I refer to a posting regarding the release of two
seabirds off Southport on 15/6/02. I have since received a couple of concerned
phone calls and e-mails regarding the matter. When releasing any seabird the
subject is observed for some minutes to ensure there is no waterlogging of tail,
wing, or body plumage before the vessel leaves the area.
These birds have sometimes been in captivity for
some days even weeks and their initial response on being released is to
bathe, quite often at some length. This involves a plunge into the water
and a lifting of the entire body out of the water, this can sometimes last
for a considerable period of time.
On the May trip out of Southport we released
several Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, two of these birds very quickly water-logged
and were immediately rescued. They obviously hadn't, or were incapable of using
their preening gland(s) whilst in captivity.
The birds in question on the Southport June pelagic
were a Northern Giant Petrel and a Brown Skua. The Skua is basically a Gull,
with greater wing to body mass area than the Giant Petrel therefore having more
immediate lifting capability. The Giant Petrel was showing NO water-logging on
I was on the Wollongong pelagic this weekend past
and observed a freshly captured then released Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross
showing the same post-release actions. The same procedure was followed at that
venue as off Southport.
In future, patrons having concerns about something
they have observed on these pelagics regarding the above or maybe sightings in
general should talk to the organizer or some other experienced birder on board
before submitting erroneous statements through channels such as
Cheers - Paul Walbridge.