Here's an update on the highlights of the last couple of weeks seabirding
off Maroubra, Sydney.
South-easterly winds on 24th July, brought a number of seabirds close
inshore, and amongst them five juvenile giant petrels, no less than three
of which were identifiable for species. A Northern Giant Petrel passed
about 50 meters off Mistral Point, allowing the reddish tip to the bill to
be seen. It was so close that I didn't manage to get the 'scope on it until
it was a fair way past the headland, but the bill tip colour was quite
visible through binoculars. A little later a Southern Giant Petrel passed
by about 75 meters away, again the diagnostic bill colour being quite
easily discernible. A second Southern Giant Petrel landed on the water and
started feeding on a dead squid about 100 meters offshore.
Also seen that day were a phase 4 Wandering Albatross (exulans or gibsoni,
I think), a Shy Albatross and a Brown Skua.
In the past two weeks prion numbers have been well down on their peak in
June, but there are still a few around. Even with numbers down, there are
more this year than there have been in the last three years.
The strong westerlies earlier this week didn't bring in much (not
surprising, with the winds blowing straight out to sea), though there were
three Little Penguins together off Mistral Point on 29th. On 30th there
were three Brown Skuas, two Shy Albatrosses, over thirty White-fronted
Terns. Today, Friday, the winds turned south-west, and there was a lot
more: 60+ Black-browed Albatrosses (inlcuding at least 9 impavida), 30+
Yellow-nosed, a Shy Albatross, another Brown Skua, over 20 White-fronted
Terns, a couple of giant petrels, and a couple of prions sp, as well as
hundreds of Fluttering Shearwaters.
If previous years are anything to go by, Brown Skuas should be peaking in
numbers now, and Shy and Wandering Albatrosses in the next four weeks or so
- and giant petrels too. So if the winds are strong(ish) in the southerly
half, it should be worth going out to a headland. This is also the best
White-fronted Tern year in the past four winters - I've logged up nearly
four hundred so far.