Pelagic trip report:
Sunday, August 3, 2008

11 hours
From Newport, Oregon, offshore 37 nautical miles to Perpetua Bank.

Winds 15-18 knots and 5-6 foot wind waves. High 60 F.

Boat: Misty
Captain Rob Waddell

The Bird Guide, Inc.

Guides: Tom Snetsinger, Shawneen Finnegan, Tim Rodenkirk, Joe Fontaine

Yaquina Bay. Photo by Shawneen Finnegan.

Report by Tom Snetsinger

After arrival we had a quick orientation on the dock and began a slow cruise out the bay and near the north jetty. In this area we saw Surf Scoter, Pigeon Guillemots, and got thorough studies of all three cormorants. A large flock of gulls (mostly Heermannís) decorated the end of the jetty. We found none of the expected rockpipers on the jetty, but the return along the south jetty in the afternoon made up for that.

As we crossed the bar, it became obvious that the seas were significantly more confused than the previous dayís report suggested. This made our search for Marbled Murrelets nearshore more challenging, however most people did finally get brief but adequate views of this tiny alcid. A Western Grebe and a couple of Parasitic Jaegers provided some additional spice. As we worked west within the nearshore area the first distant shearwaters and Northern Fulmars appeared, and flocks of Common Murres cruised by along with a couple of Rhinoceros Auklets.

The confused seas made conditions a bit difficult, but everyone had great views of our first South Polar Skua of the day, as it nearly circled the boat (albeit at some distance). We flushed small flocks of Red-necked Phalaropes and noted both juvenile and winter plumage adults. We also began seeing Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels in small numbers that later we found gathered in progressively larger flocks sitting on the water. We were able to stop the boat and study one of these flocks looking for rarer species, however we found none. Several distant Black-footed Albatross graced the skies and offered tantalizing views of what we would find at the upcoming chum stops.

After a couple of hours working west, we found a couple of Albatross sitting on the water and tried a chum stop there. Results were somewhat disappointing, but we did get a close Pink-footed Shearwater, and a handful of Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels graced the edge of the slick. A couple of Black-footed Albatross checked out the slick, but they seemed uninterested in our offerings. The flock of fulmars did not amount to much, and we continued our way west to our final chum stop.

Northern Fulmar. Photo by Tom Johnson.

A couple of mottled brownish soupfin sharks spooked from the boat (and others of this species joined us at the next chum stop). Also, a small seal, which could only have been a young northern fur seal, surfaced briefly by the side of the boat. We had our first Rhinoceros Auklet on the surface in this area and stopped the boat for a thorough study.

The Perpetua Bank chum stop proved much more successful, drawing in dozens of storm-petrels, a Pink-footed Shearwater, 10 Black-footed Albatross, dozens of Northern Fulmars, and a cooperative Rhinoceros Auklet. The Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels were certainly the story at this chum stop (and probably of the trip). They offered great opportunities to photograph a very challenging species.

Black-footed Albatross. Photo by Tom Johnson.

The return trip brought a couple of distant views of Sabineís Gulls and several terns that were tentatively identified by some as probable Arctic Terns. A South Polar Skua and a distant humpback whale added some more excitement. A few people saw a Cassinís Auklet flush from the bow. As we approached the nearshore area, we were amazed to be continuing to see the occasional albatross. Along the south jetty we found our missing rockpipers. Joe Fontaine found a single Ruddy Turnstone among the numerous Surfbirds and less common Black Turnstones. A single Wandering Tattler was also seen by many.

Species list

Bay/Jetties                   Nearshore  (0-5 mi)     Offshore (>5 mi)
Western Grebe                 1
Black-footed Albatross                    3           25
Northern Fulmar                           21          300
Sooty Shearwater                          45          200
Pink-footed Shearwater                    2           10
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel                              550
Brown Pelican                 1
Double-crested Cormorant      25
Brandtís Cormorant            25          10
Pelagic Cormorant             35          2
Surf Scoter                   8
Wandering Tattler             1
Red-necked Phalarope          1           25
Red Phalarope                                         1
Ruddy Turnstone               1
Black Turnstone               4           2
Surfbird                      25
Calidris sp.                                          8
South Polar Skua                                      2
Pomarine Jaeger                                       1
Parasitic Jaeger                          2           2
Long-tailed Jaeger						1
Heermannís Gull               50          2
Ring-billed Gull              3
California Gull               60          4
Western Gull                  25          2
Glaucous-winged Gull          6		
Sabineís Gull                                         2
Tern Sp. (probably Arctic)                            2
Common Murre                  75          10
Pigeon Guillemot              12          6
Marbled Murrelet                          4
Cassinís Auklet                           1 (seen by few)
Rhinoceros Auklet                         2           8			
Osprey                        1

northern fur seal                                     1 (young;seen by few)
harbor seal                   5
California sea-lion           6
harbor porpoise               1           2
soupfin shark                                         6