[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds Trip Report July 29, 2021 – Short-tailed Albatross, Bar-tailed Godwit, and Fog

Gene Revelas grevelas at integral-corp.com
Sun Aug 1 11:21:04 PDT 2021

Hi Tweets,

Captain Phil Anderson stood on the back deck of the Monte Carlo staring into the fog which had enshrouded us since leaving the Westport marina at 5:30 am, generally limiting visibility to no more than one quarter of a mile. It was about 11 am and we were about 35 nautical miles offshore. We had just left the chum spot at 125° W where we had gotten great looks at a number of Black-footed albatross and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, two Leach’s Storm-Petrels, a few Northern Fulmar, and a flyby Red Phalarope. As we had motored east from the chum spot, spotters Bill Shelmerdine and Scott Mills noted a larger, longer-necked, dark albatross sitting on the water just at the edge of the fog bank. It rose off the water and they briefly glimpsed its oversized, bubblegum pink bill, screaming out “Short-tailed Albatross” as it disappeared into the mist.

Only a handful of the 18 seabirders on board had glimpsed the backside of this bird as it faded away like the Black Sox players slipping into the cornfield in Field of Dreams. Phil immediately turned the boat into the direction of the bird’s disappearance, idled the engine, and now stood at the transom next to the chum buckets as everyone scanned in all directions hoping for a return appearance. A number of Black-foots moved in and out the fog line repeatedly raising and dashing our hopes. After a long ten minute wait with no bird, Phil and I (spotter Gene Revelas) discussed options: continue to motor in the direction of the bird’s disappearance; chum right here; or motor east towards home and the shrimp boats that we had passed earlier on the shelf edge. Phil grabbed the spoon from the beef suet bucket and tossed some into the sea, he then grabbed a herring from the other bucket and did the same. In less than a minute, Phil called out a larger albatross emerging from the mist. The large pink bill became obvious to all as the bird flew towards our wake, slowly circled the boat, and then landed on the water 30 yards away. By then, everybody was on deck and getting great looks and photographs of this juvenile Short-tailed Albatross (STAL) sitting cooperatively next to boat for the next 30 minutes in the company of a handful of Black-foots and Fulmar. Victory at sea!

Three weeks ago, the July 10th Westport Seabirds trip had two STAL which were determined to be different individuals based on examination of the photographs. Incredibly, this July 29th bird also appears to be a different individual based on the photos. This means we have (at least) three STAL off the Washington coast this summer! As noted previously in these reports, the world population of STAL is less than 5000 birds. This globally vulnerable species, which nest on islands of Japan and ranges throughout the North Pacific, was thought to be extinct in the late 1940s. Three individuals off Washington is remarkable and hopefully a sign of improving numbers.

Our cooperative STAL was the highlight of the day which was characterized by low visibility. While we often have patches of fog on summer Westport trips, especially early in the day and inshore, it is very unusual to be fogged-in all day as we were on Thursday. While these frustrating conditions reduced the total number of birds we recorded, with a few exceptions, our species list was typical for a July trip. In addition to the species noted above, we recorded Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwaters, Common Murres, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Tufted Puffins, Red-necked and Red Phalaropes, Glaucous-winged/Western Gull hybrids, California and Heerman’s Gulls, Brown Pelicans, all three cormorants, a jaeger sp. and tern sp. that were likely Long-tailed and Arctic, but too far away in the mist to call. We missed Sabine’s Gulls, Skua, and jaegers and marine mammals due very likely to the viewing conditions. But nice surprises (in addition to the STAL) were three flyby Surfbirds well offshore and a Bar-tailed Godwit resting in the flock of about 500 Marbled Godwits which are now roosting at high tide on the floating docks at the south end of the Westport Marina. This bird was seen in the bright sunshine that greeted us once we got back into the harbor around 3 pm.

All in all, another very interesting day on the water. As always, the Monte Carlo was expertly crewed in challenging conditions by Phil and Chris Anderson. The spotters for this trip were Scott Mills, Bill Shelmerdine, and Gene Revelas. The Short-tailed Albatross was a lifer for everyone on board (except the crew/spotters) and the Bar-tailed Godwit was a new bird for many. Please explore eBird for the complete trip lists with photographs added, and visit the Westport Seabirds website for information about upcoming trips.

Happy and Safe birding!

Gene Revelas
Olympia, WA

Gene Revelas | Senior Consultant
Tel: 360.939.9618 | Cell: 360.870.4950
1205 West Bay Drive NW | Olympia | WA 98502
grevelas at integral-corp.com | www.integral-corp.com

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mailman11.u.washington.edu/pipermail/tweeters/attachments/20210801/814a8e24/attachment.html>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: Integral-Logo_9733dd41-3a5c-4af6-b821-47718bfb1269.jpg
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 10595 bytes
Desc: Integral-Logo_9733dd41-3a5c-4af6-b821-47718bfb1269.jpg
URL: <http://mailman11.u.washington.edu/pipermail/tweeters/attachments/20210801/814a8e24/attachment.jpg>

More information about the Tweeters mailing list