Tuesday, December 27, 2016

What will we see in 2017?

Obviously, we cannot answer that question until we get out there.  Who would have thought at this time last year that both our deepwater pelagic trips in 2016 would see HAWAIIAN PETREL?  A number of years ago, the Oregon Lottery had an ad campaign based on the point that you can't win if you don't play.  Regardless of your feelings about state-sponsored gambling, the point is valid, and it works the same for pelagic trips.  There are some birds you will not see unless you get out on a boat.  And you never know which trip will have those extra-special birds.  Fortunately, seabirds are cool no matter what we find.  In any case, we hope to see you on the boat this upcoming year!  Our first trip will take place on January 28.  Check out the Schedule and Prices page for more details. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Oregon Pelagic Tours 2017 Schedule

If you went out with us last year, or would like to come out with us in 2017, our schedule is now available on our website.  For more information, please go to our Schedule & Prices page.

Saturday, January 28, 2017 -- 8 Hour Winter Seabirds 
Departs 7:30am, from Newport Tradewinds  

Saturday, May 20, 2017 -- 6 Hour Intro to Spring Seabirds
Departs 6am, from Newport Tradewinds

Saturday, August  12, 2017 -- 8 Hour Fall Seabirds
Departs 7am, from Newport Tradewinds

Saturday, August 26, 2017 -- 12 Hour Fall Deepwater
Departs 6am, from Newport Tradewinds

Saturday, September 9, 2017 -- 5 Hour Shorebird Festival Pelagic
Departs 7am, from Betty Kay Charters, Charleston

Saturday, September  16, 2017 -- 8 Hour Fall Seabirds
Departs 7am, from Newport Tradewinds

Saturday, October 7, 2017 -- 10 Hour Perpetua Bank Pelagic
Departs 7am, from Newport Tradewinds

Saturday, October 28, 2017 -- 8 Hour Late Fall Seabirds
Departs 7am, from Newport Tradewinds

Saturday, December 9, 2017 -- 7 Hour  Winter Pelagic
Departs 8am, from Newport Tradewinds

Thursday, November 3, 2016

October 30 Pelagic Results

30 October 2016 10 hr Late Fall Pelagic FV Misty Skipper Rob Waddell

Yaquina Bay, offshore 35 miles to fishing boats, return 7:03-4:55
Brant 4
Harlequin Duck 5
Surf Scoter 74
White-winged Scoter 5
Red-throated Loon 2
Pacific Loon 10
Common Loon 15
Red-necked Grebe 7
Western Grebe 32
Black-footed Albatross 125
Northern Fulmar 4250
Pink-footed Shearwater 120
Flesh-footed Shearwater 4
Buller's Shearwater 13
Sooty Shearwater 103
Short-tailed Shearwater 6
Sooty/Short-tailed Shearwater 20
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 55
Double-crested Cormorant 30
Brandt's Cormorant 35
Pelagic Cormorant 40
Brown Pelican 38
Black Turnstone 10
Red Phalarope 236
Pomarine Jaeger 13
jaeger (sp?) 2
Common Murre 77
murre (sp?) 1
Pigeon Guillemot 6
Marbled Murrelet 2
Ancient Murrelet 5 (seen by few)
Cassin's Auklet 170
Rhinoceros Auklet 42
Black-legged Kittiwake 9
Sabine's Gull 7
Bonaparte's Gull 16
Heermann's Gull 10
California Gull 909
Mew Gull 42
Western Gull 97
Herring Gull 3
Thayer's Gull 6
Glaucous-winged Gull 3
Dall's porpoise 2
Pacific white-sided dolphin 4
northern fur seal 2
harbor seal 5
California sea lion 3

Sunday, October 9, 2016

October 30 Pelagic Added

Several passengers asked me to try and schedule a trip before the end of this month after weather cancelled our October 1st trip.
In response, we are offering a pelagic trip on Sunday, October 30th.  This ten-hour trip will depart Newport at 7am.  I have heard from 6 passengers who are committed, but we need another 9 to make this trip a reality.  Target birds will include Laysan Albatross, Short-tailed Shearwater, Ancient Murrelet -- and we may even have a shot at Mottled Petrel (very rare). 
In an effort to encourage sign-up, I am offering this trip for all passengers at the early registration price of $150.  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Special Northern Lane County Pelagic

