Pelagic trip report:
Saturday, October 6, 2007
From Newport, Oregon, 30 miles NW.
Seas rough, winds to 25 knots, afternoon showers.
Captain Rob Waddell
Newport Tradewinds Charter
The Bird Guide, Inc.
Guides: Greg Gillson, Tim Shelmerdine, David Mandell, Troy Guy, Lisa Sheffield, Russ Namitz
Black-footed Albatrosses, Northern Fulmars, Western Gulls, and California Gulls swirl around the boat. Photo by Greg Gillson.
The birds were amazingly abundant and the seas wild!
We hit a "break" in the weather between two rather early storms. The weather made watching the birds quite challenging. But after a week of stormy weather the birds were especially hungry and swarmed our boat for popcorn and beef fat.
Some birds were seen by only a few people as they flew past. One source of frustration for me was not being able to get people on the pair of XANTUS'S MURRELETS that flushed from along side the boat about 20 miles off Depoe Bay on our return. Lisa called out "Murrelets!" but I think many people misunderstood and thought Marbled, and didn't bother to look or pass on the sighting. I got a look, but without binoculars, as I couldn't hold them still, and they were covered in drizzle and sea spray anyway. Such are the challenges of pelagic birding.
Everyone got amazing looks at BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES, though! There were a hundred or more at a time flying around the boat and landing to feed on our offerings. SOOTY and PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS were in abundance, and we had a few decent sightings of FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS over our chum slick. A juvenile SOUTH POLAR SKUA put in a show. NORTHERN FULMARS crowded right up to the boat for popcorn. RHINOCEROS AUKLETS were seen in surprisingly high numbers for the conditions.
Most excitingly, a pair of SEI WHALES, about the 3rd largest species in the world spouted and dove near the boat. These whales were over 50 feet long and had quite a tall dorsal fins. It was raining at the time, so I don't think anyone got photos. These were a first sighting for us on our trips and followed first sightings last month of Sperm Whale, and firsts last October of Blue and Fin Whales. We've had quite a run of whales the last two autumns!
Species list Harlequin Duck 1 (seen by few, jetty, Lisa) Surf Scoter 225 White-winged Scoter 300 Black-footed Albatross 175 Northern Fulmar 1000 Pink-footed Shearwater 150 Sooty Shearwater 375 Buller's Shearwater 10 Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 12 Double-crested Cormorant 35 Brandt's Cormorant 65 Pelagic Cormorant 30 Brown Pelican 50 Common Loon 8 Red-throated Loon 1 (seen by few, nearshore, Lisa) Western Grebe 4 Horned Grebe 2 Red-necked Grebe 3 Red-necked Phalarope 4 (seen by few, nearshore, Tim, Lisa) South Polar Skua 3 Pomarine Jaeger 1 Parasitic Jaeger 1 (seen by few, Troy) jaeger (sp.) 3 Mew Gull 25 California Gull 400 Thayer's Gull 1 (marina getting off boat) Herring Gull 4 Western Gull 50 Glaucous-winged Gull 8 Heermann's Gull 15 Sabine's Gull 1 (seen by few, Troy, David) Common Murre 20 Pigeon Guillemot 5 Xantus's Murrelet 2 (seen by few, Lisa, Troy) Cassin's Auklet 35 Rhinoceros Auklet 370 (fairly accurate count kept by David) Sei Whale 2 Humpback Whale 2 (seen by few, Troy) California Sea Lion 150 (bay) Harbor Seal 50 (bay) Northern Fur Seal 3 Harbor Porpoise 3 (seen by few, nearshore, Troy) Dall's Porpoise 3 Ocean Sunfish 15 Albacore Tuna 1 (seen by few, Troy)