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Memories of Bandon Oregon

Western Sandpiper - Calidris mauriIn September 2017 I was touring the Central Oregon Coast. The smoke from the Chetco Fire near Brookings spilled over the coast mountains into the Rogue Valley where I was staying with family. Breathing was problematic. As I recall the air quality index was over 400 ppm and visibility was such that you couldn’t see across the street. If the index in Los Angeles gets over 50 ppm it makes national headlines. But when the bad air isn’t in Tinsel Town, the media vultures couldn’t care less.

I left Medford and headed north on the interstate until I found the Umpqua River road to Florence, and I spent the next several days leisurely exploring my way south enjoying scenery, birds, and clean air under gray, overcast skies.

By the time I reached Bandon I’d already found places and birds that brought smiles to my face. I first stopped at 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 insufficient to tempt me to take pictures.

Western Sandpiper - Calidris mauriI drove through the wharf section of Bandon, but it wasn’t until I reached South Jetty Road that I found subjects near enough to entice me to breakout the gear and try to fight the light of the gray weather. I found good numbers of Western Sandpipers and dowitchers (I’m calling them “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 of this amazing corner of the planet, though I think I’d like to try my luck again in a different season.

The following morning, before continuing south on my journey, the rocks filled up with Western Sandpipers who had loafing on their minds. It was about an hour before high tide and whatever food was to be had, would have been consumed by now. The birds, nearly 200 in number, needed to sit and rest while digesting their morning meal. I took a few pictures of the sleeping sandpipers, then reluctantly I left Bandon after a very enjoyable stay. Nice town!

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