[birdswa] Cape Naturalist Seawatch - Trip Report

Subject: [birdswa] Cape Naturalist Seawatch - Trip Report
From: Stewart Ford <>
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2012 08:32:00 +0800
Apologies all - Cape 'Naturalist' should have been Cape Naturaliste

On 13/06/2012, at 10:11 PM, Stewart Ford wrote:

> On Wednesday I set out with John Graff and Nigel Jackett on a seawatch 
> centered around Cape Naturaliste, SW WA.  The trip was timed to coincide with 
> the aftermath of a second very strong front that has resulted in powerful 
> westerly winds and wild weather in the south-west over several days. 
> Conditions were ripe; seawatches in the Perth region by John and others in 
> the preceding days had been quite productive, so we had high hopes for the 
> trip. 
> We left early to get to Bunker Bay by first light and it was immediately 
> apparent that this wasn't going to be the dream trip we'd imagined.  There 
> was very little activity apart from common species such as Australasian 
> Gannet and the odd Crested Tern.  John was surprised to see it so quiet in 
> what were otherwise good conditions (winds were SW at 25-35 knots).  A bit of 
> fish oil dolloped into the surf may have helped to bring in the only 
> tubenoses we saw at Bunker Bay: good views of Northern and Southern 
> Giant-Petrels - but it could also have been pure coincidence!
> After an hour we decided to move to a vantage point on Cape Naturaliste with 
> good elevation, the light perfectly behind us, but, unlike Bunker Bay, very 
> little shelter from the sleet. Never mind, because there were albatrosses. 
> A regular pulse of albatrosses was making its way nearshore from the south 
> and disappearing into the open waters of the bay around the headland.  
> Meanwhile, Great-winged Petrels, Black-browed and Indian Yellow-nosed 
> Albatrosses and both giant-petrels were appearing from the north-east around 
> the headland and winding their way upwind in the opposite direction. It was a 
> great result already, but within minutes things started to get even more 
> interesting.  
> Watching for the next albatross in the pulse, I picked up a pale petrel 
> coming fast towards us along the coast, inshore in the wave-breaking zone.  
> Through the scope it sheared back and forth giving excellent views of both 
> wing surfaces in direct sunlight.  It was unmistakeable. Southern Fulmar was 
> the cry and John and Nigel both got on to it quickly and revelled in the 
> bird.  Hearts pumping, we watched it cruise past and disappear into the bay 
> to the north-east over the next minute or so. 
> The next big bird of the trip came after a couple of bouts of sleet had seen 
> us oscillate between the shelter of some low heath and our scopes.  I got on 
> to a large petrel from the other side of the cape showing all-white. It 
> languished for a while downwind of the point, flapping more frequently 
> between glides than the giant-petrels had done until then.  While I dithered 
> with the ID, hoping for a closer look as it rounded the cape and sailed past 
> us as most birds had done, Nigel and John were bang on: it was a pale-morph 
> Southern Giant-Petrel.  
> Our final seawatching location was from the whale watching platform on the 
> edge of the sheltered northern cliffs of the cape.  Because the sea below was 
> sheltered, this was less busy than our previous location but there were some 
> numbers of Great-winged Petrels and giant-petrels, and John spied the third 
> excellent bird of the trip, a juvenile Wandering Albatross majestically 
> working its way upwind and around the cape. 
> Thanks to John & Nigel for an exceptional seawatch!
> Date: Wednesday 13 June, 2012
> Participants: John Graff, Nigel Jackett, Stewart Ford
> Bunker Bay: 7:30-8:25
> Eastern Reef-Egret: 1
> Eastern Osprey: 1
> Crested Tern: 10
> Southern Giant-Petrel: 1
> Northern Giant-Petrel: 2
> Australasian Gannet: 30
> Little Pied Cormorant: 1
> Pied Cormorant: 1
> Silver Gull: 8
> Cape Naturaliste: 9:00-12:30
> Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross: 10+
> Black-browed Albatross: 4
> *Wandering Albatross: 1
> Shy Albatross: 1
> **Southern Giant-Petrel: 2
> Northern Giant-Petrel: 2
> Giant-Petrel sp.: 4
> Southern Fulmar: 1
> Great-winged Petrel: 18+
> Australasian Gannet: 50
> Silver Gull: 6
> Pacific Gull: 2
> Crested Tern: 11
> Wedge-tailed Eagle: 2
> Nankeen Kestrel: 1
> *Wandering-type Albatross corresponding with Gibson's plumage index 1 or 
> Plumage A of Onley & Scofield (2007). 
> ** One pale morph. 
> ++Stewart Ford
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