[birding] Shorebirds etc. in Coffin Butte area

Joel Geier jgeier at attglobal.net
Tue May 2 12:40:58 PDT 2006

Helloo All,

The extra 'o' above is to make up for the one I left off in my last 
message, sorry about that!

I checked the ponds/scrapes at the wetland along Robison Rd. (north side 
of Coffin Butte) today as sort of a little detour on the way home from 
some busienss at the post office. Besides Killdeer there were about 80 
peep sp. feeding and flying around, a half-dozen dowitcher sp., and a 
couple of Tringa sp. sandpipers (probably Greater Yellowlegs) on the 
near side of the farthest pond I could see from the road.

That was about as well as I could do with my cheapo scope, since they 
were a long way out from the road. However, I did pick up one small, 
ringed-type plover flying toward me which dropped down out of view into 
one of the bare-mud swales closer to the road. I assume it was a 
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER since it was smaller than the Killdeers, darkish on 
the back, and where it went was just the sort of place that SEPLs like. 
That is, unless someone goes out there with a better scope and tells me 
it's a Lesser Ringed Plover. There might have been a couple but I only 
tracked on one.

Toketie Marsh had a very spotted SPOTTED SANDPIPER preening on the 
shore, then foraging a bit around the Canada Geese (one fluffy brood of 
goslings now) and Cinnamon Teal. The Great Blue Heron nest looked vacant 
from several angles -- I wonder if the nest failed in recent days.

 From the Coffin Butte overlook I saw one GREATER YELLOWLEGS, only 
because it happened to get flushed by an assertive Mallard family just 
as I was scoping that bit of vegetated pond edge.

Up on the butte it seemed a lot like summer. There were plenty of 
Orange-crowned Warblers and one Black-throated Gray Warbler, but the 
Yellow-rumped Warbler flocks seem to be gone. The Chipping Sparrow and a 
Lesser Goldfinch male were still singing along the trail. On the way 
down I got buzzed by a Dryocopus sp. woodpecker -- I will go out on a 
limb and say it was a Pileated and not the other one.

The wildflower show atop the butte continues to be spectacular. Besides 
Oregon iris and western buttercup, red columbine is blooming along the 
wooded part of the trail and Menzie's larkspur is just coming into bloom 
all over the butte. Some Tolmie's mariposa lilies (a.k.a. Tolmie's pussy 
ears) are scattered around in the meadow, very interesting to look at. 
Rose campion (non-native but attractive), is also blooming in one spot.

Happy birding,

Joel Geier
jgeier at attglobal.net

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