White-bellied Storm-Petrel off Port Douglas.

To: Sean Dooley <>
Subject: White-bellied Storm-Petrel off Port Douglas.
From: Del Richards <>
Date: Sat, 07 May 2011 11:04:24 +1000
On Tuesday 3rd May I was on a reef fishing charter out of Port Douglas when I observed an all dark storm-petrel for a time within forty metres of the vessel that I was on. I am familiar with Wilson's Storm-Petrel which I have seen here on three occassions on such charters, however this bird lacked any white or pale features at all. On checking field guides I identified it as a dark morph of the White-bellied Storm-Petrel. The location was at Batt Reef (16o 26' E 145o 47' S) about eleven nautical miles east of Port Douglas. That day followed about a week of sustained south-easterly onshore winds reaching almost thirty knots. At the time winds were from that direction at about twelve knots. I had Martin Cachard who has wide experience with pelagics check with my identification. In my view there is something of a void in knowledge with Barrier Reef waters as few birders get to spend time in the region for sustained periods. Admittedly some records are within the confines of university student reports which (sadly) don't seem to reach the notice of the birding fraternity. Some years ago I observed a Pomarine Jaeger off Snapper Island which lies adjacent to the mouth of the Daintree River. To me that also was most unexpected. Given the lack of competent observers afloat in the area there is probably more pelagic seabird movement than is realised.

Del. Richards, Fine Feather Tours, Mossman, NQ.

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