Twitch for the Washington Lesser Sand Plover

I went down to Ocean Shores, WA on Wednesday for the Lesser Sand Plover and went for the first time to Ocean Shores. I really loved it down there it was really peaceful! I saw tons of beautiful birds and did end up getting the main target the Lesser Sand Plover!

The drive was 4.5 hours and very little traffic which was nice. My friends told me that Elegant Terns were seen in Ocean Shores when I was there so I went out and got them too and I found some juveniles! They look very cute with their balding crested looking heads. They are much smaller (and elegant) looking than the Caspian Terns. They are a rare bird for Ocean Shores I asked them to fly up North hopefully they heed my request.

Unfortunately they were very far away and the photo is a very poor record shot 

Elegant Terns with Caspians Terns at Ocean Shores, WA - Photo: Melissa Hafting
I found 6 Red-throated loons and one in breeding plumage close to shore at the Ohyut Game range. They had moulted their flight feathers hence why they were so close into shore so I lay down on the beach and let the male swim up to me unnoticed. It was my best shot ever of this species and I plan to frame this one.
I think I may have enjoyed seeing this loon more than the Mongolian Plover if I am allowed to say that. Sometimes you go down searching for something and end up finding something even better!

Red-throated Loon in breeding plumage at Ohyut Game Range at Ocean Shores, WA - Photo: Melissa Hafting
At the beach there were tons (hundreds) of Sooty Shearwaters flying right at the beach  (these are birds we need to go on pelagic trip for here!) and at the Jetty there were over 50,000 Sooty Shearwaters flying over my head the sky was black with them and I saw a few pacific white-sided dolphins.

My friend Mike Ashbee who went down there earlier in the week got a video of the Sooty Shearwater stream and I asked his permission if I could post it here. You have to SEE this to believe this!! Click on the below image to play the video HERE

There were many many Brown Pelicans and tons of Common Murres. Sadly, most of the Common Murres I saw were dead on the beach. Most of these birds are dead due to a bad El Nino year and they just starved to death most are adult males and chicks.

Brown Pelicans at Ocean Shores, WA - Photo: Melissa Hafting
I also saw 15 Pacific Golden-Plovers, many American Pipits, Semipalmated Plovers who the Lesser Sand Plover hung out with, some Black Turnstones and Black-bellied Plovers. There were huge flocks of Sanderlings and Westerns as well. I also saw at least 1000 Adult Heermann's Gulls! They are one of my favourite gulls with their red bills!

It took me about 3 hours to find the Mongolian Plover and I walked miles of beach many people were driving the beach but I wanted to fully experience it. While I was walking and searching for the Plover, I came across this little Juvenile Western Sandpiper who was fighting against the wind to stay upright.

Western Sandpiper at Ocean Shores, WA - Photo: Melissa Hafting
After a very long walk up and down the beach I was very happy to find this little guy almost in the spot where I started to look for him! He flew in with a flock of Semipalmated Plovers and was a lifer for me! I was struck by his delicate beauty. The light wasn't great (way too bright) and there was a fierce wind (and I was without a tripod) but this is probably the best shot out of the hundreds I took of this little bird. I got to watch him for 30 mins, he was so tame. Then I bought some fish and chips at the Casino and ate it beside a brown pelican. I never saw the Rare Lesser Sand Plover again that day.

Lesser Sand Plover at Ocean Shores, WA  - Photo: Melissa Hafting
After I left I heard that a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Snowy Plover were seen at the Game Range. I sure would have liked to see that Snowy Plover but there is always next time! Plus they are very easily seen on Midway Beach which is nearby but I was just too tired to make that trip.

Overall the trip was a success and one that I will definitely repeat again.  I met some really great birders down there as well. All in all a great trip to a beautiful spot in Washington!


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