Friday, October 22, 2021

October 24 Pelagic -- Weather Cancellation

 One cannot predict what the ocean will be like when the schedule for the year is being created. For the third time this year, we had to cancel a pelagic due to the weather. The five-day forecast looked ominous on Wednesday, with 20-25 knot winds and swells to 13 feet. Today (two days before the pelagic) the forecast is for 25-30 knot winds and combined seas of 19 feet. Now I love roller coasters, but not to bird from. So this was an easy decision to make, albeit a painful one. We have one more trip on the schedule,  December 4th (with the 5th open as a weather date). There are just a few spaces left on that trip, which will also fill soon. We are crossing our fingers for good weather on those dates! 

October 9th Pelagic -- 2 Albatrosses, 4 Shearwaters

 Our October 9 trip had to travel a long way, but we found some fishing vessels far offshore, and although we were not able to spend as much time as we would have liked, we were able to pick out some good birds in the clouds of seabirds. Finding fishing boats is almost always a solid strategy, especially when there is a processor in the area, as there was that day. We had close encounters with one of our favorite birds, BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS, and were fortunate enough to also see 1-2 LAYSAN ALBATROSS. While traveling out and back, and also around the fishing boats, we managed 4 species of shearwaters: SOOTY, SHORT-TAILED, PINK-FOOTED, and the elegant BULLER'S. We had definitive views of the members of the jaeger/skua complex: POMARINE and LONG-TAILED JAEGERS, and nice views of a SOUTH POLAR SKUA. Several people had views of a possible Parasitic Jaeger, but this was not definitive enough to make the official list. CASSIN'S AUKLETS were plentiful, and we had a number of RHINOCEROS AUKLETS. A few lucky birders even had a glimpse of a MARBLED MURRELET as we returned. Our long travel times meant we did not spend time nearshore looking for this species. Our only regret was that we could not spend enough time to carefully scan all the bird flocks near the fishing vessels, so a couple of our hoped for species did not materialize. The ocean conditions were decent (a few birders might disagree), and it was a good day on the ocean. 

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Made it out to Lane County!

 The weather gods finally smiled on us and Oregon Pelagic Tours hit a decent weather window and was able to complete our 10-hour pelagic on September 25. We faced dense fog early, but after a couple of hours, it cleared, and we were able to travel down to Lane County, much to the delight of those participants looking to add pelagic birds to their Lane County list. Ocean conditions were decent for most, but there was enough swell to make trip very uncomfortable for about a third of the passengers -- I suspect the fog obscuring the horizon line was a major factor for most of those individuals. Highlights were 5 species of shearwater, including the elegant BULLER'S, 1 FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER (in Lincoln County, to the disappointment of many), and SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER, BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS, several SOUTH POLAR SKUAS, PARASITIC and LONG-TAILED JAEGERS (one possible Pomarine), great views of FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS,  and numerous SABINE'S GULLS. Mammal highlights included several humpback whales, and quite a few northern fur seals, including one curious, young female who stayed close to the boat for a long time. You can see a photo of her on the Oregon Pelagic Tours Facebook page. Remaining trips for 2021 set to go out on October 9 (wait list), October 24 (wait list) and December 4 (spaces available).  

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Poor Conditions Strike Again on 9/12/21

 When I got a call at 5:15 Sunday morning from our skipper, Rob Waddell, I feared the worst. Weather and ocean conditions, already marginal, had gotten that little bit worse, and our skipper was not happy at the prospect of going out. He was good enough to agree to get the Misty ready, and to allow me to talk with my guides and passengers on  the dock and get a consensus on canceling. We talked to our group, and given the conditions, the prudent decision to not try it was made. 

The guides and a number of passengers did go up to Boiler Bay, where we managed observations of several pelagic species during a three hour seawatch. 

Oregon Pelagic Tours never cancels lightly, but if safety is a concern, then sometimes we have to modify our plans, and bow to the whims of nature. However reluctantly. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

8/28 Pelagic Tried, But Weathered Out

We had a full boat, and the captain of the Misty even got us out over the bar, but a worsening weather forecast made us and all the fishing boats turn around and come in. This is frustrating for everyone involved, but when the skipper decides he does not want to be out there, neither do we. The one light moment was when I later received an email with the "Ballad of the Edmund Fitzgerald" attached. Thank you for that. 

