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.  

Friday, July 31, 2020

August 16 confirmed, September 12 full, August 29 deepwater nearly there

I am happy to say that the August 16 and September 12 8-hour trips both have enough passengers that I was able to confirm them with the charter. Weather permitting, these trips will go. As of July 31, if all passengers honor their commitments, we have only one space available on August 16, and the September 12. is now full. (Update: 9/12 is wait list only.)
And for the first time, I am starting to feel confident that the August 29 12-hour trip will reach its minimum. We need 13, and as of July 31, have eleven committed, and three more interested. I hope to be able to confirm this trip soon. 
We are starting to have some interest in later trips, but if you want to be certain of getting out this fall on one of our pelagics, you may wish to contact Oregon Pelagic Tours right away. 

Monday, July 13, 2020

August 16 and September 12 Trips Most Likely to Go

As of the middle of July, both the August 16 and September 12 pelagics are getting close to having the number of participants necessary to be able to run a trip. Both these 8 hour trips have 11 birders signed up, and while each trip needs 3-5 more passengers, it seems likely that these two trips will achieve at least the required minimums. I understand the uncertainty around making plans during the pandemic, but if you are thinking about going out on a pelagic with us this fall, you may wish to join one of these two trips. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

OPT WILL CAP ALL TRIPS FOR THE REMAINDER OF 2020

While some experts (and I) believe that some of the safest places to be during this pandemic are outside and in the fresh air, people need to maintain social and spatial distancing as much as possible. While maintaining a 6 foot distance is difficult to impossible on a typical pelagic trip, Oregon Pelagic Tours will be do its best to mitigate unsafe crowding. We therefore are going to cap all pelagics at 16 passengers. Unfortunately, to make even a small profit, this policy necessitates a significant price increase. We hope that we can make this a temporary measure, and that in 2021 the situation will allow a return to more normal prices and policies. In the meantime, Oregon Pelagic Tours hopes for your support and understanding, as we attempt to continue to provide pelagic birding opportunities, keeping your safety in mind. 


Friday, May 1, 2020

PELAGICS IN THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES -- PART 2

We apparently will be dealing with effects of the COVID-19 pandemic through at least the near future. With continuing doubts about when this crisis will be over, and following the example of many organizations ceasing activities until the summer, Oregon Pelagic Tours will not be running any pelagics until August. This decision is made after careful consideration of the safety of our passengers and crew, as well as sound business practice. While I regret the necessity of this action, I feel confident it is the correct decision. In any case, it is my sincere hope to see you on an Oregon Pelagic Tours pelagic in the future -- I for one will be more than ready to start seeing seabirds as soon as I can.
Stay healthy, and thank you for your interest in OPT! 

Friday, March 27, 2020

PELAGICS IN THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES -- PART 1

We at Oregon Pelagic Tours are closely following the COVID-19 pandemic, as is everyone at this time. At the time of this post (March 26), Oregon is under a "Stay at home" order. While this order will not be in place indefinitely, it is certain that the virus will take many months to run its course, and our tours may well be affected. 
Although we do expect to be able to run trips in 2020, Oregon Pelagic Tours will be responsive to the current news and recommendations through the course of the virus, and will base all decisions on offering trips with the priority of keeping the health and safety of all passengers, guides and crew in mind. 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Another Poor Weather Forecast

We were asked to make a decision about running or canceling the February 16 pelagic on Thursday the 13th. With another weather forecast predicting high winds and swells, the decision was made to cancel.  Conditions as of today (Saturday) are better than expected, HOWEVER with three sets of winds and waves, I think it would have been a very difficult day. I always have mixed feelings about having to cancel, but am not feeling too bad about this one. 

Friday, February 7, 2020

February 9 Pelagic Cancelled!

We had some late interest, but not enough. The 8 hour Late Winter Seabirds Tour out of Newport on February 9 has had to cancel. With a problematic marine weather forecast for that day, it might have been a very difficult trip anyway. 

On a more positive note, the February 16 trip has enough people signed up that I was able to confirm this trip with the charter. 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Winter/Spring OPT Trips

Happy 2020, everyone! We at Oregon Pelagic Tours are looking to another great year taking you out to enjoy seabirds. 
Our first two trips are coming up soon, both on Sundays: February 9 and 16, and in conjunction with the Pacific Seabird Group meeting. However, these trips are open to all, so if you have thought about taking a winter trip, these would be a good choice. On these trips, we have a very good chance to see Black-footed and Laysan Albatross, Ancient Murrelet, Black-legged Kittiwake, and Short-tailed Shearwater. We have a chance of seeing Short-tailed Albatross also, but remember that this is a rare bird. Sign-up has been light, so you may wish to register for one of the two dates, but be available for both, just in case we have to consolidate the two trips to be able to go. 
We are also excited to explore what is off Oregon in May, as we have a trip planned for May 31st. We have not run a trip this late in May for many years, so who knows what we may find? 
Prices and information are on the Schedule/Prices page, so if interested, click on that page. Registration instructions ate on the Registration page. 
We hope to see you on the ocean in 2020!