Albany Pelagic Trip Report - 15th November 2014

To: Birding-Aus <>, "" <>
Subject: Albany Pelagic Trip Report - 15th November 2014
From: John Graff <>
Date: Mon, 8 Dec 2014 20:19:24 +0800
Hi all, 

A somewhat belated trip report from the Albany Pelagic trip on 15th November. 
The highlight was the large number of Wandering-type Albatross, but otherwise 
the trip was very slow in calm conditions. The text of the report is reproduced 
below, the report with accompanying photos has been posted online -


Summary: Overall, this was a disappointing trip, particularly for the pelagic 
veterans, as both species variety and bird activity in general were low, likely 
due to the calm conditions. The highlight was the large number of Wandering 
Albatross, more than we have seen on any previous Albany pelagic trip. However, 
the number of tubenose species recorded was a record low for Albany trips 
(seven or so, depending on the specific identity of the Wandering Albatrosses 

Participants: Alan Collins (Organiser), John Graff (Organiser), Sue Abbotts, 
Hes Anderson, Prue Anderson, Plaxy Barratt, Martin Cake, Xenia Dennett, Stewart 
Ford, Clive Garland, Phil Knott, John Litherland, Dan Mantle, Ian Mayer, Sarah 
Randell, Chris Sanderson, Roy Teale, Keith Wilcox 

Conditions: Seas were forecast up to 1m, with a swell of 1.5-2m throughout the 
day, which promised relatively flat conditions. Winds were forecast variable up 
to 10knts. Conditions were reasonably close to the forecast, with very flat and 
calm conditions through the middle of the day

We left Emu Point a little after 0700 after a brief delay. A pair of 
White-bellied Sea-Eagles was seen as we left the harbour, but there was almost 
no bird activity as we crossed King George Sound. As we approached the heads, 
the first Flesh-footed Shearwaters started to be seen, along with an Arctic 
Jaeger. After clearing the heads, the numbers of Flesh-footed Shearwaters 
increased, but there was little else to be seen. Eventually, the first Indian 
Yellow-nosed Albatross and Shy Albatross were seen, and as we approached the 
shelf edge, the first Great-winged Petrel made an appearance.

We stopped the boat in 800m of water and started to chum. The Flesh-footed 
Shearwaters and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross gathered immediately, and were 
soon joined by an immature Black-browed Albatross which made several circuits 
of the boat. Occasional Great-winged Petrels and Shy Albatross also made 
passes, and after 15 minutes or so the call went out for a Wandering Albatross. 
This made a circuit of the boat but didn’t stay around for too long. However, a 
steady stream of different Wandering Albatross made passes of the boat, with up 
to three present at one time. A variety of plumages were on show, and at least 
two taxa are thought to have been present: exulans (Snowy Albatross) and 
gibsoni (Gibson’s Albatross), with some possibility of dabbenena (Tristan 
Albatross) and a single candidate for antipodensis (Antipodean Albatross). 
Unfortunately, difficulties in identification make it a challenge to assign 
many individuals to a specific taxon with any degree of certainty. Further 
discussion on the assorted Wanderers seen on the day will eventually be posted 
on the Leeuwin Current Birding blog. A Bridled Tern was also seen in the 
mid-distance, along with a Crested Tern some time later, a sure sign of calm 

Aside from the steady flow of Wanderers, there was little else of interest so a 
little before midday we moved deeper, setting up in 1000m of water and drifting 
to over 1200m. Unfortunately, the wind had died almost completely and bird 
activity was reduced to almost nil, with Flesh-footed Shearwaters and a few 
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross sitting around the boat but almost no birds 
taking to the air in the calm conditions. The occasional Wandering and Shy 
Albatross, and Great-winged Petrel made passes, but the most excitment probably 
came from manoeuvring the boat to retrieve some rubbish from the water. After 
an hour or so, we moved shallower to an area of upwelling at the head of the 
canyon but found nothing different with activity remaining low, so we headed 
for home at about 1330.

The return trip was largely uneventful, with the first Australasian Gannets of 
the trip seen just outside the heads, along with a large raft of Flesh-footed 
Shearwaters. We stopped briefly at Breaksea Island to look at the New Zealand 
Fur Seals which haul out on the rocks there, and docked at about 1630. As 
always, many thanks go to all the participants, who make these trips possible, 
and to Tony and Fred from Spinners Charters for their usual assistance.

Species List [Total Count (Maximum no. seen at one time)]
Wandering Albatross [sp] 20 (3) – (most exulans or gibsoni, final count to be 
updated based on photos)
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 20 (6) 
Black-browed Albatross 2 (1)
Shy Albatross 10 (3)
Great-winged Petrel 20 (3)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 300 (100)
Arctic Jaeger 1 (1)
Bridled Tern 2 (1)
Crested Tern 5 (2)
Australasian Gannet 2 (1)

New Zealand Fur Seal 8 (8)

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