[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds trip report May 22,
and video link to May 8, 2021 trip
cmborre1 at gmail.com
Thu May 27 08:16:10 PDT 2021
Our trip on Saturday May 22 was interesting and we “logged” some unusual
sightings despite having low overall bird numbers. We had high hopes,
leaving at 6am under fair skies and favorable seas. Captain Phil announced
we were headed for the Whiting fleet fishing in Grays Canyon. That’s
exactly what the pelagic birder wants to hear as those fishing boats
usually attract vast numbers of birds, though that’s never guaranteed. The
numbers in parentheses that follow are for the day.
We had the expected Gray Whales (13) on the way out (and back), with
continuing good numbers of Common Tern (260) and beautiful Pacific Loons in
full breeding plumage (46). We passed the Sooty Shearwater (669) and
Common Murre (286) zone with enough birds to show those onboard these two
reference species to compare others in their genus to as we encountered
Eventually we approached the fishing boats only to find relatively little
bird activity. We got good looks at Black-footed Albatross (65), Northern
Fulmar (10) and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel (25). Pink-footed Shearwater (11)
continues to be scarce at this time with many birds in heavy molt.
Red-necked Phalaropes (117) came and went in small flocks throughout the
day. We had brief, but close looks at Red Phalarope (12) in flight. I
continue to struggle with these birds in flight, but know to look for a
dark belly on Red and a white belly on Red-necked. This distinction should
work well while they are in breeding plumage.
Curiously during the trip we “logged” three species of alcid standing out
of the water. First we spotted 4-5 Rhinocerous Auklet (207) standing and
displaying on a log. Later we were fortunate to see 2 Tufted Puffins in
the water. They cooperated nicely, staying put for viewing and photos. Not
long after that sighting, we found another Puffin on what appeared to be a
log, but was a collection of kelp. This bird, surrounded by Rhinos, was
also quite cooperative for extended observation. On the way in, we saw
several Common Murre standing on a log resting with a few Common Tern.
Cassin’s Auklet (37) was seen, mainly flying away from the boat as is
typical, but I hope one day to add it to my “alcid on log” list.
Sabine’s Gull (67) showed in good numbers with nice looks in flight.
Surprisingly we had a South Polar Skua which is only the eighth time we’ve
seen this species in May. Parasitic and Long-tailed Jaeger were seen and
identified by only a few of us as they were distant and passing by.
Another unusual find for May was a fabulous look at a mammoth Ocean
Sunfish. Usually these fish show up in June when the water is a bit
warmer. We capped the journey with the crowd pleasing Humpback Whale (7).
Many onboard were new to pelagic birding and several were visiting from out
of state. Though bird numbers were low, they saw most, if not all the
expected species, and I hope they will share their pictures of the “log
rolling alcids” as these are fun sightings.
The Westport Seabirds team of Captain Phil and Firstmate Chris Anderson,
were joined by spotters Bill Shelmerdine, Scott Mills and myself. Please
check westportseabirds.com for our trip schedule.
Here’s a video link from the May 8th trip which also included “Rhinos on a
Hope to sea you out there!
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