South Jetty.

I had an awesome morning at Fort Stevens today.  I completely abandoned my original game plan for the day and it worked out splendidly.  I arrived at the coast yesterday afternoon but by the time I made it to the South Jetty it was too dark for Snowy Owl-finding.  I did find a giant elk though:

I should mention it was also pouring rain with crazy winds.  When I woke up this morning I was pumped to find the rain had ceased though the wind was still kicking.  As soon as it was light out I headed to the jetty ready to conquer.

The dogs and I walked down the gravel trail and through a foot of water...

...towards the beach where I found a white dot sticking out like a sore thumb.  Success!  I gave the bird a lot of space since I was attached to two mutts...

Later on from the beach I climbed up one of the dunes to see if I could spot any others- I found one more and took some blurry photos.  The wind was really gusting up that high and I couldn't hold the camera straight. 

On the beach I found some gulls working on a big ole carcass (fish? seal?), with a Sanderling occasionally nabbing a tidbit. 

The walk down the beach was nice, but the walk back was against the wind...

It started raining off and on during the walk back but I did take a second to photograph these two birds I thought were the same at the time.  Obviously they are not:

Looks like a Least Sandpiper and a Dunlin?  Earlier before I even reached the first Snowy Owl I saw seven white birds fly in and land in the water.  I took some quick shots briefly thinking it was weird that those Sanderlings were swimming.  Of course when I looked at the photos later I realized they were phalaropes- Red Phalaropes in fact...

The last leg of the walk back to the car was rough.  The wind and rain joined forces to the point where I feared if I dropped the dogs' leashes they would in fact blow away.  I think they would have at least been blown off the trail, no joke. 

A very successful outing!  After sitting in the car and warming up for a bit the rain slowed down.  The sun came out.  I decided to ditch my original plan to drive to Tillamook and take advantage of the nice weather at hand and visit a couple other favorite Fort Stevens spots.  I'll save those for another post though.  Good times!


  1. That's a nice assortment of storm birds. I don't think I will get the chance to reconnect with any Snowy Owls this year unfortunately...

    The fish is a salmon, obvi.

    1. Obvi. I'm sure your Florida trip more than made up for a lack of Snowies...

  2. Nice collection of white birds!

  3. BOY That wind was howling by the looks of the moving sands! SO COOL you saw the Snowies!! You Rock...thats Jake? He looks ready to hit the car for some R n R!
    Amazing that you also saw Phalaropes, is that a new bird for your list?

    1. Thanks, Sondra! Yep that's Jake, his ears were blowing around in the wind. The phalaropes weren't new for me but I think they were only my second or third sighting.

  4. So I found the water there too deep to walk through and walked/ bushwacked north (?) of the parking lot and looped around to the dune next to the beach. I only had to wade through 6 inches of water, but it was a long hike through grass and over driftwood. So awesome you saw them. I doubt I'll go back out this weekend. I think Ridgefield is calling me :)

    1. I hear ya, but you should get out there sometime this winter if they stick around!

  5. Dang that's some hardcore stone cold birding right there.
    Those Owls make ya work for em; it must be pretty exhilarating to pick those white puffs out of the seaside grass.

    That carcass looks like an immature sockeye salmon (the immatures have those cute little nice-lookin' teeth).

    They say this'll be year two of the irruption and then the Snowies won't come down for another 10 years or so.
    Sideways unhappy face.

    1. Oh dear, sideways unhappy face. You're being a teenage girl again! Thanks for the fish ID- I know zilch about those slippery creatures.

  6. Wow, very cool seeing the Snowy Owls again this year. I hope to see some in Maryland too. Cool sighting of the Phalaropes. A great outing, I am envious! Happy Birding!


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