[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds Trip Report July 10, 2021
cmborre1 at gmail.com
Wed Jul 14 16:43:07 PDT 2021
Westport Seabirds enjoyed another “Steller” outing on Saturday, July 10th.
We had a few veterans, but mainly first time seabirders joining us. We
left the dock at 5:30am under fair skies, but wind and waves made for an
arduous start as did the dearth of birds in the first few hours. As we
advanced toward a distant shrimper, conditions and spirits improved when we
were able to see swirls of birds circling the boat along with a good sized
flock in the water.
The shrimper concentrated birds for great looks at Black-footed Albatross
(40/164 - at boat vs day total), Sooty Shearwater (1100/2813), Pink-footed
Shearwater (200/265), Northern Fulmar (205/240), and Fork-tailed
Storm-Petrel (70/156). These five species are the expected tubenoses this
time of year in addition to our target deep water species, Leach’s
As we work through the birds and help our passengers learn field marks, we
are always searching for a rarity. Fellow spotters Scott Mills and Jim
Danzebaker both describe scanning a field of Black-footed Albatross in the
water when they had a large, bubble gum pink bill enter their field of
view. That bill was attached to an equally large, juvenile Short-tailed
(aka Steller’s) Albatross! This obliging young bird remained in the water
for all to see and photograph as we explained how rare this sighting was to
the fledgling seabirders. This bird was once considered extinct due to
overhunting for feathers in the late 19th century. Thanks to a few
wandering juveniles and successful conservation efforts, it is now
classified as a vulnerable species. Many veteran seabirders in the ABA
area are still looking to get this bird on their life list. How lucky for
so many first timers to tick this bird off on their maiden voyage, surely
worth the rolling trip out!
Next we moved on into deeper water to chum for our target Leach’s
Storm-Petrel. Like Fork-tailed, Leach’s Storm-Petrel breeds on islands off
our coast as well as other spots in the North Pacific Ocean. Being far
more cosmopolitan than Fork-tailed, Leach’s Storm-Petrel also breeds off
islands in the Atlantic Ocean. We tend to find them in the mid-summer when
the warm California Current drifts eastward bringing them a little closer
to us than their typical deep water foraging grounds. Our chumming efforts
brought in mainly Fork-taileds (15/156 - chum vs total for day), but we
managed good looks at one cooperative Leach’s (2/4) feeding alongside
them. We also had excellent views of a subadult Long-tailed Jaeger at the
chum site. Subadult jaegers are an identification challenge and it’s not
unheard of to continue debating species identity even after the trip has
ended through examination of photographs. Thankfully this bird circled the
Monte Carlo several times allowing a good field mark discussion with
photographic evidence for further confirmation.
Before beginning the long, smoother journey back into Westport, we decided
to take a look at a different shrimper along the way. Though this boat had
about half the birds as the first, there were a larger number of albatross
and we believe a second Short-tailed Albatross! This conclusion was
reached by examining photos after the trip and noting differences in bill
tip color pattern as well as feathering. About this time we added several
sightings of South Polar Skua (3 total) both in flight and resting on the
Alcids, typically spotted in route and not at boats or chum, included
Common Murre (800 total), Pigeon Guillemot (2 inshore), Cassin’s Auklet
(166 total), Rhinoceros Auklet (72 total) and a couple views of a Tufted
Puffin (1) both in flight and on the water.
Our mammal highlights included a pair of Humpback Whales surfacing close to
the boat, and a quick glimpse or two of Dall’s Porpoise. One of the
largest Ocean Sunfish I can recall was our fish highlight.
As always Captain Phil and First Mate Chris Anderson made this trip a
success as well as fellow spotters Scott Mills and Jim Danzenbaker. Thank
you hardy seabirders for your spirit of exploration and enthusiasm while
learning new birds. Please join us again and let's add to your lists!
Few spots remain for this season, but always check the schedule at
westportseabirds.com if you are interested in joining us. I hope to work
on a video of this trip to share and will post the link to Tweeters once
Hope to sea you out there!
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