Sunday, December 31, 2023

2024 Pelagic Schedule Coming Soon

Happy New Year, Everyone! 
I have sent a proposed schedule to both Garibaldi Charters and Newport Tradewinds. As soon as I hear back with a confirmation, I will post it and start accepting registrations. The 2024 schedule will be similar to last year's, with trips out of Garibaldi and Newport. One notable change will be with our accompanied repositioning cruise -- this year it will take place in spring, which greatly increases our chances of seeing pterodromas. Russ Namitz and I will be leaading this  trip. 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

December 2/3 trip weathers out

Today (Thursday, November 30), I received a call from Newport Tradewinds. The weather forecast of high winds and swells up to 14 feet both days is way beyond our ability to venture out on the ocean. Oregon Pelagic Tours will look into trying to schedule another winter trip in early 2024. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

December 2 (or 3) Newport pelagic has enough participants to go!

We are happy to announce that the winter pelagic scheduled out of Newport on December 2 (with December 3 as a weather date) has achieved the minimum sign-up that will allow us to run this trip. We did have a couple of people drop out, and so are hoping for a little more participation, but we are planning on going. This trip is arguably the best chance for birders to see Short-tailed Albatross, which is not guaranteed, but has been seen on past trips. Other seasonal specialities seen on this trip include Parakeet Auklet (once), Ancient Murrelet, Black-legged Kittiwake, and Short-tailed Shearwater. Not yet seen, but to be hoped for, would be Mottled Petrel -- is this the year? 

Report of Crown Princess Repo Cruise, October 20-22, 2023

Report of a repositioning cruise between Vancouver, B.C. and San Francisco aboard Crown Princess from October 19-22, 2023. People included 7 birders as part of an Oregon Pelagic Tours trip, and 11 birders from the Portland area and Central Oregon. This report only includes bird lists from the two at-sea days. The weather and ocean were very decent. The first day we were able to bird above the bow on Deck 8; the second day we began on Deck 8, but were asked to bird from Deck 7, the Promenade Deck due to concerns about high winds. The birding was not exactly hot, but most of the species expected this time of year were eventually seen by at least some birders. Both Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses were seen, we had numbers of Pom Jaegers and one South Polar Skua, three species of shearwater, and the highlight, a Brown Booby! Mammal sightings were better, with Gray, Fin, Humpback and Minke whales seen, along with Dall's Porpoises, Common Dolphins, a possible beaked whale, an Elephant Seal and Northern Fur Seals.

October 8 Newport Trip Report

 Each pelagic trip this year was been fun and interesting, and the October 8 pelagic was no exception. The day before this trip was scheduled to go out, a worsening weather report made us wonder if we would even be going out. Fortunately the incoming heavy weather slowed its approach, and we started the day with very decent ocean conditions. Once again on Misty with Skipper Rob, we followed our usual routine of birding the bay, looking for Marbled Murrelets (successfully) and other nearshore birds, then heading offshore searching for fishing boats and flocks of birds. Guides Dave Irons and David Mandell did their usual outstanding pointing out and identifying birds and other sealife for the passengers. 

While we did see many of our target birds, including the always-popular Black-footed Albatross, two jaeger species, Sabine's Gulls, Red and Red-necked Phalaropes, three species of shearwaters, Cassin's and Rhinoceros Auklets, and much more, marine mammals stole the show, We saw three species of whales, including two incredible BLUE WHALES, which hung around our boat for almost 20 amazing minutes. This species is very rare on the continental shelf of Oregon. (Gray and humpback whales were also seen on the trip.) Dall's Porpoises around the boat and riding the bow wave added to the excitement of the trip, and for a little while took our minds off of now bouncy ride home.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Trip Report -- OPT September 17 Garibaldi 8-Hour Pelagic

 With a shallow bar at the mouth of the bay, even getting out onto the ocean from Garibaldi can be a challenge. We were extremely fortunate to have a one day window of nice weather and excellent ocean conditions. 17 passengers and 2 guides were aboard the F/V Alaska Sunrise, capably run by knowledgeable Skipper Curtis and helpful Deckhand Terry. We ran out about 20 miles, found some shrimp boats, and although we missed some targets, saw most of the expected species, although some in low numbers. For example, we only had 9 Black-footed Albatross, but made up for the low number with a Laysan Albatross. We had over 500 Sooty Shearwaters, but soon realized that we were seeing Short-tailed Shearwaters as well. 71 is certainly too low, and we had large flocks that were unapproachable so had to leave many dark shearwaters unidentified. We worked hard for our jaegers, seeing one definite Parasitic, two definite Pomarine, but zero Long-taileds. 8 South Polar Skuas went far to make up for that miss. Among other highlights were the attractive Sabine's Gulls and Buller's Shearwaters, and a nice, mixed group of Pacific white-sided, northern right whale and Risso's dolphins. A Wandering Tattler, Surfbirds, Black Turnstones in the bay made the trips out and back interesting and added to the trip list. A good day was had by all.

