[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds September 8 pelagic trip report
jdanzenbaker at gmail.com
Sun Sep 12 15:32:33 PDT 2021
Have you ever seen a flock of Marbled Godwits in predawn light? That was
one of the images that greeted the participants on Wednesday's Westport
Seabirds trip. Much to my relief, the drizzle and fog that had persisted on
the last several pelagic trips that I had been on had mostly lifted.
Common Murres (125) and Sooty Shearwaters (82) soon presented themselves in
front of us to the delight of the group from Seven Ponds Audubon in
Michigan. Surprisingly early in the trip, the Sooty Shearwaters mixed with
mostly Short-tailed Shearwaters (1114) until the Short-tailed were the
obvious majority. It was good to have both species close by so that we
could get comfortable in separating these two dark shearwaters apart. Soon
Pink-footed Shearwaters (1235) and Northern Fulmars (22) joined in for a 4
tuberose mixture. Diminutive Cassin's Auklets (182) were cooperative and
quite common. We surmised that his was the first obvious southbound
migration from the population in northern British Columbia and Alaska. In
this area, we also spotted at least 5 feeding Humpback Whales. I never
tire of seeing these mighty mammals! In addition to Rhinoceros Auklets
(31), a trip highlight was an adult Tufted Puffin still showing a red bill
and a slight bit of a buffy crest.
We eventually reached our destination - the area where the whiting fleet
and the shrimpers were plying the waters. The area was rich with
tuberoses. In addition to a large number of Pink-footed and Short-tailed
Shearwaters, there were several Black-footed Albatrosses (21) and the
always hoped for Buller's Shearwaters (2) which is my favorite shearwater.
Their pristine white underparts, dark cap, and prominent dark and gray
pattern on the dorsal side of the wings really makes them stand out among
the uniform gray upper-parts of the Pink-foots. Strikingly plumaged
Sabine's Gulls (29) joined in and several Pomarine Jaegers (5) and a
Parasitic Jaeger (3) were also in the area.
We decided to head to deeper water to see what we could turn up. Engines
turned off, we soon had laid a succulent smorgasboard of menhaden oil and
beef fat that no tubenose could pass up. It wasn't surprising that the
first birds that came to the buffet were Northern Fulmars which were soon
accompanied by Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels (101), a few Black-footed
Albatrosses and a variety of shearwaters that we had seen earlier.
We headed back to the fishing boats and were soon surrounded by ravenous
shearwaters of four species and quite a few Sabine's Gulls and some
Black-footed Albatrosses. There's something special about being surrounded
by squeaking Pink-footed Shearwaters, inquisitive albatrosses, squabbling
fulmars, and other tubenoses going crazy around fishing boats. I wouldn't
trade the experience for anything! Several Parasitic Jaegers cruised by to
take a look but continued on. The California Gulls didn't garner much
On our way back to shore, we were treated to not 1, not 2, not 3 ....but 6
individual South Polar Skuas! This was wonderful to see especially the one
that flew right over the Monte Carlo! Seeing my favorite bird always puts
a smile on my face even though the gulls may have been a bit panicked. A
few Red-necked Phalaropes (16) were spotted from the bow as we headed in
and two Common Terns were also seen. We were treated to five Wandering
Tattlers that conveniently had perched on the only long pale log stuck on
the north side of the south jetty. It was certainly easy for everyone to
see them! The throng of Marbled Godwits (1104), displaced from their usual
high tide roost by about 140,000 pounds of Sea Lion (about 200 individuals)
were on the rocky bank near the *Monte Carlo*'s mooring.
In addition to the pelagic species, we saw Humpback Whales (11), Dall's
Porpoises (10), and Ocean Sunfish (5) (mola mola) and an assortment of
migrating dabbling ducks including Northern Shoveller, Northern Pintail,
and Green-winged Teal.
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 enthusiasm and smiling faces!
All the remaining Westport Seabirds trips this year are full but keep
checking the website (https://westportseabirds.com/2021-schedule-new/) for
any last minute openings. I hope to see you on a future Westport Seabirds
Jim Danzenbaker for Westport Seabirds.
Battle Ground, WA
jdanzenbaker at gmail.com
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