Tuesday, December 8, 2020

December 5 Pelagic Trip Report and Highlights

As we prepared for our last pelagic trip of 2020, we were challenged by a constantly changing forecast, and ended up having to choose between high winds (25 kts) but lower swells (6 ft) on Saturday, and lower winds (10 kts) but much higher swells (12 ft) on Sunday. Our skipper felt certain that the worst winds would not come in until the afternoon, so we opted for less boat movement (lower waves) and went out on our scheduled date of Saturday the 5th. We did not have the calmest conditions of the year, but passengers coped very well, even during a rather rough trip back to the bay. While we did not see any true rarities, we had a good day. Although close views of most species proved elusive, a couple of participants managed to see five species of shearwaters including an out of season FLESH-FOOTED (photographed) and two late BULLER’s (very distant and seen by few). We tallied two albatross species, scattered BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS through much of the trip, and a single LAYSAN ALBATROSS at the one fishing boat we came across (nope, sadly no Short-tailed Albatross). Other noteworthy sightings included a late TUFTED PUFFIN, and great views of sitting ANCIENT MURRELETS. But the highlight of the trip for many of us were the two BLUE WHALES that uncharacteristically passed close to the boat. The sighting of the world’s largest animal was followed later by a sighting of the world’s second largest animal, two FIN WHALES. Two groups of curious Dall's porpoises did not come in to ride the bow as they sometimes do, but were welcome additions to the day's sightings. Overall, the conditions turned out to be better than forecast, with the higher winds and larger waves arriving later in the day, and any day in winter we can get out on the water is a good day. After a challenging 2020, Oregon Pelagic Tours is looking forward to a hopefully more relaxed and enjoyable 2021. We hope to see you on the ocean next year.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

OPT Pelagic Results 10/4/20

Boat: Misty, Skipper Rob and Deckhand Shad
Guides: Jim Danzenbaker, Russ Namitz, Tim Shelmerdine

