[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds Trip Report Saturday September 29th

Matt Dufort matt.dufort at gmail.com
Mon Oct 1 21:15:04 PDT 2018

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the interesting insight on Peregrine races and offshore

As far as I know, no one got photos of the bird on Saturday's pelagic. I
was standing next to Cara as it flew in low over the water, and it struck
me as a dark juvenile, possibly Peale's. It had the ragged smudgy plumage
of a young bird, but had a full dark hood and broad mustachial stripe. It
was sufficiently dark overall that it initially had several of us thinking
it was a dark-plumaged jaeger.

I've previously been struck by the similarities of jaegers and Peregrines
in flight. They both have strong, direct flapping flight with occasional
glides, a powerful build, and pointed wings. The wings of jaegers are
proportionately much longer, but this can be hard to discern on a bird in
gliding flight. I remember seeing a bird flying low over Puget Sound that
had me going back and forth before finally settling on jaeger.

Good birding,
Matt Dufort

On Mon, Oct 1, 2018 at 5:14 PM Robert O'Brien <baro at pdx.edu> wrote:

> I wonder if the Peregrine was of the Arctic race Tundrius. This is the

> race often found far offshore but quite rare on the West Coast. We had one

> aboard the Princess Cruise 60 miles offshore for most of a day in Southern

> California a few years back. This bird was a juvenile very distinctive and

> very beautiful. It spent the day occasionally flying out and coming back

> with a storm Petrel- easy pickings. Did anyone get photos? Bob O'Brien

> Portland


> On Monday, October 1, 2018, Cara Borre <cmborre1 at gmail.com> wrote:

> > Last Saturday, at O-dark 30, Westport Seabirds and hardy birders from

> near and far, headed out on what would be our penultimate trip this

> season. With winds perpendicular to our direction of travel, the

> conditions were less than ideal but better than predicted for Sunday which

> had just been cancelled. As the dark lifted to dusk, we saw our first Sooty

> Shearwaters followed shortly by the “shearwater parade” which is often

> viewable from shore. This time of year large numbers of Sooty Shearwater

> can be seen streaming by on their way to southern hemisphere breeding

> grounds off South America and New Zealand/Australia.

> >

> > We headed toward a known shrimper in the area only to find it alone,

> without birds. Such would be our day with the few boats we found either

> too distant and headed away from us, or passive in the water without bird

> activity. With our hopes still high, as pelagic birders have within their

> power the means to summons tube-noses at will, we continued on to the

> deeper waters at the continental shelf. On the way we were able to pick up

> Pink-footed and Buller’s Shearwater with good looks at both. We had very

> good numbers of Cassin’s Auklet and decent numbers of Rhinoceros Auklet,

> another pair of species that can be difficult to distinguish even under the

> best of conditions for those new to pelagic birding.

> >

> > We arrived at the chum spot off the shelf and Captain Phil kept the boat

> directed into the swells as First Mate Chris set out our cod-liver oil

> slick. If you have never experienced this demonstration of “tube-nose

> calling” where you arrive at a spot devoid of birds, drop a couple cups of

> fishy bird attractant in the water and wait… well, you’ve got to join us

> sometime to marvel at this adaptation for a pelagic life, it’s simply

> amazing! The first to arrive usually aren’t tube-noses, but immature

> California Gulls who have learned that a boat means food. Chris welcomed

> them with bait fish as they could help us attract more of our targets. Not

> much time passed before we had a few Northern Fulmars joining the gulls

> with shearwaters zipping by, but we still were without an albatross for the

> day. The “chum spot” marks our turn around point for the voyage and is a

> good time to eat lunch or use the head as it’s easier than when underway. I

> joked to fellow spotter Bruce LaBar that I was going to the bathroom so

> they could find a good bird. This had happened on my last trip when all

> aboard (except me) were treated to an Arctic Tern “flying right over the

> boat”. Sure enough, during my time in the head I heard Phil’s voice on the

> speaker announcing something good. I arrived back on deck to happy birders

> and our first (of only two for the day) Black-footed Albatross. This is the

> show stopper bird and it would have been very disappointing for a first

> pelagic, or a first western pelagic, conditions which applied to some

> onboard, to have missed seeing one. After holding out for a visit from a

> Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, we accepted what birds we were granted and turned

> “storm-petreless” for home.

> >

> > On the way back we had a few Dall’s Porpoise, one of which paralleled

> the boat a bit giving those on the port side a great, barely underwater

> view. We did have a couple jaeger sightings both on the way out and back.

> Several of us on the port side encountered a jaeger-like bird coming

> straight at us at tremendous speed. We began yelling “jaeger, jaeger”, and

> as this bulky bird got closer we realized it was a Peregrine Falcon! Very

> exciting 20 miles from shore.

> >

> > Sea and weather conditions improved as we neared Westport so Phil slowed

> the boat and we enjoyed some inshore sightings of Pacific Loons still in

> breeding plumage and other expected waterfowl. Back at the dock, Captain

> Phil Anderson, First Mate Chris Anderson, and my fellow spotters, Bruce

> LaBar and Scott Mills, thanked this enthusiastic group for joining us and

> having great spirits despite less than optimal conditions.

> >

> > The last pelagic outing this year is scheduled for Saturday, October 6th

> with good weather forecasted, space available, and probably a Laysan

> Albatross lurking out there somewhere. Here’s hoping you’re not in the

> head when it’s sighted! Booking information is available at

> westportseabirds.com

> >

> > Happy birding,

> >

> > Cara Borre

> >

> > Gig Harbor

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