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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Birding Tillamook County

Today turned out to be a great day's birding at the Oregon Coast. The weather report had looked somewhat iffy as far as rain, but it held off and was sunny for most of the afternoon. Additionally, this birder is on a limited walking regimen for the next few weeks after fracturing a bone in her foot during Thursday night's hockey game (ouch!), so I was a little worried about covering ground, so today ended up being a nice mostly-driving tour of Tillamook county.

The original plan was to help my dad conduct a COASST survey, but walking the kilometer beach was out for me, so I birded the bay while he did the survey. Some highlights included common goldeneyes, surf scoters, pelagic cormorants, and common loons, all new birds to the year list. Once my dad returned from his survey, he got the scope on a large flock of brant, another new year bird. Across from the bay was this great blue heron, who had a stunning reflection in this calm pond:

Nearby I spotted a peregrine falcon perched in a snag. It was a good opportunity to try digiscoping with my new camera - my first attempt! Nothing fancy but it turned out pretty cool:

A couple of other birders stopped while we had the scope on the falcon, and it turned out to be Max from The Apartment Biologist with his wife. Funny to run into other bloggers in the field like that! They were also interested in spotting the snowy owl that has been seen on Netarts Spit of late, but we took two good scans of the peninsula and couldn't find it. There were hundreds of harbor seals hanging out on a sand bar, though!

Next stop was Oceanside, where a bald eagle perched on top of the rocks probably scared off any shorebirds that may have been lurking there. Also soaring the skies were three paragliders:

By the time we finished scanning the hundreds of sea lions hauled out on the rocks (it's amazing how high they climb up!) one of the paragliders was coming down for a landing on the beach:

Tillamook Spit was relatively quiet, but I did add the red-breasted merganser to the year list. It was actually a three-merganser day, as hooded and common mergansers were also seen. I also got a nice look here at a small flock of yellow-rumped warblers:

By then, the sun was starting to get low in the sky, but we decided to end the birding at Fenk Road which heads out into the field between a creek and a couple of farms. It turned out to be a birding hot spot, adding several species to the daylist such as gadwall and white-crowned and golden-crowned sparrows. It also yielded the highlight of the day, a life bird, a palm warbler!!

Palm warblers are primarily an eastern US bird, found on the other side of the Rockies, but there is a small contingent of the western sub-species that winters along the Pacific coast. There is a lot of variation within the species, and this one was relatively dull (typical for both western birds and wintering birds) except for the bright yellow undertail coverts. It also exhibited the characteristic constant bobbing of its tail. It was very cooperative, allowing us several spectacular views:


eileeninmd said...

Great bird shots, I love the first shot of the heron, the reflection is beautiful.

Warren Baker said...

Well done for getting out with your injured foot. Hope it heels quickly (pun intended!)

Great bird seen today, love those yellows.

Unknown said...

That heron photo is amazing! Nice shot!

Monika said...

Glad you all enjoyed the photos!

Very punny, Warren. :) I hope to be back hiking those trails in short order.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Sorry to hear about your foot. Following in Warren's 'footsteps' that's just toe bad! GWS
Great stuff about your lifer - nice one!



Heather said...

Ouch - so sorry to hear about your foot! Looks like you still had a good day of birding, though, and a lifer to boot! Congrats on that.

Max said...

It was quite a surprise to run into you at Netarts last month. We returned to the beach this weekend, but did not look for the snowy owl. Your sighting of the palm warbler has inspired us to keep an eye on the shrubs, however.