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.

No comments:

Post a Comment