[Tweeters] Westport Seabirds Trip report Sunday, September 4th 2016

Cara Borre cmborre1 at gmail.com
Mon Sep 5 11:52:38 PDT 2016

I joined spotters Bill Shelmerdine and Scott Mills as we kicked off the
fall pelagic season yesterday with a great trip. Though the weather was
good, this time of year more than ever, it’s important to layer clothing to
ensure comfort throughout the entire trip. We enjoyed good sea conditions,
little, but some wind, and full sun on our return to Westport.

We headed straight to the shrimping fleet where I counted 10+ boats at one
time spanning several miles. These boats attract great numbers of birds
who circle them hoping for a scrap to eat while they pull in their nets.
Yesterday most of these birds were immature California Gulls, but there
were also good numbers of Pink-footed Shearwaters in particular which
outnumbered Sooty Shearwaters for the day.

This is the time of year for finding Short-tailed Shearwater which has
subtle differences to it’s “look alike”, the more familiar Sooty
Shearwater. We were able to find several good representatives of both
these species around the boats. This is also the time of year to look for
Buller’s Shearwater (2 of which were seen by a few) and Flesh-footed
Shearwater (0) which had be seen on recent trips. Several Pomarine Jaegers
gave good, though brief, looks during the course of the trip.

At our chum stop, which produced a wee number of Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels
and an uninterested Sooty Shearwater fly by (we supposed all the birds were
enjoying the shrimping boats), I spotted a distant “object” in the water.
This turned out to be the first of four Northern Elephant Seals we saw
during the trip. This giant seal is rarely seen, but when it makes an
appearance it’s usually sticking it’s head and nose straight into the air,
looking like a “deadhead log” (a boater’s enemy) in the water.

The trip back to port was highlighted by a nice experience with a group of
Humpback Whales. Captain Phil wisely turned off the engine allowing us to
hear these great creatures breathe, truly spectacular!

Here is the full species list for the day:


Surf Scoter (7)

White-winged Scoter (4)

Pacific Loon (3)

Common Loon (1)

Black-footed Albatross (41)

Northern Fulmar (7)

Pink-footed Shearwater (1889)

Buller’s Shearwater (2)*

Sooty Shearwater (552)

Short-tailed Shearwater (6)

Manx Shearwater (1)*

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel (16)

Brandt’s Cormorant (33)

Double-crested Cormorant (12)

Pelagic Cormorant (22)

Brown Pelican (323)

Marbled Godwit (700)

Black Turnstone (11)

Western Sandpiper (30)

Red-necked Phalarope (1)

South Polar Skua (1)*

Pomarine Jaeger (9)

Parasitic Jaeger (1)

Common Murre (437)

Cassin’s Auklet (57)

Rhinoceros Auklet (51)

Sabine’s Gull (68)

Heerman’s Gull (261)

Ring-billed Gull (1)

California Gull (2422)

Herring Gull (1)*

Glaucous-winged/Western/”Olympic” Gull (521)

Caspian Tern (1)

Peregrine Falcon (1)


Humpback Whale (4)

Harbor Porpoise (4)

Dall’s Porpoise (7)

Harbor Seal (2)

Northern Fur Seal (1)

Northern Elephant Seal (4)

California Sea Lion (4)

Northern (Steller’s) Sea Lion (14)


Ocean Sunfish (11)

*seen by few

The are about 7 trips left this year and spots are filling quickly. Please
consult the website: www.westportseabirds.com for the complete schedule and
further information.

Hope to sea you out there,

Cara Borre
Gig Harbor
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