I now take you on a short break from our trip to Europe this summer to present you some fun times at the coast. If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that we are totally in love with the Oregon coast – the rocky shores, the scenery, the marine mammals, and, of course, the birds.
|A large flock of Dunlin as we look over Young's Bay|
Our most recent long weekend trip was to Astoria, one of my favorite (maybe my #1?) spot on the Oregon coast with it’s great natural areas, stunning views, and delicious food. (Plus, Goonies never die). And one of the best parts about the drive up are the stops along the way, including Cannon Beach and Seaside. Seaside has a couple of real gems for birding, including a water treatment facility and a little cove that is always busy with surfers.
|Big cobblestones line the shore at Seaside Cove|
There’s a nice little trail (although, maybe a little smelly at times) around the sewage treatment plant. I guess birds love stinky places. We have had luck finding Black Phoebes there, and this time, we found two Palm Warblers! Once a regular in our East Coast days, now it’s a treat to see these little golden, tail-pumping cuties in Oregon. These guys were especially posing for photos as it approached sweet light time.
|Palm Warlber being cute|
|I mean, really cute|
|Now he's playing peek-a-boo?!|
|What a darling!|
|What we would call a field guide photo of a Palm Warbler|
|Give me some of that sweet light warbling|
At Seaside Cove, we have had luck finding alcids and other great birds, including a rare and lovely female Steller’s Eider earlier this year. This time, we stumbled upon a Rock Sandpiper! This was only our second sighting of this species in Oregon. The first time was earlier this year, as well, when we spotted two in Newport. This little guy was hanging out with a gang of Black Turnstones and Surfbirds.
|Where's the Rock Sandpiper?|
|There he is!|
We were taking a quick little car nap when I was awoken by all of the shorebird chatter right outside the car. And lo and behold, this Rock Sandpiper was just chilling out in the middle of all of this silly squeaks and squabbles going on with the turnstones. He’s been there for a few weeks even now, despite getting some grief from the Surfbirds. And oh, we saw our first Harbor Porpoises! There was at least one, but maybe 2 or 3 of them in the harbor. We could see their little dark dorsal fins, and it was really exciting!
|Surfbird playing nice with a Rock Sandpiper|
|Oops! Maybe not...|
In Astoria, we found our new little favorite spot for ducks. Hundreds of them speckled the water as we watched the gorgeous sunset behind one of the bridges. We went back again each morning, too.
|Sunset in Astoria|
|Sunset at Young's Bay|
|Firey oranges at sunset|
On the beach, there was not too much stirring except for the small flocks of Sanderlings that anxiously run back and forth in the surf, feeding on the little invertebrates but then avoiding the tiny rushes of water at all cost if possible. They are hilarious to watch, and it never gets old!
|Run, run, run!|
|The mighty Pacific and tiny Sanderlings|
|This pic makes me laugh!|
|Single Standing Sanderling|
|Double Standing Sanderlings|
On our way back home, we decided to stop at Seaside Cove again. The shorebirds, including the Rock Sandpiper were still there. They were down the shoreline and hanging near a group of Harlequin Ducks. There were 19 of them – the most we’d ever seen all together! I scooched my way down the cobblestone beach to get a closer look at all of the birds, but still staying quite distant. Nick stayed up higher to let me try to sneak some photos. I perched myself and snapped some photos, waiting for maybe the Harlequins to swim by me.
|Surfbird and Black Turnstone|
Then suddenly, the flock of shorebirds flew directly in front of me! They were probably about 35 ft just carrying on, chattering as before and jumping around nervously when the waves crashed. I giggled to myself at such luck! Of all the places along the shore to land, they came right in front of me.
|Black Turnstone tucked in|
|A little bit of preening|
Oh, and then what’s this? The Harlequin Ducks soon followed. First two, then four, then all of them came right near me, swimming by just past the shorebirds. And then the group eventually mostly settled in maybe about 70 feet away just off to the side of the shorebirds, swimming around the bigger rocks, hopping up on the rocks, stretching their wings, and just plain looking gorgeous!
I just can’t get enough of these ducks. They are just quite stunning. No one, and I mean NO one, can deny their beauty. The females are definitely much more subdued, but still pretty stinking cute.
|Here I am in action!|