Date: 3/20/17 11:35 am From: Bruce LaBar <blabar...> Subject: [Tweeters] Westport Pelagic, March 19, 2017. PARAKEET AUKLET
FINALLY! After several recent cancelations, we were able to have our first of the year pelagic trip! The weather was outstanding with sunshine for most of the day and excellent seas. With 15 birders, two who were younger than 12 years old, we had a fantastic day.
The early morning crossing of the bar was a little bumpy, but once we got pass, we had a great open ocean ahead. Mount Rainier and the Olympics were bathed in the gorgeous sunrise. My first ever Sea Otter, off Westport, surprised us as we cruised by. Further out, we went through the “Murre Zone” with hundreds of Common Murre’s everywhere. One Ancient Murrelet was briefly viewed in this area. This time of year is great for Black-legged Kittiwakes offshore. Over 150 were observed plus 11 sightings of early migrating, Sabine’s Gulls.
Out in deeper water, we encountered our first shearwaters, which are scarce this time of year. Fewer than 20 Sooties, 1 Pink-footed and 1 Short-tailed were seen. We started to see many Cassin’s and Rhinoceros Auklets in this area. Also our first sightings of PARAKEET AUKLETS. This was frustrating because all 6 sightings were of birds flying away from the boat and most birders not getting good views.
Before we stopped at our normal “chum” site in the middle of Grays Canyon, Phil noticed a long-liner fishing boat a few miles further out. These boats are famous for attracting seabirds, especially albatross! We got close and had over 90 Black-footed Albatross, many Fork-tailed Storm Petrels, Black-legged Kittiwakes, California and Herring Gulls and a few other seabirds.
As we left this great congregation, we were all keen on trying to get good looks at Cassin’s Auklets and hopefully better views of the Parakeet Auklets. The Cassin’s were very obliging as some were too full from eating, that when they tried to fly they flopped only a few yards away from the boat, which gave all good views. Ahead of us we noticed some other alcids on the water and we slowed down to check. Ryan Merrill called out that one was a Parakeet! Indeed it was! It stayed within a close viewing area for all to see. Many photos were taken. This was the highlight bird and lifer for many on the boat.
Other highlights include 3 Pomarine Jaegers, 4 Marbled Murrelets, 2 Harlequin Ducks in the boat basin and 30 Marbled Godwits and later over 100 also near the marina.
Mammal highlights include the Sea Otter, 1 Northern Fur Seal, 1 Elephant Seal, Steller’s and California Sea Lions, Harbor Seal, 1 very close Humpbacked Whale and several Gray Whales near shore.
For further information on our pelagic trips and for reservations, please check out our website at www.westportseabirds.com. Our complete checklist from this trip will also be posted here in a few days.
Spotters for this trip were Gene Revelas and myself. Boat personal and spotters were Phil and Chris Anderson. Thanks to all for such a great trip!