Westport Seabirds had a great pelagic trip on Saturday, September 2. There was some wind wave chop in the morning as we left Grays Harbor, but seas were generally cooperative, and the weather was beautiful with sunny skies most of the day. It was noticeably "un-birdy" in both the harbor and the nearshore zone on the way out, but we did notice a steady stream of juvenile California Gulls heading northwest beyond the horizon on their commute to the fishing boats that Skipper Phil Anderson had noted were beyond the horizon in that direction. So we too headed that way and first encountered a few shrimpers on the outer portion of the continental shelf but without many birds around them. By then, we had picked up both Pomarine and Parasitic Jaegers on the transit and small numbers of our usual suspects, such as Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwaters, Northern Fulmar, and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels. Further offshore and just at the edge of Grays Canyon and deep water, we found six whiting (hake) boats actively fishing the shelf break. This was where the birds were and where we spent most of our time offshore. The draggers were working relatively close to each other and as we motored slowly around them, we got great looks and good numbers (100-1000s) of the species mentioned above, as well as about 100 Black-footed Albatross, 6 Buller's Shearwaters, nearly 1000 Sabine's Gulls, 2 South Polar Skua and 2 Long-tailed Jaeger to complete the Skua/Jaeger slam (we had over 20 individual jaegers/skuas for the day), an Arctic Tern, over 1000 California Gulls, a lone juvenile Ring-billed Gull (unusual offshore), and a couple of Bonaparte's Gulls. While we were having fun sorting through and photographing the swirling birds, Skipper Phil notice a dark storm-petrel weaving among the albatross, shearwaters, and gulls. We called out Leach's Storm-petrel (the expected, white-rumped, dark storm-petrel in the northeast Pacific) and worked to get the folks on it. Several folks did see it and some got photographs. These photos appear to show a Wilson's Storm-petrel, which, if accepted, would be the 5th record of WISP for Washington!
Marine mammals also entertained us throughout the day, with 9 Humpback whales seen, several close to the boat, and good numbers of both Pacific White-sided Dolphins and Dall's Porpoise bow riding and surfing our wake on the smooth ride home. A few of us got a quick look at a Sea Otter relaxing at the sea surface, before diving. We ended the trip with a close look at a Bar-tailed Godwit roosting amidst the many 100 Marbled Godwits in the outer portion of the marina.
The numbers above are preliminary. The final numbers and complete species listed will be posted on Westport Seabirds.com and on ebird. Spotters for the trip were Scott Mills, Jim Danzenbaker, and Gene Revelas. As usual, Skipper Phil Anderson and first mate Chris Anderson made sure fun was had by all. Please check http://westportseabirds.com/ for information on upcoming trips. There are several more on the calendar for September, and the final trip for 2017 scheduled for October 7th.