birding-aus Northern Giant-Petrel in NSW

Subject: birding-aus Northern Giant-Petrel in NSW
From: "P.J. Milburn" <>
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 19:55:28 +1000
Lindsay and Alan have drawn attention to a sampling anomoly that was
present in the records of NGP for NSW during the mid 1990s.  This species
was not being recorded on the regular pelagic trips for a number of years
and rightly the NSWRC conducted a review of status on this basis.  In time,
the sampling quirk collapsed and NGP didn't seem to be rare anymore!

The Southern Oceans Seabird Study Association has been running a long-term
study of Giant-Petrel species at sea off the southern NSW coast.  Review of
the data generated by this project since 1972 reveals that NGP is a regular
visitor and that in fact the suprise in all this was that NGP was NOT
recorded on boat trips for several years since numbers were normal.

This illustrates the importance of long-term intensive studies of seabirds
(and of course many other organisms) by as many means as is feasible.
Systematic programmes of land-based observations such as those conducted by
Michael Ronan and Rod Gardner (and others both inside and outside NSW
borders) are invaluable in this context.  If there is anyone out there who
likes to stare out to sea on a regular basis I urge you to join in and keep
accurate data logs.  There is a lighter side to it as well as exemplified
by the Black-browed Albatross which enternained UK birders by flying up and
down the coast recently.

As far as identification goes I don't think there is any call to panic.
One must just accept that with the current state of knowledge a few birds
will remian unidentified as Macronectes sp.  Remember, after they have
bitten you both species may have a reddish tip to the bill!!

There are good southerlies predicted tomorrow for southern NSW so lets go
out and do an ad hoc Giant Petrel census!!


Dr.Peter Milburn
Biomolecular Resource Facility
The Australian National University
GPO Box 334 Canberra ACT 0200  AUSTRALIA
Phone No.  <61> <2> 6249 4326
Fax No.    <61> <2> 6249 4326
E-mail Address  

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