September 29, 2018

Seeing more than 300 bird species in Oregon in a calendar year is really only feasible if the birder is willing to go on a pelagic birding tour.

Pelagic = related to the open sea.

Because my target was 300 bird species, earlier this year I signed up for an 8-hour pelagic tour that was part of the Oregon Birding Association’s AGM in Garibaldi, Oregon.

I have a strong history of motion sickness, but Dramamine usually does the trick. Yes, it makes me drowsy, affects my breathing and heart rate, and generally gives me a case of the pending malaise, but I can usually power through it if I’m occupied.

Well occupied I was! For the first three hours of the tour, we birded and birded, and as we got further out to sea, the waves got bigger and bigger. I felt like I was on a roller coaster, but it was such fun. So many birds, and countable looks at Black-footed Albatross, Northern Fulmar, Pink-footed Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Red Phalarope, Pomarine Jaeger, Rhinoceros Auklet, and Mew Gull. I remember thinking at one point that I would most certainly do many other pelagic tours because, great heavens, wasn’t this fun?!

UNTIL IT WAS NOT FUN ANYMORE. Until the waves shot a strong middle finger to the Dramamine, and the feeling of death came on strong. From that point, I either forced myself to stay outside staring with great intent at the horizon (and holding on for dear life as the boat went up and down several feet) or dashing into the cabin and rapidly putting my head down on the table and holding onto a pole so I wouldn’t get thrown about. This went on for hours.

One hour before the tour ended, as we were heading back to shore, the surf became calm, and my sickness passed. I felt alive again and it felt incredible to surface onto the deck, use words out loud, and look at other things but the horizon.

Looking back, I may sign up for another pelagic tour, but not for 8 hours. Maybe 5. Maybe.

New Birds for 2018: 8
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 243


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