[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds August 12 Trip Report - Laysan Albatross, Buller's Shearwaters

Gene Revelas grevelas at integral-corp.com
Tue Aug 14 19:06:51 PDT 2018

Hi Tweets,

We had another great day offshore with Westport Seabirds on Sunday, August 13. We left the dock around 5:30 am and headed due west along our usual route to Grays Canyon. Good numbers of Sooty Shearwaters and Common Murres, including some recently fledged chick/dad pairs greeted us just outside the harbor. Further offshore an adult Pomarine Jaeger flew by, and shortly thereafter a floating log hosting several standing California gulls also had a subadult Pomarine. That bird uncharacteristically stayed there cooperatively as we approach closely for the first of what turned out to be many good photo ops for the day.

We continued on our track west picking up, in turn, our first Pink-footed Shearwaters, Northern Fulmars and both Red-necked and Red Phalaropes. Our next stop was at some shrimpers working the western edge of the continental shelf. As we approached, our first Black-footed Albatross was seen. We put out some chum nears the boats and soon had close studies of Sooty, Pink-footed, and Short-tailed Shearwaters. As we have noted previously on these trip reports, the Short-tailed Shearwaters are quite unusual for us in the summer, but this has been the pattern this year. Unfortunately, it may mean these birds are under stress in their normal summering ground, the Bering Sea. In the midst of the approximately 2500 birds on the water and swirling around us and the fishing boats, a beautiful Laysan Albatross was called out, sitting on the water about 75 yards from the boat! It always amazes us that a large, distinctive bird, such as a Laysan, can show up nearly on top of us despite the fact 15-20 birders are scanning in all directions for something new.

We eventually left the boats and headed over the canyon edge into deep water. We set out our chum at our usual spot, about 125° west. Almost immediately, two beautiful Buller's Shearwaters passed along the port side of the boat. This species, which nest off of New Zealand, are just beginning to show up on their "wintering" grounds in the Northeast Pacific. We would see one more later in the day, but Buller's Shearwater numbers should increase off Westport now through early October. The chum worked well over the next 45 minutes or so and produced great, close looks at Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, Sabine's Gulls, the aforementioned shearwaters, Black-footed Albatross, and fly by Arctic Terns and Parasitic Jaegers.

As we headed back east to Westport, we got close looks as two Humpback Whales surfacing together. These, a few Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Steller Sea Lions, and a couple of Northern Fur Seals were the marine mammals observe offshore. Determined to get better looks at several bird species seen only in flight on the way out and with a smooth, following sea, we searched for birds on the water and were successful at finding and slowing for photo ops and great looks at both Red and Red-necked Phalaropes, Cassin's Auklets, and a juvenile Tufted Puffin. Our last, but certainly not least, "offshore" bird for the day was a South Polar Skua that zoomed across our bow low over the water providing a viewing and photo opportunity for those at the ready.

Back in the harbor, we added a number of shorebird species on the jetty as well as in the marina as the fall shorebird migration is in full swing. Species observed included several Wandering Tattlers, many Black and one Ruddy Turnstone, a couple of Surfbirds, and the large (500+) annual flock of Marbled Godwits that roost in the marina at high tide.

A number of the birders onboard were first-time pelagic birders and we could tell by the smiles at the dock that many lifers were tallied. We ended up with about 11,000 total birds for the day, with about 50% of those being Sooty Shearwaters, and another 25% being Pink-Footed Shearwaters. The final numbers and complete species list will be posted soon on Westport Seabirds.com and on ebird. The ebird checklists also include photos of many of the birds mentioned here. Spotters for the trip were Bill Tweit, Scott Mills, and Gene Revelas. If you are interested in joining us, please check the Westport Seabirds website for information on upcoming trips and availability. http://westportseabirds.com/. Now through our final trips in October is the high season for bird diversity off of our coast.
Hope to see you out there sometime.
Gene Revelas
Olympia, WA

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