Perth Western Australia Pelagic Trip Report Sunday 11th July 1999

Participants (23) :

Frank O'Connor (organiser), Des Agnew, Pam Agnew, Hilda Anderson (SA), Bruce Angus, Simon Angus, Paul Baker, John Blyth, Judy Blyth, Hazel Darnell, John Darnell, Tony Kirkby, Roger McGovern, Glenn Moore, Enid Pascoe (SA), Pieter Poot, Chris Reidy, Diane Reidy, Tony Russell, Wladyslaw Sarafin, Nigel Sutherland, Alex Watson, Bruce Wedderburn

Conditions :

Departed Hillarys Boat Harbour at 7.00am - returned at 3.15pm.  The forecast was for a 1 metre sea on a 1.5 metre swell.  The going was generally smooth.  The day was fine with a minimum of 11 degrees as we left and a maximum of 21 degrees.  The wind was 10 to 15 knots from the north east.

Description :

This was a mixed trip compared to the trip at this time the previous year.  The number of species was good, but the overall number of birds was very low.  We saw 7 pelagic species plus Great Skua, Bridled Tern and Australasian Gannet.  The most unusual sighting was the immature Bridled Tern that came in very close to the back of the boat.  There were excellent photo opportunities for Southern Giant-Petrel and Cape Petrel.  One Humpback Whale just west of Rottnest Island was the only cetacean.

The day started out slowly as usual until a group of about 25 Australasian Gannets, and three Great Skuas as we approached Rottnest Island.  Near Rottnest Island there were good numbers of Crested Terns.  The first pelagic species was a distant Yellow-nosed Albatross as we headed west from Rottnest Island.

As we got deeper there was little except for more Crested Terns, a few Yellow-nosed Albatross and some more Australasian Gannets and the first Cape Petrel. We stopped briefly a couple of times but little came to the boat until passed 200 metres depth.  We burleyed with lamb fat, pilchards, pollard and fish oil which brought in only a few birds including the first Black-browed Albatross which did not stay long.

We stopped for 30 minutes at 240 metres and put out a very good slick but again the action was quiet in numbers.  The first Soft-plumaged Petrel was welcomed by everyone, plus three more Cape Petrels and just as we were about to move on a Southern Giant-Petrel came in and settled on the water.  We approached to about 5 metres while it remained on the water with the Cape Petrels and took good photographs.

We stopped again at 330 metres depth after we saw two petrels, one of which was most probably the only Great-winged Petrel that we saw for the day.  An immature Bridled Tern caused interest as it came to just a few metres from the back of the boat, but it moved on before any photographs could be taken.  It was very similar to the flight picture illustrated in Pizzey & Knight with perhaps more white / grey on the forehead / crown.  Bridled Terns are very unusual in this area at this time of the year.

We stayed in closer this trip to give more times for stoppages but after about 10:30am it was difficult to find any birds.  Most of those seen were sitting on the water including a Soft-plumaged Petrel.  A White-faced Storm-Petrel was seen briefly at 420 metres.  This is also uncommon in the winter.

We headed back for Hillarys at 1pm seeing quite a few Yellow-nosed Albatross sitting on the water, plus a few more Great Skuas as we got close to Hillarys.

Perhaps the north east breeze was the reason for the low number of birds, or possibly the water temperature was still warmer than usual.  The latter could explain the Bridled Tern and White-faced Storm-Petrel.  The lack of more Great-winged Petrels and any Wilson's Storm-Petrels was very surprising.

Thanks to the skipper Trevor and the deck hand Dave.

Time/Latitude/Longitude/Depth/Distance/Bearing of most stoppages:

07:10 S31 49' 34", E115 44' 16", 6m, 0.0km, 0 (Hillarys Wharf)
08:05 S31 59' 02", E115 29' 36", 23m, 29.0km, 235
08:20 S32 00' 14", E115 25' 18", 47m, 35.8km, 239
08:40 S32 01' 17", E115 21' 14", 85m, 42.2km, 242
09:00 S32 02' 29", E115 14' 21", 160m, 52.7km, 246
09:10 S32 02' 43", E115 12' 27", 190m, 55.6km, 247
09:20 S32 02' 45", E115 11' 26", 240m, 57.1km, 247 (stopped until 09:50)
10:20 S32 03' 23", E115 09' 41", 330m, 60.0km, 247 (stopped until 10:40)
10:55 S32 02' 50", E115 09' 12", ???m, 60.3km, 248
11:10 S32 01' 59", E115 09' 27", 420m, 59.3km, 250 (stopped until 11:45)
12:00 S32 00' 32", E115 11' 22", ???m, 55.5km, 251
12:20 S31 57' 42", E115 12' 10", ???m, 52.7km, 256

Bird List (Christidis & Boles order) :

Southern Giant-Petrel 1 (1)
Cape Petrel 6 (3)
Great-winged Petrel 1 (1)
Soft-plumaged Petrel 8 (2)
Black-browed Albatross 2 (1)
Yellow-nosed Albatross (race bassi) 55+ (15)
White-faced Storm-Petrel 1 (1)
Australasian Gannet 55+ (20)
Great Skua 8 (3)
Silver Gull ~20 (4)
Crested Tern ~60 (20)

Nankeen Night Heron (1) harbour
Darter (3) harbour
Little Pied Cormorant harbour
Little Black Cormorant harbour
Pied Cormorant outside harbour
Silver Gull harbour
Welcome Swallow (2) harbour

Mammal List :

Humpback Whale (1)

Next Trip :

The next trips will be on Sunday 5th September 1999.  For details contact Frank O'Connor on 08 9386 5694 or email

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2004 Visits Last Modified 31st January 2002