[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds Trip Report May 19, 2019
cmborre1 at gmail.com
Tue May 21 09:51:10 PDT 2019
With an eclectic group of flexible birders, Westport Seabirds headed out at
6am last Sunday for a pelagic trip delayed from Saturday due to sea
conditions. We were thrilled to be able to make the trip as we had several
people traveling from distant states and countries hoping to see some North
Pacific wildlife, this trip didn’t disappoint!
We left the harbor in light rain which ended as predicted after 1-2 hours.
The bar was a bit bumpy and several of us enjoyed some good swells as we
made our way due west toward shrimpers and a fishing fleet just beyond the
continental shelf. With improving weather and sea conditions, we
encountered our first Sooty Shearwaters not long after our departure.
Captain Phil Anderson had told us his goal was to head straight for the
fishing boats so we pointed out the occasional Pink-footed Shearwater among
the larger numbers of Sootys and promised better views once we made it to
the boats. We were making great progress when a few whale blows were seen
in front of us. Phil slowed the boat for us to enjoy several humpback
whales surfacing and blowing near us.
We saw smaller splashes and I saw a flash of white off our starboard side.
Soon the boat was surrounded by dozens of Pacific-white sided dolphins.
Dozens ultimately became hundreds of these playful dolphin as they
porpoised and dove in the swells to catch our boat and swim alongside for
all to get spectacular views of them just below the surface. This was one
of those moments at sea where your eyes and brain are just overwhelmed with
so much to take in. This was certainly the best viewing experience I have
had with Pacific-white sided dolphins and I think fellow spotters Scott
Mills and Bill Shelmerdine agreed. I’m only sorry I didn’t give up a brief
look to go retrieve my camera, but I couldn’t tear myself away. After
watching for a good while I’m sure Captain Phil and First Mate Chris
Anderson wrestled with the same dilemma making the decision to pull away
from this cetacean spectacle, but we had boats to get to and birds to see,
so off we sped.
We spotted our first Black-footed Albatross not long after the whale and
dolphin encounter, but our marine mammal show was not yet over as we were
treated to awesome looks at Dall’s porpoise. Nine or so of them joined us
briefly as the dolphins had, paralleling the boat for great views just
underwater. It’s a rare treat to be able to study the morphology of Dall’s
porpoise who we often identify by simply its signature “rooster tail”
splash. Rounding out our epic marine mammal outing were 7 Northern Fur
Seals, an Northern Elephant Seal, a few Harbor Porpoise and Seals and
expected numbers of Steller’s and California Sea-Lions, but back to the
We made it to the boats, probably 8-10 spread out over several miles of
ocean with a giant processing ship among them. This operation is a marvel
in itself, but the processing ship provided the most effective fish smell
and bird attractant we could have hoped for. The birders aboard were given
the promised excellent views of 300 Black-footed Albatross (379 for the
day), 100 Pink-footed Shearwaters (498 for the day), and 200 Sooty
Shearwater (6158 for the day).
We had nice looks at Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels both at the boats and while
underway, 41 total for the day. We enjoyed several jaeger sightings with 3
Pomarine and 6 Parasitic for the day. We witnessed a great display of the
Parasitic Jaeger’s aerial skills as it attempted to rob a flock of Common
Tern of their catch closer to shore.
Alcids did not disappoint with good looks at Cassin’s Auklet (85 for the
day), Rhinoceros Auklet (170 for the day), Common Murre (132 for the day),
and even 2 Ancient Murrelet to the delight of all. There were excellent
numbers of Sabine’s Gull for the day at 138 which terrific looks both in
flight and on the water. We had small numbers of Red-necked Phalarope (34)
and no confirmed Red Phalarope. There have been notable small numbers to
an absence of Northern Fulmars so far this year on our trips. We will be
interested in seeing how the year progresses in regard to this species.
Complete trip numbers can be found at westportseabirds.com as well as our
schedule for upcoming trips.
Hope to sea you out there!
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