The Bird Guide, Inc.'s 100th pelagic trip!
Pelagic trip report:
Saturday, November 19, 2005
From Newport, Oregon offshore to Perpetua Bank, 32 nautical miles off Yachats, Oregon.
Captain Robert Waddell
The Bird Guide, Inc.
Guides: Greg Gillson, Troy Guy, Phil Pickering
The weather forecast was perfect, and the boat wasn't chartered, so we set up an impromptu pelagic trip with only a day-and-a-half notice. Fourteen passengers and 3 guides attended one of the few Oregon November pelagic trips, and the first to Perpetua Bank during this month.
Thanks go to the attendees Bill Evans, Jim Regali, David Heath, John Sullivan, Wayne Hoffman, Barry McKenzie, Cheryl Haskell, Whit Bronaugh, Tim Rodenkirk, Lars Skalnes, Tom Cramer, Janet Lamberson, Rebecca Cheek, and Ed McVicker for making this trip possible.
The wind was light from the east with little swell. The skies were clear and sunny, that is, after the sun came up about 20 minutes into our trip. The temperature reached the low 50's by mid-day, enough for most to shed their extra outer layers of warm clothing. With fewer hours of daylight we adjusted this normally 10-hour trip to 9-hours, heading straight out to deep water. We had extra time at the end of the trip and spent an hour near shore and really cleaned up on finding nearshore species.
We spotted the first of a few BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES immediately after crossing the bar. It wasn't long before we spotted the first SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER of the day. Passengers were schooled in the ID pointers that separate these from SOOTY SHEARWATERS and the ID marks that are missing from the field guides. The excitement of the morning occurred when we spotted 4 RISSO'S DOLPHINS, but we didn't spot them until too late and were unable to slow the boat down fast enough to keep from startling them into diving away and disappearing. Everyone got good looks for about a minute though. A few BONAPARTE'S GULLS were spotted, then we saw tight flocks of 20-40 on the horizon, some of which were nearer. Two RED PHALAROPES were spotted near a ball of floating kelp. A couple small flocks of CACKLING GOOSE seemed to show pale breasts indicative of the ALEUTIAN race. We soon picked up a trail of gulls following our popcorn chum. Everyone who desired had ample opportunity to study the upper and under wing patterns of THAYER'S, HERRING, WESTERN, GLAUCOUS-WINGED, and CALIFORNIA GULLS in flight at very close range. A few NORTHERN FULMAR picked up our cod liver oil trail before we reached our first chum spot on the edge of the Chicken Ranch underwater bank. Several were light phased.
Next we headed south to the chum stop off Perpetua Bank, picking up most of the NORTHERN FULMARS we saw during the day and, finally, two immature BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS. A small NORTHERN FUR SEAL porpoised out of the water a couple of times, turning its head to look us over. A couple of PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS flew around the periphery of the feeding flock. We cut short our Perpetua Bank chum stop after about 40 minutes, as it was clear we were adding no new species. The wind had died and the soaring seabirds just were not flying.
As we headed back toward shore, some DALL'S PORPOISES chased after us and finally body surfed down our wake, before peeling off. Some birders on the bow practiced their JELLYFISH ID, with MOON, LION'S MANE, and SEA NETTLES spotted. This tells not only how smooth the water was, but how few birds there were on the return portion of the trip. But with about an hour of extra time as we approached shore, the relaxed birding was about to change.
The Captain chased around some feeding gull flocks about 8 miles offshore that had a couple of SHORT-TAILED and SOOTY SHEARWATERS in with them, as well as RHINOCEROS AUKLETS. There seems to be ample natural food offshore right now.
As we approached the beach about 3 miles south of the Yaquina Bay bar we spotted many PACIFIC LOONS, COMMON MURRES, and then the first of several winter plumaged PIGEON GUILLEMOTS. It wasn't long before we spotted one of the day's target species: ANCIENT MURRELET. A flock of about 15 picked up near the boat, flew a few hundred feet, and splashed down. We spotted a couple more groups and some pairs, and then started spotting pairs of MARBLED MURRELETS. A couple of LONG-TAILED DUCKS were spotted, always a nice find. Our count of MARBLED MURRELETS was reaching 25 when I thought we were going to be done and head across the bar into the estuary. But then there was a pair, and another just beyond, and a pair over there, and one on the other side, and...
The calm seas allowed us to travel slowly along the end of the south jetty where we spotted two pairs of HARLEQUIN DUCKS. And just inside were a few SURFBIRDS and BLACK TURNSTONES. The Captain even circled around again for another slow pass for the couple of people who missed the juvenile ROCK SANDPIPER the first time! There were 9 RED-NECKED GREBES in the channel to put a final stamp of approval on our excellent day of birding.
Species list (bay, nearshore (<5 miles), offshore) Cackling Goose (0, 0, 30) Harlequin Duck (4, 0, 0) Surf Scoter (150, 200, 0) White-winged Scoter (5, 35, 0) LONG-TAILED DUCK (0, 2, 0) Bufflehead (8, 0, 0) Red-breasted Merganser (2, 0, 0) Pacific Loon (0, 60, 0) Common Loon (6, 4, 0) Red-throated Loon (0, 3, 0) Red-necked Grebe (9, 4, 0) Western Grebe (0, 30, 0) Black-footed Albatross (0, 0, 2) Northern Fulmar (0, 5, 85) Pink-footed Shearwater (0, 0, 2) SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER (0, 5, 30) Sooty Shearwater (0, 3, 3) Double-crested Cormorant (20, 0, 0) Brandt's Cormorant (30, 50, 0) Pelagic Cormorant (25, 5, 0) Great Blue Heron (1, 0, 0) Black Turnstone (8, 0, 0) Surfbird (15, 0, 0) ROCK SANDPIPER (1, 0, 0) Red Phalarope (0, 0, 2) Bonaparte's Gull (0, 15, 185) Mew Gull (15, 10, 5) California Gull (5, 30, 5) Herring Gull (0, 0, 20) Thayer's Gull (0, 0, 8) Glaucous-winged Gull (0, 5, 70) Western Gull (15, 45, 40) Black-legged Kittiwake (0, 3, 4) Common Murre (0, 230, 20) Pigeon Guillemot (0, 15, 0) Marbled Murrelet (0, 50, 0) ANCIENT MURRELET (0, 50, 0) Cassin's Auklet (0, 0, 20) Rhinoceros Auklet (0, 10, 50) Gray Whale (0, 2, 0) Dall's Porpoise (0, 0, 8) Harbor Porpoise (0, 8, 0) RISSO'S DOLPHIN (0, 0, 4) California Sea Lion (40, 2, 0) Steller's Sea Lion (0, 1, 0) Harbor Seal (20, 0, 0) Northern Fur Seal (0, 0, 1)