Posted by: atowhee | July 15, 2017


The lower Willamette Valley is distant from the Pacific by forty air miles and separated by a range of low mountains…but in the past two days I have seen six shorebird species and a oceanic gull. Admittedly these shorebirds all prefer mudflats to beach sand.
On Friday Paul Sullivan and I birded the scentful Sheridan Sewer Ponds. Plenty of Least Sandpipers and a few Westerns. Least likely birds of the day were a Black Phoebe and a male Lesser Scaup. While uncommon, neither species would be considered a vagrant. The phoebe is an uncommon nesting bird in parts of the Willamette Valley.

Rob Schulman and I birded Baskett Slough today–six species of shorebird and that excludes Killdeer and snipe which probably nest there but were not seen by us. There was also a first-year Western Gull arrived from the coast. This species does not breed inland like several smaller gull species: Ring-billed, California, Franklin. Another bright spot today at Baskett Slough was a rusty juvenile Harrier, outstanding in his field, apparently overcome by the size of the big wide world. He was on a row of mown hay, standing speechless and motionless. Dazed and confused.
Also at Baskett were a number of nutria and a pond drying with carp dying. The Turkey Vultures and crows eyeing the spectacle greedily.

blph-bblph-gudBlack Phoebe above. Bullfrog, his ancestors were introduced from eastern U>S> to provide frog legs to California’s Gold Rushers. Now he is the scourge of many low elevation waters and marshes along the Pacific Coast. frogeye3s
There must have been a thousand swallows at the Sheridan Sewer Ponds yesterday. At any moment over any pond you couldn’t count fast enough to estimate how many were swooping and swallowing within a single view. Then there were those resting on nearby fences, roofs and wires. Most of the crowd seemed to be Cliff Swallows, but five species were represented.
Above, right to left: tree, violet-green, tree, cliff x 3. Below, right to left: cliff, cliff, barn X 3. swll2swll3swll4

least-cuLeast Sandpiper above. Western in following images is the large paler bird, other are leasts.peeps1peeps3peeps4Ruddy Duck maleruddrudd2Killdeer:

kd yngkd yng2

Mud Flats Ensemble, inc. Western Gull, sleeping Greater Yellowlegs, GBHerons,
Mallards at rest, Brewer’s Blackbirds:beach gangThe doomed carp in a slough getting smaller and shallower with each minute of bright sun and low humidity:carpgbh-bsYellowlegs with legs in watergy at bsKestrel passing by:kestaire
Lesser Yellowlegs is bird partly submerged with pale eyebrow showing. Only one we found today.lesyelMale goldfinicho ntghe beach in his fading glory.
amgo-bssw-tail-bsTV n the beach next to the carp pool:tv landd


Western on right, least on left. Compare leg color, overall size, height of bird, darkness of plumage, length and curve of beak, stir in your memory and know which is which.peeps-comp

Sheridan WTP Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jul 14, 2017 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM. 29 species.

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 200
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) 2
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) 1
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) 10
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 1
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) 20
Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) 1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) 1
American Coot (Fulica americana) 12 including one juvernile
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) 10
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) 20
Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri) 3
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon)) X
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) X
Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi) 2
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group]) 1
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) 1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 8
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) 1
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) X
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) X
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) X
Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) 400
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) X
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) 2
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) 80
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) 2
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) X

Baskett Slough NWR, Polk, Oregon, US
Jul 15, 2017 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM. 29 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) X
Gadwall (Anas strepera) 1
Mallard (Northern) (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos/conboschas) X
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) 2
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) 2
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 20
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) 25
Northern Harrier (American) (Circus cyaneus hudsonius) 1 juvenile
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) 2
American Coot (Fulica americana) 1
Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) 2 one was juvenile
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) 50
Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri) 3
Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus) 1
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) 20
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) 1
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) 1 first year bird;
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) 4 family group hunting together
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 8
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) X
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) X
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) X
Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) X
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) 1 fly catching over pond
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 3
Red-winged Blackbird (Red-winged) (Agelaius phoeniceus [phoeniceus Group]) X
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) X
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) 3


  1. Your titles are always great, but I thought this one was particularly clever.

    m a

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s