Petrel Kills Crested Tern

To: "Birds of Perth" <>
Subject: Petrel Kills Crested Tern
From: Frank O'Connor <>
Date: Sun, 07 Jul 2002 17:41:12 +0800
At 15:18 07/07/2002 +0800, Birds of Perth wrote:
For those of you that attended this mornings Birds WA outing to the North Mole in Freo, you will already know about the amazing observation we made today. Just thought I'd get in first .... If anyone can elaborate or tell the story better than I please feel free!

Two (2) Great Southern Petrel came to rest on water off the southern rocks of the North Mole near the lighthouse. A Crested Tern seemed to be on trouble on the water nearby, being unable to take flight. Somebody later told me that fishing line was seen on the bird. One of the Petrels siezed the opertunity and swooped down on the tern. The Petrel held the tern under the water to drown it, this was about 5 minutes. While one Petrel held the tern under water the second Petrel started to pluck feathers from the terns body. The second Petrel then tried to take the tern and ended up in a wrestling match with the first Petrel. During this time the tern was released. It (the tern) floated to the surface where it gave a few last feeble attempts of life and then died. The winning Petrel took the tern's body out further from the rocks (50m) where it proceeded to consume it. During it's meal it was interrupted several times by the second Petrel whereby an argument and fight would ensue before getting back to it's meal.

Southern Giant-Petrels are not that uncommon at the Fremantle north mole from May to September. There was a significant storm and winds last night, and so I was there before dawn (06:50) this morning. Very disappointing. The conditions were fine and fairly calm. I waited until 07:30am during which time I saw about six Great Skuas and sixteen Australasian Gannets. There was one possible giant-petrel seen well offshore.

So it is good to see that some giant-petrels were seen during the outing. This observation follows on a recent report of a Southern Giant-Petrel chasing and killing a Silver Gull at Thomsons Bay at Rottnest Island.

PS : As I arrived in the very early first light I saw what looked like a bat fly past. Does anyone know of any bat species that might inhabit this area and habitat. I only got the briefest of glimpses. The wingspan was about 25cm.

Frank O'Connor     Birding WA
Phone : (08) 9386 5694                Email : 

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