Re NZ Storm Petrel

To: <>
Subject: Re NZ Storm Petrel
From: "Geoffrey Jones" <>
Date: Sat, 3 Apr 2010 12:18:32 +1100
Good afternoon everyone 

                                                In going through my notes
for the WPO in March 2009 I came across this piece from the organisers log.


March 18, 2009

Haurakai Gulf

Day broke with sunny skies and no wind, very pleasant conditions. In the
early morning hours we began tallying our first

seabirds of the trip: Black Petrel and Flesh-footed and Buller's Shearwater.
Soon we were making a close approach to

the Mokahinau Rocks. The prime quarry here was the small population of Grey
Ternlets which frequents the small rock

stack here. We quickly picked the birds up at some distance flying around
the rocks, eventually a few came up to the

ship and offered fine views. Australian Gannets also have a breeding colony
on these rocks. In this vicinity we tallied a

number of other species: Little Blue Penguin, Fluttering Shearwater, Common
Diving Petrel, Pied Shag and Red-billed

Gull. Over breakfast we moved to an area where New Zealand Storm-Petrel is
sometimes seen and laid an oil slick. We

spent about an hour monitoring the slick but few birds and no storm-petrels
were seen. So we sailed northwards to the

200-meter contour which seems to be the preferred area for the storm-petrel.
As we approached this contour, Chris

spotted a distant storm-petrel following in the wake which proved to be the
much wanted New Zealand Storm-Petrel. It

came in for fairly good views and then disappeared. Hoping for better views
we laid another oil slick. After our fourth sail

past of the slick a second New Zealand Storm-Petrel was spotted, keeping
close company with a Wilson's Storm-Petrel.

A pair of Manta Rays also swam along beside the ship giving amazing views of
this impressive fish. Others breached

spectacularly around the ship. We were quite surprised with this sighting as
no one on board had ever seen mantas in

New Zealand before but we would continue to have quality sightings of this
beast throughout the day. Very pleased with

our success we set a course for Norfolk Island. We began to encounter our
first of numerous Cook's/Pycroft's Petrels,

this is a problematic group and although we most likely saw both species we
never really got good enough views or

photos to be confident of the identity of these birds. Shy Albatross and
Sooty Shearwater also made their way onto

the birdlist before lunch. After lunch there was a lull in the bird activity
as the blue skies and calm weather persisted,

but from mid afternoon until dusk things were very lively. Numerous rays and
a large pod of Short-beaked Common

Dolphin, perhaps 100 in all, signaled that we had entered a rich feeding
area. New species included Black-browed

and Campbell Albatross, Fairy Prion, White-faced Storm-Petrel, Grey-faced
Petrel and Pomarine Jaeger. In the late

afternoon there was an exciting flurry of cetacean sightings. The first of
these was of a group of 20 or so blackfish that

did not approach very close but offered lengthy views. These were the rather
rarely seen False Killer Whale, an excellent

sighting! Shortly after this a pod of about 20 Bottlenose Dolphin were seen
racing off in the distance. This was followed

shortly with another sighting of a pod of Short-beaked Common Dolphin, one
of which performed superbly alongside

the ship. An Ocean Sunfish also swam along beside the ship. Following all
this excitement, there was a beautiful sunset

and time for a bird checklist in the bar. After another fine dinner, Chris
gave us a talk of the seabirds between New

Zealand and New Caledonia and we turned in for bed.



                       Geoff Jones 

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