[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds, April 22nd trip Report - Spring Migration

Gene Revelas grevelas at integral-corp.com
Wed Apr 25 17:24:44 PDT 2018

Hi Tweets -
Westport Seabirds had another successful pelagic trip on Sunday, April 22rd, our third trip of 2018. The trip was originally scheduled for Saturday, April 21st, but the weather forced a change to Sunday and 16 intrepid seabirders graciously accommodate this 24-hour delay. We left to dock at 6 am and in the harbor we picked up Pigeon Guillemots, and all three loon species, most in breeding plumage, as well as Pelagic and Brandt's Cormorants, and a lingering Mew Gull among the "big guys" (Western Gulls and Western X Glaucous-winged hybrids). The inner shelf was birdy with migrating waterfowl, including Brant, groups of White-winged and Surf Scoter, Green-winged Teal, and Northern Pintail. We also picked up many Common Murres and our first of what would about 1500 Sooty Shearwaters for the day, their numbers growing off our coast as the summer approaches.
On the mid-shelf, we ran into a nice patch of birds on the water, Sooties, murres, gulls, including our first Herring Gull, and our only Jaeger for the day, a Pomarine that flushed close off the water but headed directly away. The real treat at this stop was about 80 Red-necked Phalaropes, nearly all females in bright breeding (alternate) plumage, these birds allowed great looks as they paddled on the water by the boat. Remarkably for an April trip, the skies were mostly clear all day and the north wind was light. The seas were bumpy with a residual swell from earlier in the week, but this swell dissipated throughout the day. As we got out to the outer shelf, we saw our first Cassin's Auklets, Northern Fulmars, Pink-footed Shearwaters, and a Black-footed Albatross. A few Sabine's Gulls were also noted in the distance on the way out, but Bonaparte's Gulls proved to be the more common small gull offshore for the day. As we approached the shelf edge, two Tufted Puffin flew fast across our bow providing a brief look. We continued to our regular chum spot in deep water over Grays Canyon at about 125 degrees west and set out our fish/veggie oil and suet mix. A light breeze was up and the chum worked slowly but well over a 30 minute period, bringing in about 50 Black-footed Albatross, smaller numbers of Fulmar, more Sooties, and good looks at a couple of Short-tailed Shearwaters. Many of these birds provided great photo opportunities landing just behind the boat on the slick. During the chum watch, a group of approximately 300 Cackling Geese, including two White-Fronted Geese, flew over us to continue the day's migrating waterfowl theme.
Captain Phil then noted a few shrimpers to our north and we motored about three miles to intersect them. Unfortunately, they did not have many birds with them and so we turned to the east-southeast for a smooth ride home. Migrating waterfowl and Pacific loons continued to be noted on the way in, the latter in stunning breeding plumage in great light. The only new species we added on the return trip were a couple of Humpback Whales and several Steller's Sea Lions (we had seen five Gray Whales close in on the way out). Back in the harbor, we noted two Surfbirds and a single Black Turnstone on the jetty.
Once again, Captain Phil Anderson and is wife Chris made sure everyone had a fun trip. The final numbers and complete species list will be posted on Westport Seabirds.com and on ebird. Spotters for the trip were Bruce Labar, Gene Revelas, and Scott Mills. Please check http://westportseabirds.com/ for the 2018 trip schedule and other information. Upcoming trips include May 5th, May 19th, and June 23rd. Hope to see you out there soon!
Gene Revelas
Olympia, WA

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