Date: 4/14/17 9:16 pm
From: Range Bayer <range.bayer...>
Subject: [obol] *Fwd: Fork-tailed Storm-petrel under Newport bridge?
Hi Jen,

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

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

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!

Range Bayer, Newport, Oregon

[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,
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.

1996 at

At least six FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS were flying around the YBSJ, and one was
near the Alsea Bay docks on 2/23 (SD & BT).

1997 at for January-May records.

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).

1997 at for June-Dec 1997 records.

KM carefully studied a Fork-tailed flying over the Yaquina channel
between the HMSC and the LNG tank on 10/12, which is a rare inland
sighting of them.

1998 at

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 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.

* * * * * * * * * * *
1999. [June-August newsletter at]

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,

2003 at

. . . on 10/17, a Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel flew between the Yaquina
Bay jetties (WH).

2007 at
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.

A probable FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL flew in a big, fast circle around
JL at the YBSJ on 3/8.
2015 at

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...>

Hello OBOLers,

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...>
OBOL archives:
Contact moderator: <obol-moderators...>

Join us on Facebook!