Cape Arago Audubon Society, Coos County, Oregon

Cape Arago and Charleston, November 14, 2015

Diane Follensbee

There were 8 of us on the trip, with one of our newest local chapter members, Rachel. After carpooling from the Coos Bay Library, we arrived at a windy but dry Cape Arago State Park. On the spectacular, stormy ocean side near Middle Cove we saw Brown Pelicans, Western, Glaucous, Mew, Ring Billed, and California Gulls, Double Crested Cormorants, Brandt's Cormorants, Eared Gebes, and Common Loons. Tim R. estimated that 6,000 Common Loons per hour were heading south.

Inside North Cove were American Wigeons, at least 25 Harlequin ducks, with beautiful males in full breeding plumage, Surf Scoters, Red Breasted Mergansers, many Black Oyster Catchers, and Black Turnstones. The latter two were also on the adjacent rocks out in the ocean, where many California Sea Lions were resting and looking very comfortable, even in the strong winds.

Near the western most parking lot closest to the trail to Norh Cove Red Crossbills perching on the Douglas Fir trees let us look at them in the spotting scopes. We also saw Wrentits, Ruby Crowned Kinglets, Song Sparrows and Black Phoebes along our walk to and from the north point by the cove.

Next we went to the Simpsons Reef overlook, where Diane Bilderback counted and photographed 31 Black Oyster Catchers on Shell Rock. Combined with the ones we saw at Cape Arago, we saw about 50 in total!  Local folks were surfing in the waves at Simpson Reef, and we saw many of the same ocean birds we had seen at Cape Arago. 

The jetty road in Charleston - out by OIMB and ODFW office - was our next stop. A lovely Brown Pelican posed for photos as Tim Rodenkirk gave us a lesson in identifying grebes.We saw Western, Horned and Eared Grebes, and I expect there will be a test including them on our next trip! Bufflehead and Surf Scoters were in the bay, too. Young Western Gulls were in the parking area, and I think that is where we saw a Rock Dove and American Starlings.

Our last stop was at Fossil Point, where we picked up a couple of new species - Mallard Ducks, a Canada Goose, and a couple of Spotted Sandpipers. There were many American Wigeons and lots of Bufflehead Ducks.  Before we left, Dave Bilderback walked down to the shore and brought back a shell fossil! He gave it to Rachel, so besides all the birding that day, she has a special rock to remember her first bird outing with our Audubon chapter.  As we were leaving in our cars, Tim got out to point out two Bald Eagles flying a bit to the north of us.  We had a great day and are so lucky to have Tim and Eric Clough lead us on bird outings here - thanks to all who participated. Tim compiled the following list.

Canada Goose
American Wigeon
Mallard
Surf Scoter
Bufflehead
Harlequin Duck- about 50!
Red-breasted Merganser
Pacific Loon (I did a 5-minute count and figured they were moving offshore about 6,000/hr.) streams of birds were headed south from Cape Arago)
Common Loon
Horned Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Eared Grebe- around 50 off the Seal Lion overlook- one of largest groups I have ever seen in Coos County
Western Grebe
Sooty/Short-tailed Shearwater- to far to ID
Brandt's Cormorant
Double Crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Brown Pelican- quite a few off Cape Arago also, headed both north and south!
Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle 
American Coot
Black Oystercatcher- 50 total, we had the experts- the Bilderback's- along who do surveys for them, they showed us some juvie birds with black tips to their orange bills.
Spotted Sandpiper
Black Turnstone
Mew Gull
Western Gull
California Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Belted Kingfisher
Black Phoebe
Chestnut Backed Chickadees
Golden Crowned Kinglets
Ruby Crowned Kinglets
Wrentit
American Robin
European Starling
Song Sparrow
Dark Eyed Junco
Red Crossbills- nice looks
Pine Siskins

North Spit, Empire, October 24, 2015

Larry Basch

Another fun-filled trip thanks to Tim Rodenkirk!  

The following eBIRD records kindly provided by Phil White.  OR-North Bend, North Spit BLM Boat Launch, Barview, Pigeon Point, Coos, Oregon, US Oct 24, 2015 8:40 AM - 1:00 PM Protocol: Traveling 16.4 mile(s) Comments: Cape Arago Audubon Society outing led by Tim Rodenkirk. Started out cool and overcast, ended up mostly sunny andwarm.  7.4' high tide at ~11:30am.  67 species (+1 other taxa)

Several fine photos courtesy of Phil, including some from this outing: 

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  265
Gadwall (Anas strepera)  2
American Wigeon (Anas americana)  35
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  6
Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)  1
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  10
Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)  35
Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)  145
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  6
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)  2
Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata)  3
Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica)  7
Common Loon (Gavia immer)  40
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  23
Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)  5
Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)  1
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)  4
Sooty Shearwater (Ardenna grisea)  2
Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus)  3
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  65
Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus)  3
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)  2
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  2
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  9
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)  1
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)  1
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)  1
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  1
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)  2
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  75
Grey (Black-bellied) Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)  1
Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala)  40
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)  55
peep sp. (Calidris sp. (peep sp.))  50     (At a distance on the beach at
North Spit plus mixed flock with BLTUs)
Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata)  2
Common Murre (Uria aalge)  3
Bonaparte's Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia)  4
Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni)  2
Mew Gull (Larus canus)  25
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)  65
California Gull (Larus californicus)  95
Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens)  15
Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans)  35
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  10
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  2
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  2
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)  2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  22
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  3
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  2
Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)  13
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  2
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  25
Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  40
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  30
Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)  8
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  5
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)  30
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  2
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  30
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  2
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  2
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)  2
Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)  25
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  3

Powers, May 2, 2015

Barbara Taylor 

At zero-dark-thirty on May 2 (actually the sun had been up for about 30 minutes when we met at the Coos Bay Library), seven friends and members of Cape Arago Audubon Society, with field trip leader Tim Rodenkirk, headed to Sturdivant Park in Coquille. Nine more birders joined us at the park and we spent about an hour looking and listening for birds.