Monday, September 18, 2023

A Rare Bird on OPT's September 9 Newport Pelagic

We started the day with a choppier ocean than expected, but the waves and swell stayed low, and improved throughout the day. Mist, with Skipper Rob Waddell, had to wait for many small craft heading out to fish for salmon, so we did not leave the dock until around 6:40, but we did our bay birding, turned south after the jetties to make sure we saw our Marbled Murrelt, then headed offshore to try and find a couple of draggers, which often have clouds of seabirds around them. 

What a difference a couple of weeks make! Two weeks ago, our trip had good numbers of many species. Today we worked hard for what we got. We did see three South Polar Skua, which are always a treat, even if seen most trips, but essentially dipped on the three jaegers -- only one unidentied jaeger was observed. We had six species of alcids, including one Tufted Puffin and three Marbled Murrelets, but numbers were low compared to the previous week. We had no identifiabled terns, no Short-tailed Shearwaters, and only four of the elegant Buller's Shearwaters. Our fishing boats were not pulling their nets while we were in the area, so our hoped-for concentrations of seabirds did not materialize. Determined to find some good birds, we headed to the underwater Nelson's Island. We encountered enough activity to start a chum slick (which included Tim's new secret oil concoction), and sharp-eyed Shawneen Finnegan spotted a very rare Wilson's Storm-Petrel feeding along the outer edge of the oil. Unfortunately, the bird did not approach closely, and although we had several sightings, it proved disappointly elusive for several birders. We did enjoy the very fine ocean conditions onn the trip back, and cruising the jetties in the bay on our return yirlded a pair of Wandering Tattlers and several Surbirds. Mammals on the day included harbor porpoise, three whale species including one fin whale, and four species of pinnippeds. To summarize, we saw many of the expected species, although several distantly, but did end up with an excellent rare bird. Kudos go out to our excellent guides and spotters, Jim and Shawneen, as well as all the passengers, who did a great job helping us guides call out birds on a full boat.

August 27 OPT Trip Report (Late)

This report was superbly written by Dave Irons and shared with his permission,

One of the highlights of yesterday's 10-hour Oregon Pelagic Tours adventure was the assortment of marine mammals that we encountered. Our time with this large pod (at least 200 animals) of Pacific White-sided Dolphins (with prominent dorsal fins) and Northern Right Whale Dolphins (they look like seals coming out of the water with a small tail and no dorsal) was easily the high point. We initially spotted this large pod about a half mile off and our paths intersected a couple minutes later. For several minutes, captain Rob kept us right along side the pod with several of the white-sided dolphins coming right to the boat to do some bow-riding. The grace and effortless speed of these animals is a joy to watch. In all we encountered 12 species of marine mammals that included, four species of dolphins and porpoises, three species of whales and five species of pinnipeds. We had: Fin, Gray, and Humpback Whales; Risso's, Northern Right Whale, and Pacific White-Sided Dolphins plus Harbor Porpoise; California and Steller's Sea Lions; Harbor Seal, a Fur Seal (not sure if it was Northern or Guadalupe) and a young Elephant Seal that laid on the surface as the boat passed right by. We also saw lots of blue sharks and the largest Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) that I have ever seen. It was about eight feet long.
Of course the focus of the trip was birds and they certainly did not disappoint. We didn't find any real surprises among the seabirds but had great looks of nearly every species we saw plus the array of passerines described in my earlier post. Only a distant fly-by South Polar Skua (part of our skua/jaeger slam) was not seen well by all participants. The seas were flat and often glassy, which made for ideal viewing conditions, especially spotting smaller alcids and phalaropes (both Red-necked and Red) sitting on the water. At our last chum stop we had all three jaegers, both Arctic and Common Terns, and lots of Sabine's Gulls come right into the boat along with numerous Black-footed Albatrosses, Northern Fulmars, Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwaters. Earlier in the trip we had 5-6 Buller's Shearwaters and we picked out a few Short-tailed Shearwaters (likely undercounted) throughout the day. We constantly had birds to sort through and a great group of participants with whom to share a most enjoyable day at sea.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Another Fun, Short Trip and an OPT Update

Time for an OPT update. We had to deal with fog, but our 2 1/2 hour Three Arch Rocks NWR tour on August 6 (run in conjunction with Garibaldi Charters) was again successful. In addition to good views of puffins, we saw numerous Rhinoceros Auklets, several Sooty Shearwaters, as well as the expected species (Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, all three cormorants, Brown Pelican, Western Gull). Along the jetties, we found two Wandering Tattlers, Black Turnstones and Surfbirds. These trips are turning out to be very enjoyable for passengers, boat crew, and the guide. There is one more of these trips this fall on Sunday, September 3. Come join the fun. 

