Birds of the Western Slope August 10, 2016
By Evelyn Horn
Published Thursday, August 11, 2016 9:32 am
And here we are, walking along a boardwalk with lots of other birders. And it's starting to rain again (I think this is part of the local scene). Everyone seems to accept the sprinkles, and I'm too excited to really care. This is one of the highlights of the Hoquiam Festival -- the guided shorebird walk. Loads of shorebirds are just waiting for us out on that spit of land. I can see them from here but, of course, I want to get closer! Well, keep walking!
Now we're much closer. The leader says, "Check out the Caspian tern" and someone else says, "They're on the tip of the spit, standing in the water." All I can see are gulls! White birds with black bills and light-colored legs. Wait. Look. It's actually raining now and my binoculars are all fogged up.
Take a deep breath and look again. Red! One of the gulls has a red bill. It's NOT a gull -- most gulls have yellow or black bills. Only a few have red bills, but their heads are white. This one is a Caspian tern!
Focus on the birds . . .
there's one in the center (sort of) and I can see its red bill and black legs. The crown is black, too, while the other birds are white-headed. Terns are known for being trim and delicate and they are seen regularly at Hart's Basin. But this thing is as big as a gull! And so here is another life-bird for me!
It migrates through the east, along the West Coast and it's seen occasionally inland. Nesting and such? I don't have a clue! But when I get home, I have plenty of references to check it all out. Oh wait, there's another red bill!
And there are little "peeps" running all over the place. I wonder what they are. More birds than I can manage!!
Since seeing the Caspian tern at the festival, it's been reported numerous times at Hart's Basin and I've seen it here at home.