We quickly noted common species, such as American Robin, Red-winged Blackbird, Black-capped Chickadee, European Starlings, and American Crow. Someone spied a Purple Martin perched high in a tree and then we heard a Yellow Warbler singing in the alders near the boat ramp. While looking for and finding the Yellow Warbler, we also saw Yellow-rumped Warblers flitting about and we had great looks at a Black-throated Gray Warbler. We could hear the “potato-chip” call of American goldfinches and then a Black-headed Grosbeak was sighted.

As we headed towards the railroad tracks, Canada Geese and a Steller’s Jay were calling. There were Song Sparrows scolding us from the kack, and we spied a Downy Woodpecker silhouetted against a tree trunk. We could hear the liquid notes of a Brown-headed Cowbird. Looping back towards the far end of the park, we discovered a male and female Lesser Goldfinch, and House Finches, as well.

Our next stop was the Powers District Forest Service Ranger Station. We got out of our vehicles to find Rough-winged and Violet-green Swallows above us , with Turkey Vultures riding thermals. Scanning trees on both sides of the road turned up Western Tanager, Warbling Vireo, Pine Siskins, Wilson’s Warbler, and Cassin’s Vireo. We also heard the calls of Pacific-slope Fly-catcher, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pacific Wren, and Brown Creeper. We saw our first Rufous Hummingbird of the day here, and spotted several Common Mergansers flying upriver from the bridge over the South Fork of the Coquille River.

Enroute to the next stop an American Kestrel was perched on a wire, a Great Blue Heron flew nearby, and, at nest boxes installed and maintained by Joe Metzler, we saw Western Bluebirds and Tree Swallows. Five miles east of Powers we stopped for great looks at colorful Lazuli Buntings and an Allen’s Hummingbird. Species new to us for the day at this stop included a hard to see MacGillivray’s Warbler, Red Crossbills, Osprey, and a Red-tailed Hawk. We heard the calls of Common Raven, Wrentit, Northern Pygmy Owl, Orange-crowned Warblers, Chipping Sparrow, and Northern Flicker. As we pulled away from this stop, we saw two White-crowned Sparrows at roadside, and a Savanah Sparrow with its bill stuffed full of nesting material. The other vehicles in our caravan failed to come along, so we looped back to find they had stopped after spotting a pair of Western Kingbirds fly-catching from a fence wire.

On the drive back towards Powers, a Bald Eagle was sighted. We stopped at a small park for a better look and found lots of goodies, besides the eagle: new species for the day here included Hermit Warbler, Spotted Sandpiper, and Chestnut-backed Chickadees.

We were back on the road by noon to head home. Species seen enroute included Vaux’s Swifts (in downtown Powers) and Barn Swallows. We had a fun, full day among our feathered friends.

Our species list for the day (courtesy of Phil White):

 American Coot Fulica americana     
 American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos     
 American Goldfinch Spinus tristis     
 American Robin Turdus migratorius     
 Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus     
 Band-tailed Pigeon Patagioenas fasciata       
 Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans     
 Black-headed Grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus      
 Black-throated Grey Warbler Setophaga nigrescens    
 Brown Creeper Certhia americana       
 Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater     
 Canada Goose Branta canadensis       
 Cassin's Vireo Vireo cassinii      
 Chestnut-backed Chickadee Poecile rufescens      
 Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina     
 Common Merganser Mergus merganser       
 Common Raven Corvus corax      
 Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris       
 Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens     
 Evening Grosbeak Coccothraustes vespertinus      
 Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias     
 Great Egret Ardea alba        
 Hermit Warbler Setophaga occidentalis     
 House Finch Haemorhous mexicanus       
 Lazuli Bunting Passerina amoena     
 Lesser Goldfinch Spinus psaltria       
 MacGillivray's Warbler Geothlypis tolmiei     
 Mallard Anas platyrhynchos        
 Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura     
 Northern Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium gnoma       
 Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis   
 Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi       
 Orange-crowned Warbler Oreothlypis celata    
 Osprey Pandion haliaetus        
 Pacific-slope Flycatcher Empidonax difficilis    
 Pine Siskin Spinus pinus        
 Purple Finch Haemorhous purpureus     
 Purple Martin Progne subis        
 Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra      
 Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis       
 Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis     
 Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus      
 Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird Selasphorus rufus/sasin   
 Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia       
 Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius     
 Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus       
 Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri      
 Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor       
 Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxi      
 Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina      
 Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus      
 Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana       
 White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys    
 White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus       
 Wilson's Warbler Cardellina pusilla     
 Wrentit Chamaea fasciata        
 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) Setophaga coronata auduboni  
 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) Setophaga coronata coronata  

Godwit Days Spring Migration Bird Festival (April 15-21, 2015)

Larry Basch

During a beautiful spring week last year I had occasion to visit family and old friends during the 2014 Godwit Days avian extravaganza, one of the most birdy and fun times I’ve had! As last years’ fest wound down, I was invited by Rob Hewitt, the festival founder, to a beer and brainstorming session to breed ideas and start planning for the vigintennial year festivities. The 20th Godwit Days will include a wide variety of birding activities featuring many outstanding field trips, trip leaders, workshops, speakers, exhibits, wares, and more. No spoiler alerts here, but you can be sure there are several special events and surprises in store!

