The phrase "Crikey, that's a white bird" popped up a few times on
today's Southport Pelagic [ably organised by Paul Walbridge].
Here are my impressions of today's events witnessed, as usual, from the
top deck [away from the engine noise and diesel fumes, but at a harder
angle to see the undersides of the birds].
We emerged from the Southport Passage into a fairly moderate sea.
There were a few trawlers returning to port with trailing flocks of
terns and shearwaters. A gannet shaped bird flew past, but I couldn't
ID it in the glare. The word from downstairs was 'masked booby'
[apparently an uncommon sight in those waters, and a bird I hadn't seen
We passed a few shearwater rafts on the way out to the shelf, and
apparently the odd sooty tern passed overhead [but again I couldn't see
enough to differentiate it from a bridled tern].
We also saw a white bird approaching the boat, and I had just remarked
that people on a trip last year had seen a white tern in the distance,
when we noticed that this 'tern' had black brows. While we were
scratching our heads, Paul popped his head up the ladder and asked 'did
you see the tropicbird?' [er yes and no].
We started to see Tahiti Petrels as we approached the edge, and when we
pulled up to burley, tahitis were about all we could see. Things were
looking a bit grim from a diversity perspective, but as we were heading
back, I observed a white-tailed tropicbird flying over the top of the
boat and sang out a few times. By the time the boat stopped, the
tropicbird had of course, scarpered, but a masked booby put in a flyby,
which I managed to photograph.
This time there were more tahiti petrels than we could wave a grass
skirt at, and the lower deck passengers were able to pick out a goulds
and white-necked petrel [I think - I could see they were greyer, but
didn't get a good enough lock on].
On the way back to port, the reward for staying awake was another white
bird. The washing power types would say that it was whiter than white.
The boat pulled up, the bird cruised overhead, and lo we had crippling
views of a white tern. Nice to be able to see such a lovely bird
without having to go to Lord Howe.
Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)