Sat, 19 Dec 1998 15:46:58 +1100
Further to the many reports of recent sightings of beachwashed Short tailed
Shearwaters, last week we were driving north east between Seaspray and
Letts beach on the Ninety Mile Beach in Gippsland when to our surprise we
came across a S.T. Shearwater sitting in the middle of the road. I moved it
to the side of the road in the vain hope that it might make it back to sea.
We encountered several more at various intervals along the road.
There was a strong south easterly blowing and dozens of S.T's were flying
over the beach.
I realised we were witnessing a "wreck" in progress.There were many more
dead and dying on the sand.
It is quite a distressing sight and knowing there is nothing that you can
do for them apart from willing a change in the wind direction.
A lone Bar tailed Godwit was taking refuge from the awful conditions
huddled down amongst a group of Pacific gulls.
I well remember a remarkable "pelagic wreck" in the early/mid eighties
when Mike Carter, Peggy Mitchell and myself witnessed the amazing sight of
Blue Petrels, Kerguelen Petrels and Great winged Petrels flying just over
our heads on the back beach at Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula.
That same wreck produced many sightings of Common diving Petrel and Cape
Petrel and beachwashed Broad billed and Fairy Prion.
Fortunately we haven't had a wreck of that magnitude in our region for many
Whilst taking part in my regular fortnightly Hooded Plover survey a couple
of weeks ago, we found a beachwashed Southern Fulmar in perfect condition
on the Portsea back beach.
A year ago in the same spot I found a beachwashed White headed Petrel.
Does anyone have any figures on the mortality rates for 1st year S.T.
I guess one would have to allow for the vagaries of the weather.!!
Merry Christmas to all.
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