Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ocean Shores.

I've been fighting a cold for a few days but I didn't let that get in the way of my plans to finally make the trek to Ocean Shores yesterday.  A steady diet of juice, Airborne, zinc lozenges and coffee kept me going strong till about two, when I was too exhausted to bird anymore.

I arrived at the beach around 8:30 a.m. and set off in search of the Emperor Goose right away- it only took about a half hour till I saw a small flock of geese landing a couple blocks away.  The Emperor was among them...


I wasn't really expecting much when I went to find this goose, but man was it a looker!  I was surprised how gorgeous it is...


After admiring this fine specimen for awhile I took the dogs to the beach to tire them out so I could leave them in the car for the great Snowy Owl expedition.  We did lots of running around and Ralph developed a taste for crab legs.  They humored me during the obligatory dogs-at-the-beach cell phone photo shoot...


Excuse the poop bag front and center.  With the dogs tired out we headed to Damon Point.  I walked down the middle of the point to the paved road to the end of the point, and made my way back along the south side.  I didn't see a single person once I made it on the paved part and I was afraid I was looking in the wrong spots.  Walking along the beach I still didn't see anyone, but finally I saw a white blob peeking over the grass...


I moved down the beach to get a better angle...


Then I noticed a teeny white blob in the distance behind this guy, and then another peeking around a log to the left:


I continued on down the beach, trying not to annoy the owls, and came across a fourth fella...


I was on owl-overload and borderline giddy.  I still hadn't encountered a single other person.  Out on the water was a small group of my favorite scoters:


White-winged Scoters are certainly the classiest of the scoter lot.  I kept walking to a large beachy area of the point where someone was walking around collecting shells or rocks or whatever, and yet another owl was perched.  This one was the most out-in-the-open of all the ones I saw...


Yeah.  Pretty awesome with the mountains in the background.


As I kept making my way down the beach I finally started encountering more people, more birders, but mostly just folks out with their dogs or beachcombing.  I got to a place where I could see most of the point and there were four Snowy Owls easily within view.  I am sure at least one of them was one I hadn't seen yet, but I can't be sure about the others since I had walked around the whole area.  So I saw at least six!!

Sick of Snowy Owls now?  Sorry, I was a wee bit excited.  I went back to my car to take the dogs out on the beach for a bit and look for the King Eider.  No luck, but the dogs had fun trying to eat every crab leg they came across.  I was pretty exhausted by this time and I didn't even bother trying for the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

My last stop was the jetty where I found only Surfbirds and Black Turnstones...


That was it for my trip... Pretty awesome even though I missed some birds I had hoped to see.  I made it back to Portland, ate a bowl of soup, and fell asleep on the couch.  I feel beat and a little sick but it was totally worth it.  Good times!

19 comments:

  1. Wow - six Snowy Owls! I was giddy with my one single Snowy Owl - wonderful! Sounds like you had a great day - hope you're feeling better.

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  2. What an incredible sighting Jen! Such cool birds.

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  3. Wow, six snowy owls, that is amazing. Congrats! Awesome photos and your dogs are really cute too. I hope you feel better soon. Happy Birding.

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  4. Amazing post, Jen! Congratulations on the Emperor Goose and the Snowy Owls! You really hit the jackpot!
    Hope you feel better and happy holidays to you and your dogs!

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  5. I just scheduled in an Ocean Shores day into my road trip. So many owls. Congrats on the lifer goose! All hail the emperor.

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  6. BTW there are several Rock Sandpipers in that last shot. Sorry, I cant help it.

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  7. Am I sick of Snowy Owls yet? Umm, NO!! This might be the closest I get to them this winter. I don't think I have it in me to drive all the way up there, so I hope a closer one or two (or three!) visit us. Great photos of them!!

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  8. Awesome snowy pics. The emperor goose would be a new one for me. What is up with the snowies this year. They are being seen all the way to Oklahoma thus far.

    Sick of snowies...bird snob! Stay tuned for some cool birds from my Arizona trip.

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  9. ILL BE..even when you're sick you bring home the goods.....more snowy's than you could shake a stik at WOW..lovely shots too..
    And the Emperor>>>
    Take care and get some rest...

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  10. Excellent stuff! I'll have to make a trip up there.

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  11. Wow! I've been all excited about the two Snowy Owls seen along Chicago's lakefront but seeing at least six is absolutely fabulous. They really are stunning birds. Sounds like you had a great day birding at the beach even though you were feeling under the weather. Beautiful Emperor Goose, awesome owls, Cute pups! Feel better!

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  12. Thanks everyone for the kind words! Still coughing, but actually feeling much better.

    @Michele- Go see the Snowy in Albany! Or Eugene (Fern Ridge Reservoir)!

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  13. Super day and super owl shots! I am so jealous! It's neat to see one of the shots as your main photo on your site! Good stuff!

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  14. Yep, along with Steve I noted right away the Rock Sandpiper in your photo of "only surfbirds and black turnstones." The Rock Sandpiper is flying top center is obvious with its longer curved bill.

    You are sure seeing a lot of good birds lately!

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  15. What a day you had! I would have been satisfied with Surfbirds and Turnstones, but all those owls AND Emperor Goose? Astonishing. Nice photos, too!

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  16. Another excellent blog entry, Jen. Get well soon. Wishing you and all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, the best of health, prosperity and wildlife observation in the New Year.

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  17. WOW so many Snowy owls!! Awesome.
    Birding is so so different yet so so similar here in SA.

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  18. Really cool! And very cute dog photo!

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