Posted by: atowhee | September 19, 2009

Agate Lake, now precious to shorebirds

If you’re a migrating shorebird heading south over summer dried Jackson County, Oregon, where you gonna stop?  Our morning field trip found one answer: the broad, barren but muddy shores of irrigation-lowered Agate Lake.

We had seven species of shorebird on the Rogue Valley Audubon Field Trip led by Edith Lindner and Keiko Thurston.  Along was Otis Swisher who may have seen more birds over more years in Jackson County that anybody else.  He was keenly aware of habitat changes over the decades, like cleared underbrush and lake-covered marshes.  Otis gives the next RVAS program on Tuesday.IMG_9871IMG_9874

Two Greater Yellowlegs on left.  Then three Egrets and a yellowlegs that is but a speck on the shoreline.SHOREBIRDS ASHORE

LB DOW TRIOtrio with treeLet’s call this “Trio, with Tree”




pipit 9-19PIPIT POSES 9-19And there were numerous peeping toms, or rather peeping woodpeckers, that being the sound of the ever-active Lewis’s Woodpeckers who will winter at Agate Lake.lewis's 9-19-09  Of course, this wonderful bird was discovered by Lewis & Clark and thus named for one of the two great explored who arrived in Oregon in 1804.

After the main walk some of us checked out the west side of Agate Lake near the main parking lot and boat ramp.  Here we found two Baird’s Sandpipers, an Oregon lifer for Larry Wright.  The bird is difficult to pick out of a crowd.  So difficult that the first recognized specimen was found in the 19th Century in the bird collection of the Smithsonian.  That sandpiper was in a collection of birds from the northern tundra.  The specimen was spotted by sharp-eyed young Elliott Coues, destined to be the top curmudgeon and taxonomist in late 19th Century American ornithology.  Coues had been given a chance to work on the collection by Spencer Baird, Smithsonian administrator.  The teenager, Coues, wisely named the new species after his mentor.

Besides pipits and shorebirds, the other obvious migrants were: Wigeon, Ruddy Ducks, three species of swallow and kettling Turkey Vultures.  We found no Lark Sparrow so they’ve apparently left in the past week.

Location:     Agate Lake
Observation date:     9/19/09
Number of species:     33

Canada Goose     160
American Wigeon     2
Mallard     80
Ruddy Duck     16
Great Blue Heron     5
Great Egret     25
Green Heron     1
Turkey Vulture     20
Osprey     2
Northern Harrier     1
Red-tailed Hawk     1
American Coot     15
Killdeer     40
Spotted Sandpiper     2
Greater Yellowlegs     25
Western Sandpiper     30
Least Sandpiper     1
Baird’s Sandpiper     2
Long-billed Dowitcher     8
California Gull     1
Belted Kingfisher     2
Lewis’s Woodpecker     12
Acorn Woodpecker     2
Western Scrub-Jay     1
Tree Swallow     40
Violet-green Swallow     75,  Barn Swallow     6
White-breasted Nuthatch     2
American Robin     1
American Pipit     8
Western Meadowlark     10
Brewer’s Blackbird     16
Lesser Goldfinch     2

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