0714-0723  Yaquina Bay, dock to ends of jetties
Surf Scoter 55                                                                    Brandt's Cormorant 15
Red-necked Grebe 9                                                         Pelagic Cormorant 30
Western Gull 100                                                              Double-crested Cormorant 55
California Gull    10                                                           Brown Pelican 15
Common Loon 4              
0724-0748  Tips of jetties, north, out to 5 miles offshore
Surf Scoter 14                                                                    Pacific Loon 1
Common Murre 5                                                            Common Loon 2
Rhinoceros Auklet 44                                                      loon sp. 1
Sabine’s Gull 1                                                                   Sooty Shearwater 20
Western Gull 4                                                                  **Steller’s sea lion 5
California Gull 5       
0748-1026 From 5 miles offshore to chum stop 34 miles offshore
Red Phalarope 1                                                                Red-throated Loon 1
Red-necked Phalarope 1                                               Black-footed Albatross 55
Pomarine Jaeger 2                                                           Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 40         
Parasitic Jaeger 2                                                              Northern Fulmar 87
Pomarine/Parasitic Jaeger 1                                         Pink-footed Shearwater 63
Long-tailed Jaeger 2                                                        Buller’s Shearwater 4
Common Murre 1                                                             Sooty Shearwater 20
Cassin's Auklet 33                                                             **humpback whale 1 (breaching)
Rhinoceros Auklet 5                                                        **whale sp. 1 (probable fin whale)
Sabine’s Gull 500                                                              **Dall’s Porpoise 12
Western Gull 14                                                               **Steller’s sea lion 2
California Gull 35                                                              **northern fur seal 2
Herring Gull 4                    
1027-1133  Chum stop #1 (34 miles offshore, 180-200 fathoms)
Pomarine Jaeger 2                                                           California Gull 300
Parasitic Jaeger 10                                                           Herring Gull 10
Long-tailed Jaeger 6                                                        Laysan Albatross 2
Parasitic/Long-tailed Jaeger 1                                         Black-footed Albatross 30
Common Murre 1                                                             Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 40
Sabine’s Gull 600                                                              Northern Fulmar 75
Bonaparte’s Gull 2                                                            Pink-footed Shearwater 40
Franklin’s Gull 1 (seen by Russ)                                      Flesh-footed Shearwater 1
Western Gull 10                                                                Buller’s Shearwater 9
California Gull 500                                                           Sooty Shearwater 7
Herring Gull 4                                   
1134-1227 Transit toward fishing vessel and second chum stop
Pomarine Jaeger 1                                                           Herring Gull 5
Parasitic Jaeger 2                                                              Black-footed Albatross 40
Common Murre 1                                                             Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 10
Cassin’s Auklet 2                                                               Northern Fulmar 250
Sabine’s Gull 40 0                                                              Pink-footed Shearwater 50
Western Gull 5                                                                  Sooty Shearwater 5
California Gull 250                                                            **northern fur seal 2
1227-1325  Chum stop #2 (approx.. 35 miles offshore; 236 fathoms, 57.7°F)
Pomarine Jaeger 1                                                          Laysan Albatross 1
Parasitic Jaeger 6                                                            Black-footed Albatross 30
Long-tailed Jaeger 4                                                       Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 10
Common Murre 3                                                           Northern Fulmar 75
Rhinoceros Auklet 1                                                       Pink-footed Shearwater 30
Sabine’s Gull 700                                                           Flesh-footed Shearwater 1
Western Gull 5                                                               Buller’s Shearwater 2
California Gull 300                                                         Sooty Shearwater 5
Herring Gull 10                                                                **Steller’s sea lion 1        
1326-1616  Return from  35 miles offshore to 5 miles offshore (traveled 36 miles)
Cackling Goose 50                                                          Western Gull 5
Red-necked/Red Phalarope 2                                          California Gull 85
South Polar Skua 2 (poor views)                                    Herring Gull 3
Pomarine Jaeger 2                                                           Black-footed Albatross 4
Parasitic Jaeger 10                                                           Northern Fulmar 14       
Long-tailed Jaeger 3                                                        Pink-footed Shearwater 17
Parasitic/Long-tailed Jaeger 3                                          Buller’s Shearwater 27
Common Murre 1                                                             Sooty Shearwater 4
Cassin’s Auklet 11                                                            **humpback whale 2
Rhinoceros Auklet 1                                                        **northern fur seal 4
Sabine’s Gull 565
1616-1653  Return from 5 miles offshore to tips of jetties
Cackling Goose 9                                                            California Gull 40
White-winged Scoter 5                                                  Pacific Loon 4
Western Grebe 1                                                              Common Loon 4
Pomarine Jaeger 1                                                           Northern Fulmar 1
Common Murre 16                                                          Sooty Shearwater 7
Marbled Murrelet 5                                                          Pelagic Cormorant 4
Cassin’s Auklet 2    
1616-1653  Return from 5 miles offshore to tips of jetties
Cackling Goose 9                                                            California Gull 40
White-winged Scoter 5                                                  Pacific Loon 4
Western Grebe 1                                                              Common Loon 4
Pomarine Jaeger 1                                                           Northern Fulmar 1
Common Murre 16                                                          Sooty Shearwater 7
Marbled Murrelet 5                                                          Pelagic Cormorant 4
Cassin’s Auklet 2    
1616-1653  Return from 5 miles offshore to tips of jetties
Cackling Goose 9                                                            California Gull 40
White-winged Scoter 5                                                  Pacific Loon 4
Western Grebe 1                                                              Common Loon 4
Pomarine Jaeger 1                                                           Northern Fulmar 1
Common Murre 16                                                          Sooty Shearwater 7
Marbled Murrelet 5                                                          Pelagic Cormorant 4
Cassin’s Auklet 2                                                              Double-crested Cormorant 3
Rhinoceros Auklet 7                                                        **Steller’s sea lion 9
Western Gull 50                                                               **harbor porpoise 1 (seen by few)  
 1654-1720 Return from ends of Yaquina Bay jetties to dock
Surf Scoter 6                                                                     Glaucous-winged Gull 2
Horned Grebe 2                                                                Western x Glaucous-winged Gull 2
Red-necked Grebe 6                                                        Common Loon 4
Black Turnstone 1                                                             Brandt’s Cormorant 30
Common Murre 2                                                             Pelagic Cormorant 70
Rhinoceros Auklet 1                                                         Double-crested Cormorant 50
Heermann’s Gull 10                                                         Black Phoebe 1
Mew Gull 2                                                                         **California sea lion 6
Western Gull 100                                                              **harbor seal 2
California Gull 40  


Sunday, September 27, 2020

September 26, 2020 Trip Results

 September 26, 2020 8 Hour Fall Seabirds Tour
Boat: Misty, Skipper Rob and Deckhand Shad
Guides: David Mandell, Russ Namitz, Tim Shelmerdine

