[Tweeters] Westport Pelagic trip, Oct. 6th. 2 GREAT SHEARWATERS

Bruce Labar blabar at harbornet.com
Mon Oct 7 15:41:30 PDT 2013

Leaving the dock at 7:00 am in calm waters, a beautiful sunrise with Mt. Rainier visible, it looked like a great day ahead for our next to last pelagic trip of the year. However, the red sunrise and the mountain looking like Moordor(Hobbit reference), we should have remembered the rhyme about "red sunrise in morning, sailor take warning". We decided early that with bad weather coming in the afternoon, we would head directly to the shrimp boats that were a little further north than our usual transect.
In our first two hours, we had birds everywhere. Over 10,000 Sooty Shearwaters, close to 400 Common Murres, 79 Pacific Loons, some still in breeding plumage and off course many gulls, including 1 Black-legged Kittiwake.
Continuing out to the boats with the wind behind us, we noticed that indeed the seas were increasing in wave action and wind and that going back was going to be very interesting.
Arriving at the shrimpers around 10:30 am, we again had birds everywhere! Around 4,000 California Gulls, 1200 Pink-footed Shearwaters, 400 Sooty Shearwaters and 300 Northern Fulmars making up the main species waiting for by catch from the shrimpers. We finally had good numbers of Buller's Shearwaters in this mix with close to 90 counted. Looking through the Buller's, I noticed one shearwater that had a very dark cap with a grayish nape, white edging to the back feathers and realized that this was a Great Shearwater. Everyone on the boat got great looks and pictures as the bird remained on the water for a long time. Finally, we moved on and lost the bird in the mass of birds as they took flight. Visiting another shimper, we again found some Buller's and this time 2 Great Shearwaters were side by side for some great looks. This was most surprising, especially with the rarity of this bird on the west coast. However, this summer and fall, there have been increased sightings in California and Oregon. These sightings, I believe are our 5 and 6 records for the state. The other good sighting at the boats were at least 15 Short-tailed Shearwaters.
After leaving the boats, we decided to head back. The wind increased to at least 20-25 mph and we basically gave up hope of trying to bird or count birds as the spray was pretty intense. All in all, this was a very successful trip and with some excellent birds sighted. The only mammals sighted out at sea were some blows from Humpback Whales.
Our last trip of the year is on Oct. 19th which is sold out. For further information on Westport seabirds, please visit our website at www.westportseabirds.com. Spotters for this past trip were Gene Revelas, Michael Donahue and myself.

Bruce LaBar
Tacoma, WA
blabar at harbornet.com


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