Sydney storm seawatch

Subject: Sydney storm seawatch
From: Rod Gardner <>
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 12:56:27 +1000
As we heard from Edwin, the Sydney storm of the last few days brought not
only destruction, but lots of good seabirds to the NSW coast again, adding
to what is turning out to be a vintage seabird winter for coastal watchers.
There were some good birds, too, off Magic Point, Maroubra this weekend.

As the storm built at the end of last week, conditions were appalling, and
a watch on Friday produced one of the worst results I've ever had, two
Fluttering Shearwaters and an Australasian Gannet in half an hour: but
there was driving rain and visibility of about 2-300 meters at best.

On Saturday the winds were still very strong, force 6-8, maybe 9, from the
south, but it was clearing a bit, and the continuous rain had eased to
showers. Birds were very close in, and all day there was a constant stream
just offshore, although, like forest birds, they came in waves. In a five
and a half hour watch (not 8, as reported on the local birdline), the
following birds were seen.

Best was a COMMON DIVING PETREL, pretty rare off this part of the coast. It
was caught up in one of the waves of Fluttering Shearwaters (about 8,000 of
which passed the coast during the watch). Whilst the shearwaters were
shearing and banking from side the side, the diving-petrel was flying
straight as an arrow, wings a whirring blur. It also looked tiny in amongst
the Flutterers, themselves not exactly big birds.

Other highlights included both giant petrels, 1-2 NGPs (seen half an hour
apart), and at least two, but possibly seven, SGPs. They were all less than
a hundred meters offshore. Five species of albatross included over 100
Black-brows, 10 Shys (all but one an immature), 3 Wanderers ((sub-)species
indeterminate), only 7 Yellow-nosed, and 4+ Campbell Albatrosses. Another
feature was the steady passage of all dark petrels - about 90 of them. Most
of those positively identified were Providence, but at least one was a
Great-winged. From other reports I've heard, Great-winged were quite
prominent in this movement. Again, winter southerlies have brought these
birds in. There were also three Brown Skuas. Another feature was the low
number of prions, with just 5 Fairy Prions, contrasting with hundreds of
just a few weeks ago, and the very low numbers of the 'fragile' Silver
Gulls, which seem to move inland in these kinds of conditions, making for a
welcome relief.

In all, 21 seabird species were seen, and with a Little Penguin seen on
Sunday, that made 22 for the weekend. Full list:

1  Wandering Albatross        3
2  Black-browed Albatross ca110
3  Campbell Albatross         4+
4  Yellow-nosed Albatross     7
5  Shy Albatross             10
6  Northern Giant Petrel    1-2
7  Southern Giant Petrel      2+
8  Great-winged Petrel        1+
9  Providence Petrel         85 (including some more probably G-wPs)
10 Fairy Prion                5
11 Fluttering Shearwater ca8000
12 Hutton's Shearwater        3+
13 Common Diving Petrel       1
14 Australasian Gannet    ca130
15 Little Pied Cormorant      2
16 Great Cormorant            3
17 Little Black Cormorant     1
18 Brown Skua                 3
19 Silver Gull             ca20
20 White-fronted Tern      ca35
21 Crested Tern            ca30

Rod Gardner

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