This exciting festival is about so much more than Garbled Modwits. You can listen to fascinating evening lectures by acclaimed authors and naturalists, go on birding trips and view a whole lot of species in an incredible diversity of natural habitats. These include land-based trips to: Arcata Marsh, Arcata Bottoms, Redwood National Park, Prairie Creek State Park, Big Lagoon, Woodley Island, Vance Road, Horse Mountain, Blue Lake, Samoa Peninsula, Trinidad Head, and the Humboldt Bay North Spit. You also can enjoy kayaking trips and pelagic boat excursions--all within easy range of Arcata, California, the festival nexus. Held at the peak of spring migration, shorebirds abound, and there will be opportunities to see many other species, including Marbled Murrelet, Spotted Owl, and Snowy Plover. With little effort (other than some very early risings), I got to see and hear behaviors of these and other fairly rare birds.

Given how relatively close the festival is to our southern Oregon coast (130-160 miles), it is a fine opportunity to see many birds – 263 species so far! – ones we seldom, if ever, see in our neighborhoods, for example: Brown Shrike, Smith’s Longspur, Royal Tern (or was it an Elegant, or a hybrid? – a focus of big birder debate), Worm-eating Warbler, White-headed Woodpecker, and many species of shorebirds in mind-boggling numbers – far beyond those we see in our area.

Last years’ activities included a fascinating demonstration of a new online visual tool to look at changes over several years in bird species population distributions with changing temperature, using data collected from across the country by thousands of citizen scientists like you!

This year’s scheduled keynote speaker will be Andy Mack, author and executive director of the Indo-Pacific Conservation Alliance; Andy will talk about his work in Papua New Guinea on giant cassowaries, seeds, and conservation. If you haven’t seen a cassowary (the “most terrifying bird on earth”), you won’t want to miss this.

All trip leaders and other birders I field-tripped with were friendly, welcoming, fun, and very knowledgeable. These included C. J. Ralph, retired US Forest Service research scientist and founder of Humboldt Bay Bird Observatory, and other fine, humble, and humorous (mostly local) birders: Rob Fowler; Rob Hewitt, Principal LBJ (Little Brown Job) Enterprises and Godwit Days founder; David Fix; Moe Morrissette; Ken Burton; and Dave La Puma, the new director of the Cape May NJ Bird Observatory. Most will be there again this year, and, yes, there are women leading excellent trips too.

Field trip samplings include(d) the Godwit Mystery Tour, Dawn Chorus, Owl Pellet Dissection, Birding by Ear, and Comparing Optics. Everyone carpooled on field trips, a good time to get to know and compare notes with folks from all over. Several trip species lists were posted to ebird and emailed to participants, sometimes within an hour.

You can expect many free activities and informative materials, excellent exhibitors and vendors, including a colorful area birding guide, live birds of prey, activities for children and families, an art show and gallery, bird art contest, writing contest, a bird-themed music and song circle, authors signing books, diverse art(ist)s, tribal and resource management agency reps, and others from the top birding/nature optics makers, who will let you use any models under a variety of field conditions.

It’s easy on the brain and pocket to register and choose from among the many high-quality events and field trips. If any of this piques your interest, I suggest you register and reserve your activities (and find lodging, from camping or hostel to airbnb and hotel) soon; these will fill up. Information on these and many other activities and places will be posted soon on http://godwitdays.org - a site that’s easy to cruise and use.


North Spit, October 19, 2013

by Joy Wolf

On a beautiful Saturday morning, Cape Arago Audubon members and friends met to enjoy the avian diversity in the Coos Bay region. Our destination was the North Spit where we would see over 40 shore and forest bird species. As a side note, I met trip leader Tim Rodenkirk briefly at the Shorebird Festival in August as two field trip groups merged at the end of the day. It was evident to me that he is a cherished birder in the region, so I looked forward to attending a group outing with him. Although more than a month had passed, it was worth the wait!

Local excellent birders and new learners joined the group - about 25 people in all. We began the morning with a brief introduction by Tim, which left me realizing what a comprehensive effort this was for all levels of birders and environmental scientists. With some of the intricacies of habitat associations in mind, we took off to the North Spit for a hike along the water’s edge and a sneak into the forest. A fairly large group of us ventured out, some with Tim at his fast-paced helm and others with Eric Clough as he ruddered those of us meanderers. This made for a win-win situation for expertise!

We spent much of our time viewing the ponds and bays through a mesmerizing landscape of fog mixed with clear sky and then clouds to view the shorebirds and waterfowl. Immediately we found Wigeons, the striking Canvasback Duck, Gadwalls, some elegant Western Grebes, Ruddy Ducks (wished they were making their delightful sounds!), Surf Scoters, and Cormorants. As we settled in and walked a bit further, we found Lesser Scaup, a beautiful Bufflehead pair, Western Gulls and Northern Pintail. In the surrounding brush, Yellow-rumped Warblers were everywhere, with a Eurasian Collared Dove here and there. And about a million miles away, Tim spotted a Northern Shrike on a power line.

