Ship assisted birds or illegal migrants!

To: "" <>
Subject: Ship assisted birds or illegal migrants!
From: Pat and Ian May <>
Date: Thu, 08 Mar 2001 11:54:47 +1030
Hello Birders

During July and August 1996 we spent several weeks in the vicinity of
02.30 S, 127.30 E in the Ceram Sea north of Ambon.   The strait between
Pulau Seram (Ceram) and Pulau Obi is a major international shipping lane
where hundreds of ships including many "super sized" ships pass in
various directions daily.

>From a distance not usually closer than about 1/2 nm, we were always
watching out for birds following boats and occasionally dark birds that
I assumed to be Crows  (sometimes single birds and up to three) were
flying about large ships under way.    Out of sight of land and about 40
nm off shore, on one occasion I saw a one appear to swap over to another
supertanker travelling in a different direction.

On a similar subject, we have seen numerous photos by Ray (BHP) and
Marion Nojak of Western Australia that show various passerines seeking
refuge, taken aboard offshore oil rigs located in the Timor Sea.   We
can assume that in many cases it would be a novelty for a crew who would
probably offer the exhausted birds bread and water.   And it's possible
that just a few of these make it to Australia, or Indonesia and perhaps
some only survive because of the refuge offered by these artificial
islands.   I wonder if some birds may learn to do this regularly?

Evolution is a marvellous topic and I think we run the risk of over
complicating an already complex subject when we attempt to categorize
lists using criteria that is a bit subjective anyway.   I reckon that if
a bird can make it, it was there and if we see it, we should tick it.

Ian May
PO Box 666
Enfield Plaza SA 5085

Tel 0409 474 575

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