Date: 12/2/18 7:33 pm
From: Nicholas Mrvelj <nickmrvelj...>
Subject: [obol] Clatsop County Bunting
Hello all,

I had the good luck of running into the putative McKay’s Bunting this
morning alongside Zack Schlanger and Matt Cahill. We came across Audrey
Addison, Eric Carlson, and Courtney Kelly Jett already on the birds. This
was just north of the Sunset Beach Access, perhaps by a mile or so. My
driving skills weren’t the subtlest pulling up, and the birds flushed
immediately upon our arrival, fortunately touching back down a short while
later in nearly the same spot. The sun was to our back, and within a few
moments we picked out the pale Bunting from the flock of 20 odd Snow
Buntings. Most of us started firing off photos as quickly as possible. My
observations of the bird were mostly through the viewfinder, as I felt
documenting it was paramount to prolonged looks through binoculars or a
spotting scope. The birds flushed after a minute or so, and began a
continuous cycle of cat and mouse, eventually joined by 30+ more SNBU. They
relocated between us and the sun, and started heading toward the dune
grass, where they were extremely difficult to view. We approached slowly,
and they flushed a few more times before settling back on the beach. I was
able to capture a few more photos and some awful handheld video before the
flock flushed again. Chase as we might, we were never able to get close to
the flock again with the sun to our back, or really in any close, lengthy
fashion, before eventually losing it as they flew out over the surf and
headed south.

I was not able to capture any flight shots or discern any crucial details
about the retrices in flight. It was an entertaining and enthralling
twitch, with the odd experience of sporadically pursuing the flock in a car
at speed as it flew on in front of us, often doubling back multiple times.

Here’s a link to my eBird checklist:

I know that Eric and Audrey got a few photos of the subject bird as well
that are a little bit more illuminating than mine.

What a doozie of an ID!

Good Birding,
Nick Mrvelj

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