[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds, March 17 Trip Report - Manx Shearwater, Laysan Albatross

Gene Revelas grevelas at integral-corp.com
Mon Mar 19 08:36:12 PDT 2018

Hi Tweets -
Thanks to some good late winter weather this past Saturday, March 17th, Westport Seabirds had a great day of birding offshore. About 15 enthusiastic birders, mostly Northwesterners, but some from as far away as New York, left the dock in Westport at 6:30 am and headed due west toward the deep waters of Grays Canyon. Seas were a bit bumpy heading west but the NW wind was light and we knew we would enjoy a smooth ride home with a following sea. It was too dark to bird until we cleared the harbor, but with the first light we picked up some waterfowl (Brant, White-winged and Surf Scoters) and loons (Pacific and Red-throated), the first of what was to be about 200 Black-legged Kittiwakes for the day, and our first tubenose, a light phase Northern Fulmar surprisingly close to shore. As expected in March, bird numbers were low on the inner shelf but we picked up about 100 Common Murres, as well as small numbers of both Cassin's and Rhinocerous Auklets, the latter sporting their breeding plumes and "horns". Small numbers of Westerns, Glaucous-winged/Western hybrids, and Mew Gulls were also counted.
In deeper water, Sooty Shearwaters were seen and around 9:45 am, the first Black-footed Albatross was called out. Not long after that, a second Albatross was seen in the wake behind the boat. As it banked, we could see its white belly and Captain Phil Anderson did a great job turning towards this Laysan Albatross and staying with it long enough for all to get to look. Laysan Albatross, usually 1-3 individuals, have been regular on Westport trips since last summer and we hope this continues. Captain Phil then headed for a long-liner fishing the deep water beyond the shelf break. Near that boat, we found more Black-footed Albatross, Northern Fulmars, Kittwakes, and many Herring Gulls. We set out a chum here, which brought these species close in for great photo opportunities. Our only definitive Short-tailed Shearwater of the day also came into our chum and was seen by many.
We then worked north along the edge of the canyon for a few miles before turning east for home. More of the deep water species observed and we stopped for a very cooperative Humpback that surfaced repeatedly close to the boat. A second Laysan Albatross flew by as we got back onto the outer shelf. With smooth seas heading east, we slowed to investigate any intriguing alcids on the water and turned up our only Ancient Murrelet of the trip during one of those stops. Back on the inner shelf, a large feeding flock of gulls, kittiwakes, and Sooty Shearwaters caught our attention and we veered towards it picking up the only jaeger of the day, a Pomarine. Persistent scanning of this flock by the birders on the bow was rewarded by the sighting of a Manx Shearwater, perhaps the best bird of the day, moving within this swirl of birds. Many of the folks on board were fortunate to get on this bird, before it moved on. To end the day, a single Gray Whale was seen near the mouth of Grays Harbor as were many Steller's Sea Lions lounging on the channel markers.
As always, Captain Phil Anderson and is wife Chris made sure everyone had a good trip. The final numbers and complete species list will be posted on Westport Seabirds.com and on ebird. Spotters for the trip were Bill Shelmerdine, Gene Revelas, Bruce Labar, and Cara Borre. Please check http://westportseabirds.com/ for the 2018 trip schedule and other information. Upcoming spring trips include April 21st, May, 19th, and June 23. Hope to see you out there sometime soon!
Gene Revelas
Olympia, WA

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