[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds August 28 pelagic report

Ryan Merrill rjm284 at gmail.com
Tue Aug 31 20:53:03 PDT 2021

The pelagic trip out of Westport with Westport Seabirds on Saturday 28
August 2021 was quite good and interesting. Sea conditions were a little
bumpy due to the northwest wind, but there wasn't much swell so overall it
wasn't bad. Most of the day was spent under cloudy skies after some light
fog to start the day.

There weren't many birds while leaving the harbor, but before long we got
into a loose feeding concentration of thousands of Sooty Shearwaters. In
their midst we enjoyed Pomarine Jaeger after Pomarine Jaeger, with a total
of seven seen here including two adult dark morph adults. A highlight of
the day was a cooperative adult Tufted Puffin that provided nice views for
several minutes. We also saw our first Pink-footed Shearwaters and a
handful of Short-tailed Shearwaters here.

Farther out we became aware of a couple shrimp trawlers so headed in their
direction. As we approached we could tell there were a lot of birds, and we
also realized that we seemed to have left the Sooty Shearwater zone behind
as we started seeing small flocks of Short-tailed Shearwaters. Around the
boats there were thousands of birds including 3000+ tubenoses. We'd barely
began sifting through them when a LAYSAN ALBATROSS flew in toward us,
followed quickly by a second Laysan. Initially the dominant species in the
flocks were SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATERS, not normally a species one would
really expect to see off Washington at all in August let alone in numbers.
It was a really odd experience to be looking through Short-tailed
Shearwaters trying to find a Sooty Shearwater when normally we'd see
hundreds or thousands of Sooties for every Short-tailed spotted! Overall at
the boats we ended up estimating about 2200 Pink-footed Shearwaters and 600
Short-tailed Shearwaters. Mixed in with them were several FLESH-FOOTED
SHEARWATERS which cooperatively circled the boat multiple times before
disappearing back among the shearwater frenzy, and our first Buller's
Shearwater of the day.

After leaving the boats the next surprise was a couple of BLACK TURNSTONES
that circled the boat for several minutes. Once out off the shelf edge we
set up a chum slick and waited for the birds to come to us. Several
Black-footed Albatross were there quickly and there were a few shearwaters,
fulmars, and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels in the area, though overall there
wasn't a lot of activity.

The return to shore was somewhat similar. We again visited some shrimp
boats though this time there were four of them and there were even more
shearwaters present. Two Flesh-footed Shearwaters were picked out from the
masses along with a couple of unusual intermediate morph Pink-footed
Shearwaters with dusky underparts. Approaching the harbor we passed through
a concentration of 1600 Common Murres. The last tubenose of the trip was a
Short-tailed Shearwater right at the south jetty which seemed fitting for
the day. On the jetty itself we spotted a pair of vocal Wandering Tattlers,
and back in the marina picked out the lingering Willet among a thousand or
so Marbled Godwits. We weren't able to spot the continuing Bar-tailed
Godwits from the boat though some participants checked the flock from land
afterward and were able to see both an adult and juvenile.

Other non-bird highlights from the day include a couple Humpback Whales, a
Gray Whale, Northern Fur Seal, Ocean Sunfish, Blue Shark and both
California and Steller's Sea-Lions.

Captain Phil Anderson and first mate Chris Anderson were joined by Scott
Mills, Bill Tweit, and Ryan Merrill as guides. Some photos can be found on
the eBird checklists including these at the following links:


Good birding,
Ryan Merrill
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