It’s the Weather for the Feather!

Hey, its good to see you again! It’s been a bit too long, hasn’t it! This week has been excellent, and I’m not just saying that because of the weather either. The past couple of weeks I’ve become acclimated to the usual climate here in Newport: cold, overcast, and sometimes rainy. This wasn’t necessarily bad, per se, in fact I actually love rainy days! Back home in southern California the days would be modestly warm with constant sunshine. In a place where the heat and sun are the norm, any day of rain was welcome. Newport, being on the other side of spectrum, would occasionally have gray skies with sporadic pockets of showers here and there. For me, rainy days were fun…until the novelty has worn off; it was just another day in Newport. That’s not to say that I’m miserable from the weather, but rather that rain has become another daily element of my life. It’s like the Bald Eagles for me; I was completely ecstatic from seeing my first wild Bald Eagle fly over Hatfield because I would not ever dream of seeing one fly over the suburban landscape of Orange County. I remember I would brag and annoyingly send photos of these majestic birds to my friends at home. Now that I’ve been at Newport for a month and a half, the novelty of the Bald Eagle has somewhat begun to fade as I realized that they are normal residents of the area! The usual forecast would be “cloudy skies with showers and a chance of Bald Eagle”. That was until this week!

 

This week has been welcomed by the wonderful rays of sunshine and blue skies. The weather has been absolutely beautiful the past couple of days! Basking in the sunlight and taking in the colors of the land and the cool breeze of the ocean has been a true pleasure. My first education program was on one of these ideal days, and I’m positive that it has encouraged the schoolchildren to go out and explore the tide pools even more! But we’re not the only ones to enjoy the change in weather…our feathery friends have too! The past couple weeks I’ve only seen one, two or several birds if I’m lucky for my shorebird surveys along Yaquina Bay. Low numbers were not a surprise for me, as I was not expecting to see many until later in the spring for their migration fly-through. I think it’s safe to say that with the sun came along the birds! Almost 500 of them! I was more than excited to finally see the Western Sandpipers come to eat and play by Yaquina Bay. Their breeding plumage gives them a copper back on top of a milk-white underside. Among them were Dunlins too, which are somewhat larger in size and distinguishable from the Western Sandpipers by the black patch on their bellies.  A pocket of Dowitchers also accompanied them, along with a Marbled Godwit and a Black-bellied Plover. I recall my first time attempting to identify shorebirds from afar being a great challenge, since the winter plumage for many was mostly dull. Now with their brilliant breeding plumage it makes it easier to tell them apart. Welcome to Yaquina, my fellow “peeps”!

 

Scope looking out to Haystack Rock

 

I’ve also had the opportunity to attend a nearby event in Pacific City called “Birding & Blues,” dedicated to promoting conservation, sightseeing and exploring the birds of all kinds as they fly by. I’ve had the wonderful privilege of meeting some of the more experienced birders and ornithologists of the area, getting to know their stories and passion for birds firsthand. Together we took tours to several spots along the Oregon coast, more specifically the three capes: Cape Kiwanda, Cape Lookout, and Cape Meares. We observed an array of loons, grebes, cormorants, gulls, corvids, passerines, waterfowl, birds of prey, and even one Tufted Puffin! It’s truly been a wonderful learning experience to explore the birds of the Oregon coast, as well as traversing up the coast itself!

 

Christian Cortez
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