Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cool Weather and Cooler Birds

This weekend, we escaped the triple digit heat of the Willamette Valley by driving to the coast.

The temperatures were magically 30 to 40 degrees cooler and there were even a few thunderstorms over Tillamook Bay.

As usual, these rocks were covered by pelagic cormorants, brown pelicans, and pigeon guillemots.

We spent several nights in Pacific City and we conducted our monthly dead bird surveys at our two beaches.

On Sunday, we surveyed the beach at Sand Lake. The morning was really foggy and cool, and once we hit the beach we could see a fairly large bird standing upright near the mouth of Sand Lake.

As we walked closer, we realized it was a juvenile peregrine falcon plucking another bird. We left the falcon to its plucking and completed the rest of the survey.

When we returned to the kill site, the falcon flew across the lake and waited while we quickly processed the bird.

It turned out that the falcon had captured a male northern pintail in transitional plumage.

The falcon had spent about an hour plucking the prey and had just started to consume it when we scared it off. After measuring and photographing the pintail, we walked away as fast as we could so the peregrine could resume its breakfast. Our survey finished, we returned to Pacific City to get our own breakfast at the Grateful Bread, our favorite restaurant in town.

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