ASHMORE REEF PELAGIC 31.10.99-7.11.99 SUMMARY
Tahiti Petrel:8 individuals seen well in deep water
Bulwer's Petrel: 6 individuals seen well along shelf break waters
(300-650m). 4 sightings on 2.11., single sighting on 3.11. and a single
excellent sighting on 4.11.
Streaked Shearwater: 15 individuals recorded mostly in inshore waters.
Wedge-tailed Shearwater: 2 individuals recorded.
Hutton's Shearwater: sighted daily in shallower waters in small numbers
including one flock of 40.
Matsudaira's Storm-petrel: 5 individuals recorded in shelf break waters
(300-650m) with a single on 1.11 and 4 on 4.11.
Swinhoe's Storm-petrel: Very much the highlight species for the voyage
and a previously unrecorded species in the Australian region. The first
sighting which was the closest and best in excellent light happened on
1/11/99 at 0615 at 15 20S 121 30E in a water depth of 90 metres. Both
Mike and I were sitting on the top deck of Jodi Ann 2 when I spotted a
small all dark storm-petrel approaching the ketch. The following field
notes were taken.
'' Medium-sized all dark sooty brown storm-petrel passed by the port
side of the yacht at 20 metres range giving excellent views for 1-2
minutes. No obvious white pale primary shafts in either wing. Tail shape
moderately long square cut at sides in relaxed position, slightly but
noticeably forked when fanned (see field sketch). When banking, shallow
fork prominent. Tail definitely not long and graduated with pointed tip
as in Bulwer's Petrel. Wing shape also wrong for that species. Primary
bulge rounded trailing edge. Carpal not prominently accentuated.
Primaries not flexed back. Pale buff narrow bar along greater secondary
upperwing coverts not reaching carpal fold. Wings and primaries
moderately broad. Eye dark, Bill dark. Nostrils prominent. Bill quite
delicate. Underpart plumage with overall dark brown cast in strong
excellent morning light. No other birds to compare size with directly
but clearly a medium sized storm-petrel considered slightly longer
winged than Wilson's Storm-petrel seen immediately before. Forehead
steep. Head profile rounded with slightly indented forehead. Buff bar
across greater secondary coverts not sharply defined. Merged, rather
narrow and not overly prominent. Underparts immaculate dark chocolate
black-brown. No sign of trailing feet. No sign of any wear or moult in
feathering. " I identified this bird as a Swinhoe's Storm-petrel.
The next encounter was on the same day at 1240 when a small flock
counted at 14 individuals were located at 14 44S 121 34E. This flock was
observed for more than 15 minutes. The closest encounter was about 70
metres. The following field notes were taken.
" Discrete flock sitting on water. Distinct profile on water. Long
winged. High head and neck. Tail shallowly forked. No sign of white
basal primary shafts. Flight wingbeats fast, flickering. Considered
tern-like with erratic flipping and dipping. No surface pattering,
picking food off surface. Formed a little raft. Fairly timid, taking off
when vessel approached within 80 metres. Pale carpal bar narrow across
greater coverts not extending to carpal fold. Smaller than Matsudaira's
Storm-petrel seen at close range shortly afterwards. No surface smacking
with chest like Fregetta storm-petrels. Compared to Matsudaira's wings
and tail narrower."
The third encounter was with another small flock of at least ten birds
located at 12 34S 122 37E betweeen 0550-0610 on 3.11.99. This was on
passage north from Scott Reef to Ashmore Reef. On this occasion the
birds appeared and behaved identically to the flock seen on 1.11.99.
Resting on the water in a discrete flock, they were quite shy taking
flight when the vessel approached to within 80 metres. Sooty black brown
medium-sized storm -petrels with shallowly forked tails and no white
basal primary shafts in outermost primaries. Flight up and down, erratic
and tern like. Reminded me strongly of Ashy Storm-petrels seen in
Monterey Bay, California.
Red-tailed Tropicbird: single, Ashmore Reef 3.11
White-tailed Tropicbird: single, landed on Ashmore Reef 3.11
Masked Booby: Many birds around Adele Island. Seen in small numbers on
Red-footed Booby: single adult white morph in mixed feeding flock at 12
29S 122 40E.
Brown Booby: common, seen daily.
Pied Cormorant: single Adele Island 5.11
Australian Pelican: singles at Adele Island and the Lacepedes.
Great Frigatebird: 2 at Ashmore Reef and 2 at Adele Island.
Lesser Frigatebird: In small numbers at sea and around Scott Reef,
Ashmore Reef, Adele Island with over 100 at the Lacepedes with a small
nesting colony present there on West Island.
