Albany Western Australia Pelagic Trip Report Tuesday 1st November 2005

Participants (11) :

Norm Erthal (organiser US), Terry Boss (US), Michael Craig, Randy Lentz (US), Abby Modesitt (US), Larry Modesitt (US), Frank O'Connor (WA), Joe Roller (US), Peter Roxburgh (US), George Welch (US), Wayne Zadow

Conditions :

Departed Emu Point Boat Harbour at 7.10am. Returned at 5.00pm.  The forecast was for a few early showers with the possibility of thunderstorms and hail due to a mid level disturbance.  We saw a few showers but they passed us by and the day was fine and sunny for most of the time.  The winds were about 15 to 20 knots SSW, strengthening briefly just before noon.  The sea conditions were good, although choppy at times with significant waves of about three metres.

Description :

This was the third pelagic trip organised from Albany.  It was a very good trip but without any exceptional sightings.  We booked the Mary Anne, a 36ft boat operated by Spinners Charters and skippered by the owner Peter Barrett.  The trip was organised by Norm Erthal as part of a tour of the Denver Field Ornithologists from the United States.

It was nearly a three hour journey to the shelf.  Things were quiet as it took an hour just to clear the outer heads.  We saw the first few Flesh-footed Shearwaters before we cleared the heads along with the first Yellow-nosed Albatross.  Shortly after we cleared the heads we stopped briefly for several  Black-browed Albatross.

As we approached the shelf we stopped briefly for several Shy Albatross, and then again for a Cape Petrel.  We passed the shelf without seeing anything worth stopping for, so we continued until the depth was about 1000 metres.  We stopped the boat and burleyed.  This quickly attracted Flesh-footed Shearwaters, Yellow-nosed Albatross, Shy Albatross and the first Great-winged Petrels (one of which was the Grey-faced form gouldi).  The boat drifted with the wind and we repositioned back at the start of the slick.  A giant-petrel arrived and we finally identified it as a Northern Giant-Petrel.  We were about to move when we finally saw our first Wilson's Storm-Petrel.  We started to move again when we saw a stage 2 Wandering Albatross approach.  It passed by on several occasions but it was very reluctant to land.

We returned to shallower depths of just under 300 metres and set another burley trail.  We attracted the same species including two Wandering Albatross (the second was a stage 4), and a few more Wilson's Storm-Petrels.  The Northern Giant-Petrel had followed the boat.  We had Yellow-nosed Albatross, Shy Albatross and a sub adult Black-browed Albatross on the water next to each other giving an excellent comparison.  We didn't realise it at the time, but the photographs show that the latter was the impavida (Campbell's Albatross) form.  This has rarely been recorded in Western Australia.  Just as we began to head back a White-faced Storm-Petrel was seen.  On the return we briefly saw an Arctic Jaeger fly past.

Thanks to Norm Erthal for organising the trip, and to Peter Barrett for burleying with the pilchards and squid.  Northern Giant-Petrel, Cape Petrel and Arctic Jaeger had not been recorded on the previous two Albany pelagics.

Time/Latitude/Longitude of most stoppages:

08:10 S35 05' 57", E118 01' 27" (near heads)
09:55 S35 17' 37", E118 05' 41"
10:15 S35 18' 59", E118 06' 37" (1st Shy Albatross)
11:15 S35 23' 47", E118 09' 03" (1st burley trail)
12:25 S35 23' 26", E118 10' 18" (2nd burley trail)
14:25 S35 17' 55", E118 09' 28" (Arctic Jaeger)

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

Northern Giant-Petrel 1 (1)
Great-winged Petrel 25 (4) including one race gouldi
Cape Petrel 1 (1)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 500+ (60)
Wandering Albatross (race chionoptera?) 2 (2)
Black-browed Albatross (race melanophris) 5 immatures (3)
Black-browed Albatross (race impavida) 1 sub adult (1)
Shy Albatross (race cauta) 5 immatures (3)
Yellow-nosed Albatross (race bassi) 40 (12)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 6 (2)
White-faced Storm-Petrel 1 (1)
Australasian Gannet 13 (5)
Arctic Jaeger 1 (1)

Mammal List :

New Zealand Fur Seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) 1 (1) Emu Point

Next Trip :

There is likely to be another Albany pelagic as part of the BA Congress & Campout in October 2006.  There is almost certain to be an Albany pelagic during the Australasian Ornithological Conference in December 2007 (AOC2007).  Other trips may also be organised if the opportunity arises.  For details contact Frank O'Connor on 08 9386 5694 or email foconnor@iinet.net.au

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2005 Visits Last Modified 1st November 2005