Fluttering Shearwaters in huge numbers off Newcastle

To: Mick Roderick <>
Subject: Fluttering Shearwaters in huge numbers off Newcastle
From: Jill Dening <>
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 2008 08:24:13 +1000
Hi Mick,

We saw a similar spectacle off Caloundra, SEQld, nine days ago (16/8). They were heading south. I took them to be Flutterings, though I am no expert on shearwaters, and I had no scope with me. The stream continued for about ten minutes or more. Thousands and thousands and thousands of them. I would say tens of thousands rather than ten thousand here. I photographed them through my long lens, and though grainy when enlarged, I felt that Fluttering was most likely.


Jill Dening
Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

26° 51' 41"S	152° 56' 00"E

Mick Roderick wrote:
G'day everyone,
This afternoon I decided that the only way to 'come down' from the fantastic seawatches off Maroubra over the past 2 days was to head out to my local patch - Nobby's Head, Newcastle. I was in for a treat.
What I saw was a humongous flock of Fluttering Shearwaters that stretched for well over 2km from about 500m off the entrance of the harbour south to Groper Rock (southern end of Nobby's Beach). To get an idea of how many birds were in the flock, check the photos on the following link (and use the "next" feature to scroll through the 4 images):"">
 What can be seen in the aggregate of these 4 images represents about 20% of the total flock. I know the images aren't fantastic but if you enlarge them by clicking on the image you can get an appreciation of the numbers of birds (remembering each photo shows about 1/20th of the total flock). From making counts on-the-ground combined with counts off the various photos I took I am estimating that there must have been close to 10,000 birds. I'd be interested to hear people's opinions on this, given that the only references I can find to population size is "100,000 pairs" (Brooke and Cox) and "more than 100,000 birds" (Birdlife International), who also state that flocks of greater than 20,000 birds have been recorded. I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has seen such extensive flocks of Fluttering Shearwaters. Doubtless some birds were Hutton's, though I was only able to identify a single bird that I could confidently say was a Hutton's.
 Also present were a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and 2 Black-browed Albatross. There were schools of (presumably) Australian Salmon feeding and breaking the surface in one area just off Big Ben Rocks and hawking around these were Silver Gulls, Crested Terns and a total of 28 White-fronted Terns (as well as a few Gannets). A pair of Gull-billed Terns were seen hawking over the sand dunes.
 Great to see so much wildlife activity off our industrial port city. What a weekend for seawatching! Incidentally, the next organised Hunter Seawatch will take place next Sunday at 2pm, Fort Drive, Nobby's.
 Mick Roderick
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