birding-aus Pelagic observations off Wewak PNG

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Subject: birding-aus Pelagic observations off Wewak PNG
From: "Colin/Merian Richardson" <>
Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 21:08:19 +1000
On 5 April 1999, I travelled in open banana boat from Wewak to Koil Is, the
2nd from the west in the Schouten group of islands, some 40 km offshore, in
a north-easterly direction from Wewak. The sea was littered with riverine
debris, since the outflow of the Sepik River some 60km east is swept by a
current westwards between the mainland and the Schouten Islands. Debris
included whole logs, seeds of sundry riverine palms, floating "islands" of
grass, remnants of water vegetation (?water hyacinth-type). The sea,
however, was no longer discoloured, and pelagic birdlife was common.

Approximately mid-channel, a stop was made to check out the passing bird

Highlights for me were the large numbers of Streaked Shearwaters (there
must have been in excess of 200, all flying westward, though feeding on the
way); a Pomarine Skua (which amused me by turning the tables on a Lesser
Frigatebird, and pirating it's fish in the same way usually done by
frigatebirds on other species - poetic justice, I thought); and a single
South Polar Skua.

The full list:

Pomarine Skua (2)
Greater Frigatebird (3)
Lesser Frigatebird (2)
Streaked Shearwater (200+)
South Polar Skua (1)
Brown Booby (1)
Petrel spp (a very dark petrel, unidentified)
Little Pied Cormornant (on floating log)
Gull-billed Tern (2-3)
Crested Tern (1)

A pod of 12-15 dolphin (spp not identified) noted near Koil Is.

Flying fish up to 35cm long frequently skimmed the water for as much as 150

Colin T. Richardson
P.O. Box 86, LAE Morobe Prov. 411
Ph.+675-4725657 (home)
     +675-4721488 (ext.17) (office)
     +675-4721873 (fax)

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