|Maureen says this looks like the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter. She's not wrong|
After a brief stop at Tugman State Park for fleeting, partial glimpses of a Wrentit (is there any other way to see them?), we drove the rest of the way to Bandon, where our motel overlooks some of the most beautiful coastline we've ever seen, just in time for the most gorgeous sunset we've ever seen.
|Western Gull feeding frenzy in the distance|
The view was no less spectacular in the daylight, and at low tide we were able to inspect some invertebrates, like the velella velellas and leaf barnacles, while nearby oystercatcher picked at whatever else it could find.
After dropping Maureen off I wandered the beaches hoping I wouldn't find anything too spectacular without her, and failing miserably. We had seen a Whimbrel together in the early morning (year bird!), but now I spied a flock of nine about half a mile up. I gambled that the tide wouldn't suddenly cut off my retreat and started sprinting in their direction. "Do you see whales?" queried as I flashed by them. "Curlews!" I returned, and looking to see the utter confusion I wrought before turning back to my prize.
Once I got within photo ranged, I noticed that one of these things was not like the others. It turned out there were only eight Whimbrels, and a lone Marbled Godwit. Every once and a while a wave would overwhelm them and they'd fly off together, leading me like so many Pied Pipers away from shelter.
|Whimbrels and a Marbled Godwit|
I eventually managed to turn back, when I just as easily could have followed them south until I found myself in California. I was eager to get back now as it had started sprinkling, but now I came across a pair of Caspian Terns - another awesome bird that would would waylay me as the tide inched relentlessly higher and higher. One other sighting on the return trip was a Surf Scoter commingling with a Red-breasted Merganser right at the shoreline. Unfortunately, the rain was coming down pretty hard by now.
|They didn't particularly like being strafed by a crow|
The mounds of volcanic rock that made for such a glorious sunset last night looked increasingly violent as the winds picked up, looking more like a Winslow Homer painting now.
But a little while later, the weather calmed and I was able to go out in search of Black Oystercatchers. I could see some way off to the north, and prayed they would stay put. We've had some great close encounters with this species lately, but always sans camera. Not today. Not now.
Before I wrap up, I should note that there are some crazy seabird colonies here. Every one of those rock mounds hosts thousands of Common Murres, Western Gulls, and Pelagic Cormorants. I've got the lowdown on where to look for Tufted Puffins later, with some luck this post will need some updating.
|Seabird colony - mostly Common Murres|