[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds August 14 pelagic report

Jim Danzenbaker jdanzenbaker at gmail.com
Wed Aug 18 08:40:02 PDT 2021

Hi Tweeters,

Westport Seabirds greeted pelagic enthusiasts from Arizona, Illinois and
points closer to home in addition to a *Ventures *group from North and
South Carolina at 6am Saturday morning for a memorable trip to the avian
rich waters of the Continental Shelf and Gray's Harbor Canyon aboard the *Monte
Carlo*. With the fickle finger of fog forecast looming offshore, we were
hopeful that luck would be on our side and we'd have good visibility. We
lucked out and had a beautiful high overcast day with light wind and no fog!

Well, that's nice, what about the birds and other wildlife? Numbers seen
follow each species in ().

Heermann's Gulls, Brown Pelicans, Pigeon Guillemots (6), Common Murres
(1027 with at least ten chicks), and Rhinoceros Auklets (395) among other
species escorted us through the harbor and out between the jetties toward
the anticipated pelagic species that are regularly encountered on Westport
Seabirds trips. After crossing the bar, we soon located the first of many
Sooty Shearwaters (2408) as well as several flocks of feeding Red-necked
Phalaropes (55 - from the Arctic tundra). Later, diminutive Cassin's
Auklets (30 - breeders from Alaska through California)) allowed decent
views. Its always good to see this species (especially full auklets
bouncing over the water) since it gives a good sense of the amount of krill
and other small crustaceans that are readily available for a quick meal.
Tubenose variety started to pick up and Pink-footed Shearwaters (924 - from
Chile) and Northern Fulmars (40 - from Alaska) joined the Sooty Shearwaters
(from New Zealand) for a comparison of flight behavior, profiles, and

As we neared the shrimp boats that regularly fish the waters several miles
from the edge of the continental shelf, we could see throngs of birds vying
for optimal position in anticipation of nets being raised and an abundance
of food brought to the marine table. Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels (43 - from
the coasts of Alaska through Washington) and Black-footed Albatrosses (51 -
from Hawaii) were joined by Sabine's Gulls (26 - from Alaska) and the first
of a surprising number of cooperative Short-tailed Shearwaters (25 - from
New Zealand). It was great to be able to compare Short-tailed and Sooty
Shearwaters - a difficult identification for many. Everyone on board
marveled at this variety of seabirds that actively fed not far from the *Monte
Carlo *on a virtually flat sea. A few Pomarine Jaegers (4 - from the
Arctic tundra) cruised through but didn't stay long.

We then ventured to Grays Harbor Canyon for some deep sea birding and our
efforts were rewarded with Leach's Storm-Petrels (16 - breeders from the
coast of Alaska through Oregon) accompanying the Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels
for a perfect companions on flight behavior, shape, and plumage. Leach's
Storm-Petrels will continue to push further away from land as the season
progresses so we were glad to see this many still within a day's pelagic
range. A few mega migrating Arctic Terns (8) were encountered too. It's
hard to believe that such a small and delicate looking species can migrate
from the high Arctic to the edge of the Antarctic pack ice and return in
the span of a year!

We wanted to leave some time for checking the birds around the shrimp boats
again so we headed back towards the fleet. The same variety of seabirds
were still there with the addition of several more full tailed (maximum
spoonage) Pomarine Jaegers and a single flyby South Polar Skua (breeder
from the Antarctic). A single Common Tern perched on a log was a last
addition to the offshore bird list. A few additional species fell into the
agonizing category of single observer sightings which is always unfortunate
but it happens!

We recorded Humpback Whales (10) and a pod of Pacific White-sided Dolphins
(20) as well as Harbor Porpoises (2) on the way too. 8 Mola Molas (Ocean
Sunfish) and 6 Blue Sharks were also observed. California and Steller's
Sea Lions rounded out the mammal (and other) show. It's always great to
see such a variety of non-avian species!

No Westport Seabirds trip is over until we've checked out the shorebirds
along the south jetty and we were rewarded with Surfbirds (16), Wandering
Tattlers (6), and a Ruddy Turnstone. The Marbled Godwit flock (1000+) in
the inner harbor held two (!) Bar-tailed Godwits (including an alternate
plumaged bird) which have both been hanging with the flock for at least a
week. Whimbrel (8), and a Black Turnstone brought the trip to a close
which was under the watchful eyes of half submerged Harbor Seals.

I thank all the participants for your boundless enthusiasm which keeps the
boat crew and guides energetic and clambering for more. Today's trip was
captained by Chris Sawin (yes, you read that correctly, no Phil today) and
assisted by Chris Anderson. Guides were Scott Mills, Bruce LaBar and Jim

Even though this year's schedule is full (except a few spaces on the
October 16 trip), it's always worth visiting the Westport Seabirds website
for updates (https://westportseabirds.com/2021-schedule-new/). I hope to
see you on a future Westport Seabirds trip!

Jim Danzenbaker for Westport Seabirds.
Jim Danzenbaker
Battle Ground, WA
jdanzenbaker at gmail.com
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