Mottled and Cook's Petrels - Eden NSW

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Subject: Mottled and Cook's Petrels - Eden NSW
From: Daniel Mantle <>
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 2011 12:17:39 +0100
Canberra Ornithologists Group pelagic trips off Eden, NSW (October 22nd & 23rd)


Fifteen COG members people made the short trek down from Canberra to Eden on the southern NSW coast for a weekend of pelagic birding aboard the Connemara with skipper Richard Buckingham. We departed both mornings at 6am with the aim of getting out to the shelf edge as early as possible.


Observers (Saturday): Dan Mantle, Anthony Overs, Barbara Allen, Dianne Frazier, Lindsay Hansch, Sandra Henderson, Tobias Hayashi, Sue Lashko, Julian Robinson and Alastair Smith.

Observers (Sunday): Dan Mantle, Anthony Overs, Sandra Henderson, Tobias Hayashi, Julienne Kamprad, Sybilla Kovacs, Cassandra Morrow, Margaret Leggoe, Alastair Smith, and Alan Thomas.



The weekend was notable for a moderate number of Cookilaria petrel sightings. These birds along with the vast majority of shearwaters were moving south and gave reasonable views in the light winds, thus allowing all on board to see Mottled (3 on Sat/5 on Sun) and Cook’s Petrels (1 on Sat/1 on Sun) both days. Or I should say probable Cook’s Petrels – everything I saw seemed to fit with Cook’s rather than Pycroft’s Petrel on both days but obviously these are notoriously difficult birds to be 100% sure on the identification. Tobias Hayashi got good photos of these birds but so far I have only seen these images on his camera. We will get to look at these images in the next few days. Certainly both birds had well developed but restricted ear covert patches that were clearly distinct from paler grey nape and crown and the Saturday bird had a long, thin, clearly defined supercilium (not easy to be sure on the Sunday bird). Both birds looked relatively long billed (the Sunday bird was also relatively thick-billed). In flight, I thought both birds were long winged but I am not willing to comment on tail length. I have found that I struggle to easily pick any differences in tail length on photos of known birds without actually measuring them.


We also had good views of a single White-chinned Petrel at the berley point each day and reasonable numbers of Great-winged (largely or all Grey-faced) and Providence Petrels. The Humpbacks also put on a great show, particularly on Sunday with prolonged flipper and tail slapping and lots of breaching (including one large whale unexpectedly breaching within 50m of the boat – spectacular!).


COG Eden pelagics – Saturday & Sunday October 22rd & 23rd 2011


Weather (Saturday): Overcast with light 5 knot northerlies for most of the day with virtually no swell and only very low waves. Sea surface temperatures were 15C close to shore rising to 18.5C at the shelf edge.

Weather (Sunday): Light 5-10 knot north-easterlies, starting overcast but soon clearing to a bright day with only a slight swell (1m) and low waves (0.5-1m). Similar water temperatures to Saturday.


Saturday berley point – 37 03S 150 23E (280-310 fathoms)

Sunday berley point – 36 58S 150 20E (190-210 fathoms)

List of birds (Saturday total/Sunday total):

Black-browed Albatross                         8/10 (all close birds were melanophris)

Yellow-nosed Albatross                         2/0

Shy Albatross                                      180+/20+ (all cauta or cauta/steadi)

Wandering Albatross                            4/2 (one gibsoni, rest not split but possibly all gibsoni)

Fluttering Shearwater                          20/100+

Hutton’s Shearwater                            40/0

Fluttering/Hutton’s Shearwater             1000+/200+

Short-tailed Shearwater                       500+/500+

Sooty Shearwater                               1/0

Wedge-tailed Shearwater                     300+/200+

White-faced Storm-petrel                     1/0

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel                          20+/20+

Great-winged Petrel                            2/30+ (most or all gouldi)

Providence Petrel                               6/10+

Cape Petrel                                       10+/1

Mottled Petrel                                    3/5

Cook’s Petrel                                     1/1

Unidentified Cookilaria                        0/2 (probably both distant Mottled Petrels)

White-chinned Petrel                          1/1

Northern Giant Petrel                         1/1

Giant Petrel sp.                                  0/1

Arctic Jaeger                                     1/2 (all nearshore)

Australian Gannet                       

Black-faced Cormorant                       2/1

Little Black Cormorant                        2/10 (10 birds flew past in formation at 190 fathom mark)

Great Cormorant                               2/0

Little Pied Cormorant                         1/0

Little Penguin                                    6/0

Crested Tern                                   

Pacific Gull                                        2/2

Silver Gull                                   

Cuckoo sp. (probably Pallid)               1/0

Eastern Reef Egret                            0/1


Fish & Mammals:

Sunfish sp.                                       0/1

Mako Shark sp.                                0/1

Australian Fur Seal                           10+/10+

Common Dolphin                             50+/0

Bottlenose Dolphin sp                      40/0

Humpback Whale                             6/12

Southern Right Whale                       1/0

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