Friday, September 19, 2014

Sept 18 (Day 261) - More distance south, how I really feel about bike touring at this time

This morning started off stormy and very windy. This delayed my departure from the Best Western Plus Orchard Inn in Ukiah, CA. This was not a big deal though as I had "only" 67 miles to cover to Sebastopol, CA today. Once the southern headwinds died down to less than 10 MPH, I hit the road a few hours ahead of Sonia. We had agreed to meet in Cloverdale 30 miles down the route for lunch. When I spotted the Owl Cafe, I immediately knew where lunch would happen. This place is a serious throwback to the diner days of yester-year. I felt like I was at Arnold's from Happy Days! The food was decent and the owl theme was a lot of fun.



The 30 pre-lunch miles were all made on Highway 101. After lunch, I stuck to side roads that ran me through some really beautiful Sonoma wine country. The majority of the miles for the rest of the afternoon were through this same scenery. It was really pretty, but it got very old quickly as I went up and down very short , very steep hills over and over and over. I really started thinking about how my perception of biking changes of the course of the day as the mileage total climbs.

A midday downpour foced me take shelter!




Generally, given my fully loaded bike, good road surface, no wind, flat terrain, and the condition in which my body currently finds itself (always tired), I can bike indefinitely at 15 MPH. What I have determined is that I have about a 3-hour tolerance for biking given how beat up I am at the moment. So, given the ideal conditions listed in above, in 3 hours I could travel ~45 miles.  The variables listed above act to either increase or decrease the distance I can ride in those 3 hours, and generally I have had my fill after those 3 hours. Anything beyond the initial three hours is no longer enjoyable and feels more like work than enjoyment. Once I get beyond about 5-6 hours, every minute feels like torture. 3 hours might not seem that long, but consider that I have averaged just slightly less than 50 miles a day.....for 261 days in a row. My body has been so fatigued for so long, that 3 hours is about what it takes before I start strongly, strongly disliking the bike. If I could take a week off, or get into a car for a few miles, or call for help when conditions start to deteriorate, then my tolerance threshold would clearly go back up. However, there isn't much rest in sight....for 104 more days. I will get a nice stretch of low-mile days in Monterey, so we'll see how this helps my mindset.

Let's look at my last 3 days. 87 miles over ~7 hours, 89 miles over ~9 hours (lots of hills), and 67 miles over ~6 hours (headwind all day). What you can see is that once you take the 3 hours out of each of these rides, I end up less-than-thrilled with more than 1/2 of my time on the bike (sometimes with only 1/3 of it!). Biking is awesome, just not on the scale and pace at which I am currently doing it. I am also racing against time; this is something few other cyclists experience. I would love nothing more than to spend a week in San Francisco visiting the many college friends I have in the city. Not gonna happen. I will spend one night max before I race south towards Monterey. While I am far from the hardest core biker out there, what I have generally observed is that people carrying the same weight as me are covering fewer miles. Those that are covering the same number of miles are carrying less or taking much longer to bike those miles. I can't bike too slowly or I won't get any birding done. In fact, I have not been passed on the road by another fully-loaded cyclist this year while I myself have passed plenty. Again, bike touring, if done under different circumstances than mine, is completely enjoyable. This is why so many people do it! The other thing folks have to remember is that for me biking would come WAY behind birding and photographing as how I would like to spend my free time. I haven't taken my binoculars out since noon on the 16th. That was 2.5 days and ~230 miles ago! For most bike tourists, biking is the focus. For me, it's just a means to get from bird to bird. Nothing wrong with either perspective. They're just really different.

I am just trying to paint a realistic picture of how I feel on any given day. Bike-birding on the local level is great; On the national/continent level it is a completely different animal. There is no comparison that can be drawn between the two. The biggest thing that I must continue to remember is that although this year is going to be incredibly challenging and I will be unspeakably uncomfortable for much of it, I will reap countless years of memories, joy, and friendships from it. It will be so nice to step back and examine the body of work from a completely healthy standpoint rather than dissecting it day-by-day in my current battered state.

Tomorrow there will be some actual birding - Woo Hoo!!! 

