Petrels and Prions

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Petrels and Prions
From: Laurie&Leanne Knight <>
Date: Sat, 20 Jul 2002 18:11:29 +1000
The theme on today's Southport Pelagic was petrels and prions.  Andrew Stafford
will be posting a more complete posting, so I will stick to the colour.

It seems that the passengers on pelagic birdwatching trips divide into three
groups - those who head for the cabin, the downstairs open area, and the
upstairs viewing area.  We went out on the 20+ metre monohull today - this has
an excellent upstairs section which afforded 360 degree views, and I spent the
day upstairs.

On the positive side, the upstairs people had good views forward of the boat,
and could generally see birds before the downstairs crew.  We also had less
engine noise and less exposure to diesel exhaust.  No one came down with mal de
mer while they were upstairs.

On the negative size, we had to put up with more rock and roll, and the elevated
position is not always the best for observing birds on the water close to the
boat.  We were also exposed to the threat of crested tern crap and it was
virtually impossible to communicate with the downstairs mob.  This made it
difficult to communicate our sitings and to get the boat to stop when we saw
something interesting [such as the odd bird sitting in the water in front of 
the boat].

I guess this is mostly a problem from a scientific perspective, as some of the
birds we saw upstairs probably didn't make it onto the trip list   Often those
of us upstairs lacked the capacity to definitively identify the birds we saw
[this was certainly the case when I had the upper deck to myself after lunch]. 

Fortunately, a bit of prolonged yelling allowed us to stop in prion central -
there were upwards of half a dozen prions sitting in the water and feeding.  We
had nice views from 10-20 metres and I was able to get a couple of ticks - fairy
and broad-billed prions.  Paul & co managed to identify some other prion species
there, and a number of petrels [mostly providence] joined in.  We also saw a few
storm petrels etc, but only passing views of a lone albatross [the mob in one of
the fishing boats run by the same charter company had close up views of a couple
of albatross sitting in the water].

There weren't many whales or dolphins about, just the odd gannet swanning about
outside the bar.

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