|Surfbirds at Barview Jetty near Tillamook|
Tillamook and Netarts, Oregon, February 22, 2014
I knew that I had to cross the bridge and then immediately turn right, so I did. I didn't know I had to turn left shortly thereafter, so I didn't. As a result, I ended up exactly where I needed to be.
It was late on Friday afternoon when I finally pulled into Newport after leaving Corvallis and crossing the Coast Range. I had heard about a Long-tailed Duck that might have been hanging out at the end of the south jetty, but my sense of where I had to go was fuzzy at best. Instead of taking that left, I stayed to the right, passed some place that looked like it was hosting a party or giving away free beer, and ended up at the Marine Science Center. I parked and looked out the window in front of me - Pelagic Cormorant, lifer. I got out of the car and a California Gull flew right over my head - lifer. After tracking it I looked out at the pier ahead of me - Brandt's Cormorant, lifer. I took a few steps along the water and looked down - Western Grebe and Surf Scoter - lifer, lifer. I raised my eyes to heaven to thank God, but stopped mid-way - Northern Fulmar, lifer! This was incredible. I could hardly take a breath without picking up another life bird. I'm still breathless just thinking about it. I'd like to say that as I saw each new bird, I gazed lovingly at it, carefully noting each field mark. I did that eventually, but at first they came so fast I barely had time to register one when the next presented itself to me.
I would have loved to stay there for another hour or two but there was little daylight left and I still had a couple of stops to make. A local birder had mentioned an eider at the 68th Street boat ramp. Russ Namitz had told me to look for the bird at Moolak Beach which was a little farther north. I decided to check them both if time permitted. Unfortunately, it did not. I scoped the ocean from the end of 68th but saw only Surf Scoters. By the time I packed up, it was getting dark and I had to drive all the way to Tillamook. That proved to be my only real regret for the entire trip. I had hoped to bird my way up the coast, but the darkness prevailed.
|Find the Sanderling among the Surfbirds|
I walked out to the jetty and saw a flock of shorebirds swirling out over the channel between the jetties before returning to the rocks ahead of me. I put the scope on them and saw about 25 Surfbirds! There was another bird I had wanted for years.
I then spent some time chatting with a birder from Portland. Actually, he was new to Portland having moved there from Michigan. I told him it was about time for me to head back to Portland for a plane for home at 6:00 the next morning. I wish I could remember his name, because I owe him one. He asked me what bird I still hoped to see and I mentioned two, Rock Sandpiper (but there were none anywhere) and Western Gull. We shook hands and parted, but less than a minute later I heard him yell my name. He pointed up at a gull flying over him and toward me - a Western and what proved to be my final lifer for the trip. He gave me a thumbs up and turned away. Whoever you are ... thanks. I hope someone does the same for you some day.
The final tally was wonderful: 116 species and 32 lifers. Oregon itself was gorgeous and its people were friendly. I'm also a real fan of their many, many coffee kiosks, and I made really good use of them throughout the seven birding days. I needed another day or two along the coast, and I should have planned to bird some in the high desert of the eastern half of the state. But that's the thrill and the trap of birding ... there could be something really great at the next spot, and there's never enough time to get to all of the next spots. And so the birder is always left with the same thought. Maybe next time.
|Tillamook Bay from the pullout with the Captain Gray historical marker|
|The North Jetty at Barview Jetty Park|
|The Three Arches, Netarts Bay|