Pelagic trip report:
10 hours offshore up to 35 miles from Newport, Oregon
Saturday, October 2, 2004

Karl Fairchild scans for birds while guide Tim Shelmerdine enjoys the view from the flying bridge of the charter boat "Zoea." Photo by Greg Gillson.

Trip report by Tom Snetsinger

What a day! It was a day of long stretches with few birds, followed by extended encounters with large groups of birds, generally allowing close study. Highlights of our 10-hour trip to Perpetua Bank included six shearwater species including: MANX (1) and FLESH-FOOTED (2); excellent looks at all 3 jaegers species and 3 South Polar Skuas; a mixed pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins and northern right whale-dolphins frolicking about the boat; and many others.

We worked our way slowly out of the bay, pointing out our 3 cormorant species, surf scoters, gulls (including Heermann's and Mew), and a couple of groups of rockpipers (including Surfbirds, a Wandering Tattler, and Black Turnstones), plus a group of Sandpipers huddled on the south jetty. We worked south and quickly found a number of Marbled Murrelets, Rhinoceros Auklets, and Pigeon Guillemots, and surprisingly, our first shearwater of the day, a Bullerís! This bird was followed quickly by a Northern Fulmar, and as we began heading west towards the albatrosses, Tim called out a Short-tailed Shearwater. Not long afterwards the cry of MANX SHEARWATER rang out. Those on the bow got fairly good looks, but the bird kept moving and quickly out-paced the boat, leaving with disappointing views.

Occasional shearwaters, fulmars, and alcids made birding slow until we reached the Chicken Ranch. Here we came across a few mixed flocks of California Gulls, shearwaters, alcids, our first jaeger, a stunning adult Pomarine with fully-developed spoons, and an adult Sabine's Gull. A northern fur seal and a female elephant seal made brief appearances as did several of the bizarre looking ocean sunfish as we continued out to Perpetua Bank. We also picked up the occasional albatross on the way. At our scheduled chum stop we noticed a fishing trawler with its net out and, at a distance, a large flock of birds including 50 or more albatrosses.

As we neared it we saw there were well over 100 albatrosses with a healthy mix of Northern Fulmars, jaegers, shearwaters, and others in its wake. We pored over the flock for awhile and spread some chum to attract the birds closer. Eventually, we noticed marine mammal action a bit further west, and we moved in that direction. The pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins and northern right whale-dolphins leaped and played around our bow, the gleaming black dorsal side of the whale-dolphins completely smooth with no dorsal fin gave them a striking appearance. In the midst of this action our first FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER made an appearance, but as with the Manx, only those on the bow got good looks. A late adult Long-tailed Jaeger allowed study as it soared over the boat.

We headed back to port tallying more of elegant Sabine's Gulls, Buller's, Pink-footed, and Sooty Shearwaters, as well our first 2 South Polar Skuas of the day. The third Skua flushed from the water near a group of Pink-footed Shearwaters and aggressively chased down one of the Pink-foots. It hit it hard as the shearwater attempted to elude the skua by diving for the water's surface. The skua, unable to stop short, shot up vertically like an air force jet and parachuted back down on top of the shearwater which coughed up a meal for the skua. The day was nearly at an end, but still the action was picking up! We began to work our way back into the nearshore shearwater flocks, which were patchy and mostly consisted of Buller's and Pink-footeds. We approached one flock and shouts of FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER again rang from the bow. This time most everyone got good looks. And then a Tufted Puffin made our 6th alcid of the day.

We hope everyone had a great time. This was certainly a trip to remember!

SPECIES                 Bay, Nearshore, Offshore 

Northern Pintail          0, 40, 0 
White-winged Scoter       0, 45, 0
Surf Scoter              40, 70, 0

Common Loon               2, 2, 0
Pacific Loon              0, 1, 0, 
Red-throated Loon         0, 1, 0

Western Grebe             0, 1, 0 

Black-footed Albatross    0, 0, 150 
Northern Fulmar           0, 3, 92
MANX SHEARWATER           0, 0, 1
Pink-footed Shearwater    0, 12, 50 
Sooty Shearwater          0, 9, 82
Short-tailed Shearwater   0, 2, 25
Buller's Shearwater       0, 18, 125 
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel  0, 0, 8

Brandt's Cormorant       28, 100, 0
Double-crested Cormorant 21, 25, 0
Pelagic Cormorant        15, 14, 0 
Brown Pelican             2, 0, 0

Great Blue Heron          3, 0, 0

Wandering Tattler         2, 0, 0
Surfbird                  6, 0, 0
Black Turnstone           8, 0, 0
Sanderling               10, 0, 0
Red-necked Phalarope      0, 5, 4
Red Phalarope             0, 0, 7 

South Polar Skua          0, 0, 3
Pomarine Jaeger           0, 1, 8
Parasitic Jaeger          0, 0, 3  
Long-tailed Jaeger        0, 0, 1 
Jaeger (sp.)              0, 0, 3

Bonaparte's Gull          0, 0, 2
Mew Gull                  3, 12, 0 
California Gull           5, 3, 125
Herring Gull              0, 1, 4
Western Gull             61, 2, 4
Glaucous-winged Gull      9, 0, 0
Heermann's Gull           4, 10, 0
Sabine's Gull             0, 0, 3

Common Murre              2, 48, 67
Pigeon Guillemot          2, 35, 6
Marbled Murrelet          0, 22, 0
Cassin's Auklet           0, 0, 185
Rhinoceros Auklet         1, 4, 160 
Tufted Puffin             0, 1, 0 

Belted Kingfisher         1, 0, 0
Hummingbird sp.           0, 0, 1 
Rock Pigeon              15, 0, 0

American Crow            16, 0, 0
Common Starling          12, 0, 0

California Sea Lion      70, 0, 0
Harbor Seal              50, 0, 0
Elephant Seal             0, 0, 1
Northern Fur Seal         0, 0, 1

Harbor Porpoise           0, 3, 0 
Pac. White-sided Dolphin  0, 0, 100
N. Right Whale-Dolphin    0, 0, 40
Gray Whale                0, 2, 0

Ocean Sunfish             0, 0, 5

Sea Nettles (jellyfish)   0, X, X
Moon jellies              0, 0, X
Other jellies             0, 0, X