[Tweeters] April 23 Westport Seabirds trip report

Jim Danzenbaker jdanzenbaker at gmail.com
Wed Apr 27 16:57:07 PDT 2022

Hi Tweeters,

Given the rough weather that April has brought to western Washington, any
day with no rain and no wind is a gift. It's a great gift when a
Westport Seabirds pelagic trip is scheduled for that day! Enthusiastic
birders boarded the *Monte Carlo* for our 6 am departure under a beautiful
pastel sunrise.

A huge surprise awaited us before we even got to the mouth of Gray's
Harbor. Fins broke the surface of the water and then a tall dorsal fin of
an adult male Orca! Five mammals in all including two adult females
(grandmother and mother), the adult male, and two young (ages 10 and 2).
Alex P. was later able to tell us that it was a transient pod that isn't
seen very often. Captain Phil said that he had never seen Orcas inside the
harbor! Wow, what a way to start the day!

The calm weather would stay with us throughout the day which made wildlife
observation easy. Red-throated (27), Pacific (188), and Common (13) Loons
flew overhead and Surf (72) and White-winged (114) Scoters greeted us as we
passed the tip of the jetty. Sooty Shearwaters (925), Common Murres (189),
Rhinoceros Auklets, (63) several Cassin's Auklets (3), and a flock of
Red-necked Phalaropes (15) heralded the transition to offshore species. A
flock of over 500 Sooty Shearwaters included a handful of Short-tailed
Shearwaters (14) and the first Pink-footed Shearwaters (80). A foursome of
alternate plumaged Bonaparte's Gulls (4) were beautiful. Our second big
surprise of the day came in alcid form. Expert leader and naturalist Bill
Tweit spotted a murre that looked a bit unlike the Common Murres that were
scattered about. With Captain Phil's excellent boat maneuvering and with a
big assist from photographers on board, we confirmed this bird as a
THICK-BILLED MURRE, a life bird for many on board and a new Washington bird
and Westport Seabirds bird for me!

Captain Phil located one long-liner fishing boat near the edge of the
continental shelf although the boat wasn't actively fishing. It did,
however, have a line of Black-footed Albatrosses (86), Pink-footed
Shearwaters and a few Northern Fulmars (19) near it. These birds proved to
have no fear of our boat and the long lens photographers on board were
having to back up to capture images. A good problem to have! I-phone
photographers had no issues. 5 species of gulls wheeled about including an
unusual for offshore almost full adult Ring-billed Gull. We headed toward
Grays Canyon for some deep sea birding. We attracted several cooperative
Fork-tailed Storm Petrels (5) and a far off Sabine's Gull (1) which never
came close. A Black-leeged Kittiwake (2) was a good pickup. On the way
back to shore, a Pomarine Jaeger (1) winged by, the only jaeger of the day
and a photographer assisted identification. Pacific Loons dotted the sky as
we neared the jetty and Pigeon Guillemots (5), Western Grebes (16),
continuing scoters and a single Brown Pelican (1) were observed. The jetty
held Surfbirds (11) and both Ruddy (2) and Black Turnstones (2). A single
alternate plumaged Red-necked Grebe and numbers of all three
cormorant species (Brandt's 82, Double-crested 9 and Pelagic 8) were a
fitting end to the trip.

Migrant waterfowl included Cackling Goose (8), Brant (48), Northern Pintail
(2) and Green-winged Teal (17).

A single Humpback Whale and Northern Fur Seal were encountered on the
trip. Steller's Sea Lions (15) were draped over the channel buoys and
Harbor Porpoise (5) on the way back rounded out the mammal show. Harbor
Seals kept a watchful eye on our return to the dock.

A big thanks to Captain Phil and first mate Chris as well as co-leaders
Bill Tweit and Bruce LaBar and, of course, the enthusiastic birders on
board for a great day!

We invite you to come join us on a Westport Seabirds trip this year. Trips
are filling so take a look at the schedule and secure your space.

Jim Danzenbaker for Westport Seabirds.
Jim Danzenbaker
Battle Ground, WA
jdanzenbaker at gmail.com
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