Thursday, December 2, 2010


Back on Sept 11, I made my first (and so far only) trip to Bayocean Spit near Tillamook. It was a gorgeous day and I walked the entire perimeter of the spit. I saw several interesting birds including a few new ones. I started on the beach side and returned on the bay side.
Shortly after making the turn, just as the bay starts for form a beach, I came upon a handful of what appeared to be some strange looking ducks on a very small island just off the beach. I took several pictures and decided they were probably some type of Mallard hybrid. Since I typically identify birds from my pictures rather than in the field, I didn't look as closely at the birds as I might or I would have realized this was probably a bad conclusion.
After moving on further I came upon a large flock of assorted gulls on a large mudflat. I thought to myself, what the heck, I'll walk out and see what I find. It was a bit gooey out there, but I managed just fine. Eventually I noticed some black ducks out on the water which turned out to be my first sighting of Surf Scoters.
In order to get as close to the Scoters as I could, I worked my way out to the waters edge onto some soft sand until I was at the base of a small sand berm that extended into the water. At the end of this berm was a couple more of these strange looking ducks. I sort of ignored them as I was watching the Scoters, but eventually they slowly moved towards me until they were standing right next to me. One them had a bum leg so it hobbled as it moved. I snapped a few pictures and then moved on.
When I got home, I puzzled over these pictures, but could not figure out what they were. Then a couple weeks later I was looking through my copy of Sibley's field guide when I came across the page on Brants. I was unaware of this goose before then and it hit me that although these "duck's" color was off, the general shape was more goose like than duck. The bill was black and small and the legs black. They even had the remnants of a white band around their upper neck. Though the coloring was brown and mottled, it otherwise was fairly consistent with a Brant. The other characteristic it exhibited was either a rather severe case of feather wear, molting or both. However at the time, I still wasn't convinced.
Well I've been thinking about those pictures recently and took another look at them tonight. I'm more convinced now that they are Brants, so I've decided to post them.
I welcome comments on whether you agree or disagree with my conclusion. I also welcome comments on the state of their feathers and the coloration.

1 comment:

  1. I would have called them Brants too- but I've never seen them so close up! Lucky you to have them walk right up to you!