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Unique Oregon Birding Tours

April 21, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 190

Birders wanting to see those offshore Oregon seabirds must take a special cruise, called a 'pelagic trip.' These pelagic trips are conducted on fishing boats chartered specifically to go offshore 20-40 miles in order to find 'pelagic birds'--those that rarely come near to land except at their remote breeding sites scattered around the Pacific. Pelagic trips are usually organized by bird watching clubs, such as Audubon Societies, or dedicated pelagic trip providers. Dedicated providers usually have several experienced seabird guides willing to help newbies. Nearly all such trips are day trips, lasting 8-10 hours, depending upon destination and target species. Different seasons have different birds, so trips are scheduled throughout the year, though most are scheduled for autumn when many Arctic nesting young birds-of-the-year join the adults on their southward migration.

The fishing vessels available for these trips range from 45-55 feet long. Most are Coast Guard certified to carry 25-40 passengers. They are equipped with safety equipment including radios, emergency position-indicating radio broadcasters (EPIRB), life rafts, and life jackets. Most boats don't have a galley, so participants must bring their own cold food and drinks. These boats aren't very comfortable, with limited seating, and are open to the elements. Damp fog, a cold breeze, and wave splash is likely-even in summer. So dress accordingly! Layers of warm clothes and an outer waterproof layer is recommended.

What kind of birds can you see? Well, near shore there are coastal species like gulls, cormorants, pelicans, and sea ducks. The nearshore waters within 5 miles of land will have common murres, pigeon guillemots, and marbled murrelets. In this region you will likely see harbor porpoises and gray whales, too! Off shore from 5-20 miles you will see shearwaters of up to 6 different species, Rhinoceros and Cassin's auklets, common terns, red-necked phalaropes, and both parasitic and pomarine jaegers. Once you get out beyond 20 miles you enter the realm of the albatrosses. Oregon has both Laysan and black-footed albatrosses. Other species out here include northern fulmars, long-tailed jaegers, south polar skuas, red phalaropes, arctic terns, and fork-tailed storm-petrels. Marine mammals in these waters include humpback whales, Dall's porpoises, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and others. In summer blue, salmon, and soup fin sharks are often seen on the surface, if waters are smooth. The strange ocean sunfish is found here, feeding on jellyfish.

These unique Oregon birding tours are quite different than any other form of bird watching. The conditions can be challenging at times. But when the big albatrosses wheel up and land at the back of the boat for you to view and photograph at close range, it is all worth the effort. Your first trip is likely to add over 15 species to your "life list," the list of all bird species you have ever seen. Plus, you'll likely get great looks at an equal number of additional species you've seen from shore in the past, but only at a great distance. And maybe, just maybe, you'll hit one of those perfect days at sea with calm waters, great camaraderie with fellow passengers, and thousands upon thousands of birds.

Greg G formed The Bird Guide, Inc., ( ) in Oregon, USA, to provide pelagic trips to view seabirds. Check to see if any space remains on the next scheduled trip of these unique Oregon birding tours.

Source: EzineArticles
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