Sunday, January 11, 2015

Netarts Spit at Cape Lookout St Pk

I have never noticed that Cape Lookout State Park also includes a nice sand spit that extends north from the cape.  It is the sand barrier that creates Netarts Bay.  Not sure why I never noticed this area before, probably because I always go to the Bayocean Spit just to the north up at Tillamook Bay.  There is a $5 parking fee.  Since there seemed to be very few ebird reports from the spit itself  I decided to explore this beach on Saturday, January 10, 2015. There was a heavy mist when I started my hike at about 8:20 am but it soon stopped and it turned into a nice cloudy day.  The mist returned right before I got back to my car at 3:15 pm.

  My Canon camera decided not to turn on while I was doing the hike.  I did a quick google search upon my return home, and I hope it is just a bad battery.  It went dead after I tried to switch lenses.  It seems they can be picky if you leave the camera on by accident while doing this.  That might also be an issue. but I am hoping for a bad battery.  All these pictures are from my iphone.

The spit is a typical for Oregon.  It is covered by dunes with grass on ocean side with thick spruce and pine in the middle mixed in with wet bogs, the bay side has marsh grass and piles of seaweed..  This spit differs than Bayocean in the amount of erosion.  Numerous trees have been pulled over by the waters on both ocean and bay sides.  I walked the 5.1 miles north to the entrance to Netarts Bay. I was hoping to find a way back to the parking lot or at least to cut back to the ocean side by coming back down south on the bay side.  All I ran into was thick wet forest and wet smelly bogs.  I was forced to turn around and head back to the northern tip and return via the beach.  I figure I slogged through 13 miles of hard sand, soft sand, bay grass, washed up piles of seaweed and thick pine woods over the course of my hike. The  dog and I were very tired at the end of it all!

The beach had large numbers of Least Sandpipers and Sanderlings.  I also found two Western Sandpipers and a few Dunlin.  I spent most of the time scanning for any longspurs or Snowy Plovers.  It is such an isolated spot, I would think plovers would like it. But none found.

Due to the thick woods, the birds were hard to find.  Walking along the matted grasses on the bay side I found Song Sparrows, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Pacific and Marsh Wrens.  The tide was out, many Harbor Seals were on the sand bars and many  Western Gulls were flying about.  Below is a photo of an access road that heads out from the overnight camping area.  This was a very birdy spot.  I think the camping area and this access road would be well worth exploring more.  I took this photo as I was returning, the mist had settled in obscuring the woods in the distance.

Since my camera was dead and I was having a hard time getting to where the passerines would be, I decided to document all the dead birds I found on my hike on the beach.  See if you can figure them out based on the bills, answers at bottom:

Bird 1:

Bird 2:


A hint:

Bird 3:

A hint


Bird 4:  

Bird 5:

Bird 6:

Bird 7:

Bird 8

Answers as I see them and numbers seen:

1) Western Grebe 1
2) Pelagic Cormorant 1
3) Brandt's Cormorant 2
4) Rhinoceros Auklet 1
5) Northern Fulmar 1
6) Cassin's Auklet 45
7) Common Loon 1
8) Scripps's Murrelet???  1

Bird #8 had long bluish legs. All the Cassin's Auklets I found had short little dark legs.  I think the long blue legs belong to the Synthliboramphus murrelets (Scripps's, Guadalupe, and Craveri's) .  There was not much left of the bird, but it did have white on underside of wings. Craveri's have dark under the wing and Guadalupe is the far southern version of the old Xantus's Murrelet.  So Scripps's would be the more likely.

UPDATE on 1/12/15:  Well I do not think it was a Scripps's Murrelet.  Cassin's Auklets, when alive, also have blue legs.  Marbled Murrelets have black legs.  The bill also looks like the Cassin's Auklet.  

I am sure I could have spotted more ducks and passerines had I not spent most of the day scanning the high tide mark for plover or longspurs.  However, a fun day all in the same exploring a new spot.  My ebird list:

Brant  2
Cackling Goose  25
American Wigeon  7
Mallard  45
Northern Pintail  55
Green-winged Teal  8
Greater Scaup  23
Surf Scoter  23
Black Scoter  9
scoter sp.  12
Common Goldeneye  5
Red-breasted Merganser  13
duck sp.  23
Common Loon  3
loon sp.  6
Western Grebe  3
Brandt's Cormorant  2
Great Blue Heron  2
Northern Harrier  1
Bald Eagle  3
Sanderling  75
Dunlin  14
Least Sandpiper  100
Western Sandpiper  2
Mew Gull  1
Western Gull  45
Western/Glaucous-winged Gull  4
gull sp.  120
Northern Flicker  4
American Crow  2
Common Raven  4
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  17
Bushtit  5
Red-breasted Nuthatch  3
Brown Creeper  5
Pacific Wren  6
Marsh Wren  7
Golden-crowned Kinglet  3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Wrentit  4
American Robin  3
Varied Thrush  7
European Starling  5
Song Sparrow  6
Dark-eyed Junco  3
Red-winged Blackbird  6

Happiness is a wet dog with a sandy nose.

I found this cool spoiler for a blog, I'll use it to hide answers on tests in future. Just testing it now. I need to figure out how to stick a picture in here.
Another test to see if two work
A different code I found, easier to put two in same blog


  1. Good job! Why are there so many dead birds?

  2. The onset of winter always takes a toll on weak and young birds, This year was harder than most due to the unusually warm water and lack of food sources.

  3. Perhaps Ancient Murrelet. Not sure what bill color changes might happen after death. But bill short for Scripps's and not quite right for Cassin's (at least from the view given).

    1. Could be, it did have what was left of white under the wing. I was tempted to wash it off a bit, but thought it too fragile.