Saturday, December 15, 2018

2018 ends with a 3 Albatross Day!

What a great December trip we had!  Lucking out with a weather window between fronts, we ran this trip against the odds. Highlights of the trip included a very cooperative ANCIENT MURRELET, two flyby PARAKEET AUKLETS, and an amazing THREE species of albatross: the expected BLACK-FOOTED, the now not surprising LAYSAN ALBATROSS (every Newport trip from August 12 on saw at least one of this species), and an incredible SHORT-TAILED ALBATROSS. The latter came in to our chum slick and gave everyone great looks and photo ops.  Sadly, we had to leave this outstanding species in order to start our trip back to the dock. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Fall season summary

The 2018 fall season ended last Saturday for Oregon Pelagic Tours, and what a fall it was! Here are some of the highlights: 
We were lucky on the weather, and every trip in the summer and fall made it out. We even hit the one day window of  decent weather on our last trip, October 27. If we had been scheduled one day on either side, we would had to cancel. 
Newport fall pelagics had LAYSAN ALBATROSS on every trip, usually multiples. BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS, always a crowd pleaser, again showed on every pelagic. 
The best bird was undoubtedly Oregon's third record of GREAT SHEARWATER, seen and photographed as it came in next to the boat on our September 15th Newport trip. 
We were able to run the first organized pelagic trips in many years out of Garibaldi at the end of September and in conjunction with the Oregon Birding Association's annual meeting. While we were able to find most of the usual suspects, many birders enjoyed the exceptionally cooperative SOUTH POLAR SKUAS.  
It is always fun to monitor migration, and the 460 SABINE'S GULLS, mostly adults, recorded on our October 7th seems to have been a last pulse of southbound birds, as we recorded zero on October 27. 
Our trips recorded six species of shearwater this fall: the expected SOOTY, PINK-FOOTED and BULLER'S, FLESH-FOOTED on several trips, the aforementioned GREAT SHEARWATER, and unexpectedly early SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATERS in August and September.  
Alcids were interesting.  Officially, we had no unusual murrelets, although one passenger was able to spot a Scripps's Murrelet and add it to his list.  The October 27 trip had a record of 5 TUFTED PUFFINS, an uncommonly high number of a species not often seen on our Lincoln County pelagics. The last bit of alcid news involves 2 MARBLED MURRELETS defying conventional wisdom and hanging out 6.25 miles from shore, twice the expected distance. (No amount of studying could turn them into Long-Billed Murrelets.) 
Storm-Petrels were a bit of a conundrum.  We had lower than normal numbers of FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS, and missed them completely on our Charleston Shorebird Festival trip, and most people missed them on our October 27 trip, as one individual was called out. 
Those of us addicted to pelagic birding find something enjoyable and interesting every trip, even if we are not able to add life birds to our lists.  
We have one more trip planned for 2018 -- a winter trip scheduled for December 8. 
I look forward to a good 2019 and hope to see you on an Oregon Pelagic Tours pelagic. 

Friday, August 31, 2018

August 25 Pelagic -- more Laysans and Short-taileds, full list

Oregon Pelagic Tours had another very successful pelagic on Saturday, August 25. Here is the complete trip report of our 12 hour pelagic out of Newport on the Enterprise, with Skipper Dave DeBelloy.  Route: Birding the bay, out to draggers 31 miles out, out to 50 miles and 1000 fathoms, cruising deep water, and return.  Excellent weather, perhaps even too little wind at deepwater chum stop. Guides: Tim Shelmerdine, Shawneen Finnegan, David Mandell, Russ Namitz.
All birds, including bay
Surf Scoter 7                                                               Northern Shoveler 5
American Wigeon 2                                                    Northern Pintail  8
Semipalmated Plover 1                                              Ruddy Turnstone 1
Western Sandpiper 6                                                  Red-necked Phalarope 11
Red Phalarope 55                                                       Wandering Tattler 1
Pomarine Jaeger 3                                                      Parasitic Jaeger 1
Long-tailed Jaeger 10                                                  jaeger (sp.?) 4 
Common Murre 132                                                     Pigeon Guillemot 7
Marbled Murrelet 2                                                      Cassin’s Auklet 9
Rhinoceros Auklet 24                                                   Sabine’s Gull 16
Heermann’s Gull 3                                                        Western Gull 169
California Gull 227                                                        Western x Glaucous-winged Gull 2
Common/Arctic Tern 2                                                 Laysan Albatross 3          
Black-footed Albatross 711                                           Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 82
Northern Fulmar 640                                                     Pink-footed Shearwater 266
Buller’s Shearwater 52                                                  Sooty Shearwater 42
Short-tailed Shearwater 2                                             Sooty/Short-tailed Shearwater 3
Brandt’s Cormorant 98                                                  Pelagic Cormorant 50   
Double-crested Cormorant 90                                      Brown Pelican 11
Great Blue Heron 2                                                       Turkey Vulture 3
Peregrine Falcon 1                                       
Other fauna
Gray whale 1                                                                    humpback whale 2
Harbor porpoise 2                                                            Dall’s porpoise 4
Pacific white-sided dolphin 80                                        northern fur seal 13
Steller’s sea lion 12                                                          California sea lion 8
Harbor seal 1                                                                     blue shark 30