These dowitchers were hanging out in the same pond in Astoria, Oregon as the Sharp-tailed Sandpipers were visiting on Sept 26, 2015. I, of course, dipped on the Sharp-tailed having arrived just after they left.
The assumption is that Short-billed like saltwater and are on the coast and Long-billed like fresh water in are the valley.
Some of the other birders in the area simply mentioned these as dowitchers.
Here is a close-up of one of the birds. I think the length of the bill alone is long enough to be diagnostic for a Long-billed Dowitcher. The plumage looks uniform, the tertials are solid and thinly edged and the over-all coloring is drab. There is also a light buffy color to the underparts. The back has thinly edged dark feathers. I think this is a juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher, probably female with that long bill. I also noted the obvious bright white arch under the eye, a minor point but was clear; it is mentioned in The Shorebird Guide, I was looking for it on these birds.
This bird also shows the long bill. The bill looks gently arched through the outer half, seems fine-tipped. Also the rear end looks blunt rather than attenuated with the primaries not sticking past tertials. All these points are variable, but things to look for on Long-billed. Also Short-billed tend to molt into basic plumage on the winter grounds rather than at stop-over points like Astoria, Oregon. So to see a Short-billed with this much gray in the plumage aspect would be unusual this far north and in late September.
Long-billed Dowitchers are bigger birds, more front-heavy in structure (supposedly). When they are at rest, they need to sit up at a more upright position than the horizontal body position of a Short-billed. On the sleeping bird below, I have no idea if that is upright or not.
Seems a bit upright, but probably only a good point to look for on an odd bird in large sleeping flock. I can see the obvious under eye arches. But I see that on some Short-billed and light position probably matters.
Once again, I see finely edged plain tertials of a Long-billed. I cannot tell if that back bird has some new lower scapulars or if it is just a bright spot.
I was wondering if those gray feathers mixed in with the dark feathers were new basic scapulars.
Long-billed Dowitcher in a salt water pond on the coast.
The same day I wandered around the burned area at Parking Lot C at Ft Stevens State Park. Lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers were in the area. This bird shows the low contrast face pattern of an Audubon.
A pair of Downy Woodpeckers were finding something to eat on the burned pines.
I really wish they had let the area burn out a bit more. It has become overgrown with an introduced species of pine.
Lots of Surfbirds at the cove in Seaside were fun. I have become very fond of walking way out the rocks toward Tillamook Head; my dog , Huck, does not enjoy working around the rocky path, but sticks with me.
Elegant Terns art Hammond Boat Basin.
On the 3rd of October I did my last pelagic trip of the fall. We had a few sightings of Flesh-footed Shearwater, but I only got a brief glimpse of one of them. This is a fulmar in front of one of the large fishing boats we visited.
Thousands of Northern Fulmar and California Gulls.
Pacific White-sided Dolphin. We also saw Dall Porpoise, Dall Porpoise are the fastest dolphin/porpoise in the sea, they get up to 30 knots, equalled amazingly by the huge Orca. These Pacific White-sided are quick but not that fast, I think about 25 knots is their top speed.
I am determined to get some videos of pelagic birds flying, I tried on Saturday with absolute horrible results. Moved camera way too fast. Here is the baseline effort I will work to improve next year. Hold onto your lunches.
Thanks for visiting.