[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds Trip Report September 24, 2022

Cara Borre cmborre1 at gmail.com
Wed Sep 28 05:49:46 PDT 2022

On the Friday before our trip we had some of the finest sunny weather I’ve
experienced at Westport. The next day we left the dock with a beautiful
sunrise at our backs and high hopes for an equally beautiful day at sea.
Such was not the case as the fog that plagued the mid-week trip descended
upon us once again offshore. Notwithstanding, we kept our spirits high
with affirming fog clearing statements and off we sailed in search of birds.

We sped through the Sooty Shearwater (1871 - day totals) and Common Murre
(644) zone and approached the distant wall of fog where our horizon would
shrink to 200-300 yards and remain there until we re-entered this near
shore zone. Captain Phil recognized a few shrimpers on the AIS (automatic
identification system) so we headed in their direction to investigate what
birds they were attracting.

Along the way we picked up our first Pomarine (23) and Parasitic (8)
Jaegers, continuing the trend of excellent numbers for these arctic
migrants. To round out this group we had a couple South Polar Skua (2)
sightings for the day, with no appearances from Long-tailed Jaeger. We
began to add Pink-footed Shearwater (276) to our list before the wall of
fog, but our best looks were at the “ghost” ships shrouded in the mist.
While in the company of the “ghost” ships, the birds often came close
enough to the Monte Carlo that we were afforded excellent looks even in

It was at our second stop in the shrimper fleet that we could tell we would
have an amazing day for Short-tailed Shearwater (1497). The Short-taileds
greatly outnumbered the Sootys at the boats, but we got a few side by side
comparisons which we greatly appreciated. We got solid looks at Northern
Fulmar (278) here and this shrimper also held our first of only three
Black-footed Albatross for the day. Buller’s Shearwater (8) put in earlier
appearances and was also seen at this stop.

Progressing westward we came to rest at our chum spot. Our goal is always
to attract closer views of the birds we’ve already seen and maybe spot
something new for the day. Mission accomplished as we gathered the other
two Black-footed Albatross here and added Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel (3).

We wrapped up the chum with the plan of hitting the boats again on the way
back. Nothing new was added at the second pass of the boats, but we got
additional jaeger viewing experiences. Our alcid tally left us wanting as
we could eke out only a single Cassin’s Auklet winging hurriedly by the
bow. We achieved a respectable (in fog) number of Rhinoceros Auklet (46),
but remain “un-scripps’s” for the year with the hope of ending the season
with the pelagic murrelet “slam” (Scripps’s and Guadalupe). If you write
it, they will come!

The highlight of this trip came almost at its end, in lifting fog and
increasing sunshine. Captain Phil detoured us to investigate a large flock
of about 1200 birds. It contained a lot of Sooty Shearwater and California
Gull, half a dozen Pomarine Jaeger, and two surfacing and feeding Humpback
Whales. We were taking it all in when the call of “Manx Shearwater” rang
out at the bow. We turned our attention to the small, white-bellied
shearwater zipping by us from right to left with camera shutters firing
away. This was my best ever view of a Manx Shearwater as they are often,
as I described in the moment, “zippity do-da” and done, meaning it’s a very
fleeting glimpse. Today you could have sung the song up to “my oh my, what
a wonderful day” before it was gone. As there was never “plenty of
sunshine”, he probably made his exit at the appropriate time.

Thanks to Captain Phil Anderson, First Mate Chris Anderson, Spotters Scott
Mills, Ryan Merrill, and everyone who joined us for making this voyage into
the fog a delight. Special thanks to Master Baker Asta Tobiassen for
providing the world’s best ginger cookies!

Hope to sea you out there!

Cara Borre

Gig Harbor
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