Monday, June 18, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012 Coast Migration Part II

Woke up early and saw the "big moon" setting over the ocean. It made a nice start to the day. The second bonus was a clear, blue sky as the sun was coming up. A beautiful day at the beach...just proves it can happen however rare. Flying in formation we saw small groups of brown pelicans (#105). It was follow the leader, up then down, and all tracing the line of surf--they were mesmerizing to watch.

Our first stop of the day was Ocean Shores jetty. There we found where many of the brown pelicans called home. The tide was just coming in and the rocks of the jetty were quickly getting covered by the waves. There were colorful starfish clinging to the sides of the boulders. There were cormorants, sea gulls and we saw some Savannah sparrows but not much else. We decided to head to a place call Bill's Spit. Our last time at Ocean Shores we had tried to find Bill's Spit to no avail. This time I had precise directions and we did find it. The trail out to the spit is not marked and very narrow. It is easily missed and is in between many homes. But this time we found it and headed out. The tide was still very far out so we didn't see much except there were some seals sleeping on a beach a ways out--we were told there were babies there but they were so far out we really couldn't tell. One home on the beach did have a bunch of bird houses in their yard and tree and violet-green swallows (#106) were making their homes there. We decided not to wait for the tide as we wanted to go back to Bottle Beach when the tide was better for viewing. On the way out we checked out the lake but nothing was happening there this time of year.

violet-green swallow

At Bottle Beach we arrived perfectly timed with the tide. Instead of a semi-barren beach we were greeted with western sandpipers, dunlins, short billed dowitchers, black bellied plovers and a few red knots (#107) and some ruddy turnstones (#108). We were able to get quite close to some of them and it was a thrill to watch. The western sandpipers were the smallest and closet, then the dunlins and dowitchers, and the ruddy turnstones were running rapidly between them all. Once the tide got pretty high and covered most of the mud the little sandpipers all tucked their heads under their wings--all in the same direction--and took a bit of a nap. They were so cute you just wanted to scoop them up and take a few home.

snoozing western sandpipers in the foreground

We had a long drive home and we decided to make it a bit longer by going south and then cut over to I-5. There were a few areas we wanted to check out along the way. None of them proved anything of interest but you never know until you try. We arrived home in the early evening with visions of shorebirds still etched in our minds. It was a very enjoyable weekend even if it ended a bit down on the bird count. We did add 15 birds to the list and we saw thousands of birds over the course of the weekend plus we had a great time. I think that counts for a good way to spend a weekend.

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