Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Fun Day Shorebirding

I am in a rut when it comes to blogs, I keep showing reports of same areas, same birds.  Will try to spice it up a bit in weeks to come.  But in spring I do have a routine I do as to areas to visit.  Sauvie Island has been flooded, I was hoping to describe a great loop I do around island, but the whole are is under water, perhaps a canoe trip instead this weekend to see if any shorebirds are hidden out on all those islands.

Any hoot, the first weekend in May is always one of the best weekends for spring shorebird migration. My spot to visit is the beaches of Clatsop county.  I headed down Saturday, May 6th.  Tempting to go to Lincoln County to see the Bar-tailed Godwits, but I saw one up in Washington and had not seen any reports of activity in Clatsop.  I found a total of 16 different species of shorebirds last Saturday, not bad.

It was a dark morning when I arrived, a rain storm was heading my way.

It got darker as the morning progressed.  I could see it would be a short squall so I was not concerned for the day.

Six Bald Eagles were sitting around this tasty object, the eagle in charge was taking its sweet time with breakfast.

A high contrast chin patch locks this id in as a Red-necked Phalarope.  A Wilson's is less contrasting.

A Mew Gull waited out the rain storm as the sun came out.

Sheer numbers were lower than last year, I had a total of two Ruddy Turnstones this year.

Out of all the Western, I did manage to find one Least Sandpiper.  Least were in better numbers over in the bay.

Favorite shorebird, Black-bellied Plover.

After the beach I went to Parking Lot C, I walked to the river beach,  the rocks you pass are a fav place for peeps to hide.  They blend in well and it takes a close inspection to pick them out.  Western Sandpiper.

A well hidden Least.

Last year Red Knot were in good numbers, this year I saw two, both on river beach.

After river beach, I went to the ocean beach just south of the jetty, another good spot for shorebirds.  Bonaparte's Gulls were common.

I found a group of four dowitchers.

Left bird is a Short-billed.  Note the pale edges of the back feathers go high up the sides of the feathers, it creates a very colorful pattern.  The Long-billed Dowitcher on the right has pale tips to the feathers, a darker back.

I called both of these as Long-billed since they both have pale feather tips to back and frosty white edges to orange underparts.

Long-billed Dowitcher, I think this one even has a long bill!

Sometimes when Long-billed Dowitcher flush they can flash very white underwings.

One feature Long-billed always have are white lesser wing coverts, you can see the white patch on front part of very inner wing.  Look at Sibley, he shows this as well in his drawings.

I called this a Short-billed Dowitcher since it has pale edges coming up the sides of the feathers.  There was a Long-billed in very similar molt, and as the birds moved around, there wings would pop out from under their scapulars, so the appearance changed slightly each time I looked at them.

The same bird with open wings.

Same bird. Short-billed have more uniform patterned underwings, the lesser coverts are not white, you can see the overall even pattern here.

I keep repeating myself, but no Common Ringed Plover found.

A trip to the airport area got me a Greater Yellowlegs.

I called these Long-billed Dowitchers.

After checking out Wireless and finding lots of Whimbrel and a Long-billed Curlew, I went out to the Skipanon River.  Map of access and where this is.

Some views of the river mouth, lots of flats available for birds. Not sure if this area is as productive as it was in the past.

Lots of Whimbrel and plover, the big one to left is a Marbled Godwit.

The Black-bellied Plover walking to the left had me going, it is a very brown bird.

Hope this guys right wing is okay.

Caspian Terns like the Skipanon River mouth.

I'll try to find a new area to blog about, but I need to visit Wasco once more time this spring, so suffer on a bit longer. I have a great idea for a Steens Mtn area with no ebird reports that looks great to explore, so that will be at end of month/early June.

Thanks for the visit.


  1. Bob; since I don't get out near as often as I'd like, I don't mind the "same areas, same birds" at all. Always find your posts educational & informative...keep it up!