seawatch 16/11/05, NSW

To: "birding aus" <>
Subject: seawatch 16/11/05, NSW
From: "Stephen Keen" <>
Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2005 11:34:17 -0000
A couple of days late as I'm now back in England after a stunning 20-day tour of Qld/eastern NSW, with 407 spp seen (is this a good total?), more of which in a later email.
On Wednesday, driven from higher ground by high winds and rain tried our luck with a seawatch from Bass Point, Shellharbour, NSW. Potential star of 2.5 hrs was the probable GREY PETREL which shot past north about 2km offshore. Slightly bigger than the Sooties and predominantly greyish, with dark underwing contrasting with paler body, shearing flight, a few other bits and bobs noted, but this is in no way a firm claim!!
The supporting cast was equally stunning:
3-5 WANDERING ALBATROSSES, one of which passed by just 400 metres away!! One individual was roughly stage 2 (per Harrison 1983), the others, including two together stage 4 or thereabouts.
1 BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS, a young bird in the same scope view as the two Wanderings!
2000+ Sooty Shearwaters, mostly streaming south
300+ Fluttering Shearwaters, lest organised in their direction
6+ Hutton's Shearwaters, in with the Fluttering, these were dark individuals, I'm sure we missed light ones
250+ Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, inc 1 or 2 light phase, all very close inshore, nearer than the sooties
3 Arctic Jaegers, all dark
1 Pomerine Jaeger, also dark
also 50+ Crested Terns and c50 Gannets milling about.
Hadn't expected so much so close in (there was masses more out on the horizon, inc several unidentifiable albatross sightings), and don't know how unusual this was. The previous day a rather nasty front had passed through the area from the south so may have been responsible.
Any opinions welcomed, and as I say, I'll get round to a full resume of a trip which included Origma, Fernwren, Carpentarian Grasswren, Yellow Chat and Gibberbird (a good mix in 20 days) when I've recovered better.
Cheers Oz
Steve Keen
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