Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Noth Pacific

The birding didnt stop after our trek across te country. From Portland we've been out on a couple of day trips acrss Oregon State and had some excellent birding.

On Sunday we headed West to Cannon Beach in the hope of some martime goodies, we weren't disappointed.
First up was Ecola Stae Park, where a scan from the car park revealed a sea swarming with lifers. Pelagic and Brandts Cormorants were sitting on the rocks, Western and Glaucous-winged Gulls loafing around offshore, several Pigeon Guillemot and a single TuftedPuffin buzzing by and Surfbird and Black Oystercatcher on the rocks below. A wlak through the woods added even more, with one particualrly active area holding Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Wrentits, and single Huttons Vireo and Townsends Warbler, with a Red-breasted Sapsucker just up the trail. The highlight of the day however came as we were scanning the ocean from a high viewpoint and a Grey Whale breached several time really close inshore below us. Although I'm predominantly a birder, theres something extra special about seeing mammals and particularly cetaceans, they're just that much more impressive than birds
A quick stop at Seaside Cove gave us a small group of Black Turnstone feeding on the rocks, and loads of Surf and White-winged Scoter and Western Grebes feeding just metres away from very cold looking surfers.
Finally we stopped in Cannon Beach at Dusk to check through the roosting gulls. Glaucous-winged and Western comprised most of the flock but we were rewarded with single Thayers and Heermans Gulls and a monstrous flock of Brown Pelicans roosting alongisde.

Monday we went South to William Finley Wildlife Refuge. All the wetalnds were swathed in dense fog when we arrived so we had a walk through some nice lookng woody areas, picking up Spotted Towhee, Bewicks Wren, California Quail and Bush Tit. Then, suddenly we heard a strange call, like a single whictled note and a hum at the same time. Colin recognised it instantly as a Varied Thrush and sure enough, a spanking male flew up in to a nearby tree. WHAt A BIRD!! Vibrant Orange and subtle Slaty Blue, erched on an old Oak tree covered in moss and dripping with lichen that looked like it had been sprayed from a can of silly string. And there were more too, with about 6-7 birds n one group, all whictling mournfully to each other. One of the best moments of the whole year for me. Walking back to the car we saw another dozen or so of these brilliant zootheras and even had one later in the car park of the refuge headquarters. 

As the fog lifted we moved on to the more open areas of the refuge where we saw vast flocks of Canada Geese, mainly Cackling, but with a few Dusky and Taverners thrown in. The area was buzzing with raptors too, with half a dozen Rough-legged Buzzards and Northenr Harriers in view at once, but alas no sign of the hoped for White-tailed Kites. There was one hilarious incident when we spotted a group of geese flying in towards 3 young Bald Eagles sat hunched in a field, obviously thinking tht they were fellow geese, and realising their mistake at the last minute and pulling up in chaotic mess of flapping and honking, and then another group doing exactly the same thing a few minutes later, classic!!

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