Daily Observations

Rowan and the Turnstones

Connor, Rowan, and I went for a walk to Totem Park today.

Weather: Overcast, but pleasant. No real rain, and winds were minimal.

Birds: There were quite a few birds around the neighborhood this morning, including Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Orange-crowned Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrushes, American Robins, Townsend’s Warblers, and probably Wilson’s Warblers. The birds were all around, and seemed to leave together (somewhat), but were hardly close enough that they could be considered a single flock. I guess it was just a flight of birds, most of which were staging for southern migration. (I’m not sure how many of the chickadees actually go south, as we see them all winter here).

There were quite a few Black Turnstones down at the park today. Also at least a couple of Spotted Sandpipers. I didn’t look too hard, but did see three Semipalmated Plovers.

Black Turnstones seem to be a very aggressive species. They were chittering at each other and occasionally getting into little squabbles where they would flap their wings and lift off the ground as they appeared to use their feet to grab at each other, all the while vigorously calling at each other.

While watching the Black Turnstones and working on a strategy for Connor to be able to get some photos of them, they suddenly all took off. I’ve learned to first look at the beach and then up, when this sort of thing happens. Most often it’s either someone walking along the beach (or perhaps their dog), or an eagle flying overhead. On this particular day, I did not see anything on the beach to spook them, and when I looked up, I only saw a bird that I first took to be a raven. Sometimes birds will take flight due to a raven, so I did not think much of it, but as I watched the bird fly out over the water, I began to doubt my initial impression. I started to suspect it was a falcon, and when it gave chase to one of the turnstones, I knew it was. It did not manage to catch the turnstone it had singled out, and after giving up it flew down toward Crescent Harbor. I lost it as it blended into the rocky shore, though I did see some gulls take flight off of Sage Rock at about the time it would have been flying by. I’m not positive, but I think the bird was a Peregrine Falcon, given the impression I had of it being fairly large.

The last couple of times we had been at the park, we did not see many gulls on the shore. Sometimes they all fly off when someone walks by, so it may be they had been there earlier on those days. In any case, today we saw lots of gulls. There were many Herring, Glaucous-winged, and Thayer’s Gulls. There were several Black-legged Kittiwakes and Mew Gulls, and at least one California Gull. A couple of weeks ago when I observed a lot of gulls on the beach, they appeared to be almost all Mew Gulls. Today Mew Gulls were definitely in the minority. Also, it seems like the Thayer’s Gulls just showed up in bunches, but that may just have been poor observational skills on my part.

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