Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Birding Westport

It has been awhile since I have posted a report.  I have been birding around Portland most of the last few months.  I have ventured to Fern Ridge and Tillamook.  I completed three CBC's.  So I have been busy.  One trip I was hoping for was a pelagic trip.  My Jan 28 trip out of Newport was cancelled.  Last Saturday (2/4) I was in Westport, WA.  for a pelagic trip, the weather deteriorated in the morning. I learned that trip was cancelled when I stepped on the boat.  I did not mind at all, it rained all day; it would have been a wet cold trip.  Nothing is more miserable than trying to bird on a pelagic trip in the rain.  So I moved my trip to their March 18th venture.

The point of this report is to describe what to do in Westport when your pelagic trip is cancelled. I tagged along with the guides at breakfast and joined them on a jaunt around the area to see what birds were in town. As Gene described to me, dump twelve or so avid birders in a town, and good birds tend to show up.

Here is a map of the spots we hit.

We started out searching the marina.  The Westport Marina is worth a visit even if not going on a pelagic.  If you want to see the boat we use, it is Monte Carlo on Dock 10.

A large, and I do mean large , flock of Marbled Godwits  winter in the marina.  They roost there at high tide.  We saw them from the mouth of the marina (see map).  Dunlin are in front.

Most guesses were in the 700 range for a total count.

A Peregrine Falcon on a nearby tower kept the godwits nervous.

But they would always return after a fly out over the bay and back.

The marina provides easy views of many birds.  Western Grebe.

Eared Grebe are not common in the marina.

Common Loon are very common in area.

No Velvet or Stejneger's Scoter seen, tried my best.  Most scoter were Surf Scoter.  I did see a few White-winged.

The California Sea Lions should not be pestered.  They allow close approach, but I do not want to see if I can out-run one down the dock.

An eBird list for marina:

Westport -- Coast Guard Station/spit, Grays Harbor, Washington, US
Feb 4, 2017 8:30 AM - 9:15 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.3 mile(s)
32 species (+1 other taxa)

Brant  2
Greater Scaup  6
Harlequin Duck  5
Surf Scoter  12
White-winged Scoter  3
Bufflehead  4
Common Goldeneye  1
Red-breasted Merganser  6
Common Loon  6
Western Grebe  12
Pelagic Cormorant  12
Double-crested Cormorant  2
Great Blue Heron  1
Northern Harrier  1
Marbled Godwit  700
Dunlin  30
Least Sandpiper  4
Wilson's Snipe  1
Mew Gull  6
Thayer's Gull  1
Western x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid)  50
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  20
Peregrine Falcon  1     on radio tower, kept godwit nervous
Northern Shrike  1     distant view, assumed Northern
American Crow  12
American Robin  1
European Starling  20
White-crowned Sparrow  5
Golden-crowned Sparrow  12
Song Sparrow  2
Lincoln's Sparrow  1
Brewer's Blackbird  10
House Finch  3

After the marina we went to Neddie Rose Drive to look for Rock Pipers (see map).  They were easy to spot from the nice viewing deck.  Note the smaller bird in the group.

The Surfbird is the larger one on the rock.  The Rock Sandpiper is the smaller one on the right. When the flock flew it was easy to spot two small Rock Sandpipers.

An eBird list for site:

Overlook at Neddie Rose, Grays Harbor, Washington, US
Feb 4, 2017 9:20 AM - 9:35 AM
Protocol: Stationary
12 species (+1 other taxa)

Surf Scoter  10
White-winged Scoter  12
Common Loon  2
Horned Grebe  1
Western Grebe  12
Pelagic Cormorant  8
Double-crested Cormorant  4
Bald Eagle  1
Black Turnstone  10
Surfbird  15
Rock Sandpiper  2     Smaller bird next to Surfbird
Least Sandpiper  3
Western x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid)  40

We worked our way out to the south jetty.  At one stop we spotted a distant group of gulls, not sure who noticed the bird first.  Perhaps we all did at once, but there was an obviously dark-backed gull we wanted to check out.  We parked at Westhaven St Park and checked out the small flock sitting on beach at what birders call Halfmoon Bay.

I was having a tough time seeing the eye with my binoculars in the rain.  I could see the straw colored bill, it was not school bus yellow.  The bill looked long and straight edged.  I wanted to get closer, fortunately others had scopes and  we quickly realized we were looking at a Slaty-backed Gull. It had pale eye and very fine brownish streaks on its head.  It had bright pink legs. The bird was huge compared to the various versions of mostly Western Gulls near it.

Note the pale eye, bright pink legs, bill color and structure and blotch around eye.  I saw what appeared to be the pearls on the wings when it opened its wings a bit.  Bird never flew.

After alerting other birders in the area the gang checked out the ocean beaches, lots of Sanderlings and a few Black-bellied Plover.

Ebird list:

Westhaven SP, Grays Harbor, Washington, US
Feb 4, 2017 9:40 AM - 10:25 AM
Protocol: Stationary
Comments:     rain  45 degrees
12 species (+1 other taxa)

Surf Scoter  10
Bufflehead  3
Red-breasted Merganser  1
Common Loon  1
Horned Grebe  1
Red-necked Grebe  1
Black-bellied Plover  3
Sanderling  30
Mew Gull  4
Western Gull  4
Thayer's Gull  6
Slaty-backed Gull  1     sitting on beach just inside jetty
Western/Glaucous-winged Gull  40

We then went down to Tokeland (see map).  There was a report of a Long-billed Curlew and a Whimbrel along the shore.  The tide had gone out some more and we could not locate those birds. We did get a brief look at a Palm Warbler that was hiding along Emerson Ave and area.  A Willet was in mud at the Tokeland Harbor.

After saying goodbye to the Washington birders, I went home via Astoria, I drove the beach on my way to Seaside, a Black-legged Kittiwake was in a group along the storm-blown beach.

Sanderling were everywhere, picking away at all the chunks of crab on the beach.

If you have a free weekend check out Westport and Tokeland this winter. Thanks to Bruce, Bill and Gene for the tour!

Thanks for the visit.

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