Lastly, I saw this on the roadside today and could only think of Michael Bolton going crazy on the fax/printer!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sept 17 (Day 260) - Decision time, lots of miles, California towhee for 551

Yesterday I laid out a number of options for today. The essential decision I had to make was either to head south down the coast on Highway 1 or stick to Highway 101 and the more interior areas. Looking at the weather and the rides along each route, I opted for the inland route. The inland route is at least a day shorter, and the rides are generally easier (minus today's). There is also a big storm out on the coast right now, and the very strong south winds would have made riding incredibly difficult. I rationalized the decision as follows. Yes, the storm could push something good (i.e. pelagic) towards shore, but I know I will have 1-2 days in hand taking the inland route. If I spent 3-4 days on the coast and didn't add anything unusual, that would be a big waste of time. I'll take the guarantee of extra time over the small chance of a rarity. Now I can use that extra day to look for Black Rail and Pacific golden-plover in the North Bay region (where I will arrive tomorrow). North Bay birders - if you're around this weekend and have any leads on these birds please let me know! 

89 VERY difficult miles today. 
Definitely in top 10 toughest rides of year.

Ukiah arrival

With the decision to stay inland made, I today rode the incredibly challenging 89 miles from our campsite last night to Ukiah, CA. This route included more than a 5,500 feet of climbing, and there was a south headwind all day (albeit not as strong as one the coast). I was completely beat by the end of it when I pulled into the Best Western Plus Orchard Inn. The hot tub was certainly a welcomed site for my aching legs! This ride sets me up nicely for 2 shorter days to reach Petaluma where I plan to look for Pacific golden-plover and Black rail. With the time I have saved staying inland, I can afford to push several days into these birds. The next few days should be exciting as I search for the these birds! Tomorrow is going to be very wet around here, so I am not exactly sure how I am going to handle it yet.

I must be really, really tired, I forgot to mention that I added California towhee along the road today for year bird #551. I am just going to shut it down for the night. My brain and my body both feel like mashed potatoes at the moment. 

Lastly Sonia had a fun idea today. If there are particular questions that you have for me, please feel free to leave them in the comments section of the blog or email them to me at bikingforbirds@gmail.com. Sonia will help me make a video with the answers to these questions, and we will post this video on the blog in the next few days!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sept 16 (Day 259) - Change of plans

There have been several recent reports of Pacific golden-plover from the mouth of the Eel River west of Fortuna. Given this, I decided this area was worth at least a 1/2 day of birding today. However, the best tide to bird this spot is low, and the low tide today was around noon. What this meant was that I would have a hard time birding the spot from 11am-3pm AND moving anywhere significant down the road/coast. I was able to find a Warmshowers host not far from Eel River. I took my time getting out of Eureka this morning figuring I would bird the entire rising tide this afternoon. I could then just jump over to the host's house in Fortuna afterwards. I wouldn't cover many miles, but I would hopefully have a nice afternoon of birding and plover hunting.


Sonia handlin' bitniz from McDonald's 
parking lot this morning


Eel River estuary

As soon as I reached the Eel River, the plan changed for two reasons. First there were no birds present from 11am to noon. Second, although light west winds were forecast, the wind was banging pretty hard from the northwest. I immediately decided to fold my hand on birding and instead use this wind to make some decent distance south and east. At this stage of the year, I cannot afford a day where I do no birding and I make no miles. This is likely what would have happened had I stayed at the river. If there were loads of birds there I would have stayed; I don't mind productive and interesting birding even if I don't add any new species. I quickly made the decision that making miles would be a better use of my time today.

With that in mind, I hopped back on the bike and started cranking down Highway 101. Another 6 hours of pedal pushing put me 65 miles down the road at the Garberville KOA where I rendezvoused with Queen Sonia. The wind really helped for the first 45 miles but it switched to the southwest for the last 20 or so. 

Tomorrow is going to be very interesting. Winds are allegedly going to be calm in the morning, but are going to pick up from the south with accompanying rain as the day progresses. Normally this wouldn't bother me, but tomorrow's ride is special for for 2 reasons. First, the ride to Fort Bragg is scheduled for 65 miles and over 5,500 vertical feet of climbing. Much of this will be in the steep coastal drainages that really crush one's legs as one tries to climb out of dozens of them in succession. Second, the back end of the ride will be along the famous Highway 1 that runs along the very rugged and steep cliffs of the California Coast. This is NOT an area I want to be with strong headwinds and rain - it just would not be safe. What I will need to guestimate is if I can beat the winds and rain to Fort Bragg tomorrow. If I can't then I could be forced into a situation where I only do a portion of the ride and effectively lose the day from both birding and riding standpoints. The other alternative is to skip Highway 1 and this section of coast completely and instead follow 101 down through Ukiah. Bird-wise I don't think I am going to miss much by doing this as I could see what birds I could get from this stretch of coast further south. The inland route, while nowhere near as scenic as the coast, would be MUCH easier riding and get me to Petaluma and the North Bay at least a full day (maybe 2) faster than the coastal route. I would also feel OK riding it in less than ideal conditions. 

