6. Westport / Gray's Harbor, WashingtonBirds live out at sea, too. A trip on a boat is called a "pelagic" trip. You will try one after you notice all those big gaps on your bird checklist. Birds like Shearwaters, Puffins, Alcids, Petrels, and Albatrosses can often be seen only out at sea. Leave your telescope at home. Bring saltines and Dramamine. You won't get sick -- even though all your friends tell you that you will. BIG HINT: Keep your eyes on the horizon -- DO NOT GO INSIDE AND LAY DOWN!
On a pelagic trip, here is what happens first. "Shearwater at 3 o'clock." Run to the right side of the boat. Did you see the smudge of white on the underside of the gray dot that just disappeared behind a wave? It was a "lifer" for you. Congratulations! But it gets better.On board, directions refer to a clock face. The boat is always pointing at "12 o'clock." After the second hour you realize you should probably stay in one spot. (I like near the stern best). The bird at "2 o'clock" soon becomes the bird "going left at 6 o'clock" so standing still isn't so bad. When they start "chumming" (tossing out dead fish), hundreds of birds from miles around converge on the back of your boat, floating like paper kites and giving you great views through your binoculars. I was on the "mother of all pelagic trips" on September 12, 1992 out of Westport. We ran into a fishing fleet and a huge processing ship that looked like Darth Vader's battlecruiser. It spewed out fish guts by the ton. We spent an hour comparing all the plumages of Long-tailed Jaegers, Parasitic Jaegers and Pomarine Jaegers -- easy to do since there were so many of them flying so close together. There had to be 20,000 birds following that ship.
ABA conventions Top 101 North American Hot SpotsWestport/Gray's Harbor 46.55 N 124.08 W
Pelagic birding at its best! Look for Black-footed Albatross; all three Jaegers; Pink-footed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters; and Sabine's Gull in late July or early August.WildBird's Top 50 Birding Hotspots (September 1996)
44. Gray's Harbor, WashingtonTop 50 Hot Spots in US & Canada (as selected by ABA members at 1994 convention)
50. Westport, WABirder's World Top 5 Birding National Parks
3. Olympic National ParkBirding.com's Hot Spot of the Week (3/5/00)
Grays Harbor, Washington