We are looking forward to exploring the northern part of Lane County on our upcoming pelagic trip this Saturday.  As Florence has no boats that meet our needs, our goal is to allow birders especially interested in Lane County birds a chance to add to their pelagic birds list.  This ten hour trip leaves Newport at 7:00 am on Saturday, September 17th.  Spots are still available.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

September 3rd Pelagic Trip Results

Oregon Pelagic Tours led its only 8 hour Fall Seabirds Trip of the season on Saturday, September 3rd, aboard FV Misty, one of our favorite boats.  We had excellent ocean conditions and light winds.  With most of the expected species being seen, including our season's first BULLER'S SHEARWATERS, perhaps the most interesting observation involved the high number of SABINE'S GULLS (159), clear evidence of migration. 
This list contains the total for all segments of the trip, from Yaquina Bay, offshore 34.5 miles, and back. 
Canada Goose 4
Northern Pintail 90
White-winged Scoter 6
Black-footed Albatross 13
Northern Fulmar 3
Pink-footed Shearwater 137
Buller's Shearwater 3
Sooty Shearwater 74
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 7
Red-throated Loon 2
Common Loon 1
Brandt's Cormorant 123
Pelagic Cormorant 60
Double-crested Cormorant 18
Brown Pelican 5
Great Blue Heron 1
Turkey Vulture 2
Surfbird 3
Red-necked Phalarope 11
Red Phalarope 67
Pomarine Jaeger 3
Parasitic Jaeger 2
Long-tailed Jaeger 2
Common Murre 14
Pigeon Guillemot 8
Marbled Murrelet 2
Cassin's Auklet 17
Rhinoceros Auklet 57
Sabine's Gull 159
Heermann's Gull 1
Mew Gull 7
Western Gull 157
California Gull 47
Herring Gull 5
Glaucous-winged Gull 2
Arctic Tern 36
Caspian Tern 1
Rock Pigeon 20 
Other Fauna: 
Dall's porpoise 1
harbor porpoise 4
elephant seal 2
Steller's sea lion 1
California sea lion 9
northern fur seal 4
harbor seal 13
blue shark 2
albacore tuna 8
ocean sunfish 1

Monday, August 29, 2016

Fall Deepwater Trip Highlights

The 12 hour trip on August 27 was one amazing pelagic trip.  We were aboard Enterprise, out of Newport Tradewinds, skippered by Dave DeBelloy, with deckhand Isaac.  We made it to 49.5 miles offshore (1280 fathoms or 7680 feet depth), and chummed there and earlier at 30.6 miles offshore (180 fathoms or 1080 feet depth).  At the first chum stop, Russ Namitz spotted a very cooperative HAWAIIAN PETREL, which unlike our spring bird, stayed around long enough for everyone to see it and for multiple photos to be taken.  Ironically, with two trip cancellations this year, Oregon Pelagic Tours has had Hawaiian Petrel on 100% of its trips in 2016!  (This is an example of how statistics can be misleading, as both of our trips to date were the only two 12 hour/deepwater trips.)  Two LAYSAN ALBATROSS were thought to be the same bird until Wayne Hoffman looked closely at photos of the underwing and noted two distinct patterns. Not too long ago, Laysan Albatross in August would been considered very unusual.  It is likely the increase of breeding Laysans off Mexico has helped to account for birds being seen off Oregon pretty much year-round now.  Not rare, but Sabine's Gulls came close to the boat and gave us incredible views, and we had good views of numerous Arctic Terns as well.  One LEACH'S STORM-PETREL raced by the boat and was seen by few.  Our final rarity came on the way back in, when David Mandell spotted a SCRIPPS'S MURRELET.  We were able to get nice looks and some photos of this bird as well.  A great trip -- more details and photos to follow.  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

All Set for our 12 Hour Pelagic, 8/27

We have a nice weather forecast, a good group of birders and well-prepared guides -- we are good to go for our fall deepwater pelagic coming up this Saturday, on August 27th.  This one is for the early birds (birders) -- we will be meeting at Newport Tradewinds at 5:30 am and departing at 6:00.  Our goal again is to cross the 1000 fathom depth contour, just as we did last spring when we found our Hawaiian Petrel.  No guarantees on pterodroma sightings, however.  There are still a couple of spots available on this once a year fall trip.

