Westport Seabirds enjoyed another great trip on Saturday, 9-30-17. Bruce
LaBar, Gene Revelas and I joined Phil and Chris Anderson on one of the last
pelagics out of Westport for 2017. While the weather forecast seemed to
indicate a bit of wind, rain and cold was in store for us, we were
pleasantly surprised to find excellent weather and sea conditions.
Captain Phil had learned that several fishing boats were working in Pacific
County, so the Monte Carlo headed south after an easy bar crossing due to
favorable tidal conditions. We came across some fishing boats after a good
2 hours of cruising. Phil tossed out chum in several places where boats
were attracting good numbers of birds.
By far the most numerous bird of the day was Northern Fulmar. We also
enjoyed good numbers of Black-footed Albatross, and several great views of
as many as 20 Buller’s Shearwater. California Gulls always take advantage
of a good chum opportunity, but today they were joined by a couple
Black-legged Kittiwakes, our first sighting of the season for this
species. This is also a good time of year to closely examine all dark
shearwaters hoping to pick out a Short-tailed Shearwater. We were able to
confirm a sighting in a slightly smaller bird, with a noticeably smaller
bill and a rounded forehead. We were fortunate to have nearby Sooty
Shearwaters to compare this bird to.
Sea mammals for the day included nice, close encounters with Humpback
Whale, Dall’s Porpoise, and Northern Fur Seal. Those on the bow of the
boat also got good looks at a Blue Shark and a small Ocean Sunfish.
We enjoyed a pleasant trip back to Westport, shedding layers of clothing in
what seemed to us as balmy conditions. We were able to add a final rarity
to our trip list by picking out a Bar-tailed Godwit among the Marbled
Godwits at the marina.
We will round out a great year of sea birding Saturday, October 7th with
our last trip of 2017. There are still a few spots remaining on this trip
for those wishing to add new pelagic species to their year or life lists.
How about a nice Laysan Albatross? The odds seem pretty good this year,
though one can never guarantee.