Perth Western Australia Pelagic Trip Report Sunday 6th September 2009

Participants (27) :

Alan Collins (organiser), Frank O'Connor (organiser), Sue Abbotts, Margaret Armstrong, John Brooke, Wendy Brown, Wes Cooper, Bruce Corfe, John Cotton, Joe Fontaine, Gary Innes, Pat Kennedy, John Lillywhite, Ian Mayer, Clive Nealon, Simon Nevill, Easy Patterson, Neil Robertson (NZ), Andrew Sherwin, Mark Stanley, Andrew Sutherland, Gavin White, Barry Whittington, Jenny Whittington, Cressida Wilson, Sue Young, John Zupan.

Conditions :

Departed Hillarys Boat Harbour at 7.05am.  Returned at 3.25pm.  Following a day with strong winds, the forecast was for a cloudy but fine daywith a maximum of 16°C.  The wave height was forecast to be 5.2 metres dropping to about 4.7 metres late in the day.  The winds were forecast to be less than 10 knots SW, swinging to the W.  There was cloud for much of the day, with a couple of passing light showers accompanied by squalls of about 15 knots.  The wave height had subsided with very few large waves, but there were some choppy conditions.  The ocean surface temperatures were about 19°C.

Description :

The highlights of the trip were the Salvin's Albatross, Little Shearwaters and a few late Hutton's Shearwaters.  The disappointment was the absence of Soft-plumaged Petrels.  The chum and fish oil worked well at bringing the albatross in close, giving excellent opportunities for photography.

From Hillarys we headed roughly WSW heading for the trench NW of Rottnest Island.  We saw several early Yellow-nosed Albatross and a few Humpback Whales breaking the surface and occasionally performing some tail slaps.  A few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and Flesh-footed Shearwaters were seen along with some passing Hutton's Shearwaters on their way to New Zealand.

We made our first extended stop at 9:30am in 200 metres depth as we saw the first White-faced Storm-Petrel.  We were slightly south of the north end of the trench.  We started to chum.  The number of Yellow-nosed Albatross increased.  There were a few Flesh-footed Shearwaters to begin with, followed by a Cape Petrel, a few Great-winged Petrels, a Shy Albatross, some White-faced Storm-Petrels, another Cape Petrel and a Black-browed Albatross.  The immature Shy Albatross showed some yellow on the tip of the bill, a first for the Hillarys pelagics.  After nearly an hour we moved on.

The boat had access to satellite data for sea surface temperature, currents and plankton.  We headed SSW for an area of water just below 19°C sea surface temperature.  We stayed for more than 90 minutes.  The initial depth was about 500 metres but we drifted west back in to 240 metres by the time we moved on.  We moved a short distance in the middle to check some albatross sitting on the surface.  We had good numbers of Yellow-nosed Albatross of all ages, a number of White-faced Storm-Petrels on the slick, regular Great-winged Petrels including a few that landed briefly on the slick, and the occasional Flesh-footed Shearwater.  The highlight was the passage of two individual Little Shearwaters.

We moved back to the north end of the trench for our final stop for 30 minutes.  There were similar species, with another Hutton's Shearwater passing through.

We started back for Hillarys at 13:30.  We made a few brief stops for a Salvin's Albatross taking off, a few more Wedge-tailed Shearwaters on the surface, a Brown Skua sitting on the water, some dolphins and a distant giant-petrel.  None of these came to the boat and so the views were disappointing.

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

White-faced Storm-Petrel 20 (7)
Black-browed Albatross  1 (1) (immature)
Shy Albatross (race cauta)  1 (1) (sub adult)
Shy Albatross (race salvini)  1 (1) (immature)
Yellow-nosed Albatross (race bassi) 120 (30)
Giant-Petrel sp. 1 (1)
Cape Petrel 2 (1)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 9 (4)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 11 (4)
Hutton’s Shearwater 8 (3)
Little Shearwater 2 (1)
Great-winged Petrel 21 (6)
Australasian Gannet 19 (4) (mostly immatures)
Brown Skua 1 (1)

Silver Gull 2 (2)
Crested Tern
7 (2)

The following were seen in and just outside the harbour.

Australasian Darter 1 male
Little Pied Cormorant 2
Pied Cormorant 30
Eastern Osprey 2
Pacific Gull 1 immature
Silver Gull 10
Australian Raven 1
Welcome Swallow 2

Mammal List :

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) 6 (4)
Dolphin sp. 4+ (2) (probably Bottle-nose Dolphin)

© Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2009 Visits Last Modified 7th September 2009