Status of Seabirds in Australia

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Subject: Status of Seabirds in Australia
From: "Alan Morris" <>
Date: Fri, 31 May 2002 10:33:22 +1000
Hi Birders,
I too would support Mike Carter about the inaccuracies in the paper published in the The Emu recently, but there is one aspect that i would disagree with Mike about! That relates to the status of the Black Petrel in NSW. Mike says "...Black Petrel is so rare that Birds Australia Rarities Committee must access sightings before acceptance..." when discussing the claim that Buller's Shearwaters and Black Petrel are said to be "common" by the authors of the paper.
The fact of the matter is that while neither species is "common", both are regularly encountered in NSW offshore waters in summer. In the NSW 1999 Annual Bird Report (2002  Birding NSW, A. Morris Editor) details are given of 26 Buller's Shearwaters being seen offshore on pelagic trips or from seawatching from coastal sites on at least 16 seperate occasions in 1999, while 24 Black Petrels were seen on 7 seperate pelagic trips from Sydney, Wollongong, Batemans Bay & Eden. Borth species tend to be be seen from November to March. In the year 2000, both species were seen in similar numbers and were also seen on the Swansea pelagic trips as well. Obviously they are not "common" as compared to all the other shearwaters and the more commonly petrels like White-headed, Great-winged & Providence Petrels but they are not rare either. Black Petrels do hang around the boat on the pelagic trips and good views are available and the bird can be distinguished from the larger and rarer Westland Petrel.
At the risk of stirring up a hornets nest, I say that for the Birds Australia Rarities Committee to insist that they are so rare that a URRF is required would probably indicate that some members are putting their heads in the sand, either that or they won't go on a NSW pelagic trip in summer to see for themselves. All I know is that Black Petrels are sufficiently common enough  that no member of a pelagic trip considers it worthwhile to complete a URRF form and the NSW Rarities Committee removed the species from their Review List 5 years ago. So what is the problem with BARC?
Alan Morris
Editor, NSW Annual Bird Repot
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