[Tweeters] Neah Bay pelagic trip sightings

Boekelheide bboek at olympus.net
Tue Sep 2 20:58:52 PDT 2014

Hello, Tweeters,
Twelve of us had a lovely pelagic trip aboard the WindSong out of Neah Bay last Saturday, 8/30/14. Our cruise track went WNW from Neah Bay past Cape Flattery to Swiftsure Bank, then SW down the Juan de Fuca canyon. It was overcast in the morning, then passing fog banks and misty showers, then sunny afternoon. Winds were light and swells were small. Birders prone to seasickness even had a great day. Overall, bird numbers and diversity were fair, although we did find feeding flocks in the entrance to the Strait north of Cape Flattery both coming and going from Neah Bay, and other feeding groups on the east side of Swiftsure Bank. Offshore birds were fairly slow, mostly sitting on the water in calm winds.

Birds seen from the boat:
No. Pintail - flocks flying south high overhead. One big gangly flock of 80.
Surf and White-winged Scoter - <20 each in Neah Bay
Harlequin Duck - 1 nearshore
Red-throated Loon - 1 nearshore
Pacific Loon - 2
Common Loon - 1 nearshore
Red-necked Grebe - 1 nearshore
Albatross - only 1 (Between Cape Flattery and Swiftsure Bank, we watched a flying albatross for about a minute in good light. It was over 1+ mile from the boat — close enough to tell it was an albatross, but too far to tell exactly what kind of albatross. It was big, dynamic soaring the whole time in the light winds, appearing and disappearing above and below the swells. Its entire breast, belly, and undertail appeared bright white. Unfortunately, from our distance we couldn’t get a definitive look at the light underwing, back, bill color, or any other markings, just a big plodding white-bellied albatross. Laysan? Short-tailed? Something else? We’ll never know.)
No. Fulmar - only 1 (on water north of Cape Flattery)
Pink-footed Shearwater - 800 (including large flocks just hanging out on the water in the afternoon between Swiftsure Bank and Juan de Fuca Canyon)
Buller’s Shearwater - 6 on east side of Swiftsure Bank
Sooty Shearwater - 250
Brandt’s Cormorant - 25
DC Cormorant - 1 nearshore
Pelagic Cormorant - 10
Bald Eagle - 1
Wandering Tattler - 1 on Neah Bay harbor breakwater
Black Turnstone - 12 on breakwater
Red-necked Phalarope - 25
Red Phalarope - 75
Phalarope sp. - 60
Parasitic Jaeger - 2 (including a stripey-belly immature)
Common Murre - 1000 (mostly in flightless flocks on the water, particularly approaching Swiftsure Bank and between Swiftsure Bank and Juan de Fuca Canyon. Some father-chick pairs, but relatively few pairs compared to overall numbers. Still a few flying around.)
Pigeon Guillemot - 15
Marbled Murrelet - 2 (nearshore)
Ancient Murrelet - 1 (A bizarre sighting for August, one adult, far offshore, all by itself, allowed the boat to come close for a good look)
Cassin’s Auklet - 15
Rhinoceros Auklet - 65
Tufted Puffin - 3
Sabine’s Gull - 25
Heermann’s Gull - 6
Western Gull - 2 (Including one with blue-plastic band on one leg and metal band on the other leg — a Farallon Islands bird?)
California Gull - 500 (abundant in feeding flocks)
Herring Gull - 2
Glaucous-winged/Olympic Gull - 100
“Comic” Tern - 12 (in feeding flock north of Cape Flattery. Most possibly Common Terns, but a couple showed Arctic characteristics)

Bob Boekelheide

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