Monday, September 7, 2015

Westport Pelagic Sept 6, 2015

I went on my fifth pelagic trip of the year yesterday (Sept 6, 2015), this time I went back up to Westport for the third time.  A weak cold front was passing over the area Saturday night.  On Sunday morning as I drove to the marina at 5:15 am a hard rain pounded down on the windshield.  It turned to a light drizzle by the time I got to the marina a few minutes later. I knew the rain was to pass over us early in the day. It still looked like an iffy day for being on a boat outside with binoculars and a camera.  A rain shower washed us all as we listened to the skipper's hopeful speech of the rain stopping soon. We left the harbor as the shower stopped, we did not see any rain on the deck the rest of the day.  I saw a few showers out on the ocean, but none came close to the boat.  It turned into a great day and a fantastic trip.   The lack of any wind offshore kept some of the pelagic birds on the water, but enough shrimpers were out and had nice flocks of birds around them to keep it fun. Once again as last week out of Newport, the jaegers put on a great show.

On the way out, in the early morning light, I was watching a huge bird flying straight towards the boat, the wings looked huge but not nearly big enough for an albatross.  It was flying dead on towards me, all I could see was the round body. Bill T soon yelled out Brown Booby!  I saw it swoop up and sure enough it was a subadult booby. As I fumbled for my camera to get a picture, it was gone.  It was the third booby seen on Westport Pelagic since they started in the 70's.


This was called a Short-tailed Shearwater.  I was watching it wondering if it fit the mold for one when the call was made.  It did look more compact than a Sooty. Head looked hooded. Slender bill, cute looking.

Feel free to add any helpful comments.




Hooded look and it seemed to have extensive pale secondary coverts.


Not sure if I am seeing a shorter neck but hard to tell on a sitting crouched bird.


Short-tailed , same bird.


Same bird.



Same bird.




Here are ones I thought were Sooty.  Bill seems to vary in thickness in these birds.


  Slight more slope to head.  Long looking on water.




This one looked very slender billed and round in the head, but not compact, was thinking it could be female if not Short-tailed.  Longer tail in comparison to wing. Tough birds to id.

Update: After studying more photos and comments from folks I trust, this is  a Short-tailed.  This one was just outside harbor, taken  at 3:13 pm.  Very pleased I found it as we motored along.


Pomarine Jaegers were seen a few times, I think a few sightings were the same bird. The bold undertail covert barring is seen in young Long-tailed and Pomarine, Parasitic are not as contrasting. 


The dark malar area that shows off the pale bill  is also a sign of an immature Pomarine. 


The barring on the flanks and broad wings are Pomarine.


The lack of any serious wind offshore kept the big pelagic birds on the water,  They simply sit and wait for some wind so they can easily move about the ocean.  It takes about 7-10 knots of steady wind to give them the advantage of dynamic soaring, something I still have plans for a blog topic.

Calm days are good for Storm-Petrel viewing, lots of Forked-tail and a few Leach's were seen.

Here is a group of albatross chilling until the wind kicks up.  These flocks are always exciting to approach hoping for a rarity.



I fully expect to see a Shy Albatross off the Oregon or Washington coast very soon. Splitting out the three species of this albatross helps if you can describe the sections of the bill.  The Shy group have different colors and shades on the various parts of the bill in young and adult birds.  So there are six combos to learn. To be prepared I have been training my eyes to pick apart a bill (for too many years now :)), here are the parts on a Black-footed.  As you can see I have figured out how to label photos with cool arrows, let the fun begin.




Always fun to see a Black Turnstone on the rocks.  With a Wandering Tattler on the jetty, a three rock peep day.



A resting Short-billed Dowitcher.



Three Short-billed Dowitchers and  a Westernish Gull.





I think I was the last person on the boat to see these Surfbirds,



 Phil turned the boat around and went back to the Surfbirds so we could all have a good look. Thanks much!




Thanks to Monte Carlo and Phil and Chris for getting us out and back while avoiding the rain. And thanks to the spotters Bill, Gene and Scott.  

BTW: The Black Turnstone is in the very top left corner, asleep. :)

All the normal suspects were seen,  scanned the horizons for a Laysan, none seen.

Ebird lists as provided by Bill, thanks for all the work!

Westport pelagic--inshore, Grays Harbor, Washington, US
Sep 6, 2015 6:35 AM - 7:00 AM
Protocol: Traveling
3.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Westport Seabirds pelagic trip.  Leaders were Bill Tweit, Scott Mills and Gene Revelas.  Overcast skies.
9 species (+2 other taxa)

Surf Scoter  2
White-winged Scoter  3
Sooty Shearwater  1100
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel  5
Red-necked Phalarope  4
Common Murre  14
Heermann's Gull  5
California Gull  26
Western/Glaucous-winged Gull  9
Common/Arctic Tern  4
Elegant Tern  9     A small flock flying west with the stream of Sooty Shearwaters in the channel.  Noted white foreheads, black crown markings, grayish pattern underwing and upperwing.

