October 4, 2003
Heceta Bank Pelagic trip
Newport, Oregon out 55 miles and return
12-hours, 7 AM to 7 PM

Our trip enjoyed calm winds and seas with a bit of fog, but generally good visibility. Surprising immediately was a tight flock of over 700 SOOTY SHEARWATERS sitting just off the mouth of Yaquina Bay. They had been present each morning for several days feeding on anchovies. We also noticed that the water was a dark rusy-orange, thanks to a large growth of plankton, no doubt feeding those anchovies. Seas were fairly productive throughout our trip. Omnipresent from shore to deep waters were both CASSIN'S and RHINOCEROS AUKLETS.

Birds were generally dispersed offshore, sitting in the calm seas. We encountered several groups of sitting shearwaters with SOOTY, PINK-FOOTED, and BULLER'S together in many of the flocks. We had an early SOUTH POLAR SKUA, and then a second circled around our first chum stop, 25 miles off Newport. It was a juvenile in typical cold gray plumage with pale blue base to the bill. We saw skuas throughout the day, several at a greater distant and ended with 7 birds, one short of our record.

Our second chum stop was at our Perpetua Bank location, about 10 miles SW of our first stop. This area had many NORTHERN FULMARS, and a dozen BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES behind a single dragger that had long since pulled in its net and let them back out. It was a very low count for albatrosses, a regular occurance when we don't have any wind for them to fly.

We picked up a couple YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS in the fog, though the deck hand felt that one bird had come aboard the day before and stayed overnight on the boat in the harbor. At least one of these birds stayed with us most of the trip, flying out to catch fly whenever we stopped. It finally abandoned us about 45 miles offshore on the return trip, being more interested in catching bugs, in spite of the many PARASITIC JAEGERS far offshore. In fact, half of the PARASITIC JAEGERS were beyond 40 miles of shore. Usually the bulk of these birds are detected within 15 miles of shore.

A warbler dropped exhausted onto the deck 55 miles offshore. Some discussion ensued as to the identification, either Common Yellowthroat or Nashville. It was slightly hooded, but with an obvious pale yellow eyering and extensively yellow below with brighter green edges to the tail and wing edgings. Best guess after examining more field guides is a first fall female NASHVILLE WARBLER. It attempted flight at one point and dropped exhausted into the ocean, being unable to fly up into the boat. It was fished out, given sugar water, and spent the trip home in a darkened paper bag for release on shore.

Thousands of SOOTY SHEARWATERS were swarming around within a mile of shore on the return. In fact, most were swirling over the surf and had to fly out to sea to get around the jetties. We spotted several MARBLED MURRELETS in the calm seas. A pair of ANCIENT MURRELETS were in the mouth of Yaquina Bay, but once the skipper got the boat headed home, there was no stopping him for another look.

SPECIES                Bay Nearshore Offshore

Common Loon               1    2    0
Western Grebe             0    1   25

Black-footed Albatross    0    0   30
Northern Fulmar           0    0  195
Pink-footed Shearwater    0    4  103
Sooty Shearwater          0 2400  369
Buller's Shearwater       0    6   34
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel  0    0    2

Brandt's Cormorant       15   11    0
Double-crested Cormorant 11    0    0
Pelagic Cormorant         7    3    0

Great Blue Heron          1    0    0

Brant                     0    0  250
White-winged Scoter       0    4    0
Surf Scoter               8    6    0

Peregrine Falcon          1    0    0

Greater Yellowlegs        0    0    1
Sanderling                0    1    0
Red-necked Phalarope      0    0    4
Red Phalarope             0    0    7

Pomarine Jaeger           0    0    4
Parasitic Jaeger          0    0   32
South Polar Skua          0    0    7

Glaucous-winged Gull      1    1    0
Western Gull             14   15   10
Herring Gull              0    0    2
Heermann's Gull           4    4    0
California Gull           6    4   25
Mew Gull                  4    6    0
Sabines Gull              0    0    9
Arctic Tern               0    0    2

Common Murre              4   25    1
Pigeon Guillemot          0    2    0
Marbled Murrelet          0    7    0
Cassin's Auklet           0    4  342
Ancient Murrelet          2    0    0
Rhinoceros Auklet         0    6  418
Tufted Puffin             0    0    4

Rock Dove                25    0    0
Belted Kingfisher         1    0    0

European Starling       100    0    0
Yellow-rumped Warbler     0    0    2
Nashville Warbler         0    0    1

California Sea Lion      85    0    0
Harbor Seal               4    0    0
Dall's Porpoise           0    0   16
Minke Whale               0    0    1 (seen by few)
Northern Fur Seal         0    0    4

Ocean Sunfish             0    0   14
Blue Shark                0    0    4

Sea Nettles (jellyfish)   0    0 many
Moon Jellies              0    0 many

red plankton shore to 35 miles offshore, turning sea deep rusty orange




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