Perth Western Australia Pelagic Trip Report Saturday 6th September 2003

Participants (29) :

Frank O'Connor (organiser), Sue Abbotts, Des Agnew, Pam Agnew, Margaret Armstrong, John Brooke, Margery Clegg, Sue Clegg, Michael Craig, Hazel Darnell, John Darnell, Ruth Dibbins, Mikalia Foley, John Hansen, Charles Hayward, Rolf Jensen, Margaret Larner, Mui Lan Lim, Derek Macauley, Lesley Macauley, Wynton Maddeford, Sonia Melgares, Tim Murphy, Luis Onate-Sanchez, Ian Rudd, Stella Stewart-Wynne, Roy Teale, Louise Thatcher, Andrew Walter

Conditions :

Departed Hillarys Boat Harbour at 7.10am. Returned at 3.20pm.  The forecast was for a warm fine day with a 1 metre sea and a 2.2 metre swell falling.  The winds were forecast to be light 8 to 12 knots NE in the morning swinging to NW in the afternoon.  The sea conditions were good, except that the waves were occasionally very close together.  The day was partly cloudy which made the viewing light difficult for much of the day.

Description :

A disappointing trip with only a limited range of species seen on the trip.  The best sightings were the good numbers of Soft-plumaged Petrels and White-faced Storm-Petrels.  There were 8 pelagic species plus Great Skua and Australasian Gannet.  A point of interest was that all the Yellow-nosed Albatross were immature, indicating that the adults that are commonly seen in winter had probably returned earlier to their breeding islands.  Despite extensive burleying it was very difficult to bring birds in very close to the boat and photo opportunities were disappointingly limited.

From Hillarys we headed roughly west until we reached the northern end of the trench.  On the way out we stopped briefly for good looks at three Humpback Whales, and later for the first Soft-plumaged Petrel where we also saw White-faced Storm-Petrel and the first Yellow-nosed Albatross.  These were in comparatively shallow water and our hopes falsely rose for a good day. .We continued west to the trench where we began burleying and zig zagged around looking for birds.  We eventually stopped as a Cape Petrel passed the boat, but there was little further activity.

We roughly followed the 300 metre contour SSE and we stopped again and decided to wait.  We burleyed extensively and the number of birds slowly increased but they stayed frustratingly away from the boat.  After lunch as we were about to move a Shy Albatross flew past but didn't come back.  We headed further south, and then turned around heading NNW to deeper water around 500 metres but we failed to find any significant congregations of birds.

We finally headed for home at full speed.  There were quite a few White-faced Storm-Petrels and a Wedge-tailed Shearwater.  A Great Skua was also seen by a few.

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

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

07:10 S31 49' 34", E115 44' 16", 5m, 0.0km, 0 (Hillarys Wharf)
08:05 S31 52' 21", E115 30' 05", ??m, 22.9km, 257
09:00 S31 55' 28", E115 16' 34", 120m, 44.9km, 256
09:10 S31 56' 11", E115 14' 18", 145m, 48.7km, 255
09:45 S31 56' 59", E115 12' 59", 300m, 51.1km, 254 (stopped until 10:20)
11:00 S32 00' 46", E115 11' 46", 280m, 55.1km, 248 (stopped until 12:20)

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

Cape Petrel 2 (1)
Great-winged Petrel 10 (3)
Soft-plumaged Petrel 23 (14)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 2 (1)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 3 (2)
Shy Albatross (race cauta) 1 (1)
Yellow-nosed Albatross (race bassi) 22 (9) all immatures
White-faced Storm-Petrel 20 (5)
Australasian Gannet 14 (4) mostly adults, a few immature & sub-adult
Great Skua 1 (1)
Crested Tern 5 (2)

Mammal List :

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) 4 (3)

Next Trip :

The next trip will be in late June 2004.  There will also be pelagic trips from Albany on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st September 2003, and Sunday November 2nd 2003.  I will also consider organising an Albany trip in May 2004.  For details contact Frank O'Connor on 08 9386 5694 or email

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2004 Visits Last Modified 8th September 2003