[Tweeters] Edmonds Tubenose Postscript

Josh Adams xjoshx at gmail.com
Mon Dec 14 14:12:33 PST 2015

Hello Tweets,
I just wanted to add some additional context to my quick cell phone
messages this AM.

Despite the stormy conditions over the weekend I hadn't put much
consideration into storm-pushed pelagic birds when I headed to Edmonds
this AM and was just hoping for some dry weather and calm seas. I was
happily surprised to spot a Storm-Petrel fluttering around maybe a
mile west of the pier, towards Kitsap. Unfortunately the light was bad
so it just appeared dark in general, but I very quickly felt that I
could rule out Leach's Storm-Petrel, which I've had at similar
distances from the pier before, by the short wings and light fluttery
wingbeats (As opposed to Leach's nighthawk-like wingbeats). We last
the bird for a while, but had it later for a few minutes a little
closer. The only field mark I noticed this time was a slightly lighter
rump, which really perplexed me until I later pulled out my phone and
noticed the the rump of Fork-Tailed Storm-Petrel's is a slightly
lighter gray than most of the body. The only other storm-petrel
species on the WA list that is remotely similar in shape would be
Wilson's, but further research shows only two December eBird records
in the northern hemisphere for that species. Additionally, after
refreshing my memory with some videos that species fly-with-your-feet
behavior was not like our bird. Fork-Tailed it is.

Forty-five minutes later Ted Peterson has shown up and we were all
enjoying much better light and some of the farthest looks I've had
since November. We were talking about how the mirage waves can really
alter the size impression some of the distant birds we see give. I
responded with a comment about how many times I'd had distant gulls
look like something much more interesting when, mid sentence, a gull
flew into my scope that proved that point more than any bird I'd seen
before. Because of my state of mind at the time I had to spend a few
long seconds making sure I wasn't being completely fooled by mirage
and was actually seeing an Albatross. Fortunately is meandered around
in a few circles showing the light head and tail, dark brown mantle.
and white-ish underwings before it settled down on the water and
showed the classic albatross profile. I made some phone calls and sent
the email to Tweeters. Eventually the bird picked up and flew around
when another similarly sized bird with white tail flew in and
attacked. Distance made the whole scene very confusing, but I believe
the eagle actually may have grabbed the Albatross briefly and dropped
it. Either way the Laysan had apparently had enough with flying and
say on the water and drifted south. We eventually lost site of the
bird in the distance in Kitsap waters.

This is the first Snohomish County record for Laysan Albatross, and I
believe only the second for Fork-Tailed Storm-Petrel sighting,
although the first was during the massive October 1997 invasion and
included multiple birds.

Other than the two tubenoses the highlight of the morning was at least
one Long-Tailed Duck flyby. LTDU has been my personal nemesis bird in
Edmonds. I'd had a probable another probable LTDU fly by the FT
Storm-Petrel as well. Shorebirds were a good show as well, with double
digit numbers of Sanderling, at least one Black Turnstone, and about
400 Dunlin flying around early. The Surfbird which was present last
week could not be located. A late Heermann's Gull drifted by on a
piece of wood as well.

Josh Adams
Lynnwood, WA

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