On Saturday, June 20th, Westport Seabirds kicked off its abbreviated 2020 season with a really satisfying trip offshore. Given these challenging times, it would have been a great trip if all we saw was the ocean, but the birds are still there and we were thrilled to be back in their presence. We left the marina at 5:30 am on the longest day of the year and headed due west along our usual route to Grays Canyon. The forecast was good and although we tolerated a light drizzle much of the day, the seas were manageable and the air temperature was comfortable. Inshore birding was uneventful, but Captain Phil Anderson knew that the shrimpers were on the outer shelf directly in our path. The first good find was a cooperative Tufted Puffin just offshore as the Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwater numbers began to increase. Other regulars included Rhinoceros Auklets, unusually low numbers of Common Murres, and two Humpback Whales (we would end up seeing eight Humpbacks for the day, including two whales that fully breached).
At the first shrimper, we picked up more than 1000 Pink-foots, over 2000 Sooty's, our first of 83 Black-footed Albatross for the day, several Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, a quickly disappearing Pomarine Jaeger, and a very accommodating South Polar Skua. The other three shrimpers added lots of birds, but no new species other than a pod of about 20 Pacific White-sided Dolphins that swam towards us and then under and around the boat.
We eventually left the shrimpers and headed to our usual chum spot at 125 degrees west picking up the first of the 52 Leach's Storm-Petrels for the day, and a Northern Fur Seal. The chum attracted a Storm-Petrel show with dozens of both Fork-tails and Leach's moving in and around the slick for over 30 minutes. A slow flyby sub-adult Arctic Tern was a nice surprise. The chum also provided great photo ops for both Black-footed Albatross and Northern Fulmar.
The return trip provided included additional time with the shrimpers. We added another sub-adult tern, sitting on a log, a Common Tern this time, and a fur seal pup that we believe was a Guadalupe Fur Seal. Back in the harbor, we added both Brown Pelicans and Heerman's Gulls back from their southern wintering and breeding grounds, both California and Steller's Sea Lions and a Harbor Porpoise. We ended up with more than 7000 total birds for the day. The final numbers and complete species list is posted on Westport Seabirds.com and the trip lists are on ebird. Spotters for the trip were Bill Tweit, Gene Revelas, and Scott Mills. Captain Phil Anderson and first mate Chris provided their usual great customer service, including extra health and safety efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you are interested in joining us, please check the Westport Seabirds website (http://westportseabirds.com/) for information on upcoming trips and availability. The website also includes our COVID-19 Safety Plan designed to make the Monte Carlo as safe as possible for our customers and staff. Our 2020 season runs through the first weekend in October.
Hope to see you out there soon.
Gene Revelas | Senior Consultant
Tel: 360.705.3534,418 | Cell: 360.870.4950
1205 West Bay Drive NW | Olympia | WA 98502
<grevelas...> | www.integral-corp.com