Friday, August 20, 2021

9/18, 9/19 Ilwaco Pelagics Cancelled

I am sorry to have to cancel the two pelagics that were scheduled out of Ilwaco for the OBA/WOS Conference on September 18 and 19. After the conference was cancelled due to the COVID resurgence, I had a number of cancellations for the pelagics.  I attempted to to put together a trip on one of the two days, but could not get enough people to make that happen. Oregon Pelagic Tours will be happy to look at an Ilwaco trip in the future, but I am afraid it will not happen this year. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

OBA/WOS September Conference Cancelled, However...

 I was informed today that the OBA/WOS Conference scheduled for September 17-19 has been canceled due to COVID concerns. This is understandable, given the surge of cases caused by the Delta variant. 

However, NO decision has yet been made on the status of the two pelagics. If you have registered for either the Saturday, September 18 or Sunday, September 19 Ilwaco pelagics, please feel free to contact me in order to let me know if you are still interested in trying to make the trip. I will be reaching out at the end of the week to gauge interest. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Bird and Mammal Sightings, May 8 2021


050821 Bird List                                         Oregon Pelagic Tours

6 hour pelagic out of Newport on Misty, with Skipper Rob Waddell.  Birding the bay, nearshore towards the lighthouse, out almost to Nelson Island, and return.  Guides: Tim Shelmerdine, Jim Danzenbaker, Russ Namitz.

Yaquina Bay (0700-0716)

Greater Scaup 16                                                       Surf Scoter 6

Long-tailed Duck 1                                                    Red-necked Grebe 5

Eurasian Collared Dove 7                                          Western Sandpiper 50

peep sp. 50                                                                 Wandering Tattler 1

shorebird sp. 4                                                           Pigeon Guillemot 25

Western Gull 50                                                        California Gull 10

Glaucous-winged Gull 25                                         Common Loon 12

Brandt’s Cormorant 15                                              Pelagic Cormorant 45                                     

Double-crested Cormorant 50                                    American Crow 1

0-5 miles offshore (0717-0748)

Surf Scoter 15                                                           Red-necked Grebe 1

Western Sandpiper 80                                                peep 120

Red-necked Phalarope 20                                          Common Murre 48

Pigeon Guillemot 5                                                     Marbled Murrelet 12

Cassin’s Auklet 2                                                         Western Gull 5

Red-throated Loon 4                                                    Pacific Loon 9 

Common Loon 7                                                          Brandt’s Cormorant 25                                     

Pelagic Cormorant 5

5-23.5 miles offshore (0748-1013)

Red-necked Phalarope 22                                             phalarope sp. 2

Common Murre 80                                                       Cassin’s Auklet 3              

Rhinoceros Auklet 32                                                   Western Gull 12               

California Gull 1                                                           Red-throated Loon 1      

Pacific Loon 3                                                               Black-footed Albatross 7 

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 3                                            Pink-footed Shearwater 5                                       

Sooty Shearwater 900                                                    **Pacific white-sided dolphin 20+

**northern fur seal 1                                                                                         

Nelson Island (1013-1102) (Chum stop 23.5 miles offshore, NE of Nelson Island)

Common Murre 1                                                            Rhinoceros Auklet 5

Sabine’s Gull 2                                                                Western Gull 10

California Gull 15                                                           Herring Gull 1

Black-footed Albatross 20                                               Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel 50

Northern Fulmar 1                                                           Pink-footed Shearwater 4

Sooty Shearwater 60                                                                                      

23 to 3 miles offshore (1103-1306)

Western Sandpiper 10                                                    Red-necked Phalarope 28            

Common Murre 88                                                          Cassin’s Auklet 3              

Rhinoceros Auklet 10                                                     Western Gull 15

California Gull 5                                                             Pacific Loon 3

loon sp. 1                                                                         Black-footed Albatross 5

Pink-footed Shearwater 2                                                 Sooty Shearwater 38      

Brandt’s Cormorant 2                                                     **humpback whale 1 (breached once)                  

3-0 miles offshore (1306-1320)

Red-necked Grebe 1                                                       Red-necked Phalarope 9

Common Murre 20                                                          Pigeon Guillemot 1

Marbled Murrelet 5                                                          Ancient Murrelet 2 (seen by few – rare)

Cassin’s Auklet 2                                                               Rhinoceros Auklet 1

Pacific Loon 1                                                                    Brandt’s Cormorant 6

