Re: Ashmore Reef 2001 Cruise No 2 1 - 8 November 2001

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Subject: Re: Ashmore Reef 2001 Cruise No 2 1 - 8 November 2001
From: "George and Lindsey Swann - Kimberley Birdwatching" <>
Date: Fri, 9 Nov 2001 20:59:06 +0800
Just back from a triumphant expedition to Ashmore Reef with another group of
satisfied if tired, birders.

On this occasion, the party consisted of Allan & Rob Benson, Peter Crabtree,
Penny Drake-Brockman, Phil Joy, Chris Lester, Ross & Jann Mulholland, Stuart
Pell, Fred Smith, George Swann (who also organised both voyages) and Mike
Carter (Leader).

We sailed from Broome on 1 November and returned there mid-morning on 8
November 2001.

Observations at sea were disappointing and hindered by rough seas.
Unseasonal strong southerlies persisted for the whole period.  This made
observations difficult and our route was selected more to suit the comfort
of the expeditioners than the crossing of previously ornithologically
productive waters.

The highlight was the identification of Australia's first PETCHORA PIPIT
(Anthus gustavi) initially spotted by George Swann on West Island, Ashmore
Reef on 4 & 5 November (BARC willing).  This resulted from relentless and
persistent observation by the whole group, eventually producing views down
to 1.5m.  Photography was attempted but since the bird spent most of its
time searching the leaf litter and detritus that had accumulated under the
deep shade of a single clump of Octopus bush (Argusia argentea) only a poor
visual record is anticipated.  In the same bush seen by some observers was a
Locustella warbler, yet to be identified.

The all black Procellariiformes for which these trips are noted were very
scarce.  There was one probable Jouanin's Petrel (and another possible),
only 10 Bulwer's Petrels, 4 Swinhoe's and 2 Matsudaira's Storm-Petrels.  We
did, however, have good fortune with Leach's Storm-Petrel, seeing at least
5.  Two of these gave excellent views down to 5m range.  Wilson's
Storm-Petrels (18) were also relatively abundant.  Whereas 29 Tahiti Petrels
were seen on the cruise just 11 days previously, we logged only 7.  Four
Streaked Shearwaters (all distant) and 27 Hutton's Shearwaters were seen at
sea.  Only 4 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were seen at sea but the species was
found breeding (30 active burrows) on West Island.  Also breeding on West
Island, Ashmore Reef were 10 pairs of Red-tailed and 1 pair of White-tailed

A White Tern seen at sea on 2 November may be a first for this region.

Our permit, allowed us to circumnavigate Middle Island, Ashmore Reef.  The
shoreline is steep, from a distance of about 3 m we were able to observe the
vast numbers of breeding seabirds there, including both species of
Tropicbirds, Masked, Red-footed and Brown Boobies, Great and Lesser
Frigatebirds, Sooty Terns and Common Noddies.

Ashore on West Island in the Lacepede Islands, we again experienced large
numbers of breeding seabirds, mainly Brown Booby, Lesser Frigatebird and
Bridled Tern.  Roseate Terns were not nesting but 2000 were seen.  There
were two large, very compact colonies of Crested and Lesser Terns.  Among
thousands of waders at this site was an Asian Dowitcher.

Mike Carter

George & Lindsey Swann
Kimberley Birdwatching
P O Box 220, Broome  6725
Western Australia
Tel/Fax (08) 9192 1246
Web site:

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