I went out on Paul Walbridge's pelagic yesterday - third trip, third different
boat. This one had a good upper deck, and although there was a bit of a nasty
chop in places, I had taken my motion sickness pill and had no problems.
It was a bit of a quite day, with the north-westerly wind pushing the birds out
to sea. No rafts of shearwaters just outside the bar this time.
Ticks for me this time were a providence petrel and a wilson's storm petrel.
There was the odd black-bellied storm petrel about, but I didn't get to see the
The feature of the trip was the release of an immature northern giant-petrel and
a brown skua [they had been recovering at Sea World - one had been picked up at
Noosa and the other from Fraser Island]. This brought to mind the recent thread
about official birding records.
Pizzey and Knight don't list the brown skua, and with my untrained pelagic eye,
I really couldn't see the difference between it an the great skua. Paul said
that the brown skua was bigger than the great skua and that the published C&L
was out of date with its taxonomy. Of course, old the reader's digest book of
Australian birds doesn't even include the south polar skua that we saw in April
- so I guess that's an indication of the extent to which pelagic records have
trailed the terrestrial.
For what it is worth, Pizzey and Knight weren't much help in separating the
immature northern and southern giant-petrels.
In both cases, the released birds took a bit of time to get their bearings when
released - both splashed about for a while. The skua seemed to be more at home
than the petrel - appearing more confident in its bathing and bobbing about - it
took off about 10 minutes after it was released. The petrel on the other hand,
seemed more awkward in the water [the chop was a bit harder where we released
it] and we didn't see it take off.
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