Monday, March 31, 2014

Come out to the coast... Newport Oregon part 1

I finally had a chance to take a break from being a SAHD. I've been seeing posts on the listserv about this magical place called Yaquina Bay in Newport Oregon.  So many awesome birds were being reported that I've just heard about or seen in books.  So the stars aligned and I was able to get down there for 2 days and a night.  Alone.  With no kids.  I love them, but no sane person can be expected to put up with 2 pre-schoolers 24/7.  I rented a car and set off from Beaverton in the pouring rain and hoped for better weather at the coast.  But I stopped by REI on the way to pick-up a longer rain coat than the one that I had.  This simple stop turned into an ordeal which put me behind 2 hours, but I was happy with the final product (it's this jacket).  Which, as my luck would have it, and which I planned for, I barely needed.
On the way there I got a break in the rain and was looking at some spring lambs along the road when I saw something that I had to stop and photograph.  Some sheep were attracting some odd accessories.

Starlings on Sheep
European Starlings and Sheep - Roadside Oregon
I got down to Newport in time to walk out along the south jetty.  I would end up with 8 lifers on this walk alone.  First off was a Mew Gull and then I saw some odd looking ducks with white patches on their heads, Surf Scoters.

Surf Scoters
Surf Scoters - Yaquina Bay Oregon
There were lots and lots of Greater and Lesser Scaups under the big bridge, but in with them were some Buffleheads and then I noticed a Barrow's Goldeneye male with some females.

Barrow's Goldeneye
Barrow's Goldeneyes - Yaquina Bay Oregon
I walked west along the jetty facing the setting Sun.  I noticed a seawall (?) sticking out from the jetty with some odd, soft looking rocks at the far end.

Seals and Cormorants
Seals and Cormorants - Yaquina Bay Oregon
Seals! And some Cormorants were hanging out.  I was really looking for Brown Pelicans, but there were none about on Saturday.
Further up this same pile of rocks were some Gulls and some really young ones were in the water checking out some Sea Stars.

Immature Gull and Sea Star
Imm Western Gull and Sea Star - Yaquina Bay Oregon
There were lots of Grebes around too.  I saw a dozen or more Western Grebes, which I scanned hoping for a Clark's to no avail.  But I did notice this Red-Necked Grebe a little ways out.

Red-Necked Grebe
Red-Necked Grebe
And there were some Horned Grebes too, a small raft of them.

Horned Grebes
Horned Grebes - Yaquina Bay Oregon
Besides the Surf Scoters, I saw a single Black Scoter amid the Scaups and a few of these White-Winged Scoters.  Apparently, this is a female Surf Scoter, not a WWSC.  Perhaps I never saw a WWSC on this trip, I don't seem to have any photos of one, other than this. 
White-Winged Scoter
Surf Scoter, female - Yaquina Bay Oregon
I didn't walk all the way to the end of the Jetty, but part of the way out I saw a small black bird with some white spots on the wings, a Pigeon Guillemot!

Pigeon Guillemot
Pigeon Guillemot - Yaquina Bay Oregon
Turning back towards land, my hotel and the Rogue Brewery, I got a really nice look at Newport and the bridge.

Yaquina Bay Bridge
Yaquina Bay Bridge - Newport Oregon
And of the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse north of the bridge. 
Newport Lighthouse
Yaquina Bay Lighthouse - Newport Oregon
Still scanning for birds on the waterway I saw an odd shape floating there, it was a merdog! Ok, it was a Seal, but think about it.

Seal - Yaquina Bay Oregon
I was almost back at my starting point under the bridge and the collection of Scaups and Buffleheads had grown.

Ducks under Yaquina Bridge
Ducks under the bridge - Yaquina Bay Oregon
And off to the side were some small geese, a little group of Brants, what a nice surprise.  If you read my old blog, you may remember me chasing a solitary Brant around Albuquerque, but here they were in their usual range.  And they appeared to all be Black Brants too. 

Brants - Yaquina Bay Oregon
That was it for the end of my first day in Newport.  I took my camera and binoculars back to the hotel and walked over to the Rogue Brewery and restaurant just next door.  I had an okay veggie burger and a delicious Irish Lager for dinner, which I liked so much that I brought some back home.  The scale of the place was amazing, but that's for a different blog.

I'll post my photos from day 2 in the next post.  Thanks for making it this far,



  1. Great shot of those Surf Scoters, and I'm sure a much needed and well deserved vacation.

  2. Great post! I don't recall ever seeing a small raft of Horned Grebes like that before- cool find!

  3. Thanks. It's actually mentioned in one of the guides that I looked at and maybe a way to tell Eared from Horned, in that Eared don't do that?