Australian Seabird Expedition 2008 UPDATE 1

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Australian Seabird Expedition 2008 UPDATE 1
From: Richard Baxter <>
Date: Thu, 2 Oct 2008 20:24:22 -0700 (PDT)
The Australian Seabird Expedition 2008 Update 1

On the morning of the 26 September we left Newcastle Harbour on one of the 
longest and most ambitious seabirding trips ever undertaken from the east 
coast.  Over 23 days, fourteen keen seabirders will take part on three 
different legs as we cover 4000km of open ocean, within Australia’s EEZ, 
surveying seabirds and cetaceans.

Leg1, which travelled from Newcastle, across the continental shelf and towards 
Lord Howe Island about 750km N/E, is now finished.  We passed within a few 
kilometres of LHI and continued north east for a further 900km, eventually 
arriving at Australia’s eastern most territory, Norfolk Island. 

On Leg 2 we’ll sail directly north from Norfolk towards a distant seamount 
300km away and on the edge of our territorial borders with Noumea.  Its in the 
vicinity of this seamount in early 2008 that both Collared Petrel and 
Polynesian Storm Petrel were photographed in Australian waters and these are 
our main two target birds for Leg 2.

After returning to Norfolk Island, we’ll pick up our expeditioners for Leg 3 
and commence the return sail back to NSW, passing Middleton/Elizabeth Reefs, 
LHI and crossing the shelf north off Newcastle, finishing on the 17th October. 

The timing and route of this seabirding expedition has been planned to coincide 
with the annual southern migration of Cook’s, Mottled and Pycroft’s Petrel as 
well as Buller’s Shearwater back to their breeding grounds in NZ.  During the 
southern part of our trip there will still be good numbers of winter seabirds 
present and as we travel north we hope to see several species of tropical 
seabirds, particularly in the waters to the north of NI once we cross the 
Tropical Convergence.  Whilst in the vicinity of NI we’ll be searching for 
possible Vanuatu Petrel as well as keeping a keen eye out for many of the 
possible Central Pacific pterodroma which may frequent those distant Australian 
waters such as Phoenix and Murphy’s Petrel as well as Audobon’s (Tropical) 
Shearwater, Bulwer’s Petrel and NZ Storm Petrel. 

Leg 1 began with smooth seas and light winds as we crossed the shelf on a ENE 
track north off Nelson Bay.  We cruised passed Lord Howe Island under the cover 
of darkness around midnight on day 3 and continued N/E on the long haul to 
Norfolk Island. On day 5 we crossed into international waters between the two 
islands at 5pm and by dawn the next day we were within Norfolk’s 200nm EEZ and 
birding again, eventually arriving at NI 2pm on day 7, Thursday 2 October 2008. 

Species Leg 1: (Total seen)

Red-tailed Tropicbird  -  10
Wilson’s Storm Petrel -  17
White-faced Storm Petrel – 2
Black-bellied Storm-Petrel  - 7
White-bellied Storm-Petrel - 85
Wandering Albatross - 50
Black-browed Albatross - 2
Shy Albatross - 1
Yellow-nosed Albatross - 3
Northern Giant-Petrel - 3
Cape Petrel - 48
White-chinned Petrel - 2
Black Petrel - 1
Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 110
Flesh-footed Shearwater – 300+
Short-tailed Shearwater – 1600+
Fluttering Shearwater - 2
Hutton's Shearwater - 3
Kermadec Petrel - 2
Great-winged Petrel – 250+
Solander’s Petrel - 150
Unidentified distant Cookilaria (probably Pycroft’s/Cooks) - 10
Black-winged Petrel- 3
Australasian Gannet- 50
Masked Booby - 5
Brown Skua - 1
Arctic Jaeger - 330
Long-tailed Jaeger - 5
Common Noddy - 5
Black Noddy - 10
White Tern - 50
Grey Ternlet - 10
Sooty Tern - 100
Roseate Tern - 3  ?
White-fronted Tern - 1
Crested Tern - 20
Silver Gull - 6

Aust Fur Seal – 1
Common Dolphin – 56
Humpback Whale – 1
Flying Fish – 10+
Blue Whale – 2
Ruddy Turnstone - 1 

Further Updates to follow.  

I am planning to run another Australian Seabird Expedition in 2010 or 2011 and 
am already taking names if your interested in coming.  Dates and costs yet to 
be determined.

Richard Baxter

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