2017-09-07 Central Oregon Coast

Peeps

A study on “peeping”

I awoke at the north end of Coos Bay (North Bend Oregon) to a dense fog, then drove out the Horsfall Beach road. A recommended trail around Bluebill Lake yielded a few birds: American Robin, Northern Flicker, Wrentit, Bushtit, American Crow, Song Sparrow, Eurasian Collared Dove, Steller’s Jay, Wood Duck hen, several unidentified ducks at distance, Red-Breasted Nuthatch, Chickadee (assume Mountain). I didn’t think there was enough light for photography, so I didn’t carry my camera gear.

Driving south I stopped for breakfast at the Pancake Mill (very nice) before driving to Charleston, where I found peeps foraging near the bridge leading over the South Slough. Both Western and Least Sandpipers were scurrying about on the mudflats working the tide line’s rapid approach. Both species were adorned with crisp looking plumage and only occasionally did they approach each other and allow a frame with both birds. Shooting from above while on the public dock overcame the questionable lighting of the day. The same can not be said of the rest of the day’s images. I took a few shots of the Western Gulls and the Double-Crested Cormorants before exploring the road ahead.

The beauty of Cape Arago was largely lost in the fog. I hiked out to the end of the trail where the lighting was impossible for images and the vistas were closed off. Then I had a “good news, bad news” moment. Next to the trail were Red Crossbills feeding high in the evergreens. The was my first meeting with this bird (good news). The bad news was two-fold: (1) I would have to take pictures of the birds silhouetted against the pure white sky, and (2) it began to rain with thunder nearby. I used a flash adjusted to plus 3 stops, but as expected, the images were marginal <sigh>. Before I packed up and after engaging in several long conversations with locals and fellow travellers, I managed one mediocre image of the local Song Sparrow.

Bandon would be my final stop for the day. My first stop was at the Bandon NWR off North Bank Road where I had a nice conversation with a nature loving deputy sheriff, but the distant Barn Swallows and Great Egrets weren’t enough to coax me into breaking out my camera gear. From there I drove across the river to the Riverside Drive viewing platform. It was beautiful, but the distant ducks, gulls and egrets were not sufficient to attempt pictures.

I drove through the wharf section of Bandon, but it wasn’t until I reached South Jetty Road I found subjects to entice me to breakout the gear and try to fight the light. There I found good numbers of Western Sandpipers and dowitchers (I’m calling “Short-Billed”) flying over the shallows between foraging sessions. A single Greater Yellowlegs and a small group of Killdeer showed up as well. Two Black Oystercatchers teased me with calls from the jetty rocks across the water before flying up river and out of sight.

Even the rain and fog could not conceal the beauty that is this amazing part of the planet, though I think I’d like to try my luck at a different season. The images I captured this day a far from my best though the peeps at Charleston aren’t bad. Largely the images are here to support the story of my time at these places. [Postscript: While parked near the South Jetty at Bandon preparing images for this story, I saw a mink scrambling over the jetty rocks. I tried to get an image, but my effort was too little, too late.]

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