Somehow I made it almost three months without visiting the Oregon coast- kind of a long time for me.  The recent tales of a scoter feeding frenzy along the south jetty of the Yaquina River finally motivated me to get out there.

Yaquina Bay Bridge + scoter party

 I will be honest with you, I'm not sure exactly how this whole herring egg feeding thing works.  The internet has told me some interesting tidbits though, like how scoters spend 50% less time foraging when there is an ample supply of herring eggs around.  They also dive less overall.  If you want to pay 12 bucks to read a paper about it go here, and tell me what it says!

The internet also told me that scoters often dive at the same time to reduce the chances of gulls stealing their catches.  I'm not sure if that goes for herring eggs or if that's more related to mollusks and such.  Regardless, once one scoter dove it would set off a chain reaction of diving.

Waiting for the scoters to pop up

The scoters would also suddenly start rushing in a certain direction together.  Sometimes this was caused by a boat and one time a a dude got too close, but other than that I don't know the reason.

So as you can see, the scoter masses consisted mostly of Surf Scoters.  Most of the time there were two large groups, each with hundreds of birds.  Smaller groups were scattered throughout the channel as well.  I found a couple Black Scoters and one White-winged in the mix also, along with the most exciting birds for me- three Long-tailed Ducks!

Later in the day all three got together...

And some of the other birds around...

Black Scoters

 Harlequin Duck yelling

At one point I noticed some crows dive-bombing something over by the road.  I realized it was a raven that was intruding and they eventually chased him out over the river.

Mmmmmm  comparison shots...  Love them.

I walked the dogs up the fishing pier while I was there...

And made a new friend...

 Ralph was fascinated by that guy.  Common Loons were also lurking in every plumage from breeding to winter.  This one was interesting to me- the fairly pale tip to the bill stood out. 

 There was some recent discussion on OBOL about a pale Common Loon in Newport, but I can't find a photo of it or where exactly it was seen, so perhaps this is the same bird.  The person initially considered Yellow-billed for that loon but decided ultimately it had to be Common due to various field marks.  Anyway, always nice to see a bird that makes you stop and think.

 While I was on the fishing pier I saw a Peregrine Falcon fly from the bridge to the north.  I happened to follow it with my binoculars to see if it landed... and land it did!  Right on the back of another Peregrine.  Not what I was expecting at all!

It was way too far away for decent shots or even to be sure that they were in fact doing the nasty.  But I hope they were! 

Overall a pretty good trip to Newport, despite not seeing the King Eider.  

On the way home I stopped along Highway 18 to poke a dead Barn Owl...

Good times!!


  1. Wow you just have the most fun treks - love the pic of the dogs in front of the bridge! I shared a link to your blog with our local group.

  2. I'm so goddamned jealous of 70% of the shit in here. Nice.

  3. Scandalously cool Scoter shots.

    this entire posts can be filed under "Never seen in Arizona", including even the Raven/Crow battle. Ok...we have Common Loons sometimes, but I'm pretty sure all the PEFAs are celibate.

    Great post Scootin' Scoter Jen

  4. It just wouldn't be a Jen Post without something dead. Look at those blue skies there!! You chose an awesome day to go to the coast.

  5. I think this should be enough reading for you tonight:

  6. Fun! (Take another look at your loon ID, though; and observe the identity of the scaup, in case you didn't notice).
    San Marcos, CA

  7. Awesome shots of the Scoters. Love the Harlequin and the Long-tail also..Your dogs are always a cute sight to see. Great post and outing. Happy Birding!

  8. Your "mutts" look happy in this shot! I really get a lot out of this type post cause its the stuff i don't get to see at all, scooters, harlequins, loons, and what I would call an oldsquaw? I need a new book!

  9. Hi Jen, great photos! I am working on Lincoln Co. bird field notes for March and want to include a link to your page about the herring spawn because your photos illustrate the bird concentrations & behavior well. What day did you make the observations? I assume March 21 is the date that you posted this, not the date you were there. Thanks so much!

    1. Thanks for the kind words! I was there on the 20th.


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