Date: 7/5/18 9:37 pm From: Roy Lowe <roy.loweiii...> Subject: [obol] Over Summering Scoters
Today, I was admiring the fortitude of the common murres that are making a go of it this year on Colony Rock at Yaquina Head despite eagle predation. While observing the murres I noted 4 flocks of surf scoters totaling ~125 birds rounding the corner of the headland heading south. Due to the flight path I assumed this was local movement rather than a migration along the shore. I then glanced to the northeast of the lighthouse and saw a huge raft of scoters. I estimated more than 1,000 birds rafted up about 1/2 mile north of the head and 1/4 offshore. There was no feeding going on. I shot a few photos and when I got home I decided to see if I could count the birds individually by dotting them as I had done counting murres for several decades. The long distance and quality of the photo made it a bit challenging but I think I’m within +/- 30-40. The total number of birds in the photo by my count is 1,531 and there are nine more just off the photo frame. Add to that the 125 that departed prior to the photo and that totals 1,665 scoters give or take a few. All the ones that flew by at close range were juvenile surf scoters and I imagine most of them if not all are juvenile surf scoters, but who knows what may be hanging out in that flock.
Attached is a photo of the flock on the water and the second photo shows my dots, er bird count.