In the morning neither Tomas nor I was ready to go home, instead we opted for more birding and biking. He left to bike over the coast range, while I drove south past Tillamook to Sitka Sedge State Natural Area. Or at least what will eventually become SSSNA.
Apparently it opens mid-2018, and for now it lacked any beach access I could find, so I continued a mile and a half farther to the first legal parking area. And finally, I began the long walk on the beach.
Luckily, it was gorgeous weather. One of those impossible 70-degree days on the Oregon coast. Why was I trying to get to this beach so badly? Plovers, that’s why.
The walk was slow and quiet for a while, only a few gulls and sanderlings.
And one very sad, dead, light Northern Fulmar.
I mourned and moved on, and a couple more miles down the beach I heard the most annoying noise. Brrrrraaaaaaaaap.
Across the way was Sand Lake Recreation Area covered in noisy OHVs. So with that crap in the background, I kept going. And eventually, I spotted them.
Nestled safely in tire tracks in the sand were a Sanderling, Dunlin, and two Snowy Plovers!
Commence the cuteness! Because besides these I found several others.
But the best was when they scurried along and hid in footprints in the sand.
I laid down in the sand to try and reduce my impact and to get a better eye-view of the plovers’ world.
This was when I noticed several birds were banded. I found 7 (and am waiting on submitted band reports).
I also noticed the view of Haystack rock in the distance wasn’t half bad.
I couldn’t have been happier even covered in wet sand. As I started heading back I noticed a sign.
A project for plovers! This is wonderful news. With all their “hiding spots” they just seem so vulnerable and exposed on the beach. Certain times of years cars drive on this very spot. And walking back, I saw a dog-walker throwing a tennis ball over and over for their dog, I thought, dang those plovers look like tiny white tennis balls. So vulnerable.
Snowy Plovers are listed as threatened and are protected in all states along the west coast. There are more plovers in southern Oregon beaches but in the north, they need more help. At least state and wildlife officials are making the effort to protect nesting areas. If nothing else.
This was one sighting I very much appreciated. For the birds, absolutely, and also because this species puts me in the top 100 eBirders of Oregon! I’ve seen 324 species in the state. Unbelievable! And I look forward to seeing many more.
Tweets and chirps,