We got off early for the trip south to Bandon, it was a birding/travelling day and we had much to find. We made a few short stops on the way but our main first port of call was to be the Coos area where there be terns. It was late morning before we picked our way through North Bend and accidentally found a boat ramp with some tern covered pilings.
A little way from the ramp pontoons went out into the river, places where boater/anglers could moor up while they did whatever it is these people do. I walked to the end and enjoyed good views of several Elegant Terns as they sat, preened our fought each other in a hail of screeching. The pilings also housed the inevitable Western Gulls and a few Heermann’s. Out on the water itself a gathering of grebes added Eared and Horned to our expanding list.
We tried a few more spots along the river before heading off to Bandon, intending to take in the famous Bandon Marsh en-route. It was pretty easy to find and looked out over a creek on the rising tide. The platform was nicely constructed but the real viewing was to be had by walking out onto the mud a short way, to just about where the platform should have been. At least this platform was not blighted by having a tree growing in front of it, but a low bush is showing promise so Bandon Birder, best take those clippers with you next time you are there.
Most of the more interesting birds were distant but within scope range. Many birds were nervous and the cause of their anxiety soon became apparent when a young Peregrine flew over and landed above us. This did not seem to please the chickadees in the trees below but they wisely kept their council to themselves until it pushed off. Moments later we were treated to a lengthy chase of a Marbled Godwit, the outcome of which we missed but we had our fingers crossed all the time for escape. Eat as many crows as you like, even chomp a gull, but don’t lay a talon on a Marbled Godwit.
It had been a fruitful stop but we were needing various services and the water had started to fall, encouraging the birds to clear off, so we left. A quick look in town found us a few, distant, Black Turnstones but the brisk wind made sea-work harder and there was a mist to contend with too.
After sorting out the necessities we headed off along the coast a bit, ending up at the reserve at Croft Lake Road. We did a bit of birding there but it was very quiet. we checked the fish ponds off the Oregon Coastal Highway on our way back, seeing a ton of Killdeers and then checked into the Bandon Beach Motel. A check of eBird showed both our target birds, Surfbird and Wandering Tattler, had been seen in Bandon recently. Armed with fresh ideas we set out anew, intending to track down the beasts or give up birding and take up crochet.
A change in water levels persuaded a mob of Black Turnstones to forage on a bit of shore just below a parking lot. With a bit of creeping I was able to get close, even getting the sun at my back, and I spent a while clicking away when the Surfbirds wandered into view. I think they’d been hiding behind a seal corpse, or perhaps they had been waiting until I’d done with the Black Turnstones before taking their turn. Encouraged we set about finding the tattler.
Our last Wandering Tattler had been a distant bird in south-central coastal California way back in 2000, we were due. Driving towards the mouth of the river we diligently checked everywhere until finding a huddled bird on the river side of rocky defences. The distance meant that only record shots were possible but, turning back the years to my ‘agility of a Mountain Goat’ period, I hopped, skipped and slipped over the barnacle encrusted rocks until I was as near as I dare be. The change in position revealed two birds together, not a flock but leaving plenty of room to wander.
It’s two different poses – it blinked between clicks, honestly.
As the sun slipped silently into the Pacific we headed back to Bandon Marsh for a finale. The birds were distant but a scan found two Marbled Godwits, looks like our Peregrine went hungry after all. We also chatted to another birder who had seen me leaping from rock to rock with the camera but had not seen what for. As we passed on news of the tattlers she fed us information on some Harlequins that were more or less on our way north. So that was where we be heading the next day, well after one more look at Bandon Marsh we would.