Beached shearwaters - south east of South Australia

To: "Bird Chat Line" <>
Subject: Beached shearwaters - south east of South Australia
From: "Mitchener/Christie" <>
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 16:16:57 +0930
For some reason this did not go - so my apologies if you get it twice!!

I have been following the thread about beach washed short-tailed shearwaters 
with interest.  There have been what we consider
unusually high numbers washed up on our shores last week - which was not 
surprising considering the gale force winds of the previous
few days.  From what I can gather, it is an annual event in areas just to the 
east of here - but perhaps a little earlier this year.
I had two live birds brought to me.  They both died from what appeared to be 
hypothermia.  Most bodies on the beach appeared to be
of reasonable body weight.  None of the 95 that I counted had bands.  Some 
birds were well off the beach indicating they had crawled
ashore looking for shelter.

I have collated the following numbers from various locals.  Note that sections 
covered were not continuous.   Whilst it is
considered unusual for these numbers in the Carpenter Rocks area, it is 
considered an annual event in Port MacDonnell and Portland.

Woolwash Caravan Park, Port MacDonnell.  47 dead plus  10 alive but distressed 
birds which were put in the shelter of the scrub (my
guess is that they would have died.)

Nene Valley township east along Jones Bay to Douglas Point and then Port Mac 
township.  A total of 105 which included 73 picked up
in .6 of a km in Port Mac.

Lake Bonney Regulator up to and including the first beach east of Blackfellows 
Caves.  Total of  95.
Also in this section  2 gannets, 1 cape petrel and 2 'seals' (1 fresh, one 

I understand that there have also been quite a lot of birds washed up in the 
neighbouring area  Portland, Victoria.

The following is a news item reported in  Wetstuff, Marine & Community Coast 
Network, SA  news summary
THOUSANDS of dead and sick mutton birds are being washed ashore on Queensland 
and NSW beaches, well short of their southern breeding
grounds.   The mutton birds or short-tailed shearwaters fly 15,000km from the 
Arctic  Circle near the Bering Strait to breed
primarily on islands and isolated headlands off Tasmania and Victoria. About 23 
million mutton birds migrate south every year. There
are fatalities each year but this year the number of malnourished and exhausted 
birds appears to be far higher. "We had about 10
birds last year. We've had 100 this year so I think it is considerably worse 
this year than usual," Currumbin Bird Sanctuary
veterinarian Dr Vere Nicolson said.  Post-mortem examinations on the dead birds 
reveal many are
weakened by internal parasites and oil had been found in the stomachs of some 
of the dead birds.  Scientists believe the oil was
probably ingested in the last week somewhere in the central western Pacific.


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