2022-04-03 Yaquina South Jetty

Harlequin Duck - Histrionicus histrionicus
Harlequin Ducks joined in the feeding frenzy with the scoters, loons, and grebes in the nearby harbor waters of Yaquina Bay, but appeared to prefer the pickings nearer the rock-lined jetty than the channel further away, where the rest of the mob fed.

I arrived Saturday in Newport, and spent most of the day catching up with my blogging tasks, but after spending the night north of town, I wanted to see what birding treasures I might find in the area. In keeping with my “south-jetty fetish”, I drove to the South Yaquina Bay Jetty on the southern end of town. The day was overcast and dreary, but I was not discouraged in my quest to meet the local birds.

I reached the Yaquina Bay South Jetty about midway through the incoming tide and found a large group of scoters foraging the near side of the channel in favorable light. While spending time with these ducks, a trio of Harlequin Ducks swam by, and gave me the opportunity to get some decent photos. Red-Necked Grebes mingled with the scoters for a short while as did a Greater Scaup and a few Buffleheads.

While I was watching the nearby group of Surf Scoters forage, a Common Loon in full breeding plumage swam amongst them and was working the same waters. Surf Scoters often dive synchronously in groups; all at once or nearly all at once. I noticed that when the loon was amongst them, many of the scoters would rise to the surface quickly, without having spent much time foraging. Then they swam away hastily from the position near the loon where they had surfaced. It got me wondering if the scoters felt threatened by the much larger bird.

When I reviewed the multitude of images, I’d captured more species than I thought. Tucked in with the scoters, the gulls, the scaup, the grebes, the common loons, the cormorants, and sea lions, was a series of shots of an immature Red-Throated Loon. The action was at times, so hot and heavy; I guess I was bouncing from one subject to another, and didn’t realize I wasn’t shooting one of the usual suspects.

So he stuck in his thumb, and pulled out a plum, and said …

By the day’s end, I’d met a Bald Eagle, Buffleheads, a California Sea Lion, Common Loons, Glaucous-Winged Gulls, a Golden-Crowned Sparrow, a Greater Scaup, Harlequin Ducks, Pelagic Cormorants, Red-Necked Grebes, a Red-Throated Loon, Surf Scoters galore, and Western Gulls. It was another tough day at the office.

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