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Subject: birding-aus SEA WATCH OFF MAGIC PT, MAROUBRA - 26TH JUNE 1999
From: "EDWIN VELLA" <>
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 1999 11:17:04 +1000


Yesterday, myself, Rod Gardner and David Koffel had one of our best sea watches ever had off Sydney, without going out to sea on a pelagic. A total of 20 species of seabirds were recorded between the 3 of us, within the 6-7 hours of observation, including 3 species of Prions.

What was particularly good at Magic Pt beside being not only a well projected headland only within 10 km south of the city centre, was a concrete shelter at the point where we could protect ourselves form the rain and the intensity of the strong southerly breezes while still enabling ourselves to get great views of the ocean.

Upon arrival we were greeted by about 10 (in 3 separate groups) Humpback Whales moving within 5km from the coastline (atleast 4 were observed within 2km of the rocks). None were seen breaching but the sighting of these magnificent creatures made a great start for the day. Another 4 were also seen later that morning and another 2 that afternoon.

The winds during the morning were fairly moderate before 12 pm but strong enough to lure in various Albatross, Petrels, Prions, Shearwaters, Skuas and Terns within 2 km from the coast. After lunch fresh and much stronger breezes blew in from the south. The stronger weather and bands of rain clouds brought in many of the seabirds even much more closer to the coast especially the Prions, with all 3 species observed only within 20 metres off the rocks. All 3 prions species were observed hydroplaning on the surface for food enabling to get clear views of the critical distinguishing features.

Also of much interest, was seeing Peregrine Falcon(s) catching Prions on atleast 2 occasions. The prey was also seen exchanged between the adult pair in the air. An amazing sight seen also by myself and Rod last year off Mistral point (just the next headland north of Magic Pt and possibly involving the same pair of Peregrines) around the same time last year. At one time, one of the Peregrines was seen to make a spectacular dive with intense speed from high up in the air and successfully snatching one of the prions feeding on water. As the Peregrines flew over our heads (and possibly to a nest), we could clearly see the Prion in the Peregrines talons.

Our total list of species for the day were as follows:

Fairy Penguin (heard)

Black-browed Albatross (14) (all race melanophyrs)

Yellow-nosed Albatross (64) (all race bassi)

Northern Giant Petrel (2) (all juv.)

Southern Giant Petrel (2) (all juv.)

Other Giant Petrels (4) (all juv.)

Cape Petrel (8)

Providence Petrel (2)

Fairy Prion (40-50)

Thin-billed Prion (1-2)

Antarctic Prion (1) (most likely to be this species)

Other Prions (100 plus)

Fluttering Shearwater (220 plus)

Huttons Shearwater (1)

Australasian Gannet (about 70)

Great Cormorant (3)

Antarctic Skua (2)

Silver Gull (400 plus)

Crested Tern (30 plus)

White-fronted Tern (5)


Peregrine Falcon (pair)


Humpback Whales (16)

I look forward to more sea watches like this in future…

Edwin Vella

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