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).