September 10, 2005
5 hours out of Charleston, Oregon for the Oregon Shorebird Festival.

Trip report by Steve Shunk.

The 19th annual Oregon Shorebird Festival pelagic trip this past Saturday started out exciting and stayed that way most of the day.

At 6:45 a.m., Stacy Strickland and I stood in the rain at Charleston Harbor telling 33 birders that it just might not rain all day. As the boat left the dock, it indeed stopped raining and we motored toward the bar. The swells entering the mouth of the bay were deep and frequent. The waves on top of the swells were breaking with gusto. The jetties were getting hammered.

As we passed between the jetties, the captain decided to slow up and watch a small fishing vessel ahead us to see just how high she would bounce in the surf. This birder has never seen a bar crossing quite like the one ahead of us. With plenty of experience and perfect timing, the captain decided we were going birding. We went for quite a ride, but on the other side we saw plenty of big ocean ahead of us as we headed for deeper water.

Except for a couple of "dead zones", birds were well distributed throughout the tour. We also enjoyed a few nice concentrations that provided a great opportunity to stop and enjoy the seabirds.

Highlights of the tour included two species of albatross, with nearly a half-dozen BLACK-FOOTED and a single LAYSAN ALBATROSS, a new species for the festival and a rare find for September in Oregon waters (not to mention the fact that it was less than 15 miles from shore). Also topping our list of most exciting sightings were three SOUTH POLAR SKUAS, at least two of which flew very close to the boat and below the horizon for excellent views. We also tallied two very early SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATERS and had great looks at CASSIN'S AUKLETS scuttling away from the boat at close distance. Mammal highlights of the day included two pods of DALL'S PORPOISE and at least four NORTHERN FUR-SEALS bobbing at the surface out near 1000 feet of water.

A complete trip list is below, with the three numbers referring to birds observed (1) inside the mouth of the bay, (2) between the mouth and approximately the one-mile buoy, and (3) outside the one-mile buoy. The Bird Guide will lead one more pelagic trip this fall, on Saturday, October 1, and only six spaces remain. Please join us for another exciting ocean adventure this fall! Visit this link for the details:

Charleston, OR; Saturday, September 10

Pacific Loon - 1,0,0
Common Loon - 1,0,0
Western Grebe - 1,0,0
Black-footed Albatross - 0,0,5
Laysan Albatross - 0,0,1 (seen by few)
Northern Fulmar - 0,0,26
Pink-footed Shearwater - 0,0,68
Buller's Shearwater - 0,0,2
Sooty Shearwater - 0,0,105
Short-tailed Shearwater - 0,0,2 (seen by few)
Brown Pelican - 3,6,0
Double-crested Cormorant - 4,0,0
Brandt's Cormorant - 4,7,0
Pelagic Cormorant - 2,0,0
Surf Scoter - 4,10,0
Turkey Vulture - 1,0,0
Black Turnstone - 8,0,0
Surfbird - 1,0,0
Red-necked Phalarope - 9,20,9
Red Phalarope - 0,0,4
Pomarine Jaeger - 0,0,5 (including at least two dark-morph)
Long-tailed Jaeger - 0,0,1
South Polar Skua - 0,0,3
Heermann's Gull - 10,3,0
California Gull - 1,2,0
Herring Gull - 0,0,1
Western Gull - 31,48,22
Glaucous-winged Gull - 1,0,1
Larid sp. - 3 birds, possible Sabine's Gull, possible terns
Common Murre - 2,10,4
Pigeon Guillemot - 2,0,0
Cassin's Auklet - 0,0,8
Rhinoceros Auklet - 0,2,27
Rock Pigeon - 5,0,0
American Crow - 2,0,0
Barn Swallow - 1,0,0

California Sea-Lion - 3,1,0
Harbor Seal - 3,0,0
Northern Fur-Seal - 0,0,4
Dall's Porpoise - 0,0,9
Gray Whale - 0,2,0
Cetacean sp. - possible Humpback Whale in deep water

Pacific Sunfish (Mola mola) - 0,0,10