Perth Western Australia Pelagic Trip Report Sunday 25th June 2006

Participants (26) :

Frank O'Connor (organiser), Ben Allen, Hilary Brooke, John Brooke, Nick Brown, Alison Cawley, Maureen Cawley, Ted Cawley, Alan Collins, Hazel Darnell, John Darnell, Paula Douglas, Rose Ferrell, Belinda Forbes, John Graff, Cecilia Grant, Ken Grinter, Zoe Hamilton, Chas Hayward, Di Jacoby, Peter Jacoby, Clive Nealon, Easy Patterson, John Scotford, Peter Taylor, Roy Teale

Conditions :

Departed Hillarys Boat Harbour at 7.05am.  Returned at 3.30pm.  The forecast was for a fine warm day with a 1 metre sea and a 1 metre swell with a maximum of 22C.  The winds were forecast to be light 8 to 13 knots SW at the start, swinging to 10 to 15 knots N/NE in the morning and to NW/W in the afternoon.  There was no cloud in the morning but the cloud increased during the day to about 50%.  The sea was at a different direction to the swell, but generally the conditions were excellent.  The internet indicated that the sea surface temperatures would be about 22C, and this combined with several days of winds mainly from the NE forbade a quiet day.

Description :

The highlight of the trip was a Sooty Shearwater and the performances put on by the Humpback Whales.  This was the lowest diversity of species that we have had on a trip from Hillarys, with almost a complete absence of pterodroma pertrels for the first time.

From Hillarys we headed roughly WSW heading for the trench NW of Rottnest Island.  Australasian Gannets were in small numbers with a few Great Skuas.  The first Yellow-nosed Albatross was sighted when we were roughly north of Rottnest Island, followed briefly by a Wilson's Storm-Petrel and the first group of Humpback Whales put on a memorable display.  We continued and detoured for another group of Humpback Whales.

We continued to head for the trench.  There was almost a total absence of seabirds.  We stopped when we reached 300 metres, and burleyed.  A Welcome Swallow was a big surprise.  There was very little activity.  The Yellow-nosed Albatross and a Great Skua gave good photographic opportunities.

We finally headed south stopping when a Wilson's Storm-Petrel was sighted.  We again burleyed extensively for 90 minutes.  A Soft-plumaged Petrel and a Bridled Tern were seen off the starboard side but did not approach the boat.  The number of Yellow-nosed Albatross slowly built up, and the occasional Wilson's Storm-Petrel was seen in the slick.  The almost total absence of pterodroma petrels was very surprising.  The excitement came when a shearwater came in from the port side and landed close to the boat.  After some discussion, we concluded that it was a Sooty Shearwater, only the second record on the Hillarys pelagics.  The photographs confirmed the identity.

After lunch, we headed north roughly along the 250 metres contour, before we headed for home.  We stopped again for more fantastic displays from a group of Humpback Whales.  A turtle was seen.  We stopped, but it had submerged.  The feeling was that it could have been a Loggerhead Turtle.

Thanks to the skipper Trevor and deck hand Reece.  Special thanks to John Darnell for mixing most of the suet, pollard and oil prior to the trip.

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)
08:55 S31 58' 59", E115 18' 43", 110m, 43.8km, 248 (Humpback Whales)
09:10 S31 59' 59", E115 18' 58", 130m, 47.0km, 248 (Humpback Whales)
09:45 S32 00' 24", E115 11' 30", 305m, 55.3km, 249 (stopped until 10:35)
11:00 S32 00' 42", E115 11' 35", 290m, 55.4km, 248 (stopped until 12:30)
13:50 S31 54' 39", E115 21' 24", 75m, 37.2km, 255 (Humpback Whales)

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

Soft-plumaged Petrel 1 (1) distant
Yellow-nosed Albatross (race bassi) 65 (35) few adults / mostly immatures
Sooty Shearwater 1 (1) good photographs
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 6 (2)
Australasian Gannet 30 (5) (2 immature)
Great Skua 7 (3)
Silver Gull 13 (13)
Crested Tern 21 (3)
Bridled Tern 1 (1) flew past - very unusual for June
Welcome Swallow 1 (1)

Mammal List :

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) 9 (4)

Other :

Loggerhead Turtle? 1 (1)

Next Trip :

The next trip from Hillarys will be on Sunday 13th August 2006 but this is fully booked.  For details of future trips contact Frank O'Connor on 08 9386 5694 or email foconnor@iinet.net.au

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2006 Visits Last Modified 25th June 2006