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!


  1. Zzzzz... Glad to see you putting on more miles towards California!

  2. Your description of birding as "pathetic and frustrating" says more about you than about the refuge. Not flattering at all- it sounds like your endless pursuit of twitches is dimming your gratitude for the open space, the birds that are present and the adventure you are living.

    1. I apologize. I did not mean what I said. I am the pathetic and frustrated one. I am just jealous that you are doing something so great for birds and the environment while I have done nothing in my life except write stupid replies to bloggers.