Sonia and I did find something very interesting in our campground this evening. It is definitely worth the minute of your life to watch this!



OK, I'm beat after this 86 miles (with 3,000 feet of climbing!)
I'm showing you the car version since it was faster to map the 
distance this way. The car function does not generate elevation profiles.

Lastly, I received a number of nice notes from blog readers yesterday and today. It's really nice to hear from some of you. Rest assured that although I may not have the time to respond to every email, I do read them all. They are all incredibly informative and touching. Thank you.

Sept 15 (Day 258) - Red-breasted sapsucker ticked to reach 550!

Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time unsuccessfully searching for Red-breasted sapsucker. I had a big decision to make today. I could either start making miles south towards the bulk of my target species, or I could spent another day in Arcata/Eureka to look for the sapsucker. I could certainly deal with this bird later, but leaving it on the table here could require a big detour inland down the road. This is a very good area for the bird, so I decided to stay. This proved to be a good decision.

Although I did not find the sapsucker along West End Road yesterday, I decided to return to this area early this morning. I figured I would bird this area before heading to some additional areas in the middle and later parts of the day. Today was very foggy and damp, and the birding along West End Road was slower this morning than yesterday. There wasn't much more I could do than slowly ride the quiet country road and hope that a sapsucker either flew across my path or called from near it. The problem is that Red-breasted sapsuckers are very quiet at this time of year. This makes finding them potentially problematic. Near the end of the outbound leg of my ride, I heard something that sounded sapsucker-like. I looked around for 10 minutes but heard or saw nothing else. I continued down the road ~2 miles to my turnaround point. As I passed back through the area where I thought I had heard the bird on the outbound leg, I stopped to listen for a few additional minutes. As soon as I stopped, I saw a woodpecker fly across the road into a dead snag. A quick binocular view confirmed it to be the sapsucker for #550! I started to get the camera out, but the bird flew away before I could grab a photo. It soon resurfaced on another tree down the street where I was able to get a record shot of it. There was some enthusiastic grunting and fist-pumping by me in the street after this victory. I think at least on passing motorist saw this and thought I was crazy! It was really good to nail this guy down today. Now to sort out Purple finch.......



Red-breasted sapsucker for #550!

Finding this bird was awesome!  I had looked for and missed it on a number of previous occasions, so it was nice to be redeemed today. It also meant I now had a free afternoon to do some casual birding around Arcata and Eureka. I did another pass through the Arcata Marsh before riding the short distance down to Eureka. The birding at the marsh was very similar to yesterday except I was able to find a number of Long-billed curlews, two harriers, and a lone Lesser scaup. I actually shut the birding down a bit early today since Sonia and I were to meet one of her high school friends, who now lives in Aracta, for drinks. We were also joined by local birder and guide Rob Fowler of Arcata/Eureka-based Fowlerope Birding Tours. Rob was really helpful in providing me with bird finding advice. I also want to publicly thank Ken Burton, Jude Power, and David Fix for help during my time in the area. There is some dynamite birding around here and these folks are leading the charge!

I spent some time today thinking about the readers of this blog. I have been very fortunate to meet some of you during this year, but the majority of you are still unknown to me. This creates a really interesting dynamic where you know quite a bit about me (and some about Sonia), but I know nothing about many of you! I wonder who you are, where you live, how much birding you do, and what other passions you have. I am curious how regularly everyone reads the blog and what particularly keeps you coming back entry after entry. I think about how diverse the audience could potentially be and what advice each of you might offer me about my adventure and my life beyond it. This is how a blog necessarily works though; The information flow is generally unidirectional from me to you. I am hoping this will change either in the near or distant future as I have the opportunity to meet more of you. I can only hope and think that "Oh, I read your blog a few years back" will be the opening line to many new friendships moving forward.........

Another ~30 today!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sept 14 (Day 257) - Sonia arrives! Golden-crowned sparrow for #549!

Queen Sonia arrived safely in Arcata, CA late this afternoon! I had by this point completed what birding I was going to be able to do today. We spent the evening hanging out, catching up, and enjoying dinner at Oriental Buffet. Who said romance is dead! It will be great to have her around for the next week or so. Although we both feel we have handled the separation well, we both agree it has not been easy. Luckily, we will see more of each other in the next few months as I transit through Southern California where Sonia is temporarily residing. 


