Perth Pelagic Sunday 17th June 2001

Subject: Perth Pelagic Sunday 17th June 2001
From: Frank O'Connor <>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 23:15:58 +0800

Participants (20) :
Frank O'Connor (organiser), Des Agnew, Pam Agnew, Erica Anderton, John
Bailey, James Bennett, Kevin Coate, Hazel Darnell, John Darmell, Tom
Delaney, Iain Henderson, Mel Lintern, Susan Margaret, David Newsome, Easy
Patterson,, Pieter Poot, Chris Reidy, Dianne Reidy, David Secomb, Bev Theile

Conditions :
Departed Hillarys Boat Harbour at 7.15am. Returned at 3.35pm. The forecast
was for isolated showers with a 1.5 metre sea easing on a 2.5 metre swell
easing after a small front passed through overnight. The winds were
forecast to be light to moderate W to SW. The day was fine and sunny with a
large uncomfortable 3 metre swell close to Rottnest Island, but excellent
conditions past Rottnest and for the rest of the day.

Description :
An outstanding trip for seabirds with an excellent range of species
including two not seen on previous trips and two seen only once before, but
almost no cetaceans for the day in complete contrast to the corresponding
weekend in June 2000. There were 7 pelagic species plus Great Skua, Arctic
Tern, Lesser Noddy and Australasian Gannet. There were more Great Skuas and
Wilson's Storm-Petrels seen than on any previous trip, but there were very
low numbers of albatross and petrels. Despite extensive burleying it was
very difficult to bring birds in very close to the boat and most sightings
were less than ideal with very few photographic opportunities.  It was a
slow start as expected until past Rottnest Island, and the final return to
Hillarys was very also quiet except for Great Skuas which were common
throughout the day.

The swell made conditions very difficult as we passed Rottnest Island but
it began to ease as we approached 100 metres depth and the call went out
for prion and stop the boat!! The prion stayed around for a while but never
came close enough to get good confident views. The tentative identification
was Slender-billed Prion. We started burleying with suet, pilchards, bread,
pollard and fish oil. One Cape Petrel and the first few Wilson's
Storm-Petrels were the best sightings.

We continued west at half speed slowly burleying as we travelled. We
approached a small group of Silver Gulls, Australasian Gannets and
Yellow-nosed Albatross sitting on the water and we stopped for nearly an
hour in 150 metres depth.  We burleyed and had a good slick of fish oil
which attracted about 12 Wilson's Storm-Petrels. The first Soft-plumaged
Petrels were seen. A noddy flew past fairly quickly about 50 metres or so
from the boat.  Good views but only briefly. The cap was noticeably white,
the bird looked darkish overall and the bird was fluttering more like a
prion than a Crested Tern. General opinion was for a Lesser Noddy and this
was still the opinion after the trip when references were further studied.
A large flock of 60 Silver Gulls approached the boat and as we were about
to move on the shout went out again for prion. This bird stayed around for
more than 5 minutes. It came fairly close and sat on the water in front of
the boat for a while. The black tail tip was well seen with a white
supercilium and dark line through the eye, and a more distinct black M
marking from the leading edge of the outer primaries and across the upper
rump.  The brief good views of the head looked solid with a fairly solid
bill. Prions are notoriously difficult to identify at sea but the general
opinion after initial thoughts and consulting references and expected
distributions is that it was most likely an Antarctic Prion. The other
highlight here was the catch of a 1 metre Bronze Whaler Shark and the brief
view of a large white flash close to the surface considered to be a 3 metre
White Pointer Shark which made the Great Skuas take off.

We continued slowly west and stopped at 185 metres depth when we saw our
first Great-winged Petrel. Another prion was briefly seen. The highlight
was the brief view of an Arctic Tern flying over the boat with a white rump
and forked tail.

We headed west for deeper water but there was almost a lack of birds until
we stopped in about 410 metres depth when some more Soft-plumaged Petrels
were seen. Another prion flew past giving reasonable views.  The M was much
greyer and this was considered to be another Slender-billed Prion.

We headed NNE into shallower water but very little was seen except for
Wilson's Storm-Petrels. We stopped briefly in 160 metres depth for a final
burley but we saw very little except a very blue flying fish. John tested
the water temperature and found that it was a warm 22°C.

We headed back to Hillarys seeing another Slender-billed Prion which flew
level with the boat for about 30 seconds giving quite good views.

We made a quick stop at Little Island near Hillarys to look unsuccessfully
for Australian Sea-lions.

Thanks to the skipper Trevor and the deck hands Neil and Brett.  Thanks
very much much to John Darnell for preparing the suet mixed with oil,
pollard and some mince.

Time/Latitude/Longitude/Depth/Distance/Bearing from Hillarys of most stoppages:
07:15 S31° 49' 34", E115° 44' 16", 6m, 0.0km, 0° (Hillarys Wharf)
08:40 S31° 59' 05", E115° 25' 44", 45m, 34.1km, 241° off West End Rottnest
09:05 S32° 00' 23", E115° 20' 22", 100m, 42.6km, 244° (stopped until 09:30)
SB Prion, C Petrel
10:00 S32° 00' 50", E115° 15' 58", 150m, 49.1km, 247° (stopped until 10:50)
A Prion, L Noddy
11:05 S32° 00' 50", E115° 13' 39", 185m, 52.4km, 249° (stopped until 11:30)
SB Prion, A Tern
11:50 S32° 01' 17", E115° 10' 33", 410m, 57.2km, 250° (stopped until 12:30)
SB Prion
13:20 S31° 51' 31", E115° 11' 26", 160m, 51.8km, 268° (stopped until 13:40)
13:00 S31° 51' 16", E115° 16' 37", ???m, 43.6km, 268° SB Prion

Bird List (Christidis & Boles order) Total Number (Maximum at Same Time) :
Cape Petrel 1 (1)
Great-winged Petrel 5 (2)
Soft-plumaged Petrel 11 (4)
Antarctic Prion 1 (1)       *****
Slender-billed Prion 5 (2)   ****
Yellow-nosed Albatross (race bassi) 25 (6)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 35 (12)
Australasian Gannet 26 (17)
Pied Cormorant 3 (2)
Great Skua 36 (6)
Silver Gull 60 (60)
Caspian Tern 1 (1)
Crested Tern 9 (2)
Arctic Tern 1 (1)            ****
Lesser Noddy 1 (1)           ****

Darter (4) harbour
Pied Cormorant (~100) mostly Little Island
Silver Gull (20+) harbour & Little Island
Crested Tern (2) Little Island
Fairy Tern 1 (1) outside harbour

Mammal List :
Bottle-nose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) (1 plus 1 in harbour)

Fish List :
Bronze Whaler Shark (1)
White Pointer Shark (1 possible) 3 metres

Next Trip :
The next trip will be on Sunday 5th August 2001. For details contact Frank
O'Connor on 08 9386 5694 or email 
Frank O'Connor      Birding WA
8C Hardy Road                      Email : 
Nedlands  WA  6009                       Phone : +61 8 9386 5694

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