Pelagic trip report:
Saturday, February 21, 2009

11 hours
From Newport, Oregon, 32 miles NW.

Seas average, winds to 15 knots.

Boat: Misty
Captain Rob Waddell
Newport Tradewinds Charter

The Bird Guide, Inc.

Guides: Greg Gillson, Tim Shelmerdine, Tom Snetsinger, David Mandell, Shawneen Finnegan, Russ Namitz, Jim Danzenbaker, Amy Kocourek

We had 50 Thayer's Gulls on this trip. Photo by Greg Gillson.

Pleasant weather and seas and good birds made The Bird Guide's first pelagic trip of the year a great success!

Eight guides joined the 15 participants, so there was ample help for all to spot and learn identification. It was a fun trip.

The target for this trip was LAYSAN ALBATROSS. And, success! A bird came in and circled the boat early in the trip providing great looks for all. This makes 7 of 8 annual February and March Perpetua Bank trips recording this striking winter species.

The 114 migrant RHINOCEROS AUKLETS, most in full breeding plumage, were expected. However, we were surprised by the 2000 CASSIN'S AUKLETS, most about 6-15 miles offshore in a band of exceptionally smooth water. This is our 3rd highest total (10,000 in October 2002) and was a complete surprise for this time of year. As David Mandell said, "miles and miles of gray rubber duckies happily floating along."

This trip belonged to the gulls, though. We had 8 species and two additional hybrids. And we're still puzzling out one gull from the photos (either an odd large, pale Thayer's or a hybrid Herring x Glaucous-winged).

Two GLAUCOUS GULLS graced this trip, the final one in the marina at Newport when nearly dark. We also had a NELSON'S (HERRING x GLAUCOUS) GULL at one of the three chum stops. The amazing 50(!) THAYER'S GULLS were exceeded only by the 80 HERRING GULLS and the typical 159 BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES. One of the THAYER'S GULLS was banded with a numbered yellow flag. If anyone knows about this, please let me know.

A few SOOTY and PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS were rather early, with no short-tailed shearwaters perhaps more surprising.

Unfortunately, only a few people saw and identified a rare HORNED PUFFIN flying away and several small uncooperative flocks of distant ANCIENT MURRELETS.

We counted exactly 20 pairs of MARBLED MURRELETS late in the day on two miles of ocean near shore just south of the moth of Yaquina Bay. Everyone had great views of these cute birds. We then entered the bay at dusk picking out a ROCK SANDPIPER on the Yaquina Bay south jetty.

Trip photos:

Species list

Brant 140 (bay) 
Greater Scaup 4 (bay) 
Surf Scoter 350 
White-winged Scoter 45 
Common Goldeneye 6 (bay) 
Bufflehead 4 (bay) 
Western Grebe 5 
Red-necked Grebe 7 (bay and near shore) 
Horned Grebe 4 (bay) 
Common Loon 60 (most in bay) 
Red-throated Loon 4 (bay fly overs) 
Pacific Loon 2 
Great Blue Heron 3 (bay) 
Black-footed Albatross 10 
Northern Fulmar 104 
Pink-footed Shearwater 6 
Sooty Shearwater 13 
Surfbird 10 (jetty) 
Black Turnstone 4 (jetty) 
peep 75 
Mew Gull 50 (near shore) 
California Gull 5 
Herring Gull 80 
Thayer's Gull 50
Western Gull 40 (most in bay and near shore) 
Glaucous-winged Gull 25 (most in bay) 
GLAUCOUS GULL 2 (one in bay, one 5 miles off shore) 
Black-legged Kittiwake 159 
Glaucous-winged x Western Gull 30 
Herring x Glaucous Gull 1 
Common Murre 200 
Pigeon Guillemot 25 
Marbled Murrelet 40 
Cassin's Auklet 2000 
Rhinoceros Auklet 114 
ANCIENT MURRELET 26 (Jim Danzenbaker, Tom Snetsinger) 
HORNED PUFFIN 1 (David Mandell, Jim Danzenbaker) 

Harbor Seal 8 (bay) 
California Sea Lion 10 (most in bay) 
Steller's Sea Lion 10 
Northern Fur Seal 2 (Russ Namitz) 
Harbor Porpoise 6 
Dall's Porpoise 3 
Pacific White-sided Dolphin 2 

Exactly 20 PAIRS of Marbled Murrelets were along a 2 mile stretch of beach on the return to port. Photo by Greg Gillson.

pelagic birding