Reunited!

With my hosts from last night, Robin and Roger

Birding-wise today was really, really nice. Today was technically an off-day as I did not make any distance along the route. I did bike a leisurely 30 miles around Arcata in search of Red-breasted sapsucker and Pacific golden-plover. In the morning I took a ride along a very quiet road that wound its way through mixed coniferous and deciduous woodlands. I was hoping to find a sapsucker but was unsuccessful. I did find Song, White-crowned, Fox, Lincoln's, Chipping, and Golden-crowned sparrow for year bird #549! Although this is a bird I certainly would have found in the next week, it felt good to tick this bird today. I have been a 5-day year-bird drought, and this bird snapped that streak! While I didn't break out the camera to photograph this species I am sure to see again, I did grab a quick habitat photo to help set the scene for you.


Sparrow habitat along West End Road

In the afternoon I birded the Arcata Marsh. There were hundreds of Marbled godwits, Willets, Western sandpipers, and Black-bellied plovers. I scanned through the Black-bellies looking for golden-plovers, but as far as I could discern, there weren't any present. It was a nice afternoon out nonetheless.

I am going to keep this short since I want to spend time with Sonia. Tomorrow I am going to take another crack at the sapsucker outside of Arcata. I will likely move down the road to Fortuna tomorrow night, but we'll see what happens as the day unfolds. 

24 miles + 6 that I had to map on another map for 30 total

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sept 13 (Day 256) - Crescent City to Arcata

This morning I returned to the Crescent City (CA) harbor. There were loads of shorebirds present in the fog yesterday afternoon, and I figured they warranted additional scrutiny in case anything stellar arrived anew last last night. There appeared to be very little turnover overnight as I found essentially the same birds and numbers as yesterday. The highlight of the morning was certainly a juvenile Parasitic jaeger flying low over the water and resting on the exposed beach! The views this bird afforded me were absolutely incredible. They were so good that I, without thought, waded right into the water in my bike shoes to get the following shots. Shoes be damned - this opportunity was just too good! My shoes would dry on the ride anyway. It took some time for this bird to trust me, but after an hour or so he let me get right to the MFD (minimum focus distance) of my 400mm f/5.6 lens (138", or about 11.5 feet). I felt like the "Bird Whisperer" as I stalked this guy. Any day can use MFD and jaeger in the same sentence is a good day.






After this incredible encounter I hit the road for what proved to be a fairly challenging ride. There were several moderate climbs, but at least they were spaced out over the day. The highlight of the day   (besides the jaeger!) was certainly my 11 miles in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. The ride itself was incredible, but two other things combined to make it even better First, the road was closed to car traffic today. I could ride in the middle of the street! Second, the grade of the road in the direction I rode is was perfect. It was downhill, but just enough to keep the bike moving at a slow to moderate pace. I just kicked back and cruised through what were the biggest trees I have ever seen! I felt like an ant.....

Klamath River crossing

Bike with BIG trees!

A ride through the redwoods today

As I mentioned yesterday, there is a fair amount of bike traffic along this southbound stretch of Highway 101. Today I met Donnie. He is biking from Alaska to San Diego as part as a film project on which he is working. We kept each other company for half an hour before we split up and headed our own directions. Here is a link to his blog and project. Check it out if you have a few minutes.

Donnie and his rig!

I arrived in Arcata felling rather beat-up this afternoon. I have not had a day off this month, so a day of casual birding and a second night in Arcata will certainly be welcomed tomorrow. Plus, Queen Sonia will arrive sometime in the afternoon! We may stay here on Monday as well, but that will be determined by how the birding goes tomorrow.
The run south to Arcata

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sept 12 (Day 255) - California arrival!

Today I moved ~58 miles from Gold Beach, Oregon to Crescent City, California. This morning was incredibly beautiful. I headed out to the inlet of the Rogue Rover in Gold Beach to do a couple hours of sea watching before I hit the road. There were TONS of Elegant terns in and around the inlet. There must have been well over 1,000 of them, and maybe upwards of 1,500 or 2,000! They were everywhere. I also saw several flyby loons, but none that I was able to identify definitely as Pacific since they were so far out. I am willing to bet my life that I saw at least one Pacific loon today though. I also had 2 flyby jaegers, but these too were beyond where I feel comfortable making identifications. For the record, Pomerine would be a new for the year, but I have Parasitic already. More on jaegers later in the post......