**Steller’s sea lion 4

Yaquina Bay (return) (1321-1334)

Red-necked Phalarope 3                                               Pigeon Guillemot 15

Western Gull 50                                                             Glaucous-winged Gull 10

Western x Gl-winged Gull 5                                          Pacific Loon 1

Common Loon 3                                                            Brandt’s Cormorant 15  

Pelagic Cormorant 30                                                     Double-crested Cormorant 35

Double-crested Cormorant 35                                        Brown Pelican 1

Turkey Vulture 1                                                              Osprey 1   

**Harbor seal 1


May 8 Pelagic Results

OREGON PELAGIC TOURS kicked off its 2021 season with a successful 6 hour pelagic on May 8. 21 birders and 3 guides climbed on board our favorite fishing boat Misty, skippered by the ever-capable Rob, and assisted by his deckhand Shad. Ocean conditions were worrisome as we watched forecasts during the week, but the waves had settled down to decent wave heights for our trip. As usual on these 6-hour trips, we birded the bay and nearshore (Marbled Murrelets again did not disappoint), before heading offshore toward Nelson Island. A couple of flocks of feeding Sooty Shearwaters held our interest for a while, and we managed to pick up our first Black-footed Albatross only 11 miles out. A group of 20 Pacific white-sided dolphins came in to check us out, then quickly lost interest. Our chum stop about 23.5 miles offshore brought in more albatross and up to 50 Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, allowing all of us great views of these species, as well as the many Sooty Shearwaters and several Pink-footed Shearwaters. Two Sabine's Gulls came by briefly to investigate our slick, but unfortunately did not linger long enough for everyone to enjoy them. Highlights of our return trip included a breach by a nearby humpback whale and a very late sighting of two Ancient Murrelets seen by a fortunate few. Russ and Jim did their usual great jobs guiding, pointing out birds and offering natural history information. We got off the dock tired but satisfied, and looking forward to our next trip, another 6-hour trip in July. All future Oregon Pelagic Tours trips have spaces available -- hope to see you on the ocean this year. 

A full list of all sightings will be in the next post. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

May 8 Pelagic Update

 I am pleased to share the good news that our 6 hour pelagic from Newport on May 8 received sufficient sign-up this week to allow me to confirm this trip with the charter. This trip should allow us to witness the northward migration of Sabine's Gulls, jaegers, phalaropes (in their alternate plumage), as well as resident alcids. Our visiting tubenoses, particularly Black-footed Albatross, Northern Fulamr, Sooty Shearwater, and Pink-footed Shearwater, and perhaps Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel are also likely to be seen.  There are still a few spaces available at $115 a spot. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Possible Delays in Payment Confirmation

 If you have sent Oregon Pelagic Tours a payment and not yet received your confirmation, there is no cause for alarm. The West Linn Post Office closed in February, so all post office box holders must pick up their mail during business hours at the Gladstone Post Office. This is obviously not very convenient, so I will be making irregular trips to pick up my mail. No worries -- everything is secure, but there will be some delays. 

Monday, January 25, 2021


Please do not send any payment at this time. If interested, please go to the Reservation page, read all material, then send us an email with the name of participant(s), address, and cell phone number. 

Prices given are for cash and checks. Extra charges apply for PayPal payments. 

No credit card payments can be accepted. 

No February trip in 2021

May 8 (Sat.)– Spring Seabirds (6 hours) $115 -- this date is confirmed. 

July 17 (Sat.) – Summer Seabirds (6 hours) $115

August 15 (Sun.) -- Early Fall Seabirds (8 hours) $155

August 28 (Sat.) – Fall Deepwater (12 hours) $225

September 12 (Sun.) – Newport Fall Seabirds (8 hours) $155

*September 18 (Sat.) – Ilwaco Fall Seabirds (8 hours) (OBA) Price TBD

*September 19 (Sun.) – Ilwaco Fall Seabirds (8 hours) (OBA) Price TBD

*The two trips from Ilwaco are provided for the OBA annual meeting -- OBA members attending the meeting will be given priority for reservations. 

(Date TBD)– Shorebird Festival Pelagic (5 hours, Charleston) 

September 25 (Sat.) –Lane County Pelagic (10 hours)  $190

October 9 (Sat.) –Fall Seabirds (8 hours) $155

October 24 (Sun.) – Late Fall Seabirds (8 hours) $155

December 4 (Sat.) – Winter Pelagic (7 hours) $135