Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Must-see Sea Birds


By the time we'd finished our book, Sarah and I had seen 84 of the 85 species we profiled. 

Photo by Greg Gilson

The one bird we had yet to see live, in person was the Black-footed Albatross. This long-winged beast is often abundant off of the Northwest coast, but stays too far out for us to see from land. On Saturday we joined a pelagic birding trip from Newport, OR to finally get our albatross. 

 
As we crossed the bar from Yaquina Bay into the Pacific Ocean, the sky was foggy and the swells were moderately high. 

 
Eventually the fog cleared and conditions were perfect for spotting birds. We cruised parallel to the coast to look for Marbled Murrelets and Rhinocerus Auklets and then motored 27 miles west to the edge of the continental shelf. 

 
Here our guides chummed the water with fish oil and beef suet. In a matter of seconds, the Albatrosses arrived. 

 
So many albatrosses!

 
Photo by Jill Nelson-Debord

A Long-tailed Jaeger joined the feeding frenzy. We never thought we'd see a jaeger so close to the boat. 

We saw many more birds and some spectacular marine mammals on the trip, but we lacked the sea legs necessary to photograph them. After eight hours on the water, we returned to Newport, thrilled to have seen our albatross and happy that we did not contribute to the chum.

Now that our pelagic trip is in the books, we can turn our attention to the land-bound birds we have not yet seen this year. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Albatrosses are so cool. I worked on an albatross nesting island for a summer and got to know them well. They will never cease to amaze me!

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