I took a 12-hour pelagic trip out of Newport last Saturday. The morning started out with the typical cool cloudy weather one expects on the Oregon coast. Here is the sun rising over the Coast Range.
The most common species of the day was Pink-footed Shearwater. The largest concentration of birds was gathered behind a fish processing ship. While I am opposed to the strip-mining of our oceans, these ships always attract a lot of birds.
Pink-footed Pandemonium (There is also a Black-footed Albatross and a Sooty Shearwater)
Black-footed Albatrosses are common once you get out about 20 miles. This individual had an odd lump in her neck. I hope it is just a large food item in her crop and not a disposable lighter or some other piece of trash.
We saw more Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels than I had ever seen before.
We saw three other species of storm-petrel, all very rare in Oregon waters. This is a Wilson’s Storm-Petrel. The other two were Black and Ashy Storm-Petrels.
By the time we returned to port, the weather was sunny and hot. That’s just not right. I ended the day with a nasty sunburn.
Back in the bay, families of Brandt’s Cormorants were on the pilings.
The Ball Park is an area off the coast of Bar Harbor, Maine where cold-water upwellings bring nutrients close to the surface. This cold food-rich environment attracts whales and other marine mammals, which in turn attract lots of tourists on whale watching trips. But this is also one of the best spots along the east coast for pelagic birding. Pelagic trips off the coast of Oregon have spoiled me a little, as the numbers and diversity of birds are so much greater than in the east, but it was still nice to see a few species that I don’t get to see in the west.
Wilson’s Storm-Petrels are the most common seabirds on these trips.
Great Shearwaters often fly along the boat, or rest on the water is large groups.
A few Sooty Shearwaters flew by.
Of course, most people on the boat were looking for whales. A Minke Whale made a brief appearance to give me a life mammal, but this Humpback was much more cooperative. Researchers identify individual Humpbacks by the markings on their flukes. This is Gavel, who was first recorded in 2006.
We got to smell Gavel’s breath at one point, an awesome, if rather gross, experience.
After chasing Gavel around for a while, the boat headed for Petit Manan Lighthouse, part of Petit Manan NWR. This island serves as a nesting colony for gulls, terns, and alcids. Only researchers are allowed on the island, and the boat does not get close enough to see the nesting areas, but the waters surrounding the island held a lot of birds.
Here is a flock of Razorbills, with two Common Murres on the lower right.
Atlantic Puffins win the prize for cutest seabird on the trip.