If Paul Revere were a modern-day birder, he’d be running down the path of the estuary flailing a Kaufman guide in the air while frantically shouting:
“The shorebirds are coming! The shorebirds are coming!”
But he’s not. Paul Revere is long dead. C’mon guys, get yourself together. I know the anticipation of this shorebird migration must be driving you nuts, too. It’s obviously rolling me off of the rocker. But no worries, that’s why I’m here.
Ergo, it is my pleasure to announce: the shorebirds really are coming! So turn that frown upside down, and lean into your chair, you’re about to take a ride back in time of the elusive history of the Oregon coast to…yesterday.
Oh, yesterday. Like many, it was crazy, full of random outings, chaotic research endeavors, and rapidfire admin projects. This was a particularly packed day; at 8am my roommates and I peeled out of bed and headed to Depoe Bay for a training on whales, then I rushed back home to jump into the field in my stubborn mission to find shorebirds, had an hour or so to coordinate logistics for a county-wide festival, and then jumped back into the field for a second attempt at shorebird spotting. For those who think that “kids” of my generation don’t want to work, take this brief picture of my internship as a glimpse into the things that we are willing to do simply for a feeling of purpose; it’s not an easy task to drag around a scope through mud, rain, bitter cold high winds, and trash for four hours a day, and then maintain the energy to complete three-four other projects. I am just one of many youngin’s happy and willing to shed sweat, blood, and tears just for a chance to shine. This is not a complaint, I’m extremely blessed and honored to have the opportunity, and can only hope that I deliver to and beyond the expectations put forth to me. What I hope to convey here is that it is important to provide a stepping stone for recent graduates to become qualified professionals within your field, because we’re ready and willing to make the leap, and keep on jumping until we’re ready to continue the legacy you leave behind.
Anyways, I digress, you’re here to read about birds, and I shall deliver:
Why am I doing it? Because I finally spotted not just one, but MANY shorebirds. Coincidentally, it was the first visit that I finally managed to convince a friend to join me. Considering my luck, I did not expect to see much on the mudflats, so I felt it was a good day to inspire another person to be as obsessed with birds are. Maybe this goal was a little selfish–I often find myself with wandering eyes in the middle of conversations (I can’t help it if a cool bird is doing kickbutt stuff right behind someone), a part of me hoped that pulling someone into my kind of crazy would make them understand the struggle of a birder. We went out a little early than necessary so I could show her how to use the scope, and navigate her through the library of field guides that I drag out with me. So far these guides have only been useful as a potential defense mechanism for creepers out in the wild (doesn’t happen here, but I am from D.C. and inherently have an incurable sense of paranoia). However, right when I peeked into the scope to focus it for my friend, I noticed a slight movement on the opposite bank:
“What’s up?” My friend froze, anxious.
“A blowing leaf? No…”
“What?!?” The poor girl was squirming from anticipation.
“Oh my god…”
If I were a comic book character, a big red exclamation point would have materialized above me and my head would have exploded from excitement. There’s no equivalent to making a discovery, no matter how small it may be. Yesterday I found that the peeps are arriving, and many more will soon be making their way.
For now, we have Black-bellied plovers, Western sandpipers, and a Yellowlegs (I think Greater) claiming the Yaquina Bay. Just for fun, I also witnessed a Bald eagle stealing a fish from a gull in mid air and the gull, determined and touch beyond belief, coming back at the eagle for vengeance. Meanwhile, US Fish & Wildlife boating trips along the California shore have reported sightings of flocks of migrating birds coming up North.
So rest assured, they are coming, they are coming strong.
Until next time! Bird on.