Monday, June 04, 2007


Jonathan had Memorial Day off, so he had been planning on going to the beach with Chelsea. Naturally, Adam and I were more than happy to go along, so at about 8:00 in the morning we departed for Long Beach located at the mouth of the Columbia river. Our route actually took us into OR first, then we crossed a really long, low bridge over the river to WA; we saw several Bald Eagles perched on posts in the middle of the river right by the bridge. I had never been to Long Beach, and it was very pretty, offering neat views of the North Head Lighthouse on Cape Disappointment in the distance.

There were a lot of gulls--mostly Western and Ring-billed--and crows, but the highlights were the rafts of alcids or sea ducks way out on the ocean, the Brown Pelicans gliding past over the surf, a flock of Sanderlings, and a lone male Red-necked Phalarope.

American Crow

The Sanderlings weren’t very cooperative subjects as they kept lifting off and touching down farther down the shoreline, but eventually they got close enough to where we could easily watch their antics through Adam’s scope, and get a few neat photos of the flock in flight. It was amazing how coordinated they were. The whole flock seemed to move as a single entity, and a few of my photos showcase that really well. We watched them swing way out over the surf, then circle back, land, and scurry around in the mud looking for food as the waves receded.


A grassy slope ran all the way along the beach, in which we could always hear and see Savannah Sparrows singing. Adam and I wandered up there to get some shots, and while we were examining a Gray Whale skeleton exhibit, we chatted about how neat it would be if a sparrow flew onto a nearby rock. A moment later and beautiful little SAVS obliged and perched on a sweet lichen-covered boulder to sing, while we slowly raised our cameras and started snapping pictures. The lighting was great because, even though we were shooting around midday, it was slightly overcast.

Savannah Sparrow

Adam wasn’t using a tripod or monopod, so he got a few shots from a lower angle than I did, including some ocean blue in the BG--that made me kind of envious, but oh well. Jonathan and Chelsea wanted their picture taken, so that done we had lunch and headed south to Cape Disappointment.

White-crowned Sparrow

We made the brief hike up to the North Head Lighthouse, and saw a Swainson’s Thrush and my first Orange-crowned Warbler.

North Head Lighthouse

The lighthouse and view was beautiful, but so was the vantage point. From the top of the cliff we were able to spot several Pigeon Guillemots out of the surf with Adam’s scope, as well as tons of Pelagic Cormorants nesting on the surrounding cliffs.

Pelagic Cormorants

I got one photo of a distant Pigeon Guillemot flying against some neat foaming waves which might make a good painting.

Pigeon Guillemot

Again, we saw some distant alcids or ducks but we couldn’t identify them.


Me (photo by Adam Nisbett)

After that, Adam and I left to catch up with Jonathan and Chelsea who said they would be at the gift shop. When we got there they had already left, so we talked to the lady at the counter for a little while, and answered a few questions like, “Are you professional photographers?” Oh ya, totally... :) As we left she told us that there were a few deer nearby, and we got to see a pair on the way back to the car.

Columbian White-tailed Deer

Jonathan then drove us to another nearby lighthouse, which we hiked up to, passing Dead Man’s Cove (which prompted quite a few jokes) and a spooky little concrete structure that looked like a tomb. This lighthouse was beautiful as well, offering more views of the nesting Cormorants and a huge flock of them on the water along with tons of Caspian Terns and a few gulls.

Finally, we spent some time down on Wakiki beach (I know, it sounds Hawaiian) photographing Terns in flight against the blue sky and cliff face. Though there were a lot of birds and they got fairly close, I’m still an amateur at flight photography and really struggled to get any keepers, though that experience certainly improved my technique.

Caspian Terns

We tried climbing along the rocky dike to look for turnstones and other things, but they weren’t around and it got pretty treacherous. I got some great looks at a small group of Surf Scoters that paddled into the cove--one of my favorite sea ducks! Before we left, I couldn’t resist setting down my gear and splashing around in the waves for a few minutes. I kept wondering, “Why did I wear jeans today?...”

Big thanks to Jonathan and Chelsea who put up with two “crazy birders” for a day. Jonathan had some rather unusual sightings, like the Red-bellied, Blue-backed Kites that hovered over the beach, and apparently a Bird of Paradise too... :) Hmmm, weird...

All photos © Benjamin Berkompas (unless otherwise indicated), taken at Long Beach & Cape Disappointment WA

1 comment:

Stephenb said...

So did you go to the beach to keep company with Jonathan and Chelsea, or get pictures of birds? Regardless of your motives, I liked the bird pictures, so you are justified either way.