Buller's Albatross off SEQ!

To: birding aus <>
Subject: Buller's Albatross off SEQ!
From: robert morris <>
Date: Sun, 6 Mar 2011 10:28:05 +0000
Dear All
I woke early today to see if the winds off SEQ were still strong; they were - 
it had been blowing 40-50 kts all night and similar late on Saturday. I decided 
to go to Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island and got the 5.55 ferry and 
hitched a lift with the local baker to  Point Lookout. I was hoping for a 
White-necked Petrel, Streaked Shearwater or Buller's Shearwater. A Buller's 
Shearwater was seen yesterday off Point Lookout so I had high hopes.
The seas were huge and it was difficult to stand on the exposed headland. It 
was also overcast which is good at this site in the mornings as you look east. 
I tucked myself in at 7.00am and started sea-watching. It was pretty 
disappointing to start off with - just Crested terns, a few Common Noddies, 
Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and several Arctic Jaegers. Just before 7.30 I stopped 
looking down my 'scope to look around with my bins when a large bird appeared 
to my right (south-east of the headland) at a distance of c200m - imagine my 
surprise when I put my bins on a small albatross (in SEQ in the late summer!). 
As it banked up (heading north) I could clearly see a distinct grey hood and a 
yellow and black bill. I thought I knew what it was but couldn't believe my 
eyes.  I quickly got the bird in my telescope and clearly saw an adult Buller's 
Albatross (as I'd suspected)! This was based on the hood, the distinctive 
yellow/ black /yellow bill and the underwing pattern. What on eart
 h this was doing here in March one will never know - I followed it past Whale 
Rock as it headed quickly north towards Morton Island. I am very familiar with 
Buller's Albatross but I'm not sure what they should be doing in March and 
where they might be seen in Australian waters at this time of year. 
I haven't really studied the recent weather pattens but Qld has had some other 
odd Albatross records in the last 12 months including a Southern Royal, a 
Salvins and Light-mantled Sooty. I wonder where this bird came from - up the 
East Coast or straight across from NZ. I also could not tell which sub-species 
it was.
I stayed another 3 hours waiting for the next rarity. The best I could do was a 
nice light phase Pomerine Jaeger.

Rob Morris 


Brisbane, Australia 


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