May 7, 2000

4 hour trip out 16 miles from Newport, Oregon

A short, fun, 4-hour pelagic this morning (Sunday, May 7), from Newport to 16 miles off Yaquina Head. Seas were very nice: gentle 5 foot swells and no wind waves.

East winds the previous few days must have blown the seabirds out farther-we didn't have many. We were finally getting close to giving up seeing any albatrosses when two finally came in to the chum slick: one each BLACK-FOOTED and LAYSAN ALBATROSS! There are only 5 previous May sightings of Laysan Albatross (plus two beached birds). Only in June are there fewer records.

The Laysan is NOT the rare bird, though. That distinction belongs to an adult FRANKLIN'S GULL in bright breeding plumage at the chum, 16 miles off Yaquina Head! This is during their spring migration period when a few vagrants are found on the coast or in the Willamette Valley. This may be, however, the first at-sea record of Franklin's Gull in Oregon.

On our return we visited the Yaquina Head seabird colony, which accounts for most of the murres, guillemots, and cormorants. There was a steady migration along shore of Pacific and Red-throated Loons. On my drive home, I stopped at Boiler Bay where hundreds of Pacific Loons and a couple dozen Red-throated Loons migrated north in a 15 minute period (and one Gray Whale).

Ocean list  
Common Loon* 2
Pacific Loon* 80
Red-throated Loon* 5
Black-footed Albatross 1
Sooty Shearwater 150
Pink-footed Shearwater 4
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 2
Brandt's Cormorant* 65
Pelagic Cormorant* 35
Surf Scoter* 30
White-winged Scoter* 12
Red Phalarope*** xx
Red-necked Phalarope 65
Bonaparte's Gull 3
California Gull 2
Western Gull 35
Common Tern 1
Arctic Tern 5
Common Murre* 2000
Pigeon Guillemot* 60
Marbled Murrelet* 7
Rhinoceros Auklet 4
Other marine species  
Harbor Porpoise 3
Velella (jellyfish) many

* = Most (or all) individuals seen within 3 miles of shore.
** = Laysan Albatross: 16 miles offshore. Only 6th May record.
*** = Red Phalarope: small flock seen by few.
**** = Franklin's Gull: 16 miles offshore. Very rare migrant to western Oregon. First offshore record in Oregon (or anywhere?).

Additional in the harbor:  
Western Grebe
Black Turnstone
Caspian Tern
California Sea Lion 15
Harbor Seal 5