I've always been interested in a pelagic trip since I began birding. I hesitated because of being prone to seasickness, but the opportunity to bird along side my fellow master birder classmates arose this summer, so this was the perfect opportunity.
Despite getting sick for a portion of the trip, I had a great time. We saw many seabirds. The most impressive to me were the albatrosses with their slender long wings to support their shear size. I also enjoyed watching the Northern Fulmars come in during the chumming. They were noisy and a bit feisty with each other. The Storm-petrels were also a delight to see - being so delicate. I'm glad we had great guides to point things out. As I had no experience trying to identify a flapping dot on the horizon. We did get good views of most of the birds though.
Not only were the birds exciting, but we also saw several Humpback Whales - seeing both the spray and the tail breaching the water. Also interesting were the Northern Fur Seals that would pose in the water with their front flippers hold their back flippers out of the water. This is called a jug handle pose for when they sleep or rest. We got a great view of a Mola-mola or sunfish as it was floating on its side near the surface of the water. They were weird looking creatures.
Overall the experience was great. I'm not sure I'll be going again anytime soon though. At least not until I figure out what meds to take so I won't get sick.
Greetings all -
We had an excellent day today offshore of Westport. The weather was excellent. The seas were a bit choppy as we headed out and we battled through the morning mist. Eventually the swell subsided and flattened out almost completely - reminiscent of the seas two weeks ago when we did not encounter any rough seas at all. We had our first Sabine's Gulls as we left the harbor. Very close to shore. We encountered many more Sabine's throughout the day along with around 10 Arctic Terns, 15 South Polar Skua, 5 Long-tailed Jaegers, 10 Pomarine Jaegers, and 1 juv Parasitic Jaeger to complete the skua slam. We also encountered the hake fishing fleet about 32 miles offshore which had several thousand birds among 4-5 boats. 500 Black-footed Albatross, 800 Pink-footed Shearwaters and several thousand Northern Fulmar made up the majority of the birds here. We also had 1100 Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels and 1 Leach's Storm-Petrel. We had 5 Buller's Shearwaters and a few lucky people on the bow had looks at a fly-by Flesh-footed Shearwater. The highlight at the hake boats was 1 Laysan Albatross which hung out long enough for everyone to get a nice look. To wrap up the pelagic bird highlights was 1 Brown-headed Cowbird 30 miles offshore and 1 Pine Siskin 25 miles offshore which landed on the boat posing for some pictures!
The mammal show was quite excellent as well. 21 Steller's Sea-Lions and a Westport Seabirds record count of 59 Fur-Seals were seen! 4 Dall's Porpoise and 10 Humpback Whales were also seen.
As Bruce mentioned, we still have room on our October 1st and 15th trips.
Cheers and Good Birding,
For Westport Seabirds,
Pictures (click on thumbnail)
Northern Fulmars squabbling over chum