Once I did hit the road, the riding was incredible. Sunshine, rugged coastline, and no wind combined to make the ride today completely enjoyable. I actually spent about 15 of my morning miles riding with another cyclist, Alec, who I met along the road. He just finished law school this past spring, and is now biking from Vancouver to San Diego before he commits fully to the real world. Having some company was a nice change today as the conversation really helped to pass the miles. We ate lunch together in Brookings before he headed off down 101. In the afternoon I really took my time, and I made a number of detours to better explore the area. 50-60 mile rides (when started in the morning!) are just perfect. You cover some ground but have time to explore as well.



Quick video of Southern Oregon coast today

State #28 - My home of the next 6 weeks!

The side of an antique store in Crescent city.
Alcids and gulls getting some love for once!

The clouds and thick fog rolled in right as I reached Crescent City. I swung by the harbor to explore and found a decent size grouping of shorebirds. There were at least a dozen of each of the following: Surfbird, Black turnstone, Short-billed dowitcher, Lesser yellowlegs, Sanderling, Western sandpiper, Semipalmated plover, and Black-bellied plover. Greater yellowlegs, Black oystercatcher, and Killdeer were also each represented by multiple birds. I wish the sun had been out since all of these birds were incredibly cooperative. I decided to take a few pics despite the TERRIBLE light. I got a few so-so images out of the effort. The most exciting moment of the evening came when 2 Parasitic jaegers materialized out of the fog and flew right over my head as I stood on the small beach! This is the best look I have had at this species from land. If the sun is out tomorrow morning I will make a brief stop back at this spot.

Short-billed dowitcher

Lesser Yellowlegs

Parasitic jaeger through fog

Same bird as above in same fog

Tomorrow I will head to Arcata. Sunday will be a birding day around Arcata/Eureka. It is also the day Queen Sonia will arrive!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sept 11 (Day 254) - Very sceneic ride, old friends, photography distractions

I returned to Bandon Marsh and the Bandon South Jetty this morning around low tide. While yesterday's cranking winds made birding a real slog, conditions this morning were just perfect. The balance between the sun's warm rays and the cool north breeze was just perfect. At the jetty, I found the usual cormorants, gulls, and oystercatchers. There were also several Wandering tattlers floating around the rocks. These were the best looks I have had at this "rockpiper" this year, and I was able to manage something between a record shot and a keeper photograph of one of them.

Lighhouse on North Jetty. I took this with my 400mm
from 1/2 a mile away!

Wandering tattler with sea spray on south jetty

A view south from the South Jetty

Bandon Marsh was as dead today as it was yesterday. I quickly folded my hand on it and returned to the the hotel to sort out some logistics. I actually returned to the marsh 3 hours later to bird the top 2 hours of tide (~12-2pm) but all of the mudflats had already been flooded. Folks had said 2 hours before high tide can be productive, but with no mudflats still exposed, this wasn't the case today. UGH - I just could not figure this place out. I am sure it is great at times, but I must have hit it during a down cycle. The decision to stay in Bandon this morning to bird the incoming tide (versus just hitting the road after the early morning session) was a bad one as I will explain in a moment. 

I got onto the road south towards Gold Beach around 1pm. The ride was scheduled for about 55 miles. Just 5 miles into this ride a pickup towing a camper pulled over, and a man and a woman jumped out. I immediately recognized them as Vince and Kylee, a birding/traveling couple I had met in Arizona earlier this year. They maneuvered their rig off the road, and we spent the next 20 minutes catching up. It turns out they have actually followed a remarkably similar route to me. However, they have been able to spend multiple days in most places, a luxury I haven't had this year. They said they had been wondering all summer if they would recognize me if they were ever to pass me on the road. I guess their got their answer today! They actually live in New Hampshire, so I hope to look them up at some point next year.

Me, Kylee, Vince

The first half of today's ride was fairly boring as Highway 101 ran inland through trees for ~25 miles. However, as soon as I reached Port Orford, all of this changed. The rest of the ride placed me on high cliffs overlooking the Pacific. The views were really incredible. However, around 3pm, the wind switched directions and really started pounding from the south - right in my face. I wish I had canned the second visit to the marsh and made more distance before this wind shift happened. I was gassed by the time I reached Gold Beach at 5:30pm. I collapsed into bed and relaxed for the the next hour. 

54.5 miles + 7.5 around Bandon for 62 total

Pics from the ride today!



