Last week we really needed to get out of the house and go birding, but we couldn't decide on a direction to take. We received some inspiration on Tuesday, when two Sharp-tailed Sandpipers were spotted in Astoria. When Thursday produced more sightings and striking photos, we starting packing to go look for these occasional Eurasian vagrants. In the morning we realized we were driving into a gamble because a rain storm was approaching. We've driven to the coast and missed our target species while being unhappily drenched on several occasions.
The gamble paid off! Not only did we easily find the birds we were looking for, but it stayed dry in Astoria while it rained in Portland much of the day.
The sharp-taileds were feeding among several dowitchers and snipes in the Astoria Mitigation Bank Wetlands. They took flight when the occasional harrier cruised by, but we could always find at least one to admire.
If more shorebirds were as colorful and cooperative as this pair of youngsters, the family would have a much better reputation among novice birders.
After viewing the shorebirds, we birded Wireless Road, which had a Stunning Red-Shouldered Hawk that was unfortunately un-photographed. We also saw smaller birds flitting around the farm equipment.
Can you spot the bird?
We visited the Hammond Boat Basin too. One of the pelicans there did not look like the others. Though it seems weird to see a White Pelican at the coast, they are regulars just up the Columbia. Heermann's Gulls were also present in big numbers with their pelican "buddies."
We celebrated our finds, as usual, at Fort George Brewing, and then ended the day with a walk on the beach at Seaside. It may look like the forest was burning on Tillamook Head, but it was just a roiling fog bank.
There's no such thing as a bad trip to Astoria, but this was an especially rewarding one: life bird, fresh hop beer, and a sleepy dog too.