Hutto's Shearwater

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Subject: Hutto's Shearwater
From: "Allan Morris" <>
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 13:36:47 +1000
Hi Birders
Rod Gardner commented on the abundance of Hutton's Shearwater in NSW waters in light of the very large numbers that he has been seeing off Maroubra (c 12 km S of Sydney Heads) in recent days. The problem of determining the status of Hutton's Shearwater is brought about by the fact that up to the mid 1980's most observers did not how to identify them at sea, so their status prior tothe 1980's is hard to gauge. Once the identification issue (different under-wing pattern to Flutterers) was overcome, it became apparent that Hutton's ZShearweaters occurred in small numbers, either in one or twos, or in small groups of 5-10 birds throughout the year being more inshore than pelagic. Occasionally larger groups of up to 200 were seen Jul-Oct but this was the exception rather than the rule.
However in 1997 this all changed with larger numbers being seen including 900 off Wollongong in August. In 1998, again larger numbers reported  with 100+ off Maroubra 9 Sep, 1000+ off Wollongong 23 August and 200 on 27 Sep. The 1999 records have yet to be summarise, but if Rod is getting 1500 of Maroubra at present, this appears to be setting pattern of increased numbers of Hutton's Shearwaters in late winter and early spring. As the numbers of Bullers Shearwaters, Fluttering and Hutton's Shearwaters are increasing in NSW waters, it could be speculated that breeding conditions on the NZ islands and mountain ranges may be improving as a result of the control of rats and weasels that have taken place in that country in recent years.
Alan Morris
NSWFOC Records Officer
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