So of course the following weekend I decided to practice my newfound shorebird knowledge. Especially when I saw a report of Wandering Tattlers in Lincoln City. I forgot that I’ve seen one once before on a fence post in Hawaii. Someone should really keep track of these things (Ebird).
But I’d never seen one in Oregon so it’s different.
The fog was thick on the beach when I arrived, but not too thick to spot the Spotted Sandpiper.
Muddy brown above, (no spots because it’s fall), dark brown “comma” on its side, bold eye ring, and bobbing its tail.
Not too far away, I saw a group of birds out on the rocks.
Tattlers! Wandering too close to the waves.
“Wandering” because of their wide distribution across the ocean, and tattler for the “tattling” call if you get too close. Once the sun came out, I had a hard time staying away.
They’re gray all over with a white belly, yellow legs, and a moderately long straight bill. And they like to eat creepy crawly crustaceans off the rocks.
Mmm, yum. Efficient wanderers.
They were so fun to watch I could have stayed all day, but I had another plan in mind. But before I got too far, while passing the sand dunes, I looked to my left and spotted an angel.
That turned out to be a Lark Sparrow in the fog.
A rare bird for the area so a pretty cool sighting. I watched it for a while as it hung out with old man White-crowned Sparrow.
My next stop was an hour and a half drive southeast to the Philomath Sewage Ponds in hopes of another rare bird.
But when I rolled up I saw some signage that gave me pause.
Dang it. I hadn’t known beforehand about the permit and I’m a rule follower so I drove the 6 minutes to the Public Works Office. But the office was closed. So I drove back to the ponds, thought hard about it and decided to ask for forgiveness if necessary. I try to bird on the up-and-up because I don’t want to give birders a bad rep. This time I’d just go in for a minute to take a peek.
It all felt normal. Driving on the levee? Normal. The color of that water? Totally normal, everything’s fine.
Nothing to see here, green feet are par for the course. Everything’s fine.
It didn’t take long to pick out the rare bird swimming in the pond, the American Avocet.
It was cooperative and even popped out for a bit to preen at the edge of the ponds.
The green water goes well with its legs. Elegant as ever it returned to the sewage water and swam up next to three Long-billed Curlews. Another rarity for the area.
The risk was certainly paying off so far. At least in bill length.
I drove around again getting a shorebird workout with a Least Sandpiper (yellow legs, short bill).
Western Sandpiper (longer bill with slight droop, black legs, reddish “shoulders”).
And Greater Yellowlegs hunting at the edge of the ponds with those bright yellow legs.
And a bill length greater than half proportion with the head that expertly picks out pond treats.
Once more around I found a flock of Red-necked Phalaropes swimming in the middle.
Thin, fine bill, dark eye stripe, stripes on their backs, these turned out to be a lifebird!
Good things turned up in these ponds! I’m glad I gave them a go. It was late afternoon by then but a rare-bird alert of an American Redstart at the North Jetty in Newport was too tempting to resist. I got cocky.
I drove the hour back to Newport, but all I found were a handful of birders who’d been looking for a couple of hours under the bridge.
Win some, lose some, but I still felt pretty lucky this time!
Tweets and chirps,