Pelagic trip report:
Saturday, March 1, 2008
From Newport, Oregon, 30 miles NW.
Seas rough, calming later, winds to 20 knots.
Captain Rob Waddell
Newport Tradewinds Charter
The Bird Guide, Inc.
Guides: Greg Gillson, Tim Shelmerdine, Tom Snetsinger, David Mandell, Troy Guy, Russ Namitz
Light phase Northern Fulmars were very common. This bird is exceptionally light. Photo by Greg Gillson.
Trip Report by Tim Shelmerdine:
One might say the Bird Guide's pelagic trip out of Newport on Saturday, March 1st on the Misty, had its ups and downs (pun intended). Arriving at the charter office, we were informed that our pelagic trip would not be going out due to a rough ocean and bad weather. As groups of us stood around the dock deciding what to do, Greg Gillson informed us that the skipper had changed his mind as conditions were improving. We were a go!
The bay held low numbers of many of the expected bay species: cormorants, loons, grebes, scaup, etc. Treats were the BLACK SCOTER near one of the concrete bridge pilings and HARLEQUIN DUCKS on either side of the boat. As we slowly and cautiously crossed the bar, we concentrated on hanging on as we identified the scoters and cormorants at the mouth of the bay. The first half of the trip was a somewhat of a challenge, with a lot of wave action necessitating a slow cruising speed, and we experienced a little rain, but for the most part Skipper Rob avoided the worst squalls, and as we went out further we added to our species totals. We passed through good, feeding bands of COMMON MURRES and RHINOCEROS AUKLETS, and soon began picking up BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES, NORTHERN FULMARS and the occasional SOOTY SHEARWATER. One definite SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER was sighted as well. We saw our first of 25 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS as we got into deeper water and even pelagic veterans enjoyed the graceful, soaring flight of this crowd favorite. Troy Guy kept up a steady stream of popcorn and oil as we cruised, a strategy which paid off as we not only had a nice following of gulls behind the boat, but our first LAYSAN ALBATROSS came up the trail to the stern, affording nice views to all. At our two chum stops we had several LAYSAN ALBATROSSES approach our slicks, and as usual, the more common BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS came in close for nice views and pictures. On the way back, we had multiple sightings of LAYSAN ALBATROSS for approximately two hours, and at any time we could look around and find this species in view over that entire period. We knew we were probably seeing some repeat individuals, but after seeing three LAYSAN ALBATROSSES in one area, decided to settle on a very conservative total of 8 different individuals, setting a record for this species on a Bird Guide pelagic trip. With the rough ocean, seeing alcids well was problematic, but both RHINOCEROS and CASSIN's AUKLETS were identified by participants.
We again found groups of feeding birds feeding on baitfish a few miles offshore. In one group of feeding COMMON MURRES we had a MANX SHEARWATER come off the water. This bird flew away from the boat and lost itself in the flocks of other birds, so unfortunately, many of the passengers missed this exciting bird, the 5th record of this species for the Bird Guide. We ended our trip sailing north to Yaquina Bay in the shallower waters off the beaches, and were rewarded by several MARBLED MURRELETS. Just inside the bay, the Misty cruised close enough to the jetty for us to identify several rockpipers, including BLACK TURNSTONES, SURFBIRDS, a SANDERLING and one ROCK SANDPIPER. Tired, but happy, the passengers and guides were glad to have been out on the ocean this day.
Species list 10 Brant 20 Greater Scaup 4 Black Scoter 5 White-winged Scoter 30 Surf Scoter 4 Harlequin Duck 5 Bufflehead 3 Red-breasted Merganser 10 Red-throated Loon 1 Pacific Loon (seen by few?) 20 Common Loon 2 Horned Grebe 3 Red-necked Grebe 6 Western Grebe 8 LAYSAN ALBATROSS 25 Black-footed Albatross 100 Northern Fulmar 1 MANX SHEARWATER (seen by few) 1 Short-tailed Shearwater (seen by one?) 10 Sooty Shearwater 1 Fork-tailed Storm-petrel (seen by few) 25 Pelagic Cormorant 10 Brandt's Cormorant 15 Double-crested Cormorant 2 Great Blue Heron 2 Black Oystercatcher 8 Black Turnstone 6 Surfbird 1 Rock Sandpiper (seen by few) 1 Sanderling 20 Mew Gull 50 California Gull 6 Herring Gull 3 Thayer's Gull 50 Western Gull 25 Glaucous-winged Gull 2 Glaucous-winged x Glaucous Gull 1 Glaucous-winged x Herring Gull 30 Glaucous-winged x Western Gull 40 Black-legged Kittiwake 1 Pomarine Jaeger > 400 Common Murre 2 Pigeon Guillemot 6 Marbled Murrelet 12 Cassin's Auklet 50 Rhinoceros Auklet 3 California Sea Lion 4 Northern Fur Seal 1 Harbor Seal