Tahitian Archipelago

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Tahitian Archipelago
From: knightl <>
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 2003 19:58:30 +1000
The phrase "Crikey, that's a white bird" popped up a few times on today's Southport Pelagic [ably organised by Paul Walbridge].

Here are my impressions of today's events witnessed, as usual, from the top deck [away from the engine noise and diesel fumes, but at a harder angle to see the undersides of the birds].

We emerged from the Southport Passage into a fairly moderate sea. There were a few trawlers returning to port with trailing flocks of terns and shearwaters. A gannet shaped bird flew past, but I couldn't ID it in the glare. The word from downstairs was 'masked booby' [apparently an uncommon sight in those waters, and a bird I hadn't seen before].

We passed a few shearwater rafts on the way out to the shelf, and apparently the odd sooty tern passed overhead [but again I couldn't see enough to differentiate it from a bridled tern].

We also saw a white bird approaching the boat, and I had just remarked that people on a trip last year had seen a white tern in the distance, when we noticed that this 'tern' had black brows. While we were scratching our heads, Paul popped his head up the ladder and asked 'did you see the tropicbird?' [er yes and no].

We started to see Tahiti Petrels as we approached the edge, and when we pulled up to burley, tahitis were about all we could see. Things were looking a bit grim from a diversity perspective, but as we were heading back, I observed a white-tailed tropicbird flying over the top of the boat and sang out a few times. By the time the boat stopped, the tropicbird had of course, scarpered, but a masked booby put in a flyby, which I managed to photograph.

This time there were more tahiti petrels than we could wave a grass skirt at, and the lower deck passengers were able to pick out a goulds and white-necked petrel [I think - I could see they were greyer, but didn't get a good enough lock on].

On the way back to port, the reward for staying awake was another white bird. The washing power types would say that it was whiter than white. The boat pulled up, the bird cruised overhead, and lo we had crippling views of a white tern. Nice to be able to see such a lovely bird without having to go to Lord Howe.

Regards, Laurie.

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