Perth Western Australia Pelagic Trip Report Sunday 4th August 2007

Participants (24) :

Frank O'Connor (organiser), Sue Abbotts, Ben Allen, Rosemary Austen, Maureen Cawley, Ted Cawley, Ronald Clarke, Alan Collins, John Graff, Andrew Hobbs, Istvan Katona, (Hungary), Pat Kelly, Roger McNeill (NSW), Robert Broomhall, Tony Palliser (NSW), David Parker (NSW), Barbara Shardlow, Mark Stanley, Peter Taylor, Gabriella Urban (Hungary), Kim Walker, Andrew Walter (Queensland), Gavin White, Jean Woodings.

Conditions :

Departed Hillarys Boat Harbour at 7.20am.  Returned at 2:45pm.  The forecast was for a fine warm day with a 1 metre sea and a 1.5 metre swell with a maximum of 21C.  The winds were forecast to be 8 to 12 knots NE in the morning, swinging NW in the afternoon and decreasing.  There was no cloud making the sighting conditions excellent.  The internet indicated that the sea surface temperatures would be approximately 19-20C. The swell was from the south and this combined with the northerly winds made for rougher sea conditions than were expected.

Description :

The highlights of the trip were the large numbers of White-faced Storm-Petrels (by far the largest numbers ever recorded on these trips) that gave both excellent views and great opportunities for photographing.  The diversity was below average with seven pelagic species seen and the numbers of albatross were lower than would be expected.

As we left Hillarys two adult Pacific Gulls were seen on the outer harbour wall, we headed roughly WSW heading for the trench NW of Rottnest Island.  A group of dolphins followed the boat before we made a couple of stops for Humpback Whales but both times the Whales dived.  We continued and as we came level with the western end of Rottnest a couple of distant Hutton's Shearwaters were seen.  As we slowed we began to see a number of White-faced Storm-Petrels with groups of up to six passing close across the bow and a few adult Australasian Gannets were present.

The first Yellow-nosed Albatross was seen soon after and we continued to a depth of 200m where a Soft-plumaged Petrel was sighted mid-distance.  We stopped and burleyed, which brought in a couple of Great Skuas and some Yellow-nosed Albatross (mostly adults).  We tried the new chum blocks and they produced an excellent slick which enticed the White-faced Storm-Petrels to come in very close.  Later some Humpback Whales were seen breaching and we went over to investigate but they couldn't be found.

A fishing boat with accompanying birds was seen on the horizon and we decided to go over for a closer look. More Soft-plumaged Petrels, Yellow-nosed Albatross and White-faced Storm-petrels were present, we dropped a "chum bag" into the water and all three species came in close to the stern. A couple of Great-winged Petrels made a few close passes of the boat before continuing.

As we prepared to move, a Cape Petrel (notable for the extensive white areas on the upper-wing and mantle) flew past rapidly but didn't show any interest in the chum.  We then decided to head for home - during the bumpy and often wet ride back, we noted even more White-faced Storm-Petrels and a few Soft-plumaged Petrels, before arriving back at Hillarys at 2:45pm.

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

Cape Petrel 1(1)

Great-winged Petrel 2 (1)
Soft-plumaged Petrel 10 (2)
Hutton's Shearwater 5 (2)
Yellow-nosed Albatross (race bassi) 30 (22) mainly adults

White-faced Storm-Petrel 35 (10)
Australasian Gannet 8 (3)
Great Skua 2 (2)

Pacific Gull 2 (2)
Crested Tern 5 (2)

Welcome Swallow 1 (1)

Mammal List :

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) 6 (2)
Dolphin sp. 4 (4)

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2008 Visits Last Modified 4th August 2008