[Tweeters] Ocean Shores Redux - Migration on!
avnacrs4birds at q.com
Thu Apr 19 11:53:51 PDT 2012
What a difference a day makes! Lucky 13 of us headed to the coast Wednesday
morning, and despite the rather awful weather predictions, the day turned
out extremely pleasant, mostly sunny, and just a breeze instead of an
expected 20-25 mph wind. We tallied 62 species for the trip. First, here
are the highlights, followed by more details.
We hit the beach west of the entrance to Ocean Shores before high tide, and
it was phenomenal (see details):
SANDERLINGS - 20
MARBLED GODWITS - 250+
DOWITCHERS (sp) - 200
DUNLINS - 3000
WESTERN SANDPIPERS - 2000
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER - 1
BLACK TURNSTONE - 2
SURFBIRD - 1
Poss ROCK SANDPIPER (snoozing - hard to confirm this)
GREATER YELLOWLEGS - 13
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER - 4
LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER - 20
WESTERN SANDPIPER and DUNLIN - hard to estimate as they were rising up from
the pasture behind the road in small groups of 20+ -- poss 300 individuals
in the mix
Bowerman Basin (tide just starting to ebb):
WESTERN SANDPIPER - 2000-3000
DUNLIN - 200-300
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER - 9
Other highlights (Marina):
Three loons - COMMON, RED-THROATED, and PACIFIC - with views of the full
breeding-plumage Red-throated Loon at about 30 feet away, and a pair of
breeding-plumaged Common Loons at about 50 feet.
HORNED GREBE - two in breeding plumage
All three scoters - BLACK and WHITE-WINGED (on the water), and a flyby of
several SURF SCOTERS
WESTERN GREBE (a nice surprise bird here)
Tuesday, the shorebirds at Bowerman Basin were about 90% Dunlin/10% Western
Sandpipers, but Wedneday the percentages were reversed. Also, the shorebirds
at Ocean Shores on Tuesday weren't anywhere near the numbers we saw on
The weather predictions for the area were for showers, and uncomfortable
winds of 18-25 mph. Although at the bio-stop in Ocean Shores it was starting
to rain, and on the beach it rained for the first 15 minutes or so, the rest
of the day was mostly sunny, with dramatic banks of clouds moving to the
west, and only a mild breeze, which was quite pleasant.
After seeing a TURKEY VULTURE feeding at the side of the road on the way to
Aberdeen, we spotted a BALD EAGLE being dived on by an AMERICAN CROW on the
bluff above the bio-break McDonald's.
At the DF&W parking lot/restrooms (bring your Discover Pass for this
bio-break) at Ocean Shores, we tallied BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, a well-seen
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, VARIED THRUSH, AMERICAN ROBIN, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW
(heard), DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, and WESTERN GULL.
At first, the first full stop at the beach seemed lackluster for birds, with
only the SANDERLINGS chasing the waves in front of us. To the south,
however, we could see a large flock of shorebirds, which were conveniently
spooked by a passing vehicle, and which flew past us in a distinct
coordinated assemblage: MARBLED GODWITS, below which were DOWITCHERS, and
followed immediately behind by a mixed flock of DUNLIN/WESTERN SANDPIPERS.
The flock settled down about a quarter mile to the north, and we had
long-range views of the group.
Then the fun began: groups of 20 to 300 mostly Dunlin and Western Sandpipers
started streaming in to the shoreline from the landward side; many of these
passed quite close to us. For the next half hour, it was one flock after
another, until it was almost impossible to tell how many total shorebirds
were in the area. My count (above) is merely a rough-order-of-magnitude
In addition, we spotted a lone BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, more Western Gulls,
about five BROWN PELICANS, and a flock of about 200 CANADA GEESE.
At Brown's Point, and despite not going on top to see what was on the harbor
side of the jetty, we got good views of BLACK TURNSTONES, a SURFBIRD, and a
possible Rock Sandpiper (not counted). In addition, we saw PIGEON GUILLEMOT,
Brown Pelicans, PELAGIC CORMORANTS, and SURF SCOTERS.
We bypassed Damon Point, but several of us saw a couple of SPOTTED TOWHEES
flitting across the road. The marina stop was exceptionally rewarding. The
breeding-plumaged RED-THROATED LOON started out about 50 yards from us, but
eventually got within about 25-30 feet, offering astounding views of this
elegant bird. So, too, was the pair of COMMON LOONS, one of which even gave
us a brief, but entertaining courtship display. The two HORNED GREBES were
in full finery, but the PACIFIC LOON was still dressed in winter casual.
BUFFLEHEADS, CASPIAN TERNS, BLACK and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, more Surf
Scoters, a WESTERN GREBE, a flotilla of GREATER SCAUP, two MALLARDS, and a
MERLIN rounded out the birds on the water side. (We could see a large cloud
of shorebirds in the distance, but they were impossible to ID.)
Behind us on the land were SAVANNAH SPARROW, EUROPEAN STARLINGS, and a
RING-NECKED PHEASANT (heard).
We hustled to the Burrow's Road stop, and were rewarded with the 13 GREATER
YELLOWLEGS roosting in front of us, as well as a HOODED MERGANSER, a flyby
of Black-bellied Plovers, a GREAT BLUE HERON, and Buffleheads. A small flock
of LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS treated us by flying in and settling on (albeit
not gracefully at first) the pilings and one lone snag sticking out of the
water. Strings of Dunlin and Western Sandpipers came up from the pasture
behind us, flying toward the water. We also saw a displaying RUFOUS
HUMMINGBIRD, and heard COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and NORTHERN FLICKER.
Bowerman Basin was more active, though with a smaller-size flock of
shorebirds, than on Tuesday. A PEREGRINE FALCON was on the platform at the
west side of the sewage treatment ponds, and a RED-TAILED HAWK was kiting
over the marshlands when we arrived. GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROWS, RED-WINGED
BLACKBIRDS, MARSH WRENS, and TREE SWALLOWS, were at the parking area.
Further along the macadam road, we spotted Black-capped Chickadees, and saw
CLIFF SWALLOWS zipping around the last hanger before the entrance to
Sandpiper Trail. (The Cliff Swallows weren't there on Tuesday.)
RING-BILLED GULLS could be seen from the walkway, and we passed by many SONG
SPARROWS, Marsh Wrens, and a couple of towhees. Out at the end of the trail,
we saw the major (2500+) mixed flock of Western Sandpipers and Dunlin, with
the former species predominant. Several full- and partial-breeding plumaged
Black-bellied Plovers were visible. Not visible, however, were the
Red-breasted Mergansers of Tuesday. Instead, we saw a flock of about 100
NORTHERN PINTAILS, with a couple of GADWALLS thrown in for good measure.
Walking back, we spotted RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER.
Further along, near the point I heard the VIRGINIA RAIL on Tuesday, we
elicited responses from two rails (possible pair?) and saw one. A very
cooperative Marsh Wren also gave a bit of an aerial display at the same
spot. As we were getting to our cars, three AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES flew
Stopping at the sewage treatment ponds, we saw a small flock of LESSER SCAUP
on the water, along with Mallards, Gadwalls, and about 20 NORTHERN
I didn't see any further species on the way back, but all in all, we had a
very pleasant and rewarding trip. Hope you can make it to the coast this
weekend - I'll be looking for your report(s) on Tweeters.
May all your birds be identified,
Mailto: avnacrs4birds at q.com
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