Shearwater Calls

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Shearwater Calls
From: John Tongue <>
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2008 22:44:03 +1000
Does anyone know their Shearwater calls well?

My wife and I volunteer at the local Little Penguin Rookery as guides. This area is also home to many hundreds of nesting Short- tailed Shearwaters. Presently they swirl in, silently, just as the last of the sunset is fading.

Most nights we are there, though, well after dark, a small number (2? 3?) of birds which from the silhouette, we think are some sort of Shearwater, fly around calling frequently. This call is very like the raucous, calls of a Laughing Kookaburra, just getting wound up before finally breaking into its laugh, proper.

Pizzey and Knight say nothing about Shearwater calls. My old Reader's Digest book indicates a few calls, and it COULD fit their description of the Short-tailed Shearwater call, except they indicate they mostly call from the burrow, if they call at all. These are definitely flying overhead, and most of the Short-tails are well into their burrows by this time of night. At that time of night, it's impossible to get anything of physical features, except brief glimpses of silhouettes.

There has been an unsubstantiated report of Sooty Shearwaters being seen in the area, though this would be well away from their normal range much further south in Tasmania. The Readers Digest book description of their call doesn't seem to fit, either.

Does anyone have any ideas about Nocturnal Sea Bird Calls, who could offer any suggestions?

Thanks in anticipation.

John Tongue,
Ulverstone, Tas.

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