Before we headed back, Tim and others went scrambling into the woods. We were met with the many Juncos found in this habitat this time of year, a Hermit Thrush, Wrentits scolding, Cedar Waxwings busily feeding, Golden-crowned Kinglets displaying their beautiful yellow stripe, one Anna’s Hummingbird and last/least, a Starling. I mused at how easy it is to view the Hermit Thrush both at this site and where I live on the Sixes River; seems to me it is impossible to see the Swainson’s in the summer, although I can hear them everywhere.

We ended the day back along the Trans Pacific Lane to stop at a tiny inlet near the road. In conversation, Tim noted the Tropical Kingbirds that were spotted on October 11. But none were there today. Days later, a friend brought me to them near Langlois. It was surreal, but Tim explained these odd sightings are due to what he referred to as reverse migration, though this strategy does not bode well for the Kingbird.

We were to cross the little inlet and get into more forested habitat, but fording this stream was not going to happen. So we took note of the birds from the roadside and soon spotted (and of course heard) a female Belted Kingfisher, identified by the two belts. Some of us noticed the Cooper’s Hawk surveying the area. Tim explained that the Cooper’s can be distinguished from the Sharp-shinned by its silhouette. That is, the Cooper’s has a "cross" silhouette because the head juts out from the body when it flies, whereas the Sharp-shinned body is in one plane like a “t”. Get it? At this final stop, we also viewed a Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Peregrine Falcon. Not bad for a morning.

In an atmosphere of condensed experience such as this, one cannot help but soak in the bird vibes and learn valuable field skills (and be reminded of others we had forgotten!). Thanks all!

Millicoma Marsh, November 16, 2013

by Diane Follansbee

Once again with Tim Rodenkirk as our bird expert, about a dozen weather ready birders met at Millicoma Marsh around 8:30 a.m. to look for birds. We saw an amazing amount of birds, and the time it was raining the hardest was when we were at the covered kiosk checking out the sparrows feeding on the seed Tim had been serving them recently, so we stayed dry. While my memory was still fresh that evening, I made a list of what we saw. In addition, we all heard what Tim and Eric Clough told us were Virginia Rails vocalizing repeatedly in deep grass/shrubs by some water. We also saw a beaver paddling by in that area.

The list includes Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Canada Goose. Ducks: Mallard, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked, and Bufflehead. Northern Harrier, White-tailed Kite--the bird of the day for some of us--Bald Eagle, Black-bellied Plover, Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Long-billed Dowitcher, Mew Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Glaucous-winged gull (possible hybrids). Anna’s Hummingbird, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Black Phoebe, Steller’s Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Pacific Wren, Marsh Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Robin, Hermit Thrush – (Tim only), Orange-crowned Warbler (Tim only?), Yellow-rumped Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Spotted Towhee. Sparrows: Golden-crowned, White-throated, White-crowned, Fox, Song, Lincoln, Swamp. Dark-eyed Junco, Slate-colored Junco, Western Meadowlark, Red-winged Blackbird, Purple and/or House Finch, American Goldfinch.

It was a great morning, and I want to thank Coos Bay School District’s maintenance department for keeping the trail so well mowed. Our Audubon chapter put up the doggie bag dispenser there and keeps it filled with the help of Bear, a woman who lives near the marsh. We have been purchasing 5,000 doggie bags a year, so we are making a big difference there. And thanks to Eric Clough for building a nice garbage receptacle unit to replace the broken one there.


Previous Field Trip Reports from Our Members

From Millicoma Marsh in November to Powers in May, herewith six reports by members who took part in our yearly round of field trips. They give a bird's-eye view of what you can expect to find at local birding spots.


Birding Millicoma Marsh on a Soggy Day, November 17, 2012

by Rick Foster


As I awoke at my accustomed 5:00 am to get ready for our field trip, I could hear it raining much harder than I cared to, since it seems to be quite the norm for our annual Soggy Sparrow Scamper at Millicoma Marsh.  I tried to convince myself to change my mind about going, but 8:30 was a long way off and so was Millicoma Marsh, so I proceeded to prepare for the wet weather with an optimistic mindset…either that or a blank mind. Our trip leader, the phenomenal and never-tiring Tim Rodenkirk, also got up at 5:00 am, heard the hard rainfall and thought to himself  “everyday is a perfect day for birding,” because that is exactly what he does everyday!

 

As I made the half-hour drive from Myrtle Point to Eastside I was convinced that we would be the only 2 people there, but I encountered 2 pleasant surprises. First, the weather was warm and not raining, a “sucker hole” (the first of 2 new terms Tim was to teach us today). Plus there were 5 people already there and Tim pulled up right after I did. Valerie, Dave, Nina, Dulce and her mother Marilyn were getting their packs and rain gear ready. Tim’s reputation as a birder has reached all the way up to Alaska as this was Dulce’s second trip down from Alaska for the Soggy Sparrow Scamper…but maybe the cold Alaskan winters plus the fact that she has a house in Bandon has something to do with it also. Ann joined us just as we were leaving and Barbara met us at the kiosk where Tim had been spreading seed all week. So a total of 9 hearty souls braved what would be another Soggy Sparrow Scamper.

 

Of course, the Northern Waterthrush that Tim had seen earlier in the week was first on our list of must-see birds, but we were denied a sighting at the spot where Tim had seen it. There was a Northern Shoveler swimming around plus a few Mallards, but no NOWA. Canada Geese could be heard calling overhead and the familiar sound of Black-capped Chickadees could be heard as they flitted around in the trees. Tim spotted what he ID’d as a Red-tailed Hawk flying just over the tree tops a great distance away. As we made our way to the seed spot, the steady light rain seemed to be picking up so we made a dash for the cover of the small kiosk. On the way, Tim spotted a medium-sized bird flying away from us and tried to make it into one of the many Tropical Kingbirds that have been showing up along the Oregon coast recently, including one  Tim saw earlier in the week at Millicoma Marsh. But we were foiled again in what would have been my second life bird that I was hoping to bag today.

 

At the kiosk we got to practice our sparrow identification skills on a variety of sparrows. We saw White-crowned Sparrows (adults and immatures), Golden-crowned Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, several Song and Fox Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, along with many female Red-winged Blackbirds, about 4 Spotted Towhees and an occasional House Finch. In the surrounding trees we had Steller’s Jays, which would join the sparrows at the seed on the ground, and American Robins and American Crows.

 

As the rain eventually let up—Tim’s new phrase “sucker  hole” was invoked to take advantage of the break—we walked up to the fenced in settling pond. I can see why it’s called a “sucker hole” now; as soon as we get back out in the open it starts raining again. In the swampy area just west of the settling pond we saw many American Coots, Mallards, and several Northern Shovelers with some Green-winged Teals hugging the edges. Up on the pond we viewed more NOSH’s, MALL’s, GWTE’s, and AMCO’s. The only new ducks were Ring-necked Ducks and one female Bufflehead.

 

Next we headed out on the dike towards the east to the last covered kiosk. This is an area where we normally see White-tailed Kites and we were not disappointed today. A lone WTKI gave us good looks as it flew above us looking for lunch. Along the way Tim spotted some Swamp Sparrows which wouldn’t sit still so we could get good looks at them. We also heard the wily and elusive Marsh Wren which wouldn’t show itself. At the covered kiosk at the end of the dike Tim pointed out a Great Egret flying along in one of the “sloughlets” (Tim’s second new word for the day).

 

As we strolled back towards the seeded kiosk Tim recognized the calls of 2 Wilson’s Snipe as they flushed and flew above us for a decent look at them. We had lots of good looks at all of the same birds we saw earlier…except for one bird that even Tim couldn’t quite identify. Try as he might, he couldn’t quite make it into a female Lark Bunting and it never showed itself again. Possibly it was a female House Finch since we had seen a few earlier, but Tim was impressed with its large bill, and kept hoping for another view to confirm. After more rain and with the temperature slowly dropping, we decided to call it a day and head back to the cars. We almost made it before Tim made us all stop to look at gulls on the football field. We had to identify all 500 of them before he would excuse us….okay, that’s a stretch but we did identify 3 species from the group on the grass (not 500). We had Mew, Ring-billed, and California Gulls. Then with continuing rain and dogs arriving on the scene to scatter the gulls even more, we finally concluded another Soggy Sparrow Scamper!

Gold Beach and Pistol River, October 13, 2012

by Barbara Taylor

The day promised plenty of rain, which may be why only four intrepid members showed up for the field trip. Our first stop was at Floras Lake to look for the Cassin’s Sparrow found by Russ Namitz on Wednesday. This was the first time anyone ever reported the species in Oregon. Kudos to Russ!

With the wind whipping the drizzle about, the CASP was undoubtedly hunkered down, if still around. We spotted a GB HEron enroute and though we didn’t find the CASP at the Floras Lake stop we did  hear and/or see Marsh Wrens, Song, Savanah, and White-crowned Sparrows, and Redwing and Brewer’s Blackbird. Out on the open plain Western Meadowlarks, a lone Killdeer, and American Pipits were active, with a flyby Northern Harrier.

Back in the parking lot at the lake we could hear Golden-crowned Kinglets, Red-breasted Nuthatch, an American Crow, a Steller’s Jay, and the omnipresent European-collared Dove. We left at 9 AM and headed for the Gold Beach Harbor. On the side road into the harbor Eric Clough spotted a Wilson’s Snipe near some Mallards. A Peregrine Falcon showed up near Euchre Creek. The target bird at the harbor was Clay-colored Sparrow, found earlier in the week by Tim Rodenkirk. Not to disappoint, he managed to scare up two of them. All the aforementioned sparrow species were seen, along with a Lincoln’s Sparrow noted by Tim. A flock of about 90 Canada Geese flew over, and several gull species were seen: Western, California, Heerman’s. Other birds on the water included Western Grebe, Double-crested Cormorants, American Coots, Mallards, and Green-winged Teal.

By shortly after 11 AM we made it to Pistol River, where the target bird was a Worm-eating Warbler reported earlier in the week by Russ. We missed that one, too, but at least the weather improved. In addition to crowned and Song Sparrows, we found Fox Sparrow, Black-capped Chickadee, Common Yellowthroat, and Belted Kingfisher. A couple of Turkey Vultures soared over the valley and a Red-tailed Hawk came by. American Goldfinch and Pine Siskin were heard, and the ubiquitous European Starling was present.

