet Lamberson, Lincoln Co. Birding & Nature Observing (LCBNO) (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCBNO/), Bob Loeffel (BLo) & Shirley Loeffel (SLo), Roy Lowe, Tom & Allison Mickel, m.ob. (multiple observers), Sue Norris, North American Migration Count (NAMC) compiled by DV, Field Notes (FN; Lincoln County records from the Sandpiper since 1992 are searchable at http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/bird.htm#recent), Jo at http://pamperingcampers.com/, Oregon Birders On-Line (OBOL; recent postings at http://birdnews.aba.org/maillist/OR01), Laimons & Vicki Osis, Chuck Philo, Phil Pickering, Douglas Robinson, Skip Russell, Floyd Schrock, SemiL (semimonthly Lincoln Co. bird records through 1992 for each species at ScholarsArchive@OSU [http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8070]), Harv Schubothe, Stacy Strickland, Wild Turkeys team for the Portland Audubon Birdathon, Dawn Villaescusa, Jay Withgott.
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