Pelagic trip report:

Saturday, October 14, 2006

10 hours
From Newport, Oregon offshore to Perpetua Bank, 32 nautical miles off Cape Perpetua, Oregon.


Marine mammals were the highlight of our birding trip, including two Blue Whales. 14 October 2006. Photo by Debbie Barnes

Boat: Misty
Captain Robert Waddell

The Bird Guide, Inc.
http://thebirdguide.com/

Guides: Greg Gillson, Tim Shelmerdine, Troy Guy, Tom Snetsinger



Humpback Whale flukes. 14 October 2006. Photo by Debbie Barnes

Different. That was the word of the day among the pelagic guides. After over 100 pelagic trips, one fifth in the month of October, we had never seen another day like it. Two weeks earlier we had tripled our record high number of South Polar Skuas. Though there were no such numbers this day, we spotted an incredible 17 HUMPBACK WHALES in the flat seas, many quite near shore.


Blue Whale blow holes. 14 October 2006. Photo by Tim Shelmerdine


Blue Whales really are blue! 14 October 2006. Photo by Tim Shelmerdine


Blue Whale flukes. 14 October 2006. Photo by Troy Guy

An early brief look at a couple of FIN WHALES was our first ever, but just an appetizer for the awe-inspiring views of a pair of BLUE WHALES right along side the boat!. The huge geyser of a spout hung in the air. The dual blow-holes were like washtubs. The smooth, almost translucent blue back kept rolling and rolling until the small dorsal fin finally arose. And then, during the dive, the huge flukes lifted up like a rising apparition, water pouring off every surface. My knees are still weak from being so close to this huge, gentle, monster.


Glaucous-winged x Western Gull hybrid. 14 October 2006. Photo by Debbie Barnes


Northern Fulmar. 14 October 2006. Photo by Debbie Barnes

I've come to the conclusion that there is no "secret sause" as far as chum is concerned. With weeks of smooth seas and easily obtainable natural food available preceeding our trip, the birds couldn't have cared less about our intense chum preparation and selection. However, bring in a storm for a few days, and then the hungry birds would no doubt climb over each other once again to reach every last morsel of our offerings.


Most of the Black-footed Albatrosses were juveniles, like the bird on the right. 14 October 2006.
Photo by Tim Shelmerdine


And what's up with the albatrosses? The 120 BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES we saw were an average number. But at least 80 were juvenile--the most we have ever seen--and the rest were very young birds with white undertail scores of zero or one on a scale of 0-5. There were no adults! The adults must have departed early this year for their mid-Pacific breeding islands.


Northern Fulmar. 14 October 2006. Photo by Tim Shelmerdine

Missing were large numbers of shearwaters, with no Flesh-footed or Short-tailed Shearwaters. Also lacking were Laysan Albatrosses, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Ancient Murrelets, and any phalaropes.


Cassin's Auklet. 14 October 2006. Photo by Debbie Barnes

Not everything was different, however. We encountered numerous small flocks of migrating CASSIN'S AUKLETS. The flat seas were enjoyable and allowed us good looks at birds, both near shore and further out to sea.


Marbled Murrelet. 14 October 2006. Photo by Debbie Barnes

All in all, a wonderful day at sea. Everyone enjoyed the trip with a couple of the out-of-state visitors revealing they had seen 12, and another 17, life birds. Quite a trip, indeed!


Pomarine Jeager (left) chased by Parasitic Jaeger (right). 14 October 2006. Photo by Debbie Barnes

Species list:

Cackling Goose            150 (Aleutian)
White-winged Scoter         5
Surf Scoter               150
Black Scoter                1
Harlequin Duck              8
Common Loon                 7
Pacific Loon                3
Western Grebe             100
Clark's Grebe               3
Red-necked Grebe            3
Black-footed Albatross    120
Northern Fulmar           350
Pink-footed Shearwater     45
Sooty Shearwater           60
Buller's Shearwater        15
Brown Pelican              10
Brandt's Cormorant        150
Double-crested Cormorant   30
Pelagic Cormorant          25
S. Polar Skua/Pom. Jaeger   1
Pomarine Jaeger             5
Parasitic Jaeger            2
Bonaparte's Gull            1
Heermann's Gull            25
Mew Gull                   25
California Gull           250
Thayer's Gull               2
Herring Gull                4
Western Gull               50
Glaucous-winged Gull        4
Common Murre              120
Pigeon Guillemot            2
Marbled Murrelet           15
Cassin's Auklet           450
Rhinoceros Auklet         120
Fox Sparrow                 1 (Sooty form, 20 miles to sea)

Ocean Sunfish               8
FIN WHALE                 1-2
BLUE WHALE                  2
HUMPBACK WHALE             17
ELEPHANT SEAL               2
Northern Fur Seal           3
California Sea Lion        35 (plus 100+ on breakwater)
Steller's Sea Lion          5
Harbor Seal                 6
Dall's Porpoise             4
Harbor Porpoise            12


Northern Fulmar. 14 October 2006. Photo by Tim Shelmerdine


Rhinoceros Auklet. 14 October 2006. Photo by Debbie Barnes


Thayer's Gull. 14 October 2006. Photo by Tim Shelmerdine


Blue Whale. 14 October 2006. Photo by Troy Guy


Blue Whale. 14 October 2006. Photo by Tim Shelmerdine


Blue Whale. 14 October 2006. Photo by Troy Guy


Black-footed Albatross. 14 October 2006. Photo by Earl Orf


Black-footed Albatross. 14 October 2006. Photo by Earl Orf


Black-footed Albatross. 14 October 2006. Photo by Earl Orf


Black-footed Albatross. 14 October 2006. Photo by Earl Orf


Black-footed Albatross. 14 October 2006. Photo by Earl Orf


Northern Fulmar. 14 October 2006. Photo by Earl Orf


Northern Fulmar. 14 October 2006. Photo by Earl Orf


Blue Whale. 14 October 2006. Photo by Earl Orf


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