Kimberley Birdwatching's 2013 Ashmore Trip Summary

To: <>
Subject: Kimberley Birdwatching's 2013 Ashmore Trip Summary
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Sun, 3 Nov 2013 23:14:15 +1100
Kimberley Birdwatching's Ashmore Expedition 20-27 October 2013 Summary
By Mike Carter, Rohan Clarke & George Swann (3 November 2013)

Trip Details.

The 2013 annual spring eight-day Broome-Ashmore-Lacepedes-Broome expedition 
organised by George Swann of Kimberley Birdwatching (KBW) ran from 20-27 
October. The birding personnel were Graeme Barwell, Joan Broadberry, Ron 
Broomham, Alex Ferguson, Dougald Frederick, Gina Hopkins, Glen Pacey, Carol 
Page, Geoff Smith, Lynn Smith, Bob Sothman, Alastair Stevenson, John Weigel, 
Tom Wheller, Rohan Clarke, George Swann & Mike Carter. Two American World 
Travel Destination Collectors were also aboard. Having added Ashmore Reef to 
his list, Don Parrish joined another to share equal top place as the world's 
most travelled person and his compatriot Bob Bonifas, moved into third place!

Our boat was the air-conditioned 21 m MV Flying Fish V. The skipper was Anthony 
and the deckhand Paul (Chook). The previous owner George Greaves attended in an 
advisory role and assisted generally. His partner Jackie fed and nurtured us.

            We sailed from the beach near Gantheaume Point in Broome on 20 
October (Day 1) at 08.40 and spent the next two days and nights travelling at 
sea. We maintained a NW course throughout Day 1 but at night changed our 
heading to NNE. By dawn on Day 2 we were in waters reaching depths of mostly 
400 m or greater and cruised along the continental slope throughout the 
morning. Before sunset, we had passed west of and close to Scott Reef having 
traversed water depths of over 1,150 m. Early on Day 3 we encountered numerous 
Storm-Petrels in water with a depth of ~800 m so paused to observe this 
spectacle. Then we continued in a northerly direction across deeper water. At  
~10.00 we turned to the east heading directly to Ashmore Reef. By 12.00 we were 
moored in the lagoon having passed the Australian Customs Vessel 'Ashmore 
Guardian' with its complement of customs staff anchored at the entrance.

For the next three nights (Days 3, 4 & 5), we were secure at the inner mooring 
(12º14.35'S 122º58.84'E) just off West Island. Most members of the party went 
ashore on West Island each morning and afternoon of those days. On Day 4, we 
circumnavigated Middle Island ferried there by three dinghies but did not land. 
We also spent some time at the adjacent 'Horseshoe' sand bar viewing loafing 
shorebirds on the high tide. Next day we were ashore on East Island for ~1.5 
hours and at high tide, spent an hour on Splittgerber Cay enthralled by massed 

After a last visit ashore on West Island, we released our mooring at Ashmore at 
08.50 on Day 6 (25 October) and sailed throughout the day on a SSE heading 
through waters of depths between ~300-500 m. By dawn on Day 7, we were already 
over the shelf break on a direct course for the Lacepedes and during daylight 
hours were over shelf waters decreasing in depth from 110 m to 30 m. We 
anchored off West Island, Lacepedes (16º50'S 122º07'E) at 18.30. Next morning, 
Day 8 (27 October), we were ashore on West Island, Lacepedes, from 04.40 to 
08.30. Back aboard and tenders stowed, we sailed for Broome, berthing at the 
wharf there (18º00.09'S 122º12.96'E) at 17.15.

 Weather was mostly very hot and humid with cloudless skies, nearly constant 
sunshine and little if any breeze. An hour-long squall with heavy rain hit us 
on Day 6. Light winds and slight seas prevailed for most of the trip except on 
Day 8 when inshore coastal breeze and choppy sea made the voyage less 


82 species of bird were identified: 35 seabirds, 25 shorebirds, 7 waterbirds 
and 15 landbirds. In addition, 3-4 skulking passerines not identified to 
species were likely extreme rarities. One of these was photographed but images 
examined so far are insufficiently revealing. Nevertheless, a GRAY'S 
GRASSHOPPER WARBLER was identified in the field on 22 Oct. and is well 
documented with photos so should become the 1st Australian record.

For most of the time, whilst at sea a continuous log of position and faunal 
observations was recorded on 'Palm pilots' as well as manually.

            At-sea highlights included 79 Swinhoe's Storm-Petrels (twice as 
many as recorded on any of the 14 previous KBW trips), 5 of which were only 65 
km from Broome and 16 Matsudaira's Storm-Petrel. Others were Tahiti Petrel (6), 
Streaked Shearwater (98), Bulwer's Petrel (24), and all three Jaeger species.

            On-land seabird highlights included Lesser Noddy (2) on East Island 
and over 30,000 Roseate Terns roosting in the lagoon at the Lacepedes

            Shorebird highlights included the incongruous sight of a Long-toed 
Stint standing on the sandy shore of Middle Island, Ashmore, 8 Asian Dowitchers 
together at a high tide roost on Ashmore and Common Redshank, (2) at the 
Lacepede Islands.

            In addition to the Gray's Grasshopper Warbler, Landbird highlights 
on West Island, Ashmore, included Asian Brown Flycatcher (2) (different birds 
on 22 & 25 Oct.), Black-eared Cuckoo, (first Ashmore record, an immature on 24 
& 25 Oct.), Collared Kingfisher, 1 of the nominate Indonesian race), Arafura 
Fantail (Timorese race, 1 daily), Canary White-eye (1 on 23 Oct.), Oriental 
Reed Warbler, (1 on 23 and 24 Oct.),

Oriental Cuckoo (up to 6 daily), and Eastern Yellow Wagtail (seen daily with at 
least 11 together at once, mostly tschutschensis but at least one of the 
Green-headed subspecies taivana).

The usual local tropical seabirds, Masked, Red-footed & Brown Boobies, Great & 
Lesser Frigatebirds, Common & Black Noddies, Bridled, Sooty, Great Crested, 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 were 
also nesting on the Lacepedes where Lesser Crested Terns were also present. On 
West Island, Ashmore, there were 5 Red-tailed Tropicbird nests and White-tailed 
Tropicbirds were prospecting at Middle & East Islands.

Cetaceans were scarcer than usual but we did have some wonderful displays from 
Humpback Whales and we saw Dwarf Spinner Dolphins and both larger offshore and 
smaller inshore, Bottle-nosed Dolphins.

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

Fish and Rays of various species of were also welcome sights.

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

This trip will be repeated next October.

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

Attachment: Ashmore Cruise 2013 Summary 3 Nov 2013.doc
Description: MS-Word document


To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Kimberley Birdwatching's 2013 Ashmore Trip Summary, Mike Carter <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU