Saturday, May 7, 2016

Clatsop County Shorebird Extravaganza

This was the weekend I set aside to look for shorebirds at the coast.  I headed to the ocean beaches in Clatsop County.  As they were a few weeks before, when I arrived at low tide at Gearhart the beaches were packed with clammers.

Not my favorite way to bird, driving around and in between parked cars and people.

I tried to scan the large flocks of Western Sandpiper for rarities.

None found except I spotted one lone Baird's Sandpiper on the back side of a flock, no photo.  I drove the 4.7 miles from 10th St to the Sunset exit. I got tired of the crowds and dodging cars, I bailed despite all the birds.  I estimated 10,000 Westerns and 3000 Dunlin,  One Western every yard over that distance would be 8,300 birds.  I am probably  low in my numbers.

Whimbrel were also scattered about the beach.

After a quick stop at Parking Lot B and C to see if any beaches were empty of clammers, they were not, I headed to the Airport Ponds.  They had some warblers singing and Savannah Sparrows out as well.  Savannah Sparrows are one of my favorite sparrows: if you see them , you are in a good spot to bird.

I checked out a few spots around the airport with no luck on shorebirds.  I decided to head back to Parking Lot C and just wait for the tide to come up and watch the birds stream off the beach.  

When I got to the jetty, I could see groups of birds on the beach.  Things were looking up.

Red Knots were on the beach along with flocks of Dunlin and Western Sandpipers.

Four Red Knots and a Dunlin.

Cape May or Clatsop County?  Three Red Knots, two Black-bellied Plover and a Ruddy Turnstone.

I decided this was a Short-billed Dowitcher, no hump and even flank marks.  I think I heard it call.

Nice group shot. Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Black-bellied Plover and Dunlin.

Sanderlings prefer feeding in the waves, rather than the sand.  But not as far out as phalarope, which is one shorebird I did not see today.

Birds were flying off the beach up over the jetty and on northward.

Four species flying by. I think the Sanderling is a first-spring bird.  Looks like it is still in basic plumage.  I was wondering if it molted yet still maintained a basic aspect. I could not relocate it,

Huck needed a break after standing patiently while I watched birds. I went to an empty stretch and let him blow-off steam.

When he is done he goes up to the edge of the dune and drops his stick.  I think he is hiding it from other dogs.

After a few cars came and went, most of the birds had left the ocean beach.  I walked out to the River Beach and relocated the flocks.

Three different views of Red Knots.  The gray rump is a good field mark.

My favorite Red Knot photo of the day.  Stocky bird with broad-based wings.

I was scanning the peeps looking for a stint when I saw this plover, it was obviously smaller than the Black-bellied Plover nearby.

Bill looked long for an American and body was not elongated looking due to the longer wings on American. White extending down the sides.  I decided it was a Pacific Golden-Plover.

White under-tail coverts. I do not see long wings.

I had to smile when it ignored the aggression from the much larger Black-bellied.

I always hope to spot a Royal Tern that was dragged north with the Caspian Terns in early spring, no luck today.

All black shorebird, I was thinking Spotted Redshank, but went with Turkey Vulture instead :) 

I did not ask what was on the menu, I assumed sea lion.

Done with the river, I cut back over to my car, Whimbrel were arriving at the shorebird flats for high tide.

My total shorebird count for the beaches around Parking Lot C and the flats totaled 15  16 for the day:

Least Sandpiper (just two)
Western Sandpiper
Baird's Sandpiper (one)
Red Knot
Short-billed Dowitcher  (plus a few dowitcher flocks, tried for Long-billed)
Marbled Godwit (one)
Wandering Tattler (one)
Greater Yellowlegs
Semipalmated Plover
Black-bellied Plover
Pacific Golden-Plover (one)
Wilson Snipe (one)
Ruddy Turnstone (thanks to Marcia for noting I forgot the Ruddy when first posted)

Great day at the beach.

Thanks for visiting.


  1. Nice shorebird images - looks like this was a nice day at the beach.

    By chance it also afforded my most entertaining misreading of the day, as I initially replaced "scan the large flocks of Western Sandpiper for rarities" with "... for ratites".

    1. It would not be surprised if I had let a typo slip through, it was pointed out to me that I saw 16 shorebirds not 15 (forgot about the Ruddy T's). I need an editor.