Pelagic Birding

Westport is the starting point for day-long pelagic bird trips organized by Westport Seabirds. Among pelagic bird trips in North America, Westport trips are known particularly for finding numbers of Black-footed Albatross, which have been seen on virtually every trip reaching outer continental shelf habitats, and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, seen on almost all trips between May and October.

Trips are run during all seasons, but most take place from spring into fall. Probable for the July to October period are Black-footed Albatross, Northern Fulmar, Pink-footed, Buller’s (mid August to October) and Sooty Shearwaters, Fork-tailed Storm Petrel, Red-necked and Red Phalaropes, Pomarine, Parasitic and Long-tailed Jaegers (latter, August to early September), South Polar Skua, Black-legged Kittiwake, Sabine’s Gull, Arctic Tern, Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled Murrelet, Cassin’s and Rhinoceros Auklets and Tufted Puffin. Laysan Albatross, Flesh-footed Shearwater (best in October) and Leach’s Storm-Petrel are possible. Xantus’s Murrelet is present during some years, and Manx Shearwater occurred several times in the 1990s. Most trips go about 35 miles offshore to the edge of the continental shelf where seabirds congregate to take advantage of the upwelling. Other trips to oceanic waters 65-70 miles out, look for Pterodroma petrels like Mottled and Murphy’s Petrels, and other intriguing possibilities. Commercial fishing boats attract certain seabirds and are checked when possible.

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