Sunday, May 03, 2015

Seattle to Tillamook

We managed a good nights sleep after the long but comfortable flight over and set off from Seattle this morning in glorious blue sky on route to our first destination at Tillamook. The route today would take us out of Washington state and into Oregon along the Pacific coast. We were looking forward to some decent birding and stunning scenery on route and to be honest we were not disappointed.

Record shot - Brown-headed Cowbird
Our first stop was the Chehalis River Surge Plain, which is on the Olympic Peninsula and around an hour or so out of Seattle. Here we took a short stroll to stretch the legs and to begin to familiarise ourselves once more with North American bird song. In fact it's amazing how quickly it comes back with the trilling song of the Orange-crowned Warbler leading to our first warbler of the visit, quickly followed by another familiar call, Wilson's Warbler. The unmistakable call of Red-winged Blackbird next and then a Brown-headed Cowbird flew into a nearby tree. Another recognisable call, that of the Hummingbird and our first Anna's. Song Sparrow next, Siskin over the pines and of course another bird easily identified, an American Robin.

A stop for lunch at the Raymond Subway for a sandwich, where we sat out overlooking the Willapa River yielded our first Swallows of the visit with Barn Swallow and Cliff Swallow. A Black-capped Chickadee, another regular along with Glaucous-winged Gull, plus House Sparrow and Starling made us feel at home. Two Great Blue Heron on the river, plus a nice addition to the list, a group of four Marbled Godwit, which flew through while heading back to the car.

The amazing Megler Bridge
At Astoria we finally crossed into the Oregon along the outstanding Megler Bridge: a steel cantilever through truss bridge 4.1 miles long that spans the Columbia River between Astoria Oregon and Point Ellice, near Megler, Washington State.

Two Greater Yellowlegs among many migrating shore birds!
A further dozen or so stop-off's at various observation points offered some stunning scenery. I must say it really is exceeding all our expectations with the stunning American Goldfinch, plus Red-breasted Merganser, fishing Caspian Terns, rafts of mixed flock Surf and Black Scoter, Pigeon Guillemot and fields full of Greater White-fronted Geese, even a small colony of Brown Pelicans off one small island. The surrounding mountains and hills have offered soaring raptors, which of note have included Turkey Vulture and the iconic Bald Eagle. The shore bird numbers are extraordinary with many huge flocks of waders, some easily identified like Dunlin and Sanderling, but one or two others which require more thought and investigation, including a Diver Sp. our first this visit.

A Caspian Tern takes a breather from the constant fishing

Now arrived at Tillamook which will be our base for the next three days before heading on further down the coast. Some excellent views of Turkey Vulture over the hotel this evening, plus several Brewers Blackbirds around the car park, the end to an excellent first day #birdingoregon

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