Date: 3/2/18 8:19 pm From: Wayne Hoffman <whoffman...> Subject: [obol] Rock Sandpipers, egg-eaters at Yaquina Bay South Jetty
I visited the south jetty around 3 this afternoon to check on the herring egg-eaters.
Janet Lamberson wasthere, and pointed out Rock Sandpipers with Turnstones and Surfbirds on the rocks at the base of the 4th finger. This is just at the west end of the "gull spot." A fair number of rockpipers winter on the jetties, but they mostly stay out closer to the ends, except on days like today when big seas wash over those areas.
At least 4 Rock Sandpipers were present, and they seemed to differ enough in plumage that I thought one or more ight be molting into breeding plumage. Upon examining my photos I decided they did not look like they were getting breeding plumage yet, but i wondered if 2 subspecies might be present. According to Dennis Paulson, two subspecies, couesii and tschuktschorum, winter to the Pacific Northwest, but did not provide characters to separate them in winter.
Anyway, the differences I saw seemed comparable to differences among subspecies of Sooty Fox Sparrows. At least one bird had strongly chevroned or heart-shaped breast spots, with more and larger spotting on the flanks. At least 2 others had finer but dense breast spotting forming a well-defined bib, and fewer and smaller spots on the flanks. The attached photo is of the latter sort. I did not detect notable differences on the upperparts.
Now to egg-eaters: The big Surf Scoter flock was mainly between the bridge and the first finger. they seem to feed in that area on lower tides, and between the first and third fingers on high tides. I'm not sure why.
Also present was a small flock of goldeneyes including a drake Barrows, a hybrid drake, and a Common Drake. A couple of molting first-cycle drakes were not yet far enough along for me to identify.
Over 30 Harlequin Ducks were at the 4th finger, one of the largest counts I have seen there.