[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds Trip Report August 20, 2022

Cara Borre cmborre1 at gmail.com
Thu Aug 25 13:55:25 PDT 2022

Another unique day on the water for Westport Seabirds Saturday, August
20th. We enjoyed a diverse group of birders whose enthusiasm kept us
wanting to show them new birds all day long. Kirk Zufelt, co-author of the
must-have book “Oceanic Birds of the World: A Photo Guide”, joined us for
his first of three trips, as well as other travelers from both near and
far. The weather and sea conditions were excellent throughout the day.

Leaving the resident near-shore Brandt’s Cormorant (131 - day totals) and
Pigeon Guillemot (9) with their visiting Brown Pelican (347) and Heerman’s
Gull (38), the Monte Carlo headed due West toward shrimp boats working near
the continental shelf. As is usual we passed through the “Common Murre
(303) zone”, seasonally beginning to see Fathers with chicks in tow.

Phalaropes were spotted throughout the day in small groups with Red-necked
(71) now outnumbering the earlier migrating Reds (19). With low winds we
were fortunate to get good looks at “skuas” along our route, though an all
too brief look at a juvenile “jaeger sp” kept us from claiming the “skua
slam”. Close passes from several Pomarine Jaeger (4) and a gorgeous adult
Long-tailed Jaeger (2), as well as an appearance of the mighty South Polar
Skua (2), made up for the lack of a solid ID on the more common Parasitic

Besides the aforementioned Common Murre, Rhinoceros Auklet (91) represented
the alcid group well. Cassin’s Auklet (20) numbers were low, but we were
fortunate to get a couple stationary birds on the water, their small round
heads and stubby bills easily setting them apart from the anvil-headed
profile of the more numerous rhinos. A single Tufted Puffin (1) was seen
in distant flight by a few on the bow ending our list of auks for the day.

As is typical we got our best look at the tube-noses, those “ocean
voyagers” most of us voyage into the ocean to see, at the fishing boats.
The shearwaters are the most diverse group we encounter with Sooty (529)
and Pink-footed (127) seen well on most of our trips. As we enter this
late summer - fall season we are treated to visits from the New Zealand
breeding Buller’s Shearwater (38) as well as the Australian breeding
Short-tailed Shearwater (9), though Short-tailed have been showing up for
us much earlier in the season over the last several years.

Northern Fulmar (10) numbers were low, but the views were excellent as this
species likes to frequent boats for fish scraps, though they were not
interested in our chum offerings today. The diminutive Fork-tailed
Storm-Petrel (10) was also present in low numbers, but did show for our
windless chum stop. Black-footed Albatross (57), by far our most commonly
seen member of the “short-tailed albatross” group of the North - Eastern
Central Pacific, showed in good numbers despite the calm conditions.

While these windless conditions may inhibit tube-noses who use wind to
generate lift and find food wafting from sparsely positioned fishing boats,
perhaps a lack of wind favors the sighting of migrating Sabine’s Gull (18)
and Arctic Tern (6). Both species were seen in flight as well as resting
on several logs during the trip.

Sea mammals always bring excitement and variety to our trips and we got
excellent views of surfacing Gray Whale (3) early on, as well as Humpback
Whale (9) throughout the journey. Dall’s Porpoise (9) gave us brief
demonstrations of their characteristic “rooster tail” splash and approached
the boat for good, though short, looks as we hoped they would join us
underway. We added Northern Fur Seal (1) in its “jug-handle” pose, and our
mammal tally closed with Harbor Seal (3), California Sea Lion (1),
Steller’s Sea Lion (9), and Harbor Porpoise (1).

We never ignore fish, finding good numbers of Blue Shark (20), Ocean
Sunfish (19), and several frisky Albacore Tuna jumping from the water
showing off their whitish undersides and knobby finlets along their backs.

It was the beginning of an exciting weekend for Westport Seabirds,
especially for Captain Phil Anderson, First mate Chris Anderson, and
Spotter Bill Shelmerdine who spent both days on the water. While Bill
Tweit and I thoroughly enjoyed the company and wildlife on Saturday, if
you’ve read Cindy McCormack’s report from Sunday you’ll understand our envy
(and I'm sure yours) of that outing. That said, every trip is truly unique
and there is always an opportunity to see something unexpected. Thanks
everyone for joining us!

Hope to sea you out there!

Cara Borre

Gig Harbor
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