Bridge into Gold Beach, OR

After my hour rest, I dragged myself out of bed to do some sundown birding. I walked down to the beach thinking I might be able to tack on Pacific loon. However, I was immediately distracted by several Brewer's blackbirds that were perching nicely on the beach driftwood. I have been trying to photograph this species for months. The problem is that they are most often on moved lawns, fence posts, or cattle pens. None of these backdrops lends themselves to pretty, natural looking pictures. When I saw these blackbirds, I immediately abandoned my birding plan and flipped into photography mode. My half hour session produced some really nice shots of the often under-appreciated icterid!

***click for full-sized images***

Female Brewer's blackbird

Male Brewer's blackbird

Male Brewer's blackbird

Yesterday, I was crucified by a blog commenter for my pessimistic attitude after my afternoon visit to Bandon Marsh. What this person fails to realize is the incredible amount of effort it took me to reach that spot on that day. I was understandably frustrated with the complete absence of birds, and the fact that the wind was pumping at 25 MPH did not help the situation. Anyone who thought that this year was going to be all "kittens, rainbows, and gumdrops" was seriously deluded. Much of what happens this year is a slog, and quite a bit of it straight-up sucks. Expressing frustrations like those that I experienced yesterday is all part of it. I know that the good will ultimately far outweigh the bad, and that's what matters. Hopefully this clarifies things a bit.

Tomorrow's ride will take me 55 more miles to the south to reach Crescent City, CA! State #28 is just down the coast!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sept 10 (Day 253) - 12,000 miles as I reached (a)Bandon(ed), Oregon

I ended yesterday with 11,999 miles biked for the year. That meant that the first mile of the 80 that I rode today was mile number 12,000 for the year! I might have thought that I would be completely worn out at this stage, but I am still chugging along. I am certainly going to need my "A" legs the next 2 weeks as I tackle the rugged coastlines of Southern Oregon and Northern California. Some of these rides are going to be incredibly challenging as I repeatedly drop into and climb out of the endless steep drainages of this section of the West Coast. Some days with require 5,000 feet of vertical clubbing with no net elevation gain. It's just going to be up and down and up and down, and the grades are going to be nothing short of murderous in some spots. I fully expect this to be some of hardest riding I have encountered this year. Sonia should be showing up sometime in the next week, so it will be great to have her along for company and encouragement during this stretch!


75 miles to Bandon + 5 kicking around town for 80 total

One of the better views along to road today

Bandon has been championed by many as fantastic spot for shorebirding. I pushed relatively hard to reach the town with ample time to bird the area today. A vicious north wind built over the course of the day, and this helped pushed me into town in good time. By the time I arrive it was blowing steadily at 25 MPH. This made the front beach essentially unbirdable. Not to matter though as I fully expected loads of shorebirds to appear in Bandon Marsh NWR as the tide fell during the late afternoon. However, this never happened; There were ZERO (literally) shorebirds present at Bandon Marsh today. I saw at least 3-4 Peregrine Falcons patrolling the area, so maybe this explains the lack of birds. Maybe the strong north winds encouraged some birds to head south, but who knows? My shorebird tally for the afternoon was 3 Black oystercatchers, 1 Black turnstone, and 2 Red-necked phalaropes. Pathetic and frustrating. The wind is supposed to die down a bit (but not completely) overnight, so I will revisit the same spots tomorrow morning. I really hope something changes in the next twelve hours, or Bandon will be compared to Ryan Leaf as the biggest bust in history. 

A northward view from the very windy south jetty at Bandon


A birdless Bandon Marsh

A few people asked about the identification of the Ruff from yesterday. Ruffs can come in a number of different plumages, but for this discussion, I'll limit the scope to the identification of the particular bird I saw yesterday. This Ruff was a juvenile as indicated by its very buffy plumage. It was this buff that immediately gave the bird's identity away. Only one other regularly occurring North American shorebird looks anything like this: the aptly-named Buff-breasted sandpiper. Ruff is much larger (~50% so) and has a longer, slightly down-curved bill. Both species have yellowish legs. However, Ruffs will often feed in belly deep water like a yellowlegs while Buff-breasteds are most often in grassy areas and sometimes beaches. They rarely wade like Ruffs often do. Buff-breasted is a North American bird as it breeds here whereas Ruffs are vagrants form Eurasia - most often on the coasts. 

Juvenile Ruff from yesterday

Buff-breasted sandpiper I photographed at 
Plum Island, MA a few years ago

Tomorrow I will bird Bandon again in the morning and then head south towards Gold Beach in the afternoon. I should arrive in California in just 3 days!