Pelagic trip report:
Saturday, October 6, 2007

9 hours
From Newport, Oregon, 30 miles NW.

Seas rough, winds to 25 knots, afternoon showers.

Boat: Misty
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)

Can you count the 20 Black-footed Albatrosses in this photo? There are also 5 or 6 Northern Fulmars and a bunch of gulls, primarily California, but at least 2 Western. Photo by Greg Gillson.

A light phase Northern Fulmar flies behind the Pink-footed Shearwater in the upper center of this photo, as other fulmars, Black-footed Albatrosses, and California Gulls wing by. Photo by Greg Gillson.

Black-footed Albatrosses and Northern Fulmars, and... hey! What's the large smudgy gull with the pale head and broad tail band in the upper right? I don't remember seeing that bird. Whatever it might have been, we can't go back for more photos now.... Photo by Greg Gillson.

Northern Fulmars crowd up to the boat for popcorn as a Western and some California Gulls try to get a morsel. I see the wings of an immature Herring Gull with pale inner primaries in the bottom of the frame. Photo by Greg Gillson.

A Pink-footed Shearwater shows a young gull who's boss! Photo by Greg Gillson.

Thayer's Gull in the marina. Photo by Troy Guy.