Pelagic trip report:
Saturday, August 16, 2008
From Newport, Oregon, offshore 15 nautical miles.
Captain Robert Waddell
The Bird Guide, Inc.
Guides: Tim Shelmerdine, Tom Snetsinger, Russ Namitz
Report by Tim Shelmerdine
The Bird Guide organized a special six hour pelagic trip on Saturday, August 16 from Newport for the OSU convention on Acoustic Communications by Animals. Guides were Tom Snetsinger, Russ Namitz and Tim Shelmerdine. Our skipper was Rob and our deckhand Matt on the Misty.
We left at 6:00 am to find foggy conditions and rough seas. The waves were not high, but were close together, making for some rough conditions and causing some discomfort among some of the passengers. As we headed out the bay, we saw all three cormorants and numerous gulls, murres and guillemots, and our first MARBLED MURRELETS were sighted as we headed north towards Yaquina Head. We spent time off the seabird breeding rocks there, then proceeded west out to 58 fathoms, sighting SOOTY and PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS, and NORTHERN FULMARS on the way out. Pressed for time and worried that the fog would severely impact our birding success, we put out a chum slick in an area with a nice concentration of shearwaters. The birds must have been hungry, because they swarmed to our oil slick laced with tantalizing popcorn and chunks of beef fat. Almost immediately a LAYSAN ALBATROSS came in and to our delight, landed in the slick and stayed with us for nearly forty-five minutes. This is a very unusual summer record of this species. We had excellent views of the nearly 100 FORK-TAILED STORM PETRELS that came in to investigate our slick, and just before we left, a lone BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS came in to circle the boat before disappearing. Two albatross of two different species – amazing! All too soon we started back toward shore, but shortly into our return a SOUTH POLAR SKUA flew by the boat and then into the fog, allowing some of the passengers a decent view. As we were in just a little early, we worked off the surf line just north of the north jetty. There Tom Snetsinger spied a HORNED PUFFIN. This bird was very cooperative, giving all passengers excellent views. This species is rare in winter, and to see one close to shore in August was a very pleasant surprise indeed. We then entered the bay, where some passengers were able to spot WANDERING TATTLER, BLACK TURNSTONE and SURFIRD on the south jetty. We ended our trip with calling ELEGANT TERNS in the bay, another unusual sighting. Despite the rough conditions, we had a fantastic six hours on the ocean. Below is a list of all species seen on this trip.
Species list Observation list for Saturday, August 16, 0600-1200 hrs on board the Misty. Common Loon 2 Pacific Loon 1 Double-crested Cormorant 40 Brandt’s Cormorant 60 Pelagic Cormorant 60 Brown Pelican 30 Black-footed Albatross 1 LAYSAN ALBATROSS 1 (fantastic looks – this bird stayed with the slick) Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 100 Northern Fulmar 120 Sooty Shearwater 40 Pink-footed Shearwater 60 Surf Scoter 4 duck – sp.? 4 Black Turnstone 1 Surfbird 1 Wandering Tattler 1 Whimbrel 1 Red-necked Phalarope 80 peep sp.? 10 Western Gull 60 California Gull 120 Mew Gull 2 Heermann’s Gull 150 Caspian Tern 2 Arctic Tern 1 ELEGANT TERN 3 (in bay, flying and calling) South Polar Skua 1 Common Murre 100 Rhinoceros Auklet 8 Cassin’s Auklet 2 Pigeon Guillemot 30 Marbled Murrelet 12 HORNED PUFFIN 1 Harbor Porpoise 3 California Sea Lion 15 Harbor Seal 5 Ocean Sunfish 2