[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds Trip Report October 1, 2022

Cara Borre cmborre1 at gmail.com
Fri Oct 7 09:00:01 PDT 2022

The weather at sea matched the beautiful sunny weather onshore at Westport
for the penultimate trip of the season Saturday, October 1st. With
comfortable sea conditions we made our way west toward shrimp boats and

Before we reached the shrimpers we had already logged many of our expected
species including Sooty (1757 - day totals), Short-tailed (1074),
Pink-footed (55) and Buller’s (15) Shearwaters, Northern Fulmar (93 - 13
light morphs), and Black-footed Albatross (18). We also tallied our only
phalaropes, a lone pair of Reds very close to the boat on the water, and
all the “skuas” we would eventually have for the day Parasitic (2) and
Pomarine (4) Jaegers and South Polar Skua (3).

Once at the shrimpers our looks and photo ops improved, though we added no
notable new species. We continued west toward our chum stop. We added
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel at the stop, but our numbers for this species
mushroomed when we encountered a vast raft of them shortly after resuming
travel. Of the 468 (exactly) Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels we saw, 450 of them
were congregated in this one area. We watched and photographed them for a
while, then Captain Phil noticed a large pod of Pacific White-sided
Dolphins not far off. We detoured to check them out and were rewarded with
yet another magical moment with this species. With dolphins as far as the
eye could see, we estimated 1200 within this expansive group. They
porpoised very close to us in series and allowed awesome views just below
the surface. This was an experience that was hard to break away from, but
after lingering with them for as long as we could, we headed back toward
the shrimpers for a second pass.

We picked up a stowaway Dark-eyed Junco, who hitched a ride on the roof for
a while, but eventually left us after repeated sightings and landings. Our
only other passerine for the trip was a Golden-crowned Kinglet. The other
very notable addition at our second pass at the boats was a ghostly albino
Short-tailed Shearwater. We puzzled briefly over this ID, but its
confirmation matched the numerous STSH it was in the company of. We noted
it had quite worn plumage. Albinism is due to an absence of melanin, which
along with imparting color to the feathers, also strengthens them against
the elements .

Alcids, which were seen en route throughout the day, included all the usual
species: Common Murre (256), Rhinoceros Auklet (47), continuing poor
numbers of Cassin’s Auklet (4), and a bonus Tufted Puffin.

Even if we hadn’t crashed the Pacific White-sided Dolphin convention, we
had an excellent day for marine mammals. Highlights included Humpback
Whale (9), Dall’s Porpoise (15) and Northern Fur Seal (6 - one porpoising
at our bow with the White-sided Dolphins).

Over the last few weeks we have had mini-groups of mini-Mola Mola (Ocean
Sunfish) and we may have set the record for this species with 44 of them on
this trip

It was a great day with a great group of birders and an excellent end of
the season for “The Bill’s” (Tweit and Shelmerdine) and me. Captain Phil
Anderson and First Mate Chris Anderson, who we are forever grateful to for
providing this offshore opportunity, will be back tomorrow for the final
trip of 2022. I pledge to get a “Best of 2022” video out before the end of
the year. If you have interesting videos or photos, particularly of
mammals or fish from this year, please contact me. If you’ve uploaded a
“Best of” bird photo to eBird, I’ll likely be contacting you.

Cheers and thanks to all our supporters!

Hope to sea you out there in 2023!

Cara Borre

Gig Harbor
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