Tim heard the calls of American Pipit and a Swamp Sparrow before he pointed out an otter in the water below as we walked across the Crook Creek Bridge. Barbara spotted a Pied-billed Grebe and Tim picked out a cackler from a group of five Canada Geese on the water. We saw another Northern Harrier and a pair of American Kestrels. Marsh Wrens scolded as we walked towards N. Pistol River Rd. Also past the bridge we found a Black Phoebe, a House Finch and an American Robin. On the way back to the van we heard and saw an Anna’s Hummingbird dart into the roadside brush.

Heading back north on Hwy. 101 by 1:30 PM, we spied a Common Raven. A short way up Hunter Creek Rd. we watched Glen Sevey’s feeders for about 15 minutes. A couple of new species for the day were California Quail, White-throated Sparrow, and Dark-eyed Junco. But the highlight here was a Mountain Chickadee spotted by Tim Rodenkirk. We lingered until everyone had a good look at this little chickadee.

It was 2:30 PM by the time we pulled into Port Orford Harbor. The new species for the day at this site were Red-necked Grebe, Pelagic Cormorant, Pacific Loon, and Brown Pelican. Also, Tim found a Common Murre, and far out on the horizon, with scopes, we could detect shearwaters moving north. Another Peregrine Falcon swooped in close by.

We made it back to Bandon by 3:30, where a final stop near the water treatment plant resulted in a life bird for Barbara. This was her third try to see the Glaucous Gull that has been hanging around Old Town since August. Without even getting out of his van, within 30 seconds of stopping, Eric found the bird. This was a nice way to end our unusually long nine-hour field trip.

Birding Around in Powers, May 13, 2012

By Diane Follansbee

The May birding trip began with an early start – 7 a.m. – at Milner Crest.One of our goals was to find warblers in the Powers area.Eric, Judi and Joan were waiting for birders to join them in Myrtle Point when Eric spotted a Vaux’s Swift in the parking lot. Bruce, Diane and Rick also got into Eric’s van, and we headed toward Powers.At our first stop several miles up the Powers highway on the side of the road, we had close and long looks at a vibrant male Violet-green Swallow who was happy to pose on the power line. Across the road in a mix of fir and hardwood trees we heard many songbirds. Only Eric saw the Western Tanager there, but we heard and saw a Yellow Warbler, Black-headed Grosbeaks, two Warbling Vireos, and Wilson’s Warblers. In a mix of Willow and Alder at the turnout, a female Downy Woodpecker was working on a tree. Her mate flew in and joined her. We heard but did not see Orange-crowned Warblers there.

Our next stop was on Woodward Creek Road just short of Powers; Rick spotted the first of several Lazuli Buntings he was to spot for us. It was a brilliantly colored blue-headed and backed male who allowed us good looks at him as he sang. Farther up the road a female Lazuli sat on a fence wire long enough for us to look at her brown colors, and then the gorgeous male returned and sang some more before flying off and diving into some blackberry bushes. An Olive-sided Flycatcher quietly flew to and away from a snag across the road by the river several times, but he never asked for beer. Then we drove to the Powers Ranger Station, where we found Mike Wihler waiting for us. Cassin’s Vireos loudly announced themselves across the road, high in the alder or fir trees. We spent a lot of time looking but never found them! We did see Black-throated Grey Warblers, two Bald Eagles, a Black Phoebe, a Band-tailed Pigeon—and Eric kept hearing a Brown Creeper that we did not see.We got the scope on an American Robin sweetly sitting in a nest in a Monkey Puzzle tree.

At Powers Park the highlights were Lesser Goldfinches, Chipping Sparrow, Mallard with four ducklings on the lake, as well as Double-crested Cormorants, Osprey, and Savannah Sparrow. A Dark-eyed Junco trilled at us from the top of a tree in the parking lot.

Driving out of Powers into the national forest we made a couple of stops along the South Fork of the Coquille River hoping to see a Dipper or other birds. We walked down to the river and found two Spotted Sandpipers with bright beaks and dark spots. The river was a spectacular green/blue color, and it was hard to leave its beauty. After hiking a short distance to Elk Creek Falls (no Dippers found there, but Eric assured us the scat we saw on rocks in the creek belonged to them), we attempted to drive four miles up a windy road to do some birding at Cedar Tree Park. However, the road was covered with a slide at about three miles up, so we parked there to bird.  We heard Pacific Wrens (Winter Wrens), lots of warblers, including Hermit Warblers, which we did not see. However, we did get quick glimpses of a Pacific-slope Flycatcher and heard their calls.

Mike promised us a surprise at another stop on our way down river from Powers; he had found a nesting pair of Hairy Woodpeckers in a dead tree, and we watched the parents fly in and out. We suspected they were feeding their young. A very hot Steller’s Jay perched on the branches of the same tree with his beak open – panting for air or catching bugs?

Other birds we saw during the day included American Goldfinch, Kingfisher, Mourning Doves, Black-capped Chickadee, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrows, Barn and Tree Swallows, an unidentified hummingbird, and Turkey Vultures. After we let Diane, Bruce and Rick off in Myrtle Point, Eric, Judy and Joan made one last stop in Coquille at Hwy 42/Fairview to look for the male Cinnamon Teal that has been hanging out with Mallards and Wood Ducks for the past few weeks. No Wood Ducks, but the Teal was there in all its glory.

Eric was a great host, driving his van on bumpy roads, coming to get us after we had walked a distance, and letting us eat in his car! Thanks for the birding, Eric!

