[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds August 26 pelagic report

Jim Danzenbaker jdanzenbaker at gmail.com
Mon Aug 30 19:35:07 PDT 2021

Hi Tweeters,

A full contingent of birders from as far away as Florida and Pennsylvania
as well as a group from the Vancouver, Washington Audubon Society boarded
the *Monte Carlo* for a Westport Seabirds pelagic trip Thursday morning.
We hoped for cooperative weather so we could get great views of the myriad
wildlife that inhabits the offshore waters but sometimes nature throws a
curveball. It turned out that the sea conditions were great, the air
conditions weren't so great at the beginning with a fairly heavy fog which
lasted until it was washed away with a persistent light to moderate rain.
However, pelagic birders are tough and we endured the conditions until the
rain stopped and the wildlife took center stage. Numbers seen follow each
species in ().

Heermann's Gulls, Brown Pelicans, Pigeon Guillemots (23 - presumed migrants
to the Salish Sea), Common Murres (103 with at least 5 chicks), and
Rhinoceros Auklets (39) led us to the continental shelf beyond the jetties
where we were greeted by Sooty Shearwaters (4724) which emerged from the
fog for brief but identifying looks. A few Red-necked Phalaropes (3) fed
nearby. We located some Cassin's Auklets (7), always great to see their
attempts to get airborne after feasting on plankton, krill, and other small
crustaceans. Pink-footed Shearwaters (1209) and Northern Fulmars (39)
slowly emerged. It's good to have new species introduced in an orderly
fashion so all aboard could differentiate each species by plumage, profile,
and flight before the next new species appeared.

A light in the distance penetrated the lifting fog which indicated that we
had arrived at the first shrimper. We were not the first to arrive at this
location. We quickly became aware that there were at least 500+ tubenoses
in the area which included 300 Pink-footed Shearwaters, 200 (!!!!)
Short-tailed Shearwaters (323) and 6 (six) Sooty Shearwaters. Northern
Fulmars, Black-footed Albatrosses (20), and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels (30)
also joined in. This season has brought us the unexpected. We are usually
searching through hundreds of Sootys for a Short-tailed Shearwater. Today,
we searched through 200+ Short-tailed Shearwaters for a Sooty Shearwater
for comparison which, quite frankly, was almost ridiculous ... in a good
way. Cameras clicked and sighs of relief prevailed as the rain slowly
diminished. We then ventured to Grays Harbor Canyon for some deep sea
birding. Our chum slick slowly enticed additional birds to the *Monte
Carlo*. An Arctic Tern (1), epic pole to pole migrant, flew over as well
as several spiffy Sabine's Gulls (5). A Semipalmated Plover (1) showed up
but I don't think it was having a very good day.

Upon our return to the shrimp boats, we chummed a bit more and were mobbed
by hundreds of squeaking Pink-footed Shearwaters, gurgling Northern
Fulmars, and braying Black-footed Albatrosses in addition to more sedate
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels and Sooty and Short-tailed Shearwaters. A
highlight was a cooperative pristine Flesh-footed Shearwater (1) and
several Buller's Shearwaters (4), both from New Zealand which, although
uncommon, are fairly regularly encountered on Weastport Seabirds trips at
this time of year. The first of four South Polar Skuas (4) winged its way
through as well as the second Pomarine Jaeger (2) of the day. A Tufted
Puffin (1) bulleted by, seen by all, but only briefly. On our way back to
shore, we recorded two distant Parasitic Jaegers (2). We were going for
the skua slam (SP Skua + three jaeger species) but the Long-tailed was a
no-show today.

One area held 10 feeding Humpback Whales which was a crowd pleaser. I love
calling out "fluke, fluke, fluke" before the massive whale tails emerged
which indicated a whale dive. Dall's Porpoises were also spotted (10),
their distinctive rooster tail splash a clear identifying mark for this
marine speedster. 10 Mola Molas (Ocean Sunfish) and 6 Blue Sharks were
seen quite well.

We looked for rocky shorebirds along the south jetty and were rewarded
with, Wandering Tattlers (5). The Marbled Godwit flock (1000+) in the
inner harbor held a single molting adult Bar-tailed Godwit, a species that
is a Fall staple in this massive contingent of godwits. Whimbrel (2),
Willet (1) and Black Turnstones (4) rounded out the shorebird show. Harbor
Seals watched the end of another successful Westport Seabirds trip.

Captain Phil and first mate Chris Anderson as well as the three guides
today, Bill Tweit, Gene Revelas, and me, thank all the participants today
for your patience during the fog and rain and the camera clicks and smiling
faces at the feeding frenzy. As mentioned before, the actual sea
conditions were great and your enthusiasm during the trip was appreciated!
Even though a bit damp, everyone left happy with visions of close feeding
shearwaters, loafing mola molas, and impressive Humpback Whales.

There are two spots open on the September 8 trip so please check the
Westport Seabirds website for details (
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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