The four of us had an incredible day at Bayocean Spit this afternoon hiking the
entire 8 or so miles. It was raining most of the time, but we did get stretches
where even the sun came out. There also was thunder and lightning. The surf
combined with extra high tide made for an incredible spectacle on the outer
beach and near the jetty.
It started with around 20 RED PHALAROPES on the bay side between the parking
lot and the goats about 1mi in. Pictures were easy to obtain as these birds
were right at the water’s edge.
At the south jetty we stumbled upon a 100 bird strong flock of rockpipers with
mostly Surfbirds and a few Black Turnstone that had 2 ROCK SANDPIPERS mixed in
with. We also flushed 2 Black Oystercatchers from the rocks in the channel near
Heading south from the jetty along the partially non-existant beach for about
1mi, there is an area of flotsam and rip-rap that often has hunkered down
shorebirds. There were a few Dunlin, 50+ Least Sandpiper, 2 Black-bellied and
many Semipalmated Plover in that area, but best were 2 SNOW BUNTINGS right in
Just as we were crossing from the beach side over to the bay side about where
the goats are was a large falcon that I’m almost 100% sure was a brown-phase
GYRFALCON. We had seen a Peregrine earlier close to the turnoff to the spit and
this bird was much heavier, with broader wings and labored flight. A very large
bird, comparable to the 3 Ravens that it was briefly circling with. There was
no mustache stripe visible.
4 wrecked Western Grebes were on the beach side in the foam.