Coquille Valley, February 25, 2012

by Ann McMann

The weatherman predicted rain and wind for the morning of February 25, our scheduled CAAS field trip. Three birders (Barbara, Rick, Ann) joined Tim Rodenkirk, field trip leader, for a trip to the Coquille Valley. We hoped to see various Swallow species and wintering ducks.

Skies were overcast when we met at Sturdivant Park near Coquille. Robins were busy on the park grounds, and we saw Mallards, two Red-winged Blackbirds, Starlings, American Crows, and two Eurasian Collared-Doves. We headed to Johnson Mill Pond, where Tim and Rick spotted a Red-shouldered Hawk on the drive approaching the pond. Clear skies alternated with hail and rain showers. Stopping at the northeastern end of the pond, the water seemed to be filled with American Coots, but we also found Pied-billed Grebe, Ring-necked Duck, Ruddy Duck, American Wigeon, and one Ring-billed Gull. A number of Double-crested Cormorants roosted on pilings in mid-pond.

Tree and Violet-green Swallows swooped above the water. Apparently, the migration and wintering patterns of Swallows have changed in recent years. In “Mysteries of Migration,” an article in Portland Audubon’s March/April 2012 Warbler (http://audubonportland.org/about/newsletter/ma2012), Harry Nehls writes, “This winter, besides the usual moving birds, some reports indicated wintering flocks” (of Swallows). Further, “Tim Rodenkirk reports that one Violet-green, up to 6 Barn, and 12 Tree Swallows wintered at a pond near Coquille.”

Red-winged Blackbirds, several Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Juncos rounded out the species at this stop. Stopping farther west along the pond, a hailstorm urged us to take refuge inside our cars, but it soon cleared, and we found Gadwall, a Glaucous-winged Gull, American Wigeon, a male and (presumably) female Eurasian Wigeon swimming together, a Ruddy Duck, Great Egret, and Bufflehead. A flock of Northern Pintails flew over as we watched a Northern Flicker alongside the road and a Marsh Wren flitted in the shoreline shrubbery.

Next, we drove east on Highway 42 to a pond near the Norway Mill. While some of us perused one end of the pond, Barbara called out, “There’s a really odd looking gull over here.” Identification was difficult, as the unusual gull drifted to an area where it was mostly hidden by a screen of blackberries and brush. Persevering, we got the scope in position and Tim identified the mystery gull as a Black-legged Kittiwake—a life bird for some of us. It is unusual to see this bird inland, as they are oceanic gulls and may be seen rarely on beaches or in harbors. The recent storms at sea had likely blown this individual inland.

Above the Norway pond, a Red-shouldered Hawk and Turkey Vulture circled, and we watched a Hairy Woodpecker in a willow/alder thicket. Other birds in this area were a White-throated Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, four Pine Siskins, plus an American Goldfinch was heard. We saw a Black Phoebe perched high on the light fixture of a metal building.

Driving back toward Coquille, we spotted an American Kestrel on wires across from Picture Valley Road and a mature Bald Eagle soaring near the Rink Creek turnoff. Palm Warblers had been reported at the Fishtrap/Highway 42 S junction, so we stopped there. We found a male American Goldfinch in winter plumage—much duller than the yellow of breeding plumage—but no Palm Warblers. During a brief stop at the Roseburg Lumber Mill ponds, Tim saw a Northern Shoveler and Spotted Sandpiper.

At Mile Marker 8, in the flooded pastures of Coquille Valley along Highway 42, a profusion of birds unfolded in the fields below. Barbara and Ann counted 20 Great Egrets among Canada Geese and Mallards, plus possibly several thousand Northern Pintail. Tim and Rick counted 15 immature Bald Eagles, sitting on fence posts or soaring above. They watched as a Peregrine Falcon flew in to nab a Northern Pintail.

It was fascinating to watch the large number of immature Eagles. Many soared above the fields and hills to the southwest of our vantage point along the railroad tracks. One Eagle, harassed by a Red-tailed Hawk, turned its talons upward toward the bothersome Hawk. In the next moment, two Common Ravens pursued two Eagles flying together. We looked for the Peregrine Falcon again--it was still there, surrounded by a pile of feathers gleaming in the sun. As a finale, Barbara and Rick spotted three Red-shouldered Hawks circling above the area.

While we watched the amazing birds and nature’s cycle, the sun warmed the land, the wild creatures, and ourselves. A day which began cold and stormy rewarded us with a Black-legged Kittiwake sighting, a large number of waterfowl, and majestic birds of prey.

Millicoma Marsh, November 12, 2011
by Ann McMann

Millicoma Marsh was the destination for the CAAS November field trip led by Tim Rodenkirk. One of our goals was to observe wintering sparrows as we headed along the trail at the east end of the track and ball field. The seed Tim had scattered here attracted sparrows and other species while more elusive birds, such as Marsh Wrens and Kinglets, called and twittered in the trailside bushes.

The most common birds at the seed-feeding areas were Golden-crowned and White-crowned Sparrows. Immature White-crowned lack the white head stripes of the adult, but have a reddish-brown stripe, and the buffy brown stripes cover the areas an adult would have white stripes. The immature Golden-crowned have a dull yellow and brown head, whereas the adult has a yellow central crown stripe bordered with black.

