Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Shorebird Surprise

We traveled to the coast on Friday to look for a few more southbound shorebirds. At Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach, we found our first Wandering Tattler of the year working the offshore mussel beds. We did not get a photo of the tattler, but I did zoom in on Tillamook Head Lighthouse, which was looking creepy as ever.


Also in the park,  an big, peaceful elk munched on roadside elderberry leaves.

 

On our way south to Pacific City, we learned that two birds we'd yet to see this year, a Snowy Egret and a Stilt Sandpiper, were hanging out near Whalen Island.


We drove straight to the Island and quickly found the Snowy Egret, fishing among twenty or so Great Egrets.


We also found a small group of shorebirds, which appeared to be the ubiquitous Least Sandpipers. When we walked closer, however, we noticed that one was not like the others.


It had a drooping bill, like a Stilt Sandpiper, but, unlike a Stilt Sandpiper, it had dark legs, white wingstripes in flight, and a peachy wash on the neck and breast. After checking our field guides, we decided that it had to be a Curlew Sandpiper, a rare visitor from Eurasia!


We only managed a few photos before the phone batteries died, but we were able to spend plenty of time observing the bird before the rising tide chased us back to the car.

We returned the next day with our phones fully charged, but could not relocate the Curlew Sandpiper. Instead, we took nice pictures of some very cooperative juvenile Least Sandpipers.

 So rufous!





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