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Oregon to Oklahoma

June 2003

Part 3:  Oregon Dunes NRA

The restaurant wasn’t open until 6:30, so I slept in a little and then moseyed down, joining Paul Baisich and a couple of other ABA guys (neither of whom I knew), and listened to a very interesting report of a workshop Paul’s trying to get going in Nicaragua regarding shade-grown coffee, to try and encourage people to support it and help get Nicaragua on their feet as well. After breakfast I came back up and got ready for spending the whole day at the "shop", taking my tornado book to read in preparation for the upcoming storm-chasing tour. Socialized quite a bit of course with Doug Pratt and Radeaux (aka Mark Yaeger), plus picked up a bunch of stuff at ABA Sales (I can never resist...I spend everything I make...). Got to meet Tanya, a local artist who makes these adorable little bird ornaments: I bought a magpie right away, but she makes practically every species under the sun (so long as the pattern isn’t too complicated, she said)! We made plans for birding the next day, and I was hoping I’d be able to make it cuz I was coming down with a dry cough (couldn’t help but think of SARS), but as it turned out my energy came back, even though I still have the cough. Dinner and the talk on Lane County was great.

Mark and Barb met us out front at six, and the plan was to meet my friend Suzanne at South Jetty Road sometime between seven and 7:30. So we headed out, picking up Black Tern on the way at the slough. Mark and I were debating some Band-tailed Pigeons on the way (I bet him an ice cream and he lost), and at the actual entrance to South Jetty (where most everyone needed to use the potty) we picked up Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Yellowthroat, and what I’m assuming was a Chipping Sparrow with a very dry trill. Heading on in we found Dave and Suzanne’s van (Dave had joined her), and it was great seeing them again! I jumped in their van and we followed Mark to a dune access trail where we huffed and puffed to the top and had a nice view of the beach, but that was about it. Had a lot of those weird-sounding White-crowned Sparrows, plus a Savannah that had caught a big bug!

Foggy drive to Florence


White-crowned Sparrow at the entrance


Suzanne Fischer and Barb and Mark Yaeger (aka "Radeaux") make the arduous climb over the dune for a grand view of the Pacific Ocean!

We headed on down to the jetty itself where we parked and walked down the jetty next to the Siuslaw River, where we managed to get Mark his first Pigeon Guillemot! Further down there looked to be a whole mess of ducks, which I again assumed were Black Scoters, but upon closer inspection turned out to be Surfs, which in all honesty was probably what I had yesterday, as many of them were young birds with the orange beaks but no white on the head yet. But the real treat were several Pacific Loons, with a couple in gorgeous breeding plumage! There were also a few Western Grebes, a Glaucous-winged Gull trying to eat a crab, and a single murre snoozing on the rocks (plus Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants)! At one point we got down to the sand and walked towards the water that way, where we enjoyed the crows going after these little silver fish in the sand! Some Common Mergansers, California Gulls, and Caspian Terns also flew by, but on the way back Suzanne found lots of starfish and sea anenomies up under the rocks! Mark was fascinated by all the different barnacles, and we also found some crabs as well; it was fascinating!


At the South Jetty, an American Crow tries to horn in on a Western Gull’s starfish breakfast...


Doug and Mark head to the shore to scope out waterfowl while Suzanne combs the beach for sand dollars!


Ospreys catch fish for breakfast, and the local crows have become adept at grabbing little buried fish as the tide goes out!


Suzanne points out to Dave (her hubby) all the critters exposed by the low tides...


More starfish and sea anenomies


L-R:  Shell-encrusted sea anemone, shrimp sp., Dungeness (?) Crab, Chiton sp.


Radeaux was fascinated by the barnacles...   


Close-up of their "beaks"


Doug shoots a lizard while the others take one last look at the dune habitat before heading back to Eugene 

After that we went to Siltcoos Beach where we pulled over upon hearing some suspicious birds, including Chestnut-backed Chickadees, both Wilson’s and Orange-crowned Warbler, and what turned out to be dueling Hermit Warblers; I’ll probably never forget that song now! We also had a yanking Red-breasted Nuthatch and a cooperative Hutton’s Vireo. At a little canoe put-in spot we had Olive-sided Flycatcher singing, a pair of cooperative Warbling Vireos, waxwings, Purple Finches, an uncooperative Wrentit, and another mystery warbler that we had no clue on! When a young Red-tailed Hawk flew over it spooked a Pileated Woodpecker, a kingfisher, and got a Hairy Woodpecker peeking! At another stop we added Golden-crowned Kinglet and finally had a great look at a Wrentit, while the ranger yakked with Dave and Suzanne.


River habitat that the dickey birds liked

Lazing Elk

On the way to Elkhart we passed an Elk viewing area where, sure enough, there was the big herd, all in velvet! It was a beautiful drive back; took a shower once I got in, minded the shop for awhile, then went to dinner.

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