Little Egret: 2 on Ashmore Reef
Eastern Reef Egret: 3 at Scott Reef. 40 plus Ashmore Reef, 40 plus Adele
Island and 10 plus Lacepede Islands.
Great Egret: 2 at Adele Island.
Black-shouldered Kite: single on Adele Island. Carefully examined to
rule out Letter-winged and Black-winged Kite.
Buff-banded Rail: 5 on Ashmore Reef. 3 on Lacepede Islands
Bar-tailed Godwit: 3 on Ashmore, 10 on Adele, 10 on Lacepedes
Whimbrel: 2 on Ashmore, 1 on Lacepedes
Eastern Curlew: 1 on Ashmore
Marsh Sandpiper: 1 on Adele Island
Common Greenshank: 3 on Ashmore, 1 on Adele and 1 on Lacepedes.
Terek Sandpiper: 2 on Ashmore, 3 on Lacepedes.
Common Sandpiper: 2 on Ashmore, 1 on Lacepedes.
Grey-tailed Tattler: 1 on Scott Reef, 1 on Ashmore Reef, 6 on Lacepede
Ruddy Turnstone: 60 on Scott Reef, 30 on Ashmore , 1 on Adele, 50 on
Great Knot: 3 on Ashmore, 2 on Adele and 3 on Lacepedes.
Red Knot: 1 on Lacepedes.
Sanderling: 3 on Ashmore
Red-necked Stint: 5 on Ashmore and 10 on Lacepedes
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper: 5 on Lacepede Islands.
Curlew Sandpiper: 3 on Adele and 5 on Lacepedes.
Pied Oystercatcher: 1 on Ashmore, 3 on Adele and 3 on Lacepedes.
Sooty Oystercatcher: 2 on Lacepedes.
Pacific Golden Plover: 10 plus on Ashmore, 1 on Adele.
Grey Plover: 1 on Scott Reef, 1 on Lacepedes
Greater Sandplover: 1 on Scott Reef, 10 on Ashmore, 10 on Adele, 20 on
Pomarine Jaeger: singles on 1.11 and 6.11
Silver Gull: small nos. on Adele and well over 1000 on Lacepedes.
Gull-billed Tern: 3 on Adele Island.
Caspian Tern: 1 on Adele Island.
Lesser Crested Tern: 1 on Ashmore, 6 on Adele Island, 3 on Lacepedes.
Crested Tern: seen daily, 20 on Scott, 100 on Ashmore, recorded at Adele
and 10 on Lacepedes.
Roseate Tern: over 5000 on Lacepedes, not recorded on other reefs.
Common Tern: 4 on Scott Reef, 1 on Adele,20 on Lacepedes. Common inshore
Little Tern: 3 on Lacepedes.
Sooty Tern: Recorded over deeper water 31.10-1.11 with over 10
identified. Recorded at sea between Ashmore and Scott Reef with over 10
identified. Quite common at sea between Ashmore and Adele Island with 6
recorded over Adele. Absent Lacepedes and inshore waters.
Bridled Tern: common and nesting (one nest with egg) on Adele Island.
More than 300 present there. Several hundred on Lacepede Islands. Absent
Whiskered Tern: 1 on Adele Island. A few in inshore waters off the
White-winged Black Tern: 6 on Scott Reef. 4 on Ashmore, 15 on Adele.
Small nos in inshore waters in mixed tern feeding flocks.
Common Noddy: 50 on Scott Reef, 300 on Ashmore,over 3000 on Adele Island
including several birds incubating single eggs. Huge flocks of several
thousand on the Lacepedes including several nesting birds.
Black Noddy: 3 on Ashmore Reef and 5 on Adele Island.
Oriental Cuckoo: 6 present on Ashmore Reef.
Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo: 1 possibly 2 present Ashmore Reef.
Fork-tailed Swift: 2 over Ashmore Reef
Sacred Kingfisher: 15 on Ashmore, 1 on Adele Island.
Rainbow Bee-eater: 1 on Ashmore Reef
Magpie-lark: 3 present on Ashmore Reef. Two males and one female.
Yellow Wagtail: A wagtail almost certainly this species on call in
flight over Ashmore Reef.
Barn Swallow: 4 on Ashmore Reef.
Tree Martin: 1 on Adele Island.
Tawny Grassbird: 4 in spinifex grass on Adele Island.
Blainville's Beaked Whale: adult male on 2.11 at 1140 between Scott and
Ashmore Reef at 13 45S 121 44E.
Spinner Dolphin: two groups encountered one estimated at 20, the other
in excess of 60.
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