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Washington Coast

Fall Migration Begins at the Beach

I’m amazed how often I’m reminded of fishing while out birding. As I’ve mentioned earlier, my first experience with nature came when I was taken salmon fishing regularly as a child. That love for the Puget Sound was, over time, translated into a more general love of nature, and birding is just its latest manifestation.

I’ve made two trips to the ocean in the last two weeks, and though weather conditions were very similar the results were almost diametrically opposite from one another. On the first trip to Oyhut Wildlife Refuge Area in Ocean Shores I saw lots of small shorebirds, often referred to as “peeps.”

There were a lot of Western Sandpipers like these, still in breeding colors,

Western Sandpiper

And others like this,

probably a Western Sandpiper

that I first thought was a Baird’s Sandpiper, which is less common here. After checking several sources, though, I decided it was more likely a juvenile Western Sandpiper. It’s a good thing I’m more concerned with the beauty of the birds I shoot than with their identification. I often don’t have a clue what they are until I get home and put them up on the computer screen.

There were also smaller flocks of Least Sandpiper.

Least Sandpiper

The only other unusual birds (not gulls) I saw were these Caspian Terns.

Caspian Terns

It’s a good thing the birding was good in the morning because the latter part of the trip turned out to be a dud. I saw a few Pelicans at Westport, but there were hardly any birds at Bottle Beach and the few that were there didn’t come very close to shore. Basically, I was “skunked” as we used to say when we were salmon fishing and didn’t catch any salmon.