|Laysan Albatross off Newport, Oregon. October 22, 2011 by Greg Gillson.|
For the previous ten years I had usually managed to get in a fall pelagic trip each year. So I was familiar with all of the birds. In fact, I had been the impromptu leader on a Portland Audubon pelagic tour from Tillamook, Oregon, a few months earlier, in September 1993. The leader of the trip for which I signed up called me the night before the trip to say he was sick. He asked me if I could take over for him. I arrived at the dock early to find the charter was not expecting us! So I led participants around the bay for 2 hours looking at birds until the captain could arrive to take us out for the day!
But this January pelagic trip was unique, without the jaegers, phalaropes, terns, and shearwaters of typical autumn trips. But that's not all. Besides the normal alcids--Common Murres, Cassin's Auklets, and a few Rhinoceros Auklets--we tallied just shy of 500 Ancient Murrelets--a number not since equalled or surpassed! Because this was a "no-host" trip, there were no assigned guides. I naturally fell to explaining field marks of the seabirds that were new to many around me. Rich noted that I made a very good seabird guide. The seed was planted.
|Ancient Murrelets off Newport, Oregon. April 18, 2009 by Greg Gillson.|
When we encountered the fishing vessel offshore there were many pelagic birds feeding behind it: 5 Black-footed Albatrosses, 70 Northern Fulmars, 120 Herring Gulls, 200 Glaucous-winged Gulls, and lesser numbers of 5 other gull species. While there we were graced by 2 Laysan Albatrosses!
By the time our boat had returned to port my mind was already making plans. The next Oregon seabirds pelagic trip I attended on August 27, 1994 was one I organized and led myself--The Bird Guide, Inc.'s first pelagic trip.
It has now been 18 years since those two memorable pelagic trips in 1994. I've organized and led over 150 trips since then--an average of about 8 per year. But you know what? I still can't sleep the night before a pelagic trip, I'm so excited.
We still have some spaces left this autumn on upcoming trips. If you'd like to join me, please visit The Bird Guide, Inc.'s website for more detailed information on our pelagic birding trips.