Westport--Offshore waters, Grays Harbor, Washington, US
Sep 6, 2015 7:00 AM - 10:05 AM
Protocol: Traveling
27.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Westport Seabirds pelagic trip.  Leaders were Bill Tweit, Scott Mills and Gene Revelas.  Transect from the outer buoy to Grays Canyon, including a check of one shrimp trawler fishing south of Grays Canyon.  Cloudy skies that cleared as we headed west, winds were SW switching to W, Beaufort 2-3, seas were W 4'.  Sea surface temperature was 58-61F.  Three Pacific White-sided Dolphin and 2 Ocean Sunfish.
23 species (+4 other taxa)

Northern Pintail  9
Black-footed Albatross  22
Northern Fulmar  45     One light phase.
Pink-footed Shearwater  245
Buller's Shearwater  7
Sooty Shearwater  163
Short-tailed Shearwater  1
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel  47
Leach's Storm-Petrel  2
Brown Booby  1     First spotted at 0720 near horizon to south of us as a large bird with long wings, approximately 5 miles due west of the outer buoy off Grays Harbor or 8 miles offshore.  Flew towards us and was quickly recognized as a booby, passed by length of boat so all participants got good look before it flew off.  Seen as close as 75m with good lighting due to high overcast and good viewing conditions since seas were moderate at that point, with light wind from S (Beaufort 2).   Solitary, much larger than nearby Pink-footed Shearwater.  Long wings, tail and large head and beak readily apparent.  Typical booby flight with deep downward wing beats.  Uppersurface was solid dark brown, including collar and rump.  Head and neck were same dark brown color,   Somewhat raggedy line terminates brown on upper breast at shoulders.  Lower breast and belly were whitish, with some darkening on undertail coverts.  Underpart color was a dirty white, as were the underwing coverts which also showed extensive dark margins and some dark intrusion onto coverts.  Beak was a dark gray with some apparent lightening near base.  Feet not seen.  Bird was in heavy flight feather molt, showing significant gaps in the middle primaries and the inner secondaries.

Westport--offshore waters Grays Canyon, Grays Harbor, Washington, US
Sep 6, 2015 10:05 AM - 11:35 AM
Protocol: Traveling
5.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Westport Seabirds pelagic trip.  Leaders were Bill Tweit, Scott Mills and Gene Revelas.   Waters over Grays Canyon, including checking a longliner and a chum stop.  Sea surface temperature was 61F.  Winds were W Beaufort 3, seas were 4' W, and clear skies.  Two Humpback Whales and one Blue Shark.
11 species

Black-footed Albatross  235
Northern Fulmar  41     One light phase.
Pink-footed Shearwater  36
Sooty Shearwater  10
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel  54
Red Phalarope  2
Pomarine Jaeger  2
Long-tailed Jaeger  4
Cassin's Auklet  4
Sabine's Gull  8
California Gull  39

Westport--Offshore waters, Grays Harbor, Washington, USSep 6, 2015 11:35 AM - 2:35 PM
Protocol: Traveling
30.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Westport Seabirds pelagic trip.  Leaders were Bill Tweit, Scott Mills and Gene Revelas.   Eastbound counts from Grays Canyon to the outer buoy.  Sea surface temperatures were 61F offshore, cooling to 57F nearshore.  Winds were NW Beaufort 3 offshore, switching to S Beaufort 3-4 nearshore.  Checked four shrimp boats north and east of Grays Canyon.  One Dall's Porpoise, 25 Pacific White-sided Dolphin, one Northern Fur Seal, one California Sea Lion and 12 Ocean Sunfish.
19 species (+1 other taxa)

Black-footed Albatross  18
Northern Fulmar  59     Two light phase.
Pink-footed Shearwater  503
Buller's Shearwater  6
Sooty Shearwater  1921
Short-tailed Shearwater  1
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel  61
Leach's Storm-Petrel  1
Brown Pelican  1
Red-necked Phalarope  1
Red Phalarope  6
South Polar Skua  1
Pomarine Jaeger  3
Common Murre  179
Cassin's Auklet  14
Rhinoceros Auklet  14
Sabine's Gull  40
California Gull  969
Herring Gull  23
Western/Glaucous-winged Gull  47

Westport pelagic--inshore, Grays Harbor, Washington, USSep 6, 2015 2:45 PM - 3:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
7.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Westport Seabirds pelagic trip.  Leaders were Bill Tweit, Scott Mills and Gene Revelas.  Overcast.  Final leg from the outer buoy in to the boat basin.  One Harbor Seal, 2 California Sea Lions and 6 Stellers Sea Lions.
22 species (+2 other taxa)

White-winged Scoter  1
Red-throated Loon  1
Pacific Loon  2
Sooty Shearwater  3700
Brandt's Cormorant  21
Double-crested Cormorant  35
Pelagic Cormorant  60
Brown Pelican  1200
Great Blue Heron  1     In boat basin.
Wandering Tattler  1
Marbled Godwit  500     Roosting in boat basin.
Black Turnstone  3     In boat basin.
Surfbird  2     In boat basin.
Short-billed Dowitcher  4     In boat basin.
Common Murre  118
Pigeon Guillemot  1
Heermann's Gull  80
Western Gull  X
California Gull  190
Glaucous-winged Gull  X
Western x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid)  X
Western/Glaucous-winged Gull  450
Caspian Tern  1
Peregrine Falcon  1     Flyover in boat basin.



Thanks for visiting.


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