The sea has turned up some more goodies over the past week off Maroubra in
Sydney, with no less than twenty species of seabird (compare that to 10 for
the last Sydney pelagic, and 13 for the last Wollongong one, though the
last Perth pelagic seemed pretty phenomenal). There's a list of them all at
the end of this message. Here are the highlights.
On Saturday there were hordes of prions, mostly Fairy Prions as one would
expect, and some of them extremely close in. About 60 meters off Magic
Point (at the south end of Maroubra bay) there was a fishing boat that had
five prions behind it, four FPs and a SLENDER-BILLED PRION, affording
almost perfect conditions for comparison. The SBP hung around for about 15
minutes, and came to within about 30 meters of the shore. Seen this well
and this close, it was not a difficult bird. Head pattern, upper wings and
tail were all markedly different from the FPs, and the best pictures of the
species, based on this bird, are in Harrison's 1983 Seabirds book. Those in
HANZAB, by comparison, seem too pessimistic about the difficulty of this
species, and the two fieldguides I have (I don't have Slater) also aren't
as helpful as they could be. Apparently Dion Hobcroft had several probable
SBPs off Maroubra during the week, and I saw another possible one on 28.6.
The other major highlight of the week was an adult NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS
(sanfordi) on Thursday, a few hundred meters offshore. I realise this may
all sound a bit unbelievable, and if I were reading this I too might well
be a bit sceptical, so I sent a description of the bird to Tony Palliser
before making it public, and he said it was spot on (I hope he doesn't mind
me saying this). The views were good, through a scope, and amongst the
field marks were a completely white body and a completely black inner upper
wing, which Wanderers never show.
Some other highlights:
All four species of the commoner albatrosses in view in the scope together
on 1.7: a Wanderer, a Shy, a Yellow-nosed and a Black-browed.
24 Providence Petrels on 1.7, including one just 30 meters offshore.
A flock of 38 White-fronted Terns feeding together on 30.6.
The full list for the week (since last Saturday):
Wandering Albatross: 1 on 1.7
NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS: 1 on 2.7
Black-browed Albatross: daily, max. 22 on 1.7
Yellow-nosed Albatross: daily, max. 7 on 2.7
Shy Albatross: single on 1.7
giant petrel sp: singles on 29.6, 1.7 and 2.7
Providence Petrel: 24 on 1.7
Fairy Prion (and prion sp): 100s daily, but fewer than the thousands last week
SLENDER-BILLED PRION: 1 on 27.6, plus a possible on 28.6.
Fluttering Shearwater: many daily, max ca. 1600 on 27.6
Hutton's Shearwater: a few most days amongst the Flutterers
Little Pied Cormorant
Little Black Cormorant
Southern Skua: 1 on 28.6
Kelp Gull: 2 on 28.6, 1 on 30.6
White-fronted Tern: max. 38 on 30.6
If you're wondering how I've managed to see so much, I've just moved in to
a unit overlooking the ocean at Maroubra. I recommend it.