[Tweeters] Washington cruise ship pelagic birds - Mottled Petrels, etc - 2 December 2015

Ryan Merrill rjm284 at gmail.com
Fri Dec 4 12:31:38 PST 2015


There were more than 40 birders aboard the Ruby Princess for the recent
repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver. On the afternoon of 2
December we had about 3.5 hours in Washington waters. This time featured
southerly winds approaching 40 knots, though with this being a tailwind we
were able to stand on the bow and scope in calm conditions while the
tubenoses were wheeling about and towering above the ocean's surface. For
me and most people aboard the big highlight of the trip was watching the
Mottled Petrels flying around in that strong wing. We had a total of seven
birds, six of which were in Washington (there was a miscommunication
resulting in the tally of eight birds posted the other day).

Here's a map of their locations:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/rjm284/23521999715/

and photos of one of them:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/rjm284/23413477072/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/rjm284/23154008879/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/rjm284/23521991955/

In Washington other highlights included a Laysan Albatross, seven Buller's
Shearwaters, and the only Parakeet Auklet of the trip. I believe these are
the first Washington records of Buller's Shearwater from December, with the
only other winter records I'm aware of being of two single birds in January.

Highlights from farther south include four Black-vented Shearwaters way off
Point Arena (they're very rare more than about ten miles offshore, and that
far north), Flesh-footed Shearwaters in California and Oregon, more than
ten Laysan Albatross, and at dusk a Brown Booby off Fort Bragg.
Interestingly, despite looking hard at all the dark shearwaters, we were
unable to find any Short-tailed Shearwaters. There were also plenty of
marine mammals, including Humpback, Fin and Minke Whales, Baird's Beaked
Whales, Dall's Porpoise, Northern Fur Seals, Risso's Dolphins, a group of
Northern Right Whale Dolphins, and dozens of other distant whale blows

Totals from Washington waters in about 3.5 hours:

Laysan Albatross - 1
Black-footed Albatross - 4
Northern Fulmar - 38
Mottled Petrel - 6
Pink-footed Shearwater - 2
Buller's Shearwater - 7
Sooty Shearwater - 10
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel - 10
Pomarine Jaeger - 1
jaeger sp. - 1
Cassin's Auklet - 2
Parakeet Auklet - 1
Rhinocerous Auklet - 34
Black-legged Kittiwake - 20
California Gull - 11
Herring Gull - 5
Western Gull x Glaucous-winged - 1
gull sp. - 4

As was mentioned in the earlier posts, there is another winter trip going
from Vancouver to LA in a couple weeks. With the short amount of daylight
it is unlikely that there will be significant time in Washington waters,
but it could still be a great and rare chance to possibly see Mottled
Petrels, especially the first day off Oregon. I'm not aware of late fall
or winter repositioning cruises being offered before, and as far as I know
there are no others scheduled in the next two years.

Good birding,
Ryan Merrill
Seattle
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