ASHMORE Cruise 2005; Preliminary Summary

Subject: ASHMORE Cruise 2005; Preliminary Summary
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Sun, 4 Dec 2005 20:38:23 +1100
            This year, the eight-day Broome-Ashmore Reef-Lacepedes-Broome
expedition ran from 26 October to 2 November. Logistics and permits were
organised by Kimberley Birdwatching. Attendees were Reg Clark, Rohan Clarke,
Peter Crabtree, Sean Dooley, Dave Dureau, Murray Grant, Adrian O'Neill,
Trish Pepper, Frank Pierce, David Stickney, George Swann and Mike Carter
(leader). Lyn Scott commenced the trip but immediately on our arrival at
Ashmore was evacuated to Perth because of a perceived emergency health

            Our route up took us NW from Broome but on reaching the
continental slope veered NNE to Ashmore to pass to the west of Scott Reef.
We moored overnight in the lagoon at Scott Reef and but shortage of time
prevented a landing on Sand Islet. At Ashmore Reef, we went ashore on West
Island each morning and late afternoon when present, i.e. six occasions,
during 28-31 October, each visit producing another exciting experience. At
the invitation of the DEH wardens on the Customs Vessel, for the first time
on these trips, we also accompanied them on a visit to East Island while
they cleaned flotsam from the beach. Thus we walked the perimeter of the
island enjoying close communion with the thousands of breeding seabirds.
Although restricted to observations from dinghies at the shoreline, our
single visit to Middle Island was also spectacular due to the hordes of
breeding seabirds there. Because of the neap tides, migrant waders were
spread over the numerous exposed sandbars so we encountered fewer than on
previous visits. We returned via the Lacepedes where we spent 3 hours ashore
on West Island among the abundant shorebirds and breeding seabirds. The
homeward journey was somewhat encumbered by a rescue mission. We towed a
cruiser that was disabled having run aground on Ashmore Reef!

            Thus the equivalent of five full days were spent at sea aboard
the 23 m, air-conditioned charter vessel 'Flying Fish V'. Although less
glamorous than the 'Jodi Anne' and less romantic than 'The Willie', this was
the largest, fastest, most luxurious and practical vessel yet employed for
these cruises. Conditions on three days were a little on the choppy side
which gave a bumpy ride but on the other two it was calm giving a pleasant
ride. Although subjected to mainly cloudless skies and a relentless sun, the
heat and mild humidity were rarely oppressive.

            Eighty-three species of bird were recorded, including 36
seabirds, several rarities and others of great significance.

            Landbird highlights on West Island, Ashmore, included THREE NEW
TO AUSTRALIA. All were photographed, albeit the Coucal poorly. These were:

Lesser Coucal. This was incredibly elusive and was seen just once each day
in the early mornings of 29-31 October. The species is widespread throughout

Middendorff's Grasshopper Warbler. 1 on 30th.

Asian Brown Flycatcher. 1 on 29th.

            Others of interest were:

Arctic Warbler. Daily with up to 4 simultaneously and a probable total of 5.

Grey Wagtail. 1 on 30-31st.

Yellow Wagtail. Up to 7 daily.

Barn Swallow. 2 on 28th.

Oriental Cuckoo. 2 on 30-31st. Fewer than usual.

Red-backed Buttonquail. 3 on 29th.

Tawny Grassbird. 1 or 2 daily.

            The usual local tropical Seabirds, Red-tailed & White-tailed
Tropicbirds, Masked, Red-footed & Brown (13,000) Boobies, Great & Lesser
(6,000) Frigatebirds, Common (53,000) & Black Noddies, Bridled (1,100),
Sooty (13,000), Crested, Lesser Crested, Roseate (26,000) & Little Terns
were present on one or both of the reefs on which we landed (many breeding).
Most of these were also seen at sea.

             Migrant Seabirds of note included:

24 Tahiti Petrels, 27 Bulwer's Petrels, 6 Streaked Shearwaters, 61 Wilson's
Storm-Petrels, 5 Matsudaira's Storm-Petrels, 19 Swinhoe's Storm-Petrels, 2
Pomarine, 1 Arctic & 2 Long-tailed Jaegers.

            Cetaceans were scarce with only Bottle-nosed and Pan-Tropical
Spotted Dolphins definitely identified. 5 Beaked Whale spp? and a possible
False Killer Whale were seen.

            Reptiles included Leatherbacked, Green & Flatback Turtles and
over 60 sea-snakes.

            Another highlight was a Whaleshark alongside the vessel just
prior to entering the lagoon at Ashmore.

            A fuller report produced from my manual records is available
from George Swann of Kimberley Birdwatching or myself. Hopefully a detailed
report produced by Rohan Clarke from the computer log with photos will be
available at some future date on the web at

The 2006 cruise is scheduled from 23-30 October. Unfortunately, the price is
likely to be more than this year's. Persons interested please contact
Kimberley Birdwatching or myself.

Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mt Eliza    VIC     3930
Ph:  (03) 9787 7136

Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message:
'unsubscribe birding-aus' (no quotes, no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU