Pelagic trip report:
Sunday, July 2, 2005

Newport Special 5-hour trip
From Newport, Oregon offshore 15 miles

Trip report by Tom Snetsinger.

What a wonderful day out on the ocean! This introductory pelagic trip had excellent sea conditions and afforded some of the best views many of us have ever had of Marbled Murrelets and foraging Sooty Shearwaters.

A few who arrived at the dock early were entertained by a very accommodating Common Tern that was foraging on scraps of fish from a docked fishing boat. David Mandell pointed out a Brant working the far shore as other participants arrived. After a quick orientation and safety talk we boarded our boat and cruised slowly out the bay looking at all 3 species of cormorants, Harbor Seals, and a host of gulls.

From here we worked our way along shore. While we had a few glimpses of flying Marbled Murrelets from just outside the jetty, it was not until we began approaching the Yaquina Head seabird colony that they really began to put on a show for us. Several of these birds sat out on the surface for all to study just 20 yards off the boat. Typically these surface looks at close range are fleeting at best. A Rhinoceros Auklet was similarly accommodating, and everyone got excellent looks at this chunky alcid cousin to the diminutive murrelet. A number of people got quick looks at a Gray Whale that blew a few times while we were working this area.

And we headed out to sea. Conditions were very calm for much of the trip and we came across a number of flocks of Sooty Shearwaters and Northern Fulmars that were stranded by low winds and extensive molt, which combined to keep them sitting on the water. As we made our way out towards a distant fishing vessel, we found one large swirling flock of Sooty Shearwaters and stopped to take a look. Something was forcing bait fish to the surface, and the shearwaters were taking full advantage. They would fly along and then plunge into the water on one side of the boat and catch some bait and come rocketing out on the other side.

We continued on and had a glimpse of two Dall's Porpoises that did not seem to want to join our boat for some bow-riding fun, and a pair of Cassin's Auklets zoomed by the bow, but these were seen by only a few passengers. As we approached our destination we saw a few birds sitting near the fishing boat. While there was not a lot of birds there they did include 4 Black-footed Albatross. Some of these moved over to our vicinity to check out the quality of our chum, suet, and popcorn offerings. A couple of Pink-footed Shearwaters graced us here as well.

The return to port afforded a better look at a Pink-footed Shearwater for a number of people, and good looks at many of the same species we saw on the trip out.

SPECIES          BAY,       NEARSHORE,      AT SEA (> 1 miles)
Western Grebe                2,    ,
Black-footed Albatross       ,     , 4
Northern Fulmar              ,     , 21
Pink-footed Shearwater       ,     , 7
Sooty Shearwater             ,     , 1368
Brandt's Cormorant         50,  195, 18
Double-crested Cormorant   14,    2,
Pelagic Cormorant          28,   70, 4
Brant                       1,     ,
Surf Scoter                 1,    3,
Red-breasted Merganser     1*,     , 
Great Blue Heron            1,     ,
Osprey                      3,     ,
Heermann's Gull             2,    2,
California Gull           150,   20, 23
Glaucous-winged Gull        4,    5,
Western Gull               25,  150, 54
Common Tern               1**,     , [seen by few]
Common Murre               20, 1260, 449
Pigeon Guillemot             ,   25, 42
Marbled Murrelet             ,   27, 2
Cassin's Auklet              ,     , 2 [seen by few]
Rhinoceros Auklet            ,    4, 2
Rock Dove                  25,     ,
American Crow               2,     ,
Barn Swallow                5,     ,
House Sparrow               1,     ,
Harbor Seal                10,     ,
Gray Whale                   ,    1,
Dall's Porpoise              ,     , 2
Blue Shark                   ,     , 1 [seen by few]

*Reported by Stacy, I did not get a count.
**720 AM at Dock before almost all of the passengers had arrived. Stunning