Date: 4/14/17 9:16 pm From: Range Bayer <range.bayer...> Subject: [obol] *Fwd: Fork-tailed Storm-petrel under Newport bridge?
Reported sightings of Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels are rare enough near the Yaquina Bay Bridge that they were included in the bird notes of the Yaquina Birder and Naturalist's newsletter (the Sandpiper) that has a search box for 1993-2015 records at the top of http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/bird.htm
There have been many reports in this newsletter of live Fork-taileds during pelagic trips and seawatches along the coast as well as for beached birds by the late Bob Loeffel and his beached bird team for their route south of the Yaquina Bay from South Beach to Beaver Creek.
Below my signature line are records inside Lincoln County estuaries, including records from the Yaquina Bay South Jetty (YBSJ) inland that I found for 1993-2015, with notes for spring 1985. The URL for these reports are also included below. Bird notes in this newsletter ceased in 2015.
To compare to your sighting today, there were reports in 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2007 during March-May 1993-2015. There were also records during October-February that were likely to have been Fork-tails blown inshore from storms.
But your sighting today was not associated with a storm, and sightings during at least April-May were not noted as being related to storms.
Thanks to Bob Loeffel's beached bird records, we can compare the number of rare live sightings in Yaquina Bay with dead beached bird numbers. The extraordinary large number of live Fork-tail sightings inside Yaquina Bay during March-May in 1985, 1995, and 1999 were correlated with an increase in number of dead beached Fork-tails, which suggests that they they may have stressed and that is why they showed up inside Yaquina Bay.
Thanks to the many observers who are indicated by their initials in the following notes who reported their sightings!
[From April 1995 newsletter] In Lincoln County, this species is rarely noted from shore or found beached. But in the spring of 1985 they were common within Yaquina Bay and seen by many observers. Their onshore showing may indicate that they were stressed because the most Fork-tails found beached since 1978 along BLo & S&DBr's 4.6 mi of beach near Thiel Creek were discovered in 1985 in March (12 Fork-tails) and April (4 Fork-tails); generally only 0-2 Fork-tails are found each year.
This year, on 3/25, PS & DS saw many Fork-tails flying and sitting on the water at the YBSJ and up Yaquina Bay as far as the LNG tank (fide TMi). At Boiler Bay, DBa & SRu saw at least three just west of the kelp beds on 4/9, and FS saw one on 4/15. This minishow of Fork-tails onshore again coincides with an unusual die-off as three were discovered along S&DBr's beach in mid-April (fide BLo).
Although Fork-tails may be stressed this spring, it is inappropriate to jump to the conclusion that all seabirds are stressed because BLo and S&DBr found relatively few beached birds and no alcids this year in either March or April, but during past El Nino years, there has also usually been a large die-off of alcids in spring. Time will tell . . .
During the 4/9 pelagic trip out of Newport, MH, GG, and others found six 5-29 miles offshore. Since there have been so few pelagics in spring off Newport, it is impossible to tell if this number is unusual.
[From May newsletter] As reported in the last Sandpiper, FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS are rarely noted in Lincoln County, but 1995 is proving exceptional. On 5/2, PR & PS found one dead just north of Yaquina Head; on 5/7, one graced Boiler Bay (TK); on 5/8, RW and others saw one at the YBSJ and another near the Yaquina Bay LNG Tank at the west edge of Sallys Bend. On 5/14, about 15 were in Yaquina Bay, and 70 were 20 mi off Newport (MH et al.). During the misty afternoon of 5/15, CP found about a dozen at the YBSJ. During the morning of 5/16, DF & CP estimated at least 100 flying north past YBSJ. On 5/17, LO saw 2-3 from the South Beach Marina to the LNG Tank in Yaquina Bay, and on 5/21, SR observed one at Boiler Bay.
1-2 FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS flitting over the channel between the rock fingers west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on 3/31 (DF) and 4/1 (DPe) are rare, and our first BROWN PELICAN was at Boiler Bay on 4/19 (GG).
One dead FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL was beached near Thiel Creek on 4/25 (B&SLo, S&DB). They are rare inshore, but 1-8 graced the Sallys Bend/Idaho Flats area [east of the Hatfield Marine Science Center] on 5/21-24 (TJ & DMu; JG & OS; DE; CP).
[April 1999 newsletter] One FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL was walking on water while trying to fly into a strong wind at the YBSJ on 3/28 (KM).
