Perth Pelagic Trip Report 5th August 2001

Subject: Perth Pelagic Trip Report 5th August 2001
From: Frank O'Connor <>
Date: Mon, 06 Aug 2001 22:06:11 +0800

Participants (24) :
Frank O'Connor (organiser), Carol Andersson, David Annandale, David Baird,
David Beaumont, Hazel Darnell, John Darnell, Patrick Elton, Klaus Gessner,
Iain Henderson, Chris Lester (Vic), Susan Margaret, Stefan Markwitz, Sonja
Melgares, Kathleen O'Callaghan, Luis Onate, Easy Patterson, Pieter Poot,
Shane Raidal, Danielle Ryder, Karen Smart, Marion Wittstock (South Africa),
Linda Wotherspoon, Phillip Wotherspoon

Conditions :
Departed Hillarys Boat Harbour at 7.10am. Returned at 3.20pm.  The forecast
was fine but with a 3.0 metre swell easing on a 1.0 metre sea rising to 1.5
metres.  A moderate front had passed through on Friday morning and a small
front passed through on Friday night.  A strong front was forecast to come
in on the Sunday evening.  The winds were forecast to be light NW in the
morning strengthening to NW/W in the afternoon.  The day was cloudy but
fine with a light easterly breeze as we left Hillarys, which swung around
to northerly and strengthened in the afternoon.  The seas and swells were
not as bad as forecast and we stopped the boat when anything of interest
was seen.

An excellent trip for seabirds with a very good range of species including
two sub species not seen on previous trips and rare in WA.  These were the
'salvini' race of the Shy Albatross with a distinct grey hood extending
further back and black underwing tips and the 'gouldi' race of the
Great-winged Petrel with the white face .  The former is very rare in WA
waters and the latter is uncommon and rare as far north as Perth.  There
were 10 pelagic species plus Great Skua and Australasian Gannet.  There
were more Yellow-nosed Albatross, Great Skuas and White-faced Storm-Petrels
seen than on any previous trip, and good numbers and views of nearly all
species.  The other main points of interest were the many sightings of
small numbers of Hutton's Shearwaters heading south, and a couple of
Flesh-footed Shearwaters seen much earlier than usual.  The extensive
burleying worked well this trip and some good photos were taken of several
species.  There were no cetaceans for the day despite good sighting
conditions for most of the trip and recent reports in the press.  A couple
of shark fins were briefly seen but they could not be identified.

We left roughly on time and fairly soon saw our first Great Skua,
Yellow-nosed Albatross and a string of eight Hutton's Shearwaters which we
saw regularly during the day.  Because of the forecast sea conditions we
passed a fair way to the north of Rottnest Island to avoid the larger
swells experienced on the previous trip.  This gave us brief views of two
Southern Giant-Petrels but there were generally very few birds to be
seen.  We headed west and as we approached 200 metres depth we had another
pleasant surprise with the first three White-faced Storm-Petrels.  These
are generally seen later in the year.  We made our first serious stop and
saw Cape Petrels, a Shy Albatross and another surprise was a Flesh-footed
Shearwater which was also very early in the season.

We continued west but fairly soon we stopped again briefly for the first
Soft-plumaged Petrel.  I was surprised by the general lack of petrels.  We
stopped again at about 250 metres depth and saw very good numbers of
White-faced Storm-Petrels and our first Wilson's Storm-Petrel.  But still
almost no petrels.

As we continued west at half speed slowly burleying we saw a sizeable flock
of birds ahead.  Our luck had changed and we had one of the best stops of
any Hillarys pelagic.  We had found a large flock of at least 50
Great-winged Petrels, with some Soft-plumaged Petrels, Cape Petrels and
another Shy Albatross.  One of the Great-winged Petrels had a clear white
face of the race 'gouldi' which is uncommon in WA and possibly not recorded
as far north as Perth.  It breeds in NZ.  We moved a short distance north
and again saw good numbers of petrels, large numbers of Yellow-nosed
Albatross and 9 Great Skuas together on the water.  One of the Great Skuas
had a metal band on the lower left leg, but as no one on board had a
licence we resisted the temptation to catch it.

We continued north and stopped with the depth just below 200 metres.  We
saw a good range of species and then we saw the main highlight of the
trip.  A Shy Albatross (race salvini) flew past a couple of
times.  Hopefully a few good photos were taken as this is very rare in WA
with maybe only one or two previous reports of sightings of this sub
species in WA.  It had a distinct grey hood extending further back, with a
bone (?) coloured bill with a dark tip, and solid black underwing tips.

We headed back to Hillarys at full speed seeing several more White-faced
Storm-Petrels and Hutton's Shearwaters.

Thanks to the skipper Trevor and the deck hand Justin.  Thanks very much
much to John Darnell for preparing the suet mixed with oil, pollard and
some mince.

Time/Latitude/Longitude/Depth/Distance/Bearing from Hillarys of most stoppages:
07:10 S31° 49' 34", E115° 44' 16", 6m, 0.0km, 0° (Hillarys Wharf)
07:25 S31° 50' 48", E115° 39' 57", 28m, 7.2km, 254° (1st Hutton's Shearwaters)
08:00 S31° 54' 15", E115° 30' 47", 36m, 22.9km, 250° (1st Southern
08:20 S31° 56' 17", E115° 24' 28", 50m, 33.5km, 251° (2nd Southern
08:45 S31° 58' 30", E115° 19' 01", 105m, 43.0km, 250°
09:20 S32° 00' 31", E115° 13' 47", 184m, 52.0km, 249° (stopped until 09:40)
(1st WF Storm-Petrels, Shy Alb)
09:50 S32° 01' 32", E115° 12' 41", 210m, 54.4km, 248° (1st Soft-plumaged
10:00 S32° 01' 53", E115° 11' 28", 252m, 56.4km, 248° (stopped until 10:30)
(1st Wilson's SP)
10:45 S32° 02' 57", E115° 09' 32", 470m, 59.9km, 248° (stopped until 11:15)
11:30 S32° 04' 50", E115° 09' 06", 282m, 62.1km, 245° (stopped until 12:30)
12:50 S32° 03' 48", E115° 12' 59", 180m, 55.8km, 244° (stopped until 13:20)
(Salvin's Albatross)
13:35 S32° 02' 51", E115° 19' 02", ???m, 48.0km, 242°

Bird List (Christidis & Boles order) Total Number (Maximum at Same Time) :
Southern Giant-Petrel 2 (1)
Cape Petrel 12 (4)
Great-winged Petrel 100+ (60)
Great-winged Petrel (race gouldi) 1 (1)
Soft-plumaged Petrel 38 (20)
Shy Albatross (race cauta) 2 (1)
Shy Albatross (race salvini) 1 (1)
Yellow-nosed Albatross (race bassi) 280 (70)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 2 (1)
Hutton's Shearwater 45 (10)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 5 (2)
White-faced Storm-Petrel 22 (10)
Australasian Gannet 40 (8)
Pied Cormorant 1 (1)
Great Skua 36 (9)
Silver Gull 1 (1)
Crested Tern 16 (3)

Darter (3) harbour
Pied Cormorant (10+) harbour
Silver Gull (30+) harbour
Crested Tern (5) Little Island

Mammal List :

Fish List :
shark sp. 2
flying fish sp.

Next Trip :
The next trips are expected to be in June and August 2002.  For details
contact Frank O'Connor on 08 9386 5694 or email 
Frank O'Connor      Birding WA
8C Hardy Road                      Email : 
Nedlands  WA  6009                       Phone : +61 8 9386 5694

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