birding-aus Summer seabirds Maroubra

Subject: birding-aus Summer seabirds Maroubra
From: Rod Gardner <>
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999 11:11:25 +1000

Hi all,

Here's a summary of the highlights of regular seawatching off Maroubra,
Sydney over the months of December to February. No rarities (apart from a
couple of 'near misses'), but nevertheless some interesting records of
scarce seabirds. Most interesting perhaps were the good numbers of Buller's
Shearwaters and Long-tailed Skuas, and a couple of summer albatrosses. The
prevalence of offshore winds this year may have contributed to these
records. To give an idea of frequency, I did 36 hours of seawatching in
December, 35 in January and 33 in February.

Little Penguin          Three in January and five in February
Wandering Albatross     A late, old (phase 6) bird on 5.12, and a phase 4
                        bird on 9.2 during bad weather with southerlies
Black-browed Albatross  A late bird on 5.12, and a juvenile on 23.2. February
                        records are pretty rare - just two reported on Tony's
                        pelagic records for Sydney/Wollongong for the whole
                        period from the early 80s
Kermadec/Herald Petrel  One on 1.12. Very frustrating, as despite extensive
                        research, I haven't been able to pin this one down.
                        I'm inclined more to Kermadec, but a lot of people
                        suggest I'd just have to have seen the white on the
                        primaries. Anyway, definitely one of these two, with
                        good, fairly close views in good light conditions
Flesh-footed Shearwater Eight in December, two in January and nine in February.
                        Total 19. Comparison with Buller's is interesting
Wedge-tailed Shearwater Low numbers. Average per half hour watch over the
                        summer was 32.5 birds, which compares with 56.5 in
                        from a less good vantage point (Coogee) and 166 in
                        (I was overseas in 96-7). Any comments Alan? Spring
                        numbers off Maroubra were also down over previous years
Buller's Shearwater     18 birds sighted, 11 in December, five in January and
                        two in February, the last on 5.2. Maximum seven in an
                        hour on 29.12
Sooty Shearwater        Total of 42 birds, most in January (more no doubt
Short-tailed Shearwater A major movement of non-breeding birds on 15.12, with
                        a count of 17,500 in a half-hour. Other strong passage
                        days were 1.12, 4.12 and 6.12.
Fluttering Shearwater   The last day with 100+ was 9.12. Very few around in
                        January, building up slightly in February
Hutton's Shearwater     Seven in December, four in January and 10 in February
Australasian Gannet     January is the low point of the year for this species
Brown Booby             An adult flew south on 14.2. This is the fourth one off
                        Sydney I'm aware of in the last twelve months: an adult
                        and a young bird in May last year, and one on the
                        December Sydney pelagic
Pied Cormorant          A few birds in December, but none since
Little Pied Cormorant   Not many around
Great Cormorant         Quite a few around
Little Black Cormorant  Moderate numbers around
Arctic Jaeger           High numbers. total of over 600 over the summer, with
                        maxima of 40+ on 14.1 and 27.1, still 20+ on
Pomarine Jaeger         Quite good numbers: 94 birds, most in February (67).
Long-tailed Jaeger      Excellent numbers. After a few 'near misses' in late
                        December, 23 in January and 15 in February (last so far
                        were three on 15.2). Nine birds seen together in loose
                        flocks twice, 14.1 and 1.2. On the latter occasion the
                        birds were slowly drifting north, feeding, and came
                        close in
Silver Gull             These birds reached a low point at the turn of the year
                        here (as in previous years), and then slowly built up
                        through the summer. Presumably relates to breeding
Kelp Gull               More records than in previous years: 1 in December,
                        5 in January and 4 in February
White-winged Tern       A single bird on 5.12
Caspian Tern            A single bird on 29.12
Common Tern             Maxima in December were 50+ on 30.12, 46 on 28.12 and
                        40+ on 12.12. About 300 birds in December, 80 in
                        and 10 in February. This decline, presumably before
                        migrate back north, and also noted in previous years,
                        seems a bit strange to me. Are they hiding in harbours
                        and estuaries?
Crested Tern            Moderate numbers throughout the summer

And thanks to Lloyd Nielsen for his amazing report. One of the most
intriguing I've ever seen on Birding-aus. And where's the report of the
'fantastic' Wollongong pelagic, Tony? Now where did I put that comb?

Rod Gardner

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