What else is going on with Oregon Pelagic Tours? We could not muster enough sign-up to run our August 20 Garibaldi 8-hour trip and had to cancel it, but our September 17 Garibaldi trip is full. If interested in a Garibaldi trip this year, we still have spaces available on our October 15 Garibaldi trip (weather back-up date of October 22). 

Our August 27 Newport 10 hour trip will go out, but definitely could use more participants. Our September 9 Newport 8-hour trip is almost full and has been confirmed with the charter. There are a lot of spaces available on our October 8 8-hour and December 2 8-hour trips, both out of Newport. 

It will be a fun fall on the ocean. Please check the Schedule and Reservations pages of the Oregon Pelagic Tours website if you are considering joining us. 

Monday, July 24, 2023

Fun, Short Trip with Garibaldi Charters

Yesterday,Sunday, 7/23/23, Garibaldi Charters and Oregon Pelagic Tours accompplished something new: a  monthly, short (2 1/2 hours) nearshore pelagic trip down to Three Arch Rocks NWR.  14 passengers enjoyed a calm ocean and beautiful weather . As one would expect, Common Murres were the most numerous species, but Pigeon Guillemots, Western and Heermann's Gulls, all three cormorants, Black Oystercatchers. Brown Pelicans entertained the participants. The highlight of the day for most of us were 7 Tufted Puffins, a couple of them providing some incredibly close views of birds on the water. These monthly 2 1/2 hour trips are ideal for those wanting to get out on the water, but don't really want to go far offshore or spend 8 or more hours on the water. The next trips will take place on August 6 and September 3rd. While nearshore trips will not provide the deepwater species a longer pelagic trip, as we move toward fall, we should have an increased chance of seeing some shearwaters, phalaropes, terns and auklets. For more information about these trips and contact information for Garibaldi Charters, as well as the dates and costs of our longer trips, please visit the Schedule and Prices page of this website There is still plenty of room on all our trips. Hope to see you on the ocean!

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Join OPT on a Fall Repositioning Cruise!

While perhaps not as popular in the fall as in the spring, repositioning cruises are a great opportunity to watch seabirds any time of year. Have you wanted to go on a repo cruise, but are not sure you will be able to identify what you see? Then come join Oregon Pelagic Tours's owner and a  guide on the Crown Princess, leaving Vancouver, B.C. on October 19 and arriving in San Francisco on October 22. That gives us two full sea days to watch seabirds! Cost for birders wishing to join us will be $200 per person. Note: This is for the seabirding only -- each participant is responsible for their own cruise ship cabin, all travel costs including airfare to and from your home to the ship and back. Please contact Tim with questions and if interested in joining us -- we have the potential for group incentives if we register through Tim's Cruise Vacation Planner (if we reach a minimum of participants). 

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Oregon Pelagic Tours Full 2023 Schedule

Oregon Pelagic Tours is looking forward to a great summer and fall season in 2023. We are offering our most diverse schedule yet!  We have three 8-hour trips leaving from Garibaldi in August, September and October. We are also offering four Newport trips, including a ten-hour in August and 8-hour trips in September, October and December. New this year are short, afternoon trips to Three Arch Rocks NWR each month beginning in June. Interested? Take a peek at the Schedule & Prices page, and if you decide on a trip, read the Terms & Conditions, then follow the instructions for making a payment. When Oregon Pelagic Tours receives your payment, you reservation will be confirmed. Hope to see you on the ocean this year!

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Some Oregon Pelagic Tours Dates

 Because people are getting anxious (me too!) and want to start planning, I am putting up the dates for the Newport trips on the website. I am waiting for confirmation on the Garibaldi dates. 

Newport trips:

Sunday, August 27, 10 hours

Saturday, September 9, 8 hours

Sunday, October 8, 8 hours

Saturday, December 2, 8 hours (possible weather dates Dec. 3 and 9)

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Oregon Pelagic Tours To Offer Trips in 2023!

The rumors circulating about the demise of Oregon Pelagic Tours are not true. OPT will be offering birding trips out of both Garibaldi and Newport between August and October in 2023. Dates have been proposed to both our charter partners, and we are waiting for confirmations.  As soon as that happens, we will post and schedule and prices. 

NEW: For the first time, we will also be offering  monthly short eco-tours to Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge (part of the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Complex). These will start in June. More details will be provided soon.