[Tweeters] Westport Pelagic Trip Report, July 25th - Leach's Storm-Petrel and Long-tailed Jaeger

Gene Revelas grevelas at integral-corp.com
Thu Jul 26 18:40:47 PDT 2018

Hi Tweets -
Thirteen birders from as far away as Pennsylvania joined us for a rare weekday Westport Seabirds pelagic trip on Wednesday, July 25th. We left to dock at 5:30 am to insure that we got into deep water early enough to pick up Leach's Storm-Petrel, a mid-summer specialty off Westport. In the harbor, we picked up many Pigeon Guillemots, Heermann's Gulls, and Brown Pelicans. Visibility on the inner shelf was limited by the marine layer/fog, which played hide-and-seek with us out to the outer shelf. Nonetheless, we picked up many Sooty Shearwaters and Common Murres, as well as good numbers of Rhinoceros Auklets and some Northern Fulmars. Our first Cassin's Auklet of the day very cooperatively sat on the water close by for prolonged viewing. Several shrimpers were found on the outer shelf and they provided good looks at the above species as well as Pink-footed Shearwaters and Black-footed Albatross.
We moved pass the shrimpers and into deep water and put out our chum - a "recipe" consisting of cod liver and vegetable oils, beef suet, and bait fish. This smelly mixture quickly produced a steady stream of Leach's and then Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels in the slick immediately behind the boat. Black-footed Albatross and Fulmars also joined us. This afforded great photo opportunities, especially of the two Storm-Petrel species which can be difficult to capture on the fly. As the birds continued to come in and feed in the slick, we hung there for a good 45 minutes with the engine turned off, our patience was rewarded by a group of 6 Risso's Dolphins (blunt-headed, slow-moving, deep-water dolphins that can get up to 13 ft in length). These unusual marine mammals came right into the boat, before splitting into two groups of three which passed just off our bow and stern. After the dolphin show, an adult Long-tailed Jaeger with its long central tail feathers still intact flew by parallel to the boat, allowing great views and a good photo op. This beautiful bird was the visual highlight of the day for many.
After the chum, we pushed north about four miles along the shelf edge to intersect a few more shrimpers. These boast also had good numbers of birds, but no new species were added. Soon after turning southeast to return to Westport, a Humpback Whale spouted close by and then showed its back and flukes, which we assumed indicated a deep dive of several minutes. Captain Phil choose to wait in the area and a second, large Humpback surfaced close in and gave great repeated looks as it moved slowly away before also showing its flukes and diving. Later on the return trip, we got a look at a light, adult Pomarine Jaeger showing its distinctive twisted central tail feathers or "spoons". Closer to Grays Harbor, we caught up with a cooperative Red-necked Phalarope sitting on the water. Back in the harbor, we noted two Ruddy Turnstones, two Wandering Tattlers, and a Surfbird on the jetty, so despite the heat wave onshore, fall migration is definitely here. As usual, Captain Phil Anderson and first mate Chris Anderson made sure everyone had a fun and safe trip. The final numbers and complete species list will be posted soon on Westport Seabirds.com and on ebird. Spotters for this trip were Scott Mills and Gene Revelas.
As we are entering the high season for species diversity off of our coast, we have 15 trips scheduled from August 4th through the last trip of the season on October 13th. Many of these trips have some space available, and our next trip, Saturday, August 4th, still has plenty of space if you want to cool off (it was 60 degrees offshore on Wednesday) and see some great birds. This trip is still good timing to see Leach's Storm-Petrel, as well as other early "fall" migrants, such as Long-tailed Jaeger and Arctic Tern. The full trip schedule, noting which trips have space, can be found here: http://westportseabirds.com/schedule-2018/.
And check http://westportseabirds.com/ for general information about Westport Seabirds, what to expect, and how to join us.
Hope to see you out there soon!
Gene Revelas
Olympia, WA

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