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Oregon to Oklahoma

June 2003

Part 4:  Newport Area

  

 Next day was a work day, when Suzanne came by around 11:00 and we went to lunch at a cute little café she knew about that had a great spicy Thai salad!  Whatever it is I’m fighting off is sure getting to me, though; I wondered about the wisdom of going out in the field the next day, but I’m glad I did, as we had a marvelous time and got some good birds. We decided to head up towards Newport as Doug heard some tips on Mountain Quail and Pygmy Owl, so that was fine. We started out before the crack of dawn and got to the road a bit after sunrise, but that was fine, as we rounded a corner, and there was a fat body just sitting right in the middle of the road with a straight-up crest! Everyone got great views! That would have been a great road to survey, too, as it was a good gravel road through the forest.

We then stopped at the pullout where Pygmy Owl was supposed to be, but he wasn’t cooperative; had lots of calling Swainson’s Thrushes and a singing Winter Wren instead. The Convention bus pulled up as we were waltzing out of the woods, and Radeaux said one of the leaders looked like she was gritting her teeth as Doug told her about the quail! Oh, well… Up further we found another little campsite where we had what we’re assuming was a Brush Rabbit at this point, but as Doug was using the van as a blind, a Black Swift flew over Barb and me, and the guys missed it! I guess that isn’t too terribly unusual; the local guys said that they can still have late migrants even this late in the year. Also had a Pileated Woodpecker in this area, and chased a West Coast Lady as well as this stunning little black and red moth. Also had Hairy Woodpecker and more Hermit Warblers, plus what could have been Townsend’s but just wouldn’t come out.

     

Everyone watches Doug as he shoots a strange little butterfly along a dirt road in the Rock Creek Wilderness (Suislaw National Forest)

         

West Coast Lady and Brush Rabbit

From there we headed up the coast and found a great little cove where the tide was going out, so Barb got to see her tidepools! A Glaucous-winged Gull was trying to eat a starfish, so we headed on over there and interrupted his lunch to see the fish… Oh, before that we pulled out at a high pullout and had great looks at nesting cormorants and a few guillemots and murres (plus Steller’s Sea Lions), but little did we know! Anyway, enjoyed lots of sea anenomies and barnacles, and a great Black Oystercatcher came real close! On the way back had a Heermann’s Gull in with the Westerns, GWs, and combos thereof, and in among the Violet-green and Rough-winged Swallows we had a single Vaux’s Swift.

      

View of the coast on the way to Newport with Steller's Sea Lions

   

Brandt's Cormorant colony

   

We stop at a beach where Barb can see the tidepool critters...

        

We examine a starfish rescued from a gull

       

More Sea Anemones (open at left, closed in center) and odd-looking barnacles

         

Sea Anemones close up when exposed out of the water

         

Scenes along the beach with Barb sitting quietly and examining the critters...

        

...while Radeaux pokes along the rocks.  Rocks offshore host nesting cormorants and murres

      

Nesting cormorants atop the rocks; looking back toward the highway

            

Doug checks out a Black Oystercatcher that gets nervous and finally decides to go elsewhere!     

After stopping at a little store for a much-needed coke and snacks (Radeaux got me the ice cream I won the other day) and enjoying the resident Barn Swallows and American Goldfinch bouncing over, we headed up to Yaquina Head, which was fantastic! They have a lighthouse there, but the murre colony is unbelievable! We also got terrific views of both Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorants in full breeding dress, plus nesting Western Gulls and squealing Pigeon Guillemots, but Radeaux spotted a Tufted Puffin whizzing by, which was one of our target birds! Back over at the main lookout, the place suddenly came alive with tourists when a pod of Killer Whales showed up close to shore! I hiked one of the trails to see if I could catch a puffin coming in or out of a burrow, but that didn’t work (got my exercise, though); saw some cute Whitecrowns instead. Also had a pair of Common Mergansers zip by; I changed my sighting of Red-breasted of the other day after Radeaux said they were indeed Commons, as I just assumed RB cuz that’s the coastal merganser in San Diego…

       

Another knock-out coastal scene with nesting Pelagic Cormorants and a West Coast Lady

         

White-crowned Sparrow at Yaquina Head

      

Nesting Common Murres (left) and Brandt’s Cormorant (right)

      

A family pod of Killer Whales gets the whole park excited!

All this excitement has scared the murres into the water!   

                   

Dad Western Gull guards Mom on the nest, with Pigeon Guillemot pair

         

Taking the trail up the hill from the parking lot gives you the view above...

Headed back after that; I kept Radeaux awake while Barb and Doug zoned out in the back seat; it was a great day, but I was sure starting to feel whatever this is (Doug said I had SARS); ran into birding buddy Aileen Lotz on the field trip, too, and once again going to dinner, so we sat together and chatted.

Friday I was not feeling well at all: I dutifully stood by my post, but I wasn’t much fun to be around! So I laid low that night, and slept in the next morning, finally dragging myself out of bed to order breakfast and then go do laundry (after wandering aimlessly around town trying to find a laundromat). After getting supplies I crashed the rest of the afternoon, then dragged myself downstairs around three to close up shop; both Doug and Radeaux were doing good business, and that's when I talked Doug into a deal for "Miriam" (the eagle)!

After hugging everyone goodbye (Radeaux didn’t mind being contaminated) I crashed for the night and packed the next morning, feeling much better!  Headed east along the back roads, stopping at a picnic area for the first potty break and picked up a few trip birds: Yellow-rumped and Mac Warblers, Hermit Thrush, and a flock of Red Crossbills flying over! Getting down into the Great Basin was gorgeous, and picked up my beloved magpies in there, plus a magnificent Golden Eagle sitting on a pole. Closer to the border I passed several wetlands, picking up both stilt and avocet, coot, Willet, and noisy Yellow-headed Blackbirds for the state. Made it to the Interstate before crashing for the night; at least during those sick hours I managed to finish the tornado book (although I may start it again to refresh my memory on the basics).!

I was so tired I didn’t even write a journal entry for the next day (although we did pick up two new trip birds: Harrier and Common Grackle): we made it from the Oregon/Idaho border to just past the Wyoming border to the Little America hotel, which warranted its own place on the map! A local thunderstorm precluded much of a walk, although that’s where I picked up the Common Grackle.  The next day was a beautiful drive through Wyoming and Colorado (except for Denver), and at one potty stop I even drove down the road a mile to see what was singing, because there was a Vesper Sparrow going at it at the gas station. Down the road had dueling Sage Thrashers (with a Robin thrown in; rather incongruous place for one in the middle of nothing) and a Brewer’s Sparrow for background, plus something else I couldn’t quite place (sounded like either a Lark Sparrow or Green-tailed Towhee; probably the former). But the best gift was hearing a snort behind me, and a whole herd of Pronghorn had come up to the fence with the glorious white-capped mountain in the background; what a picture! Other trip birds along the road included a Lark Bunting, and where we stopped just short of the Kansas border a walk in residential Burlington added what I’m assuming was a singing Rose-breasted Grosbeak (as opposed to Black-headed), flyover Chimney Swifts, and three Collared Doves! (I thought of my friend Rob Parsons working so hard to get that for his Colorado list!) Had a wonderful steak dinner, and another installment of Storm Stories

      

Scenes on the fly to Kansas:  snow-capped Cascades (left) and Great Basin habitat on the west side of the state

   

Heading through Wyoming

    

Pronghorns coming over to investigate at a rest stop, and sunrise on the plains

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