The Siuslaw (pronounced: sigh-YOU-slaw) River originates in the Cascade foothills and empties into the Pacific Ocean, along the south side of the town of Florence. The jetty area hosts many, many species of shorebirds and pelagic birds. Mid-summer is particularly productive, as it’s migration season for shorebirds. I made several trips to the area between late July and early September.
There is a pond on the south end of the jetty known as the “Dog Pond” (no idea where the name originated). The water level tends to be rather high in the summer, but this year’s drought conditions created enough shoreline and mudflat to attract several species of shorebirds.
Migrating Least Sandpipers are very common in July
Dowitcher. I’m not good at differentiating Long- vs. Short-billed, but the rust-colored belly on this one suggests that it’s an adult Long-billed Dowitcher. (Somebody can correct me if I’m wrong.)
Spotted Sandpiper. I see so few of these in basic plumage that I thought it was a tattler at first.
The Dog Pond also hosts a number of larger shorebirds:
Great Blue Heron
The north end of the jetty has a mudflat area that also attracts several shorebirds. One of the most exciting sightings this summer was a pair of Willets. Willets breed in the interior west and are rare migrants along the Oregon coast, where they’re observed once every few years or so. A friend of mine has lived in and birded Lane County heavily for over 25 years and has observed a Willet here just twice. One was heard (in the fog) by Barbara Combs in mid-August. I observed both later that evening, just before sunset.
Migrant Willets in Florence. I didn’t have a proper camera with me, so I aligned the lens of my iPhone with one of my binocular lenses. Hence the not-so-awesome photo quality.
A sort-of-better photo of one of the Willets, taken in late August. The early morning fog kept it from being a good photo.
The same foggy morning yielded a migrant Red-necked Phalarope
These Brant, photographed in late July, were another surprise along the mudflats. Brant are much more common here in the winter.
And, of course, there are birds on the beach. A trip to the beach in the summer is likely to afford peeps (small sandpipers), surfbirds, and possibly plovers and sanderlings. And maybe some more interesting stuff if you’re lucky. I got sort of lucky in September.
Western Sandpipers migrate in large flocks
Whimbrels are uncommon-but-annual migrants on the Oregon coast.
The jetty rocks host a slew of other species. I spotted the following on the rocks of the North Jetty:
I will return to the coast again in October, when species such as Dunlin, Sanderling, and Snowy Plover should be out and about.