Big Ship Pelagic

I just got back late last night from a cruise aboard the MS Rotterdam.  As I have gotten older, I have found I enjoy the cruising life style, so different from other kinds of travel.  Cruises offer an excellent (although albeit expensive) opportunity to observe seabirds for extended periods of time, and many birders on the West Coast take advantage of so-called repositioning cruises to look for birds between California and Alaska.  The cruise I was on took me to the North Atlantic: from Boston to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands, Ireland, and back.  We had thick fog some days, high winds most days, and experienced both calm and rough seas.  As one would expect, there was not a lot of species diversity over the deep water far from land.  Northern Fulmars accompanied us on most segments of the journey, and Northern Gannets were also quite common.  New seabirds for me were Atlantic Puffin, Iceland Gull and Great Skua (the latter two in Greenland and/or European waters only).  Other seabirds I got to enjoy were Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Leach's and Wilson's Storm-Petrels, and numerous gulls.  Marine mammals included fin, minke and humpback whales; Atlantic white-sided dolphins; harp, gray and ringed seals, and one sperm whale.  On land, I saw a long overdue Yellow-bellied Flycatcher for the ABA area, saw and photographed good numbers of Ringed Plover in Iceland (a species I had wanted to see in the field for a long time), a variety of eastern warblers, and reacquainted myself with Great and Blue Tits (the European chickadees).  I probably am not as conscientious a birder as many of you would be when I cruise, so am sure my lists could be bigger, but I still find birding on a cruise to be very satisfying.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How I became a seabird aficionado

I grew up with a brother who was into birding.  I myself was not --however, I did love fishing offshore, and I did notice the birds around us.  In high school, my brother talked me into an Audubon trip from Sausalito (near to our childhood home) out to the Farallon Islands.  I enjoyed it, but still would rather have been fishing. In the summer of 1982, I started to enjoy seabirds for their own sake. I worked as a deckhand on a charter boat out of Garibaldi.  The job was 5 am until as late as 5 pm, seven days a week.  On these trips, I enjoyed watching Sooty Shearwaters flapping and gliding seemingly without effort over the waves.  On calm days, you might see one barely touch a wing tip to the water, "shearing it".  Puffins and murres sped past our boat on their way to and from their feeding areas.  I remember my first storm-petrels as well, darting little birds, mostly grayish, but some very dark with white rumps. These were only seen when we went far offshore and fished the deep reefs and rockpiles. And there were the albatrosses:  huge, and clumsy and comical when landing on the water, but majestic when soaring.  It took me another three years to really become a birder, but watching those seabirds from the deck of the old Harbormaster surely set me on the path to becoming one. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hawaiian Petrel on our April trip!

The following photo and crop of a Hawaiian Petrel was taken by Stephen Rossiter on April 30, 2016 about 50 miles off Newport, Oregon.

Hawaiian Petrel off Oregon by Stephen Rossiter

Hawaiian Petrel off Oregon by Stephen Rossiter
Hawaiian Petrel off Oregon by Stephen Rossiter. April 30, 2016.
Hawaiian Petrels are very rare in the Eastern Pacific. They are found very far off shore, but seen regularly as close as 50 miles from shore off southern Oregon and northern California primarily in late April-May, and late July-September.

There are 7 records of this species accepted by the Oregon Bird Records Committee (OBRC), plus two additional records accepted as Hawaiian/Galapagos Petrel. These two species were split from the former Dark-rumped Petrel a couple of years ago after identification differences were worked out.

The shorter inner arm and smaller hood as shown in the photo are supportive of Hawaiian Petrel over Galapagos Petrel, but written descriptions will probably be necessary to confirm the identification for the OBRC.

This is the first Hawaiian Petrel spotted in 24 years as part of The Bird Guide/Oregon Pelagic Tours birding trips--about 200 trips.

A rare bird indeed!