[May 1999 newsletter] FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS are generally rare onshore and have only been previously common during the springs of 1985 and 1995. But they continued their unusual onshore display this spring with several off the mouth of D River in Lincoln City and off Beverly Beach north of Yaquina Head on 4/30 (TJ & others), up to 12 at Boiler Bay on 5/1 (TJ & others), 5/2 (RR), 5/4 (MK), 5/5 & 7 (PP); about a dozen around the offshore buoy at Depoe Bay on 5/1 (TJ & others), 1-12 near the HMSC on 5/4 (RO), 5/5 (CC; DPe; AM; TS; PP), and 5/7 (PP); 9-12 at the YBSJ on 5/7 (RB), and two at Sallys Bend on 5/9 (KM). They were as far inland as the east side of Sallys Bend on 5/5 (PP).
The most detailed Fork-tail observations were by PP on 5/4 at Boiler Bay; he noted: "From 7 to 8 AM there were as many as 30-35 Fork-tails in view at any one time. They were mostly close in, and, although some were circling and zigzagging, the majority (I'd say 90%) were obviously moving south. I was able to follow several individual birds, and they all ended up out of sight to the south. There was a steady stream of birds over the breakers during that whole hour. After 8 AM, they seemed to be in more reduced numbers, and I saw a greater percentage flying north, so I wasn't sure if I was seeing the same birds or not, but there were still about 2-3 per minute passing. A conservative estimate for the 2.75 hr I was there would be 300+ Fork-tails."
During pelagic trips when Fork-tails are more to be expected, a few were a mile off Yaquina Head on 4/29 (BP), and many were at 600 fathoms off the Oregon central coast in mid-May (SK). But none were observed during the 5/22 pelagic out of Depoe Bay (MH, GG, & others; [see http://www.teleport.com/~guide/trips_01.htm for all results and pelagic trip info]).
Unfortunately, the Fork-tailed onshore showing appears to have been a result of stress. Since 1977, BLo has been conducting or coordinating beached bird walks along 4.6 mi of beach near Thiel Creek; this May appears to have been a month of great Fork-tailed mortality as 29 were found dead (B&SLo, S&DB, LO). This is extraordinarily high as in most years the total is five or less; the two exceptions were in, you guessed it, the good onshore showing years of 1985 and 1995 when the yearly totals were 18 and 12, respectively.
Perhaps, Fork-tails were stressed as a result of low offshore food availability. Although May weather was often cold and wet, there did not seem to be any storms with strong onshore winds that could have resulted in their being blown onshore, like what sometimes happens during winter.
The unusual, onshore FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL showing ended on 5/9/1999 as reported in the last newsletter, but singletons were also noted at the YBSJ on 6/6 (KM) and at Boiler Bay on 8/26 & 29 (PP). Offshore, about 70 were counted during the 8/7 pelagic trip (GG & others). The extraordinarily high mortality of storm-petrels continued into June with eight Fork-taileds found dead then near Thiel Creek, and one dead, beached LEACH'S STORM-PETREL was counted there in both June and July (B&SLo, S&DB, LO).
. . . on 10/17, a Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel flew between the Yaquina Bay jetties (WH).
=========================== 2007 at http://yaquina.info/ybn/bird/2007bird-a.htm A FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL was found dead along 4.6 miles of beach north of Ona Beach in January (B and SLo, L and VO), and BO discovered a live one near the third finger of the YBSJ on 2/28.
Single Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels were at the end of the YBSJ on 12/14 (RP & EH), at Spanish Head on 12/15 (PPi), and at Fishing Rock State Park (half a mile north of Boiler Bay) on 12/15 (AC & TH).
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: <jennifer.a.rothe...> Date: Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 5:49 PM Subject: [obol] Fork-tailed Storm-petrel under Newport bridge? To: OBOL <obol...>
My co-workers and I were driving west on the jetty road to do a bit of birding before heading home when I spotted a small bird flying near the bridge pilings looked a hell of a lot like a FTSP. This struck me as odd, so I yelled at the driver to stop the vehicle. We all piled out to observe and-no doubt about it- FTSP more or less underneath the Newport bridge (at one point in the same narrow scope view as a White-winged Scoter, which might have been a first for me). The bird spent most of its time at the water's surface, with wings out, doing a fair bit of its classical pitter-pattering foraging style.
I've observed Storm-petrels a number of times from various locations on-shore, but I've never before encountered them in between the jetties... Much less almost directly under the bridge!
My question to the many OBOLers with many more years of experience than me out here is this: how commonly have you had Storm-petrels in relatively sheltered waters? Any and all insights most welcome.
Jen Rothe Corvallis/ Yachats POST: Send your post to <obol...> JOIN OR QUIT: http://www.freelists.org/list/obol OBOL archives: www.freelists.org/archive/obol Contact moderator: <obol-moderators...>