Sunday, September 13, 2020

OPT September 12 Pelagic Summary

11 intrepid birders braved the smoke and closed highways, and our September 12 pelagic went out from Newport yesterday. We enjoyed the calmest ocean I can remember in a long time. We did escape the smoke that is covering Western Oregon, but unfortunately the smoke was replaced by dense fog. We also knew that commercial fishing boats were in the area, but never found them. As a result, we had to work hard for our birds, although we did see most, but not all, of the expected species on a fall trip. Because we had several birders on their first pelagic, close views of Black-footed Albatross and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel were a highlight. Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwaters showed well, and eventually everyone got decent views of Cassin's and Rhinoceros Auklets. Both phalaropes were present although Red-necked outnumbered Red. Although we missed all three jaegers, we did have a South Polar Skua fly by the boat -- our first for the year. Russ Namitz and Jim Danzenbaker did their usual outstanding job guiding. We have four more trips this year: 8 hour trips on September 26 and October 24, a 10 hour trip on October 4, and a 7 hour trip on December 5. The trips on September 26 and October 4 are already confirmed to go, weather permitting.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

OPT Updates, On Weather Dates, Remaining Trips

Well, the much anticipated deepwater trip on August 29 was cancelled due to poor conditions. We have been quite fortunate with this date in the past, but unfortunately the odds finally caught up with us. The worst part of this job is making the decision to cancel, knowing that some people have traveled great distances to come out with us, or just have one opportunity to take a pelagic trip in a given year.  However, passenger safety is our primary concern, and the ocean will sometimes act in a manner that is not conducive to running a trip. 

I have been asked why most of our trips do not have a weather date. The answer is pretty simple: because we do not own our boat, we rent a boat for X number of hours from fishing charter offices. They are also booking fishing trips -- at the end of August some of the boats would be doing lucrative tuna trips -- and we can't tie up a boat on the chance we will need it in case of a weather cancellation. So it just does not work out for the fishing charters to hold a boat for us in case we need it. 

We will be offering trips the rest of 2020 -- two in September, two in October, and one trip in December. Because we are capping each trip at 16, trips are filling up. September 12 is full, with people on the wait list. September 26 currently has one spot remaining. October 4, our ten-hour trip, is up to nine passengers. October 24 and December 5 both have quite a few spaces.If you are interested in joining us in 2020, you may wish to sign up sooner, rather than later. 

Good birding! 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

August 16 Pelagic a Success!

Blue skies and nice ocean conditions  yesterday helped make our first pelagic of the season a success. Yes, it gets tiring wearing masks/face coverings all day, but our passengers/crew did an excellent job keeping each other safe. And as most people stayed on deck, the fresh air helped too. This 8 hour trip was run in a pretty typical fashion: birding Yaquina Bay and the jetties (Black Turnstones, Surfbirds, and Wandering Tattlers), finding Marbled Murrelets and other species nearshore, out to a chum stop 32 miles offshore, and back. We did see most expected species, albeit in low numbers for most species, including Black-footed Albatross, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, Sooty, Pink-footed and Buller's Shearwaters, Cassin's and Rhinoceros Auklets, both phalaropes, Sabine's Gulls,and one each Long-tailed and Pomarine Jaegers. We missed Arctic Tern, but compensated with Commons. Other pelagic fauna providing us a thrill were 7 humpback whales (some breaching and tail slapping), various pinnipeds, and a very cooperative blue shark at the chum stop. At the end of the day, we had a lot of satisfied passengers and tired, smiling faces. Our next two trips (8/29 12-hour and 9/12 8-hour) are full with waiting lists, but the rest of or scheduled trips (9/26, 10/4, 10/24, and 12/5) have plenty of room. If you would like to join us on the ocean in 2020, please visit the Schedule & Prices page on this website for that information (and to see how many open spots each trip has remaining), and the COVID-19 PROTOCOLS page to learn what we are doing to prevent COVID transmission.