Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Weekend at the Coast

Although I had the best intentions, I didn't manage to get the camera out at all this weekend! My birding associate and I drove out to the northern section of Tillamook County (home of the cheese factory!) to do some birding and have a nice time away from the city. He is tops at picking lodging that's off the beaten path and that's just what we got with the Old Wheeler Hotel.

The winter rate was great, the room was lovely (we had #7) and the antique shops on the short main street were fun to peruse. I bought quite a few goodies at Trillium, the store located on the street level of the hotel. It specialized in wonderful artsy products; jewelry, textiles, prints, ceramics and handmade baskets.

The birding was wonderful, too! As you may know, sewage treatment ponds are prime birding areas so we spent a lot of time at the Nehalem Sewage Treatment Ponds. Mark's target bird was a White-tailed Kite and the fields around the ponds are known to be a good spot to find one. We came around the curve, saw something on the right, parked the car and I looked to the left to see a Kite hovering over the field! It dove down, grabbed a rodent and took off south into the mist......we were so happy to be there at the right time!

Not my photo

Kites are like Harriers in habitat preference - open fields where they can cruise high then drop down. The next day we were lucky enough to catch the other really cool denizen of the open fields.........
We ended up with around 35 species including Rough-legged Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Bald Eagle, Horned Grebe, Common Ravens in abundance, and the usual waterfowl suspects like Northern Shoveler, Bufflehead, and Ring-necked Duck. While the ponds were good, the fields to the south were crawling with birds.....crows, ravens, harriers, herons, hawks all hunting for voles and earthworms.

We continued down the coast, stopping at Barview Jetty, Three Graces Wayside, Bay City Oyster Plant, and Bay Ocean Road. Our resource for the whole trip was the book Birding Oregon by my friend and co-worker, John Rakestraw. We hemmed and hawed about Oh Where Should We Go and John spelled it all out for us. Thank you!!

After shopping and dawdling Monday morning we returned to the sewage ponds up the road. They'd been so good the day before we thought another hour spent wouldn't be bad. So true! As we watched a couple of ravens in the air I noticed a flying bird that "wasn't quite right". Sure enough it was a Short-eared Owl! It circled higher and higher until it disappeared into the clouds. I've never seen an owl fly so high - another "right place, right time" sighting.

Not my photo either

Short-eared Owls, Harriers and Kites are all found in open country with ample rodent populations. The Owl, frequently a diurnal hunter, and Harrier hunt similarly by cruising low and dropping onto prey, while the Kite stays high and hovers. It was neat seeing all three in this small area. Lots of food to be had!

It was a great time and here's my complete bird list.

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)
Brant (Branta bernicla)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
American Wigeon (Anas americana)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Green-Winged Teal (Anas crecca)
Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)
Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)
Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)
Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata)
Common Loon (Gavia immer)
Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)
Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Great Egret (Ardea alba)
White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani)
Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala)
Surfbird (Aphriza virgata)
Mew Gull (Larus canus)
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)
California Gull (Larus californicus)
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)
Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens)
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)
Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna)
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)
Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
Common Raven (Corvus corax)
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)
Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)
Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii)
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)

Total number of species seen: 60


Seth and Michelle said...

Holy smokes! 60 species. Very nice.

That looks like an awesome little Hotel. Very quaint.

Love the "not my photo" photos. We are thinking about making another quick trip to the coast ourselves. Tillamook (and surrounding areas) are great birding. One of my wishes is to see a Kite. That would be awesome.

NW Nature Nut said...

Looks like a great trip, wonderful list! Glad you managed a post without photos (and a good post.) And sewage ponds...nothing says tres romantique like a sewage pond!

sandy said...

I enjoyed reading this! One of these days I'd like to take a trip solely for the purpose of photographing birds. I don't seem to have many around here lately.

North West Birds said...

60 Birds :-0?! Nice list!
You must have had a busy bird day ;-)!