Monday, May 2, 2016

April 30 Deepwater Pelagic Results

Oregon Pelagic Tours 2016 Spring Deepwater Pelagic started with flocks of shorebirds migrating past us as we headed out Yaquina Bay.  Rough ocean conditions, required a top speed of 6.5 kts, making us wonder if we would even get out to deep water.  Conditions improved, and we eventually ended up just over 50 miles from shore. We made two chum stops, one at 33 miles out (Laysan Albatross), and the other 50 miles out (1000 fathoms -- HAWAIIAN PETREL).  A couple of participants had poor views of a Parakeet Auklet.  Below is a compilation of all species and total numbers, from the dock until about 5 miles from shore on the return. Please remember that no one, including the guides, sees every species on a typical pelagic. The ocean conditions limited our alcid sightings on the way out, and none of the alcids were chaseable. Mammal sightings include a northern fur seal, Pacific white-sided dolphin, northern right whale dolphin, and an unindentified distant whale (large spout -- probable blue or fin whale). Interesting misses: no jaegers, Sabine's Gull, Leach's Storm-Petrel. 

Harlequin Duck 1

Surf Scoter 3

Redb-breasted Merganser 3

Red-throated Loon 1

Pacific Loon 8

Common, Loon 10

Laysan Albatross 1

Black-footed Albatross 74

Northern Fulmar 6


Pink-footed Shearwater 12

Sooty Shearwater 212

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 51

Brandt's Cormorant 21

Double-crested Cormorant 45

Pelagic Cormorant 40

Brown Pelican 2

Black-bellied Plover 40

Wandering Tattler 3 (on north jetty)

Whimbrel 8

Red Knot 2

Surfbird 1

Sanderling 1

Dunlin 30

Western Sandpiper 1300

dowitcher (sp?) 10

Red-necked Phalarope 2

phalarope (sp?) 2

shorebird (sp?) 15

Common Murre 199

Pigeon Gullemot 60

Marbled Murrelet 1

Cassin's Auklet 1

Parakeet Auklet 1 (seen by 2)

Rhinoceros Auklet 18

Tufted Puffin 1

alcid (sp.? – 1 probable Parakeet Auklet) 3

Bonaparte's Gull 1

Western Gull 90

California Gull 29

Herring Gull 5

Thayer's Gull 2 (seen by few)

Glaucous-winged Gull 11

gull (sp.?) 61

Caspian Tern 3

Rock Pigeon 4

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Oh, yeah -- we are going out deep!

Well, we will have some wind, but weather forecasts indicate we will be going out on Saturday, April 30th.    We'll see what we find out 500 fathoms and deeper.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Spring Deepwater in April!

We are eagerly awaiting our spring deepwater pelagic scheduled for April 30th.  We still have plenty of room, but this trip will go even with fewer passengers than usual if necessary.  We even have a couple of early registration discount spots still available. We just want to get out on the ocean!  Our main focus on this 12-hour trip will be getting as far as offshore as possible.  We can expect to see Leach's Storm-Petrel, and will be hoping for Parakeet Auklet or even a Murphy's Petrel.  Note: pterodroma petrels are extremely rare on one day pelagic trips off Oregon. Come on and join the fun -- hope to see you on April 30th. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

High Swells Force Feb 6 Cancellation

Well, this is the risk you take when you offer a winter pelagic trip off Oregon.  You have to pick a date months in advance, and then see what the weather does.  Several days of storms are creating high swells which will prevent us from going out tomorrow, February 6th.  Please check this website as we are trying to reschedule this trip for a later date.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

When the Motion of the Ocean Gets You Down

     A couple of passengers signing up for trips this year have asked me about seasickness remedies.  I am not exactly the best person to ask, as I am not particularly susceptible to this malady.  I confess I might feel a little "off" for a short while at the beginning of a trip, especially if I did not get a lot of sleep the night before, but at most I might take a swig of Pepto-Bismol if I think the ocean will be rough. 
      Fortunately, I found an article on-line on the Bloody Decks website (a fishing website) that discusses seasickness medications.  The author does not mention the availability of Scopolamine, which may not be available any longer.  Note that ginger may be effective as a preventive treatment.  
Here is the link: http://www.bdoutdoors.com/motion-sickness-what-you-need-to-know/
     Disclaimer: I am including this only for your consideration, and do not endorse any of the medications or remedies mentioned in the article.