0713-0730  Yaquina Bay, dock to ends of jetties
Harlequin Duck 2                                                              Common Loon 2
Surf Scoter 55                                                                    Brandt's Cormorant 25
Red-necked Grebe 5                                                       Pelagic Cormorant 60
Pigeon Guillemot 1                                                          Double-crested Cormorant 50
Heermann’s Gull 4                                                           Brown Pelican 25
Western Gull 75                                                                Great Blue Heron 1
California Gull    10                                                           European Starling 4                                   0731-0759  Tips of jetties, north, out to 5 miles offshore
Cackling/Canada Goose 30                                           Western/Glaucous-winged Gull 1
Surf Scoter 20                                                                    Red-throated Loon 6
White-winged Scoter 3                                                  Pacific Loon 4
Dunlin 4                                                                                Common Loon 3
Cassin’s Auklet  9                                                              Sooty Shearwater 16
Rhinoceros Auklet 1                                                        Brandt's Cormorant 5
Western Gull 4                                                                  Pelagic Cormorant 6
California Gull 7                                                                                                                                
0759-1059 From 5 miles offshore to fishing vessels 34 miles offshore
Red Phalarope 28                                                             Long-tailed Jaeger   1
peep sp. 2                                                                            Common Murre   8
shorebird sp. 7                                                                  Cassin's Auklet 71
South Polar Skua 2                                                           Rhinoceros Auklet 1
Pomarine Jaeger 3                                                           Sabine’s Gull 165
Parasitic Jaeger 1                                                              Western Gull 10
California Gull 70                                                              Flesh-footed Shearwater 1
Herring Gull 3                                                                     Buller’s Shearwater 20
tern sp. 1                                                                             Sooty Shearwater 52
Black-footed Albatross 16                                             *humpback whale 1
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 110                                       **northern fur seal 2
Northern Fulmar 25                                                         **ocean sunfish 2
Pink-footed Shearwater 52                                          **blue shark 2
1100-1200  Commercial fishing vessels including processor
South Polar Skua 5                                                           Common/Arctic Tern 1
Pomarine Jaeger 15                                                         Laysan Albatross 2
Parasitic Jaeger 6                                                              Black-footed Albatross 350
Long-tailed Jaeger 5                                                        Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 3
jaeger sp. 3                                                                         Northern Fulmar 250
Sabine’s Gull 200                                                              Pink-footed Shearwater 500
Western Gull 100                                                              Flesh-footed Shearwater 1
California Gull 500                                                            Buller’s Shearwater 50
Herring Gull 4                                                                    Sooty Shearwater 150
Arctic Tern 1                                                                       Sooty/Short-tailed Shearwater 5
1202-1446 Returning  to 5 miles offshore
Greater White-fronted Goose 30                                   gull sp. 1
Red-necked Phalarope 2                                               Black-footed Albatross 5
Red Phalarope 15                                                             Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 3
Red-necked/Red Phalarope 3                                      Northern Fulmar 9
South Polar Skua 3                                                           Pink-footed Shearwater 10
Pomarine Jaeger 2                                                           Flesh-footed Shearwater 1
Parasitic Jaeger 3                                                              Buller’s Shearwater 4
Common Murre 15                                                          Sooty Shearwater 46
Cassin’s Auklet 24                                                             Pelagic Cormorant 1
Rhinoceros Auklet 1                                                        ** Dall’s porpoise 3
Tufted Puffin 1                                                                  **northern fur seal 1
Sabine’s Gull 40                                                                 ** California sea lion 1
Western Gull 1                                                                  **ocean sunfish (mola mola) 2
California Gull 9                                                                                                                               
1446-1501  Return from 3.3 miles offshore to tips of jetties
Surf Scoter 6                                                                       California Gull 4
Western Grebe 1                                                              Pacific Loon 1
Clark’s Grebe 1                                                                  Sooty Shearwater 2
Red-necked Phalarope 2                                               Brandt’s Cormorant 1
Cassin’s Auklet 2                                                               Pelagic Cormorant 1
Rhinoceros Auklet 13                                                      **Steller’s sea lion 4
1501-1513  Return from ends of Yaquina Bay jetties to dock
Harlequin Duck 1                                                              Western Gull 100
Surf Scoter 30                                                                    California Gull 50
Red-necked Grebe 8                                                       Common Loon 2
Western Grebe 1                                                              Brandt’s Cormorant 25
Western/Clark’s Grebe 1                                              Pelagic Cormorant 30
Rock Pigeon 4                                                                    Double-crested Cormorant 50
Surfbird 3                                                                             Brown Pelican 12
Red-necked Phalarope 1                                               **California sea lion 3
Pigeon Guillemot 1                                                          **harbor seal 1
Heermann’s Gull 2           

OPT 9/26/20 Pelagic -- Great Trip

Yesterday (Saturday, September 26), the forecast led me to believe that we were in for a rough trip. And we did start that way, with up to 12 foot swells, and some wind waves to boot. Fortunately, the ocean calmed down throughout the day, we found blue sky after passing through fog, and we had a pleasant trip overall. We started seeing some good birds as we headed offshore, even seeing our first South Polar Skua, Black-footed Albatross, and Flesh-footed Shearwater. About three hours into the trip, we found a small fishing fleet that included a processing ship -- seabirds follow these in clouds, and such was the case this time. We had about 1500 birds of many types. Highlights were both Laysan and Black-footed Albatross, up tp 5 skuas and all three jaegers, many shearwaters including the elegant Buller's and another rare Flesh-footed, lots of Sabine's Gulls. After an hour, we had to pry ourselves away, and start the three hour trip back to the dock in Newport. My thanks go to the friendly passengers, my great guides Russ and David, and Skipper Rob of the Misty, all of whom made this trip an exceptional one. 

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


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


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


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!