Wednesday, October 7, 2015

October 3, 2015 Trip Report -- Great Birds!

Early weather forecasts led us to believe we would have good conditions for the last scheduled trip of OREGON PELAGIC TOURS's first pelagic season. As the week went on, wind and wave height forecasts increased up until the day of our trip. We were able to go out, but swells were high, making conditions difficult.  Despite the less than optimal conditions, we found a number of MARBLED MURRELETS just south of the Yaquina jetties.  A nearby flock of feeding birds provided many SOOTY SHEARWATERS, and a pair of COMMON TERNS among other species.  We headed southwest toward the north end of the Perpetua Bank and Heceta Bank complex.  Along the way, we  saw numerous SOOTY and PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS, NORTHERN FULMARS, had our best views of beautiful BULLER'S SHEARWATERS, and had some amazing views of several SOUTH POLAR SKUAS, the latter doing what skuas do best -- terrorizing other birds like PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS.  4 FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATERS (most seen poorly or by few) was a surprisingly high number. DALL'S PORPOISE joined us on several occasions to ride the bow wave.  Expected BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES appeared once we got over the continental slope, as did our most common storm-petrel, FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL. We spent time with a dragger, headed offshore for a while, then returned to a fishing trawler.  In this area among the numerous FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS, some observers saw two probable ASHY STORM-PETRELS, but an interesting storm-petrel with a white rump was well described by several observers as a WILSON'S STORM-PETREL (report to be submitted to the Oregon Birds Records Committee).  A chum slick at a dragger brought most species close to the boat.  Despite the tough ocean conditions, we had a good day. We had an incredible 20 SOUTH POLAR SKUAS, and had most of the species we would expect in October. Despite a very wet trip back to Newport, our passengers and crew enjoyed this pelagic.