Ashmore 2012; Trip Report Part 2 - Observations

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Subject: Ashmore 2012; Trip Report Part 2 - Observations
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Sat, 3 Nov 2012 13:55:53 +1100

79 species of bird were identified, constituting 33 seabirds, 23 shorebirds, 5 
waterbirds, 2 raptors and 16 landbirds.

Whilst at sea a continuous log of position and faunal observations was recorded 
on 'Palm pilots' and for the most part, also manually. 

            At-sea highlights included: 

Bulwer's Petrel: A total of 103. This is the highest number ever recorded on an 
Ashmore cruise. Since the species has been recorded on all 14 KBW Ashmore 
cruises, such numbers and regularity make nonsense of this species oft 
published status as a vagrant to Australia. 

Swinhoe's Storm-Petrel: 5 seen well and photographed responding to berley ~75 
km from Broome on 20 Oct.

Matsudaira's Storm-Petrel: 9 seen well and photographed attracted to berley on 
21 Oct.

Terns and Noddies: Dense masses of terns (mostly Roseate but also Common, 
White-winged Black and Bridled) and Common Noddies were observed in feeding 
frenzies over surfacing Tuna just north of the Lacepede Islands. Whilst we 
routinely observe feeding aggregations on these trips being able to 'park-up' 
next to a mixed seabird flock that exceeded 5000 individuals was an experience 
not to be forgotten.

            On-land seabird highlights:

Lesser Noddy: Up to 10 on East Island. Photographs were obtained of all three 
Noddy species together, a feat probably not possible anywhere else in the 

Roseate Tern: 34,000 roosting in the lagoon at the Lacepedes was a magnificent 
spectacle especially when huge numbers took flight simultaneously! This is the 
largest single aggregation ever reported in Australia and suggests the global 
population estimate of 55,000 in HANZAB may be an underestimate.

             Landbird highlights on West Island, Ashmore, were: 

Middendorff's Warbler: One daily.

Island Monarch: 1 adult on 25 Oct.

Grey Wagtail: 1 on 25 Oct.

Collared Kingfisher: 1 (3rd record) of the nominate race (Indonesian origin) on 
22 Oct.

Ashy-bellied White-eye: 1, also of Indonesian origin, daily.  

Brown Goshawk: 1 daily but 3 on 25 Oct.

Nankeen Kestrel: 1 daily. This follows observations of 8 here in April this 

Oriental Cuckoo: 1-6 daily.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail: 1-5 daily and 3 on East Island on 24 Oct. 

Barn Swallow: 1 on 22 Oct and another on 24 Oct.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow: 2 daily.


The usual local tropical seabirds, Masked, Red-footed & Brown Boobies, Great & 
Lesser Frigatebirds, Common & Black Noddies, Bridled, Sooty, Crested, Lesser 
Crested Terns, as well as White-winged Black, Common and Little Terns were 
seen. The first ten of these had bred or were nesting on Middle or/& East 
Islands, Ashmore. Many of these and Lesser Crested Terns were also nesting on 
the Lacepedes. On West Island, Ashmore, there were 4 Red-tailed Tropicbird 
nests and 3 White-tailed Tropicbirds were prospecting.


Other migrant Seabirds of note included Tahiti Petrels (16), Streaked 
Shearwater (68), Flesh-footed Shearwater (3), Hutton's Shearwater (86), 
Wilson's Storm-Petrel (35) & Pomarine Jaeger (1). 


Cetaceans of 8 species, Short-finned Pilot Whale, Melon-headed Whale, Risso's 
Dolphin, Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Indo-Pacific Bottle-nosed Dolphin, 
Rough-toothed Dolphin, Long-snouted Spinner Dolphin (both larger offshore 
animals and near Broome, dwarf inshore animals) and Fraser's Dolphin provided 
great entertainment at various times. At least 3 species rode our bow wave 
(including Spinner Dolphins that stayed with the vessel for over 1.5 nautical 
miles) and all species were seen well enough to be photographed.


Reptiles included Green, Loggerhead, Hawksbill and Australian Flatback Turtles 
and various sea snakes.

Flying-fish and rays, including Manta's, were also welcome sights. 


Photos of many of the species mentioned above have or will be posted on 


Several persons have already booked for the 2013 spring cruise and others with 
an interest in attending should register with George Swann at Kimberley 
Birdwatching, Rohan Clarke or Mike Carter. 


Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mount Eliza  VIC 3930
Tel  (03) 9787 7136

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