Newport, Oregon Pelagic
Last weekend Jacob and I joined an 8-hour Oregon Pelagic Tours pelagic trip out of Newport. The weather was ridiculously calm with no wind, though mostly cloudy and foggy all day.
Early on a Common Murre chick that refused to surface for more than half a second had some folks hoping for a Scripp's Murrelet but no luck there. Sooty Shearwaters started appearing and flocks of Red-necked Phalaropes skittered away from us as we headed out.
More shearwaters started appearing along with tiny Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, Black-footed Albatross and Northern Fulmars. We stopped to chum and got great looks.
Someone spotted some dolphins in the distance which turned out to be a mixed group of Pacific white-sided dolphins and Northern Right Whale dolphins, the latter of which was a life mammal!
Pacific white-sided with fins on the left, Northern right whale dolphins on right
I uploaded these dolphins to iNaturalist and someone commented that one of the Pacific white-sided dolphins is a Brownell's morph, the far right dolphin below.
A bit after that we came upon another large flock of birds sitting on the water that included my lifer Short-tailed Shearwaters. I studied these birds before our trip and hoped we'd see some so I was psyched.
Short-taileds and Sooties can be tough to distinguish but Short-taileds have a more rounded head with a steeper forehead and skinnier/shorter bills.
Sooty in front, Short-tailed in back
A fishing boat had its net out and the birds were lining up along the length of the net where dead fish were floating.
When you're on a boat that is rocking back and forth many of your photos will end up with the birds in a weird spot in the frame.
We managed to go much of the morning without any jaegers but slowly we started seeing some and eventually had all but Parasitic.
On our way back in we had great looks at this ocean sunfish, aka Mola mola:
Sea lion identification always trips me up. These are definitely sea lions.
As we returned to Newport someone spotted a Short-tailed Shearwater sitting the on water in the Yaquina River which is very unusual. It was close to the North Jetty which is accessible on foot so I put the word out on Whatsapp and many land-birders were able to chase it. Pretty cool!
Another thing that's cool? Jacob noticed that in addition to the Laysan Albatross being banded there was a banded Black-footed Albatross too. I submitted the band for him and received this:
15 years old!
Overall it was a great day out on the ocean and it was fun to see some birders I hadn't seen in a long time. Good times!!!