We also observed White-throated Sparrows, although this species was less numerous, and Fox Sparrows. The White-throated Sparrow is distinguished by its obvious white throat; Fox Sparrows are always fun to watch doing their little dance on the sidelines. Joining the sparrows were a number of female Red-winged Blackbirds as well as House Finches.

We followed the levee trail leading to the sewage pond, where we saw a number of ducks including Mallards and American Coots. The weatherman had predicted rain, but clouds began to clear and we headed along the trail toward the bay. We continued birding under a brightening sky, shedding jackets and raingear. An exciting moment was watching a White-tailed Kite fly over the marsh and land in a tall, leafless tree. Soon we noticed that another Kite was already perched in the tree. The White-tailed Kite (formerly Black-shouldered Kite) may inhabit the area year-round, and their main food is small mammals. These beautiful birds seem to be declining in number due to habitat loss, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (see www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/white-tailed_kite/lifehistory).  Another great site to learn more about them is http://birdweb.org/birdweb/bird/white-tailed_kite.

From the bay's shoreline, with the help of scopes, we could see Black-bellied Plovers, and large flocks of shorebirds flying in the distance careened and banked as though a single organism. In the bay were Surf Scoters, Pelagic Cormorants, a Great Blue Heron, and Western Grebes. Hugging the shoreline were three birds which we studied at length and identified as two Greater Yellowlegs and one Lesser Yellowlegs. The Lesser Yellowlegs is not common in this area at this time of year.

Last but not least, on the north shore of the bay and inlet to the east, two Bald Eagles that were perched atop a tree seemed to have been watching our group long before we spotted them.

North Spit, September 17, 2011

by Ann McMann

A sun-filled morning greeted the Audubon group for our September field trip. Our group of six was led by Tim Rodenkirk and we headed to the old Weyerhauser pond and deflation plain at the North Spit. Tim thought there might be “not much” out at the spit, but we were in for a few surprises—and a beautiful, windless day.

We birded first at the former Weyerhauser aeration pond. On the drive in, a Northern Harrier was spotted. As we began working our way around the pond a Peregrine Falcon flew nearby. Song Sparrows and Black-capped Chickadees made their presence known. On the water we saw Red-necked Phalaropes (~ 5), Northern Shovelers, Pied-billed Grebes, Gadwalls (~ 4) and approximately a dozen American Coots. Several American Goldfinches were pecking the seeds of a thistle, which attracts these birds. A Great Blue Heron, Red-winged Blackbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, European Starlings, and Steller’s Jay rounded out our initial sightings.

The Port of Coos Bay has purchased the Weyerhauser aeration pond and adjacent deflation plain, currently allowing access for birding, hiking, dog-walking. The status and access to the property may change under the Port’s ownership. The birding community will want to keep informed about the future of this important bird habitat.

Heading west to the deflation plain we heard a Marsh Wren in the shrubs alongside the road, but the little bird was elusive—its call and moving branches evidence of its presence for some. We followed the movements of a Savannah Sparrow for a time; it finally landed alongside the roadway, allowing unobstructed views through the scope. In the marsh we saw a Mallard, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead and a female Northern Pintail. Flocks of Bushtits moved through the brush along the road. Bushtits inhabit our area during winter and travel in “straggling talkative flocks” according to Peterson’s Field Guide.

The sudden flight of a fairly large bird in the marshy area caught our attention, and Tim identified the bird as an American Bittern. The bird flew, briefly visible, a number of times, but quickly hid amongst the reeds. Then a second Bittern flew up from the grasses, also flying and hiding! 

Not long after we saw the Bitterns, a Robin-sized bird flew horizontally amongst the reeds. Tim told us this was a Yellow-headed Blackbird, uncommon along the coast, showing up maybe once a year in Coos County! We followed the dark brown/black bird’s path through the reeds, although, like the Bitterns, it was often hidden. This was a female; the throat and chest were a distinct buffy yellow color.  Peterson’s Guide lists the Yellow-headed Blackbird as a “scarce migrant along the immediate coast.” We were very excited to see it that day!

In the marsh and drier surrounds or flying overhead we saw Canada Geese, Pectoral Sandpipers (~ 8), Double-crested Cormorants, a Long-billed Dowitcher and Turkey Vultures. We also sighted a female Cinnamon Teal (eclipse plumage) on the marsh waters.

Returning to our cars along the aeration pond, we saw several Great Egrets in the marshes north of the dike road. Other birds noted were Common Yellowthroats, Wilson’s Snipe, California Gulls, Black Phoebe and American Robin.

In the willow trees and shrubs that divide the pond and deflation plain, we saw Vaux’s Swift, Cedar Wax-wing, Swallows: Barn, Violet-Green, and Tree, as well as Warblers: Yellow-throated, Yellow, and Yellow-rumped. Before leaving the pond a small flock of Least Sandpipers flew in and Eric Clough spotted a White-crowned Sparrow.

We headed on to check out the road and beach area at the end of the TransPacific Highway. Tim saw a Eurasian Collared-Dove as we arrived. We followed the road through the woods where we identified Wrentit, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and heard a number of Black-capped Chickadees. Arriving at the beach along the spit, we saw Western Gulls, Double-Crested Cormorants, one Brown Pelican, a small flock of Pine Siskins in the nearby trees, and a small flock which were likely Least Sandpipers.

The birding field trip was a rewarding time on an exquisitely beautiful, end-of-summer morning. We saw interesting birds, honed our birding skills, and had fun.