August 5, 2000

4 hour trip out 15 miles from Newport, Oregon

Our first pelagic trip of the fall was a quick and enjoyable 4-hour jaunt offshore 15 miles.

Nearshore fog lifted a bit at 12 miles to where we had about 4 miles of visibility on glassy seas with about 2 foot swells. Actually, too nice, as most birds weren't flying as there was no wind for gliding. One species was flying, though, and was our most abundant bird away from shore (who would have guessed?): FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL. They were especially common in the fog between 3 and 8 miles offshore. NORTHERN FULMAR were also in good numbers, as close as 1/2 mile off the beach. They were in such an extreme stage of molt, however, that most couldn't even fly as our boat approached.

This was our tenth 4-hour "Summer Seabirds" trip in the past 4 years, and we have seen BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES on each trip, though certainly not nearly as many as on our longer trips farther offshore. Two BLACK-FOOTS visited our boat during the chum period, but the number of baitfish everywhere was more interesting than our scraps. Plus, I think, with no wind they were a bit nervous about setting down near the boat, as they almost can't get airborne without wind. They circled around for a few minutes, then continued on their way, delighting all.

On our return near Yaquina Head we watched MARBLED MURRELETS and the captain extended our cruise about 20 minutes while we traveled along with "Scarback," a GRAY WHALE, until a whale watching boat could make it over to our position. Then our boat returned to dock to pick up whale watchers who would go back out to this same whale. Scarback is an older female which has a severe wound on the back from an explosive harpoon she was struck with several years ago.

Greg Gillson

Ocean list  
Black-footed Albatross 2
Northern Fulmar 80
Sooty Shearwater 35
Pink-footed Shearwater 15
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 250
Pelagic Cormorant* 35
Brandt's Cormorant* 150
Brown Pelican* 35
Surf Scoter* 40
White-winged Scoter* 3
Red-necked Phalarope 60
Western Gull 20
Heermann's Gull* 85
Common Tern 1
Common Murre* 500 (almost all parent/chick pairs)
Pigeon Guillemot* 50
Cassin's Auklet 15
Marbled Murrelet* 7
Rhinoceros Auklet 5
Other marine species  
Harbor Porpoise 4
Gray Whale 1

* = Most (or all) individuals seen within 3 miles of shore.

Additional in the harbor:  
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Caspian Tern
Purple Martin
California Sea Lion
Harbor Seal