Gannets nesting and Shearwater ID near Point Wilson Explosives Pier (Vic

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Subject: Gannets nesting and Shearwater ID near Point Wilson Explosives Pier (Vic).
From: Brian Fleming <>
Date: Mon, 09 Dec 2002 21:29:03 +1100
On Sunday 8th December we travelled from Geelong to Melbourne on board
the ferry 'Victoria Star' (formerly a Sydney harbour ferry 'Lady Kaye').
Conditions were pleasant and sunny and we saw quite a few birds, but as
it was a normal tourist trip not all could be seen as well as we could
wish. We left Geelong at 2.30 p.m. and arrived in Victoria Dock c. 6.15
p.m. (Eastern Summer Time).

A single Great Crested Grebe was fishing beside Cunningham Pier, and all
the Silver Gulls of Geelong had gathered for food (?restaurant scraps?)
thrown from the pier end.  One Great Cormorant was seen flying past
here. Pelicans were visible at the end of Point Henry.

>From time to time throughout the trip Crested Terns flew past, usually
in pairs.

Most of the channel markers through Corio Bay had seabirds roosting on
them - Little Pied Cormorants predominated. Also  a few pairs of Pied
and Black-faced Cormorants. As we approached the Point Wilson Explosives
Pier we passed fairly close to the end and a large piling structure
which I am told is called a dolphin, I can't think why. It was
completely covered with Gannets and the few Pied and Blackfaced
Cormorants present had no hope of settling on the platform but had to
perch on the fenders hung round it. I looked hard but could not make out
any nests on this structure but someone with better eyesight and
stronger binoculars should have a look.

On the last of the green piling channel markers off the Explosives Pier
was a small group of Gannets. With them was at least one fluffy
juvenile, still in down, which cannot possibly have flown there. 

A little further on we saw a group of buoys and markers off to starboard
which may be connected with mussel-farming. Near these, Gannets were
diving. Some shearwaters were flying low over the water and apparently
feeding from the surface - some were all dark above and below and I put
them down as Short-tailed Shearwaters. They flew in steady gliding,
sometimes turning on end with one wingtip close to the water. 

There were also some slightly smaller dark Shearwaters flying in similar
style to the Short-tailed but with more flutter between glides - they
had white bellies and also white wingstripes intermittently visible,
particularly in the fluttery flight. The throat and upper breast seemed
dark - as far as I could tell, given that by this time spray had settled
on both spectacles and binocular lenses. I was intensely frustrated
because they were just too far away to get a decent view of them, and of
course the ferry wasn't stopping. Can anyone identify them from this
inadequate description?
A single all dark Jaeger was harrying the Shearwaters but again too far
off for any ID.
I'm sure someone more expert in seabirds could identify them - please
let me know. How can one distinguish Hutton's from Fluttering? (I was
once told that neither ever comes into the Bay bu I am sure I've seen

Once in Port Phillip Bay proper, a party of at least 3 Bottle-nosed
Dolphins came alongside and occasionally showed off by jumping clear of
the water. I have no way of knowing whether we saw the same group
repeatedly as we went up the Bay or if we met other groups.

Once into Hobson's Bay, Silver Gulls and Little Pied Cormorants were
everywhere, some Pacific Gulls were resting on piles and posts, and
there were quite a lot of terns about, both Crested and a smaller
species. You can't inspect headmarkings when a bird is a silhouette
against the sky. A single Little Black Cormorant flew over as we went up
the Yarra.
Anthea Fleming
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