To: <>
From: "Dion Hobcroft" <>
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2000 16:13:01 +1000
Optimistic about twitching the incredibly mega Tristram's Storm-petrel found
by Tony the previous day, I joined a Field Guides Sydney pelagic on the
Halicat the following day 10.10.00. We burnt out to the GPS location and
chummed up big time with Hal producing two perfect score slicks. Needless to
say no Tristram's Storm-petrel but over 300 birds around the boat most of
the time.
We ventured out to 25 n.m E Sydney and produced the second feeding station.
Many of the birds followed us.

At approx 1230 as I observed on the starboard side unfortunately away from
the tour group a Fluttering type shearwater caught my attention. It was
clearly very dark appearing black above with a very clear cut facial pattern
with white arcing in a notch behind the eye in the ear coverts. The bill,
tail and wings looked longer than a typical Fluttoni. I zoned in on the
undertail coverts suspecting Audubon's Shearwater but the image was of white
undertail coverts with a dark undertail and dark feet. The brief view of the
underwing showed the coverts to be pure white with a hint of a dusky patch
on virtually pure white axillaries. As the bird flew away it showed two
white rectangular straps on either side of the uppertail coverts which were
very striking and eye catching. The bird was only seen for about 30 seconds
but the view and light were good and the boat was stationary with the
shearwater at quite close range though flying away. I sort of dismissed it
as being
an aberrant Fluttering (which can show white notches in the lateral upper
tail coverts but not to this extent in previous experience) and went back to
scouring storm-petrels.

Upon returning home I consulted a few references and it quickly dawned on me
that this had almost certainly been a Newell's Shearwater. This species
breeds in Hawaii. There is one Australian record of a single bird which was
caught on Phillip Island offshore from Norfolk Island in the past five years
(exact details not to hand). Identification is problematical with Manx,
Townsend's and varying subspecies of Audubon's Shearwater so much more
research is required before this is a definite claim. Upon returning home
Tony invited me over to have look at the devastating Tristram's Storm-petrel
photos. What an incredible bird and just compensation for his organisation
skills of NSW pelagics over the last two decades. Interestingly both
Tristram's Storm-Petrel and Newell's Shearwater breed in Hawaii. So to
finish up its off Sydney again this Saturday to try our luck again in the
oceanic raffle

Other birds-Great-winged Petrel (5-10), Providence Petrel (10-15), Cape
Petrel (20), Fairy Prion (2), Short-tailed Shearwater (500 plus),
Wedge-tailed Shearwater (100 plus), Hutton's Shearwater (5), Fluttering
Shearwater (2), Wilson's Storm-petrel (20), White-faced Storm-petrel (5),
Wandering Albatross (16), Shy Albatross (3), Black-browed Albatross (10-2
impavida), Yellow-nosed Albatross (3). There were several unidentified
prions and many unidentified Fluttering/Hutton's Shearwaters. Only cetacean
Bottle-nosed Dolphins on the shelf.

Good birding


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