Perth Western Australia Pelagic Trip Report Sunday 11th August 2002

Participants (28) :

Frank O'Connor (organiser), Jeff Blincow (UK), Robert Bullock (UK), Dave Crossley, Jan Crossley, Hazel Darnell, John Darnell, Nigel Goodgame (UK), Iain Henderson, Adam Henson, Rolf Jensen, Romeny Lynch, Susan Margaret, Paul Marty, Sue Mather, Satoe Motai (Japan), Taka Motai (Japan), Easy Patterson, Mark Piper (UK), Dieter Prestel (Germany), Bill Rutherford, David Secomb, Devon Spence, Brice Wells, Gail Wells, Huey Wells, Peter WIlkins, Hardy Wilson

Conditions :

Departed Hillarys Boat Harbour at 7.05am. Returned at 3.30pm.  The forecast was for a cool fine day with a 1 metre sea and a 3 metre swell falling.  The winds were forecast to be light 8 to 12 knots NE in the morning swinging to SE in the afternoon.  There had been brief gales on the previous Thursday and Friday nights, and so hopes were high for an excellent trip.  The day was cloudy which made the viewing light difficult for most of the day, and we passed through a brief shower in the morning.

Description :

An outstanding trip for seabirds with the best range of species seen on any trip so far, although the overall number of birds were lower than expected.  The outstanding highlights were a Sooty Shearwater and a white morph Southern Giant-Petrel.  There were 16 pelagic species plus Great Skua and Australasian Gannet.  Despite extensive burleying it was very difficult to bring birds in very close to the boat.  However most sightings were good and there were a few good photographic opportunities.  It was a slow start as expected until we reached deeper waters, and the final return to Hillarys was also quiet except for some Humpback Whales and White-faced Storm-Petrels.

We decided to take a different route to the previous trips, and to adopt a different strategy with fewer stops.  From Hillarys we headed roughly west until we reached the northern end of the trench.  On the way out we saw a few Hutton's Shearwaters and the first few albatross including a poor view of a Shy Albatross.  A Green Turtle was also seen very briefly by a few.  We stopped with the depth over 300 metres and burleyed extensively.  The birds began to increase in number and we stayed for 2 hours.  We saw a good range of species including early Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and Flesh-footed Shearwaters and a brief view of a Kerguelen Petrel.  A Mako Shark longer than 2 metres was attracted by the fish scraps.

We moved south looking for prions.  There were few birds until the shout went out for a prion just after we crossed the 32 South latitude.  We stopped for lunch and burleyed again extensively.  It took a while but eventually two prions came in.  Debate was vigorous over the identification, but the final decision was that they were most likely to be Salvin's Prions but that Antarctic Prion could not be completely ruled out  A Black-browed Albatross finally made an appearance, and then perhaps the two best birds seen on any of the Hillarys pelagics.  A few Great-winged Petrels were passing when the shout went out for a Sooty Shearwater.  This is a very rare sighting for WA and most unexpected off Perth.  The views were all too brief.  We were about to head back when the shout went out about what is that white bird?  A stunning white morph Southern Giant-Petrel made excellent passes of the boat giving very good views and some photographs.

We headed for home at full speed.  There were many White-faced Storm-Petrels, and we stopped for some Humpback Whales which gave some very good views.  A Little Shearwater was also seen by a few.

Thanks to the skipper Trevor and deck hand Justin.  Thanks very much much to John Darnell for preparing the suet mixed with oil and pollard, and for Adam who did most of the burleying.

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

07:05 S31 49' 34", E115 44' 16", 5m, 0.0km, 0 (Hillarys Wharf)
07:55 S31 53' 07", E115 31' 44", 36m, 20.8km, 252
09:40 S31 57' 19", E115 11' 30", 300m+, 53.5km, 254 (stopped until 11:40)
12:10 S32 00' 58", E115 11' 30", 400m, 55.7km, 248 (stopped until 13:30)

Bird List (Christidis & Boles order) Total Number (Maximum at Same Time) :

Southern Giant-Petrel 5 (3) (1 white morph)
Cape Petrel 8 (8)
Kerguelen Petrel 1 (1)
Great-winged Petrel 10 (4)
Soft-plumaged Petrel 40+ (15)
Salvin's (Antarctic?) Prion 4 (3)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 3 (2)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 3 (2)
Sooty Shearwater 1 (1)
Hutton's Shearwater 35 (10)
Little Shearwater 1 (1)
Black-browed Albatross 1 (1)
Shy Albatross 1 (1)
Yellow-nosed Albatross (race bassi) 80+ (35)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 2 (2)
White-faced Storm-Petrel 21 (5)
Australasian Gannet 18+ (4)
Great Skua 6 (4)
Silver Gull 2 (1)
Crested Tern 6 (3)

Mammal List :

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) 4 (2)

Other Animals :

Green Turtle 1 (1)
Mako Shark 1 (1)

Next Trip :

The next trip will be in late June 2003.  For details contact Frank O'Connor on 08 9386 5694 or email foconnor@iinet.net.au

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2004 Visits Last Modified 11th August 2002