[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds Trip Report 09/20/2014

bill shelmerdine georn1 at hotmail.com
Mon Sep 22 20:14:46 PDT 2014

Greetings Tweeters

Saturday, September 20 we had another fine day offshore, pelagic birding with Westport Seabirds. The day started with a somewhat larger swell than anticipated, but once we cleared the bar conditions offshore were good with light winds. The near shore Sooty Shearwater flocks did not materialize on either the out bound or return trip. As a result, Sooties were not the most numerous species recorded and Pink-footed Shearwater numbers nearly exceeded our Sooty Count. Three species exceeded counts of 2000, with California Gull (2800+), Sooty (2400+), and Pink-footed Shearwater (2100+) being the most numerous.

The trip across the shelf was routine with the exception of the variety of landbirds recorded. Offshore, we encountered several Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Dark-eyed Junco, Song, and Savannah Sparrow. As we approached the outer shelf shearwater activity really started to pick-up. A couple of South Polar Skuas were sighted chasing Cal. Gulls and Pink-foots. Shortly after we spotted a lot of bird and foraging activity and adjusted our course to the south to investigate. As we approached we could see it would be a good day for Pink-footed Shearwater, we also had our first of many good looks at BULLERS SHEARWATER. There was so much activity at this point it was really challenging to keep track of it all. As we stopped the boat, a fine FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER glided in slowly to the bow and made several passes for some really nice close viewing.

Further offshore and out over Grays Canyon we continued with more shearwaters and the occasional Fork-tailed Storm Petrel. Cassin’s Auklet’s started showing up, and by the time we reached the chum spot the numbers were looking impressive, over 1200 were recorded. Black-footed Albatross were low with a count of about 8 and only a handful coming in to the chum slick. Northern Fulmar numbers continue to be low (about 20), while Sabine’s Gulls were in good supply (40 to 50). Jaegers continue to be a bit elusive with 7 Pomerine and 4 South Polar Skua for the day. Rhinoceros Auklet, Red-necked Phalarope, and Tufted Puffin (1 distant) were present, but in short supply. A couple of Shrimp boats on the return hosted many gulls, more Pink-footed, Sooty, and Bullars Shearwaters along with several Pomerine jeagers.

The mammal show was a good one with a couple of pods of Dall’s Porpoises enchanting us with their bow-riding prowess. Several Humpback Whales, Pacific White-sided Dolphin, Harbor Porpoise, Northern Fur Seal, Harbor Seal, and Stellers and California Sea Lions rounded out that list. Mola Mola or Ocean Sunfish and a few acrobatic salmon (presumably coho) were the fish noted. The jetty hosted Black Turnstone, Wandering Tattler, and a lone Surfbird, while the boat basin held the traditional Marbled Godwit flock.

Trip participants included a birding tour group from Minnesota lead by Kim Eckert along with a few first-timers, regulars, and locals. It was an enjoyable group with good energy. Leaders for the trip included Bruce LaBar, Ryan Shaw, and Bill Shelmerdine. Phil and Chris Anderson did another fine job running the boat and managing all of the logistics.
Bill Shelmerdine
Olympia WA

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