Albany Pelagic Trip Report - 16th November 2014

To: Birding-Aus <>, "" <>
Subject: Albany Pelagic Trip Report - 16th November 2014
From: John Graff <>
Date: Mon, 8 Dec 2014 20:22:52 +0800
Hi again,

Following on from that, a report from the Sunday trip of the weekend. Once 
again, the trip was slow. Highlights were the first White-chinned Petrels so 
far recorded on our pelagics (though possibly helped by the lack of summer 
trips), and more Wandering-type Albatross. A suspected Blue or Fin Whale 
unfortunately dived as we tried to get a closer look. Once again, the text of 
the report is provided below and the report with photos can be seen online -


Summary: Once again, the calm conditions made this a relatively disappointing 
trip with low species variety and bird activity in general. The highlights were 
the first records of White-chinned Petrel on a WA pelagic trip, and more 
Wandering Albatross (though fewer than were recorded on the Saturday). Overall, 
8-9 tubenose species were recorded, depending on the specific identity of the 
Wandering Albatrosses seen.

Participants: Alan Collins (Organiser), John Graff (Organiser), Sue Abbotts, 
Plaxy Barratt, Xenia Dennett, Stewart Ford, Clive Garland, Phil Knott, John 
Litherland, Dan Mantle, Jon Pridham, Chris Sanderson, Francis Searles, Sabine 
Searles, Pam Smith, Roy Teale, Nathan Waugh, Gavin White. 

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 at approximately 0700. As with the Saturday trip there was 
almost no bird activity as we crossed King George Sound; however a small group 
of Bottlenose Dolphin were seen briefly. As we approached the heads, the first 
Flesh-footed Shearwaters started to be seen, along with an Arctic Jaeger. The 
outbound journey mirrored that of the Saturday trip, with Flesh-footed 
Shearwaters and the occasional Indian Yellow-nosed and Shy Albatross. The sea 
conditions were very calm for an Albany trip, and a surprising level of 
activity was noted on the surface. This included many fish, a New Zealand Fur 
Seal, and several animals considered by several observers to be Little 
Penguins. Unfortunately, none stayed on the surface for a proper look. Several 
Bridled Terns were also seen.

The skipper Tony knew of a deep sea crab boat pulling pots at the shelf edge 
which he thought would be attracting the birds, so we headed for it, locating 
it in about 700m of water. The crab boat was accompanied by large numbers of 
Flesh-footed Shearwaters and a handful of Shy Albatross. We stopped nearby and 
deployed our own chum. The first Great-winged Petrel made an appearance, and 
shortly afterwards the first Wandering Albatross was called. It made a couple 
of circuits and was soon joined by more. Wandering Albatross remained present 
for most of the stop, with up to four visible at one time. However, photos 
suggest at least seven different individuals moved through during this period. 
One bird landed briefly beside our boat, and photos later revealed that this 
individual was banded. Specific identification within the Wandering Albatross 
complex is challenging; it is suspected that many of the birds seen were Snowy 
Albatross (exulans), but several individuals are suspected to be Gibson’s 
Albatross (gibsoni). Further discussion on the assorted Wanderers seen on the 
day will eventually be posted on the Leeuwin Current Birding blog. One 
Wandering Albatross landed near the boat briefly, and photographs revealed it 
was banded with a metal band on the left leg. Unfortunately it was not possible 
to discern details of the band. The first Wilson’s Storm-Petrel of the weekend 
also put in a relatively brief appearance in the slick. The crab boat was 
attracting more birds than us, so we relocated a couple of times to stay close 
to it, deviating during one of the moves to check a couple of Wandering 
Albatross on the water; unfortunately they took off as we got close.

Eventually the crab boat finished pulling pots and moved on, so we moved 
deeper, setting up in 1000m of water in a similar location to the previous day. 
The action was relatively slow, but a second Wilson’s Storm-Petrel was seen. 
Then the call went out for a White-chinned Petrel amongst the Flesh-footed 
Shearwaters. This is the first record of the species for these trips, and this 
individual had a significant white chin patch, even starting to bend up towards 
the cheek. A second individual soon arrived at the boat, this one with a more 
reduced white chin. Despite, overall activity levels remained low. A 
White-faced Storm-Petrel was seen in the slick behind the boat, but kept its 
distance and was not seen by everyone. A Wandering Albatross was then noticed 
on the water ahead of the boat, so we slowly motored over to it. It remained on 
the water near the boat for an extended period but slowly drifted away. A third 
White-chinned Petrel also made an appearance, and just prior to starting the 
return journey, a final Wandering Albatross for the weekend made a pass

We headed for home at about 1330, but had not been travelling for long and were 
still in 750m of water when the call went out for a whale off the port side. 
Unfortunately only a few people saw the blows, and one or two people saw the 
animal briefly. We changed course to investigate but no further sightings were 
made. The tall blow, and impressions of the surfacing animal, suggested a Blue 
or Fin Whale, so it was disappointing not to see any more of it. Little else of 
note was seen on the return journey, with a few Australasian Gannets seen just 
outside the heads the only new species seen, before we 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] 9 (4) – (most apparently exulans, one photographed 
with metal band on left leg)
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 12 (4) 
Shy Albatross 15 (5)
White-chinned Petrel 3 (2)
Great-winged Petrel 5 (1)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 400 (75)
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel 2 (1)
White-faced Storm-Petrel 1 (1)
Arctic Jaeger 1 (1)
Bridled Tern 5 (3)
Crested Tern 8 (6)
Australasian Gannet 2 (1)

Whale sp. 1 (1) – suspected large rorqual, possibly Blue Whale or Fin Whale
Common Bottlenose Dolphin 6 (3)
New Zealand Fur Seal 1 (1)
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