Albany Western Australia Pelagic Trip Report Sunday 20th July 2008

Participants (16) :

Dejan Stojanovic (organiser), Frank O'Connor (recorder), Sue Abbotts, Claire Bartron, Maureen Cawley, Ted Cawley, Alan Collins, Xenia Dennett (Victoria), Stewart Ford, John Graff, Heyn de Koek, John Lillywhite, Helena Mills, Robyn Pickering, Jon Pridham, Peter Taylor

Conditions :

Departed Emu Point Boat Harbour at 7.05am. Returned at 4.00pm.  There had been a storm on Friday, and there were still gale force winds on Saturday morning, but the conditions had calmed to light winds for the trip.  The sea and swell conditions were still quite high and there were significant waves of five metres.

Description :

This was a sensational trip for albatross, but the variety of petrels was unexpectedly low and the overall number of birds was low.   The juvenile Grey-headed Albatross was the major highlight along with a variety of 'Wandering' type albatross and comparatively high numbers of Black-browed Albatross including a significant number of Campbell's.  More work needs to be done on the Wandering Albatross types to determine their specific status.

It was about two and a half hours to the shelf.  Things were quiet as expected until we cleared the outer heads.  We saw the first Brown Skuas and Australasian Gannets before we cleared the heads.  As we cleared the heads we saw the first Yellow-nosed Albatross.  We slowly started seeing a few Great-winged Petrels, and one Cape Petrel was seen just before reaching the shelf.

We set up a burley trail when we arrived at the continental shelf and made our first stop at 600 metres.  The numbers of birds grew slowly as we attracted Yellow-nosed Albatross, Great-winged Petrels and then several Black-browed Albatross (all sub species impavida or Campbell's).  This is only the second reported record of impavida in Western Australia, the first being the previous trip off Albany in March 2007.  There were a variety of ages with adult, several sub adult and immatures seen.  We stopped for an hour and several Shy Albatross, a couple of Wandering Albatross, the first Southern Giant-Petrel and a Wilson's Storm-Petrel were also seen.

We decided to move to shallower waters at 300 metres and burleyed again.  We stayed in this general area for 2.5 hours.  We only saw nominate Black-browed Albatross in the shallower water.  The Southern Giant-Petrels increased to three on the water and they were joined by a Northern Giant-Petrel.  The second Southern Giant-Petrel was paler and is the first older bird seen on a Western Australian pelagic.  The number of Cape Petrels and Wilson's Storm-Petrels slowly increased.  The arrival of five Flesh-footed Shearwaters was a surprise so early in the season.  Wandering Albatross of different plumages regularly flew past and occasionally landed close by.  But the highlight of the day was a juvenile Grey-headed Albatross which made two close passes.

We headed back.  The trip back was long but much smoother travelling with the swells.  We saw more Black-browed Albatross in the deeper waters, a Northern Giant-Petrel and several more Brown Skuas.  We stopped at Breaksea Island to see the New Zealand Fur Seals.  A Humpback Whale was seen in the distance a couple of times by a few people.  Three Fairy Terns in the outer harbour were a surprise this early in the season.

Time (WDT) /Latitude/Longitude/Depth of most stoppages:

07:00 S34 59' 39", E117 56' 43" (Emu Point Boat Harbour)
07:55 S35 06' 47", E118 02' 56" (just outside heads)
09:45 S35 08' 15", E118 03' 31"   80m (1st stop to 10:45 600 metres)
11:00 S35 22' 17", E118 16' 21" 600m (2nd stop to 13:30 300 metres)

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

Wilson's Storm-Petrel 15 (4) (1 with metal band on left leg)
Wandering Albatross 8 (2) (more work needed on photos; race exulans Snowy 3+, race gibsoni Gibson's 2+, one dabbenena / amsterdamensis / antipodensis Tristan / Amsterdam / Antipodean)
Black-browed Albatross (race melanophris) 20 (6) (adult, sub-adult and immature)
Black-browed (Campbell's) Albatross (race impavida) 5 (3) (adult, sub-adult and immature)
Shy Albatross (race cauta) 12 (3) (sub adult, immature)
GREY-HEADED ALBATROSS 1 () juvenile
Yellow-nosed Albatross (race bassi) 70 (10)
Southern Giant-Petrel 5 (3)
Northern Giant-Petrel 2 (1)
Cape Petrel 8 (6)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 12 (5)
Great-winged Petrel 50 (10) (2 race gouldi)
Australasian Gannet 50 (12) (4 immatures)
Brown Skua 6 (2)

Mammal List :

New Zealand Fur Seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) 100 (100)
Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) 2 (1)

Next Trip :

There are no Albany trips specifically planned at this stage, but after the success of this trip it is hoped that more  trips could be organised next year during the period of May to August.  Dejan is also considering a trip in late October or early November.  For details contact Frank O'Connor on 08 9386 5694 or email foconnor@iinet.net.au

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2008 Visits Last Modified 27th July 2008