Albany Western Australia Pelagic Trip Report Sunday 4th October 2009

Participants (16) :

Alan Collins (organiser), Frank O'Connor (organiser), Sue Abbotts, Claire Bartron, Mike Craig, Xenia Dennett (Victoria), John Graff, John Lilywhite, John Litherland, Judy Morris, Simon Nevill, Jon Pridham, David Secomb, Andrew Sutherland, Derek Taylor, Bill Watson (NSW)

Conditions :

Departed Emu Point Boat Harbour at 7.00am. Returned at 4.20pm.  The conditions had moderated greatly from the previous day.  The forecast was for a fine but cloudy day with light to moderate SE winds with a minimum of 9C and a maximum of 16C.  There was a period of fine drizzle before lunch.  Unlike the previous day, there were no white caps.

Description :

This was the second trip in two days.  It is interesting to compare the differences.  With the calmer conditions, there were generally fewer birds.  The major exception was Shy Albatross.

It was about two hours to the shelf.  We stopped slightly west of the canyon at 500 metres depth.  We drifted with the depth varying between 400 metres and 500 metres.  We stayed for two hours.  Things began quietly with a slow build up of Flesh-footed Shearwaters with Great-winged Petrels flying past occasionally and a Cape Petrel staying in the area.  Yellow-nosed Albatross numbers fluctuated with up to 10.  There were regular visits by Shy Albatross and with the different ages there were at least six individuals.  A Wandering Albatross made regular passes.  As we were about to move, a Brown Skua came and harassed a Flesh-footed Shearwater.  A Yellow-nosed Albatross seemed to break up the argument.  Perhaps its motivation was to feed on anything disgorged by the shearwater?

Before lunch we moved about 3 nautical miles east where the depth was about 300 metres.  Initially there were no birds in the area, but slowly the numbers of Flesh-footed Shearwaters and Yellow-nosed Albatross increased, with regular visits by several Great-winged Petrels and Shy Albatross.  It was a long time before the two White-faced Storm-Petrels were seen.  A Hutton's Shearwater made a quick pass.  Just as were about to move, a couple of Black-browed Albatross came in and a Little Shearwater quickly passed by.  We changed positions as a couple of people briefly saw a Black-bellied Storm-Petrel but we could not relocate it.

We started to head back stopping briefly a couple of times.  The highlight was a Little Shearwater sitting on the water close to where the boat passed giving everyone good views.

We stopped at Breaksea Island to look at a New Zealand Fur Seal colony.  There was an Australian Sea-lion in the colony.  A Southern Right Whale was seen in King Sound by a couple of people on the way back to Emu Point.

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

White-faced  Storm-Petrel 4 (3)
Black-bellied Storm-Petrel 1 (1) (poor view; only seen by a few)
Wandering Albatross (race gibsoni) 1 (1)
Black-browed Albatross (race melanophris) 4 (2) (1 adult, 1 sub-adult and 2 immature)
Shy Albatross (race cauta) 11 (6) (adult, sub adult, immature)
Shy Albatross (race salvini) 1 (1) (immature)
Yellow-nosed Albatross (race bassi) 35 (10)
Cape Petrel 6 (3)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 170 (25)
Hutton's Shearwater 8 (2)
Little Shearwater 4 (1)
Great-winged Petrel 15 (4)
Australasian Gannet 4 (1)
Brown Skua 1 (1)

Mammal List :

New Zealand Fur Seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) 41 (41)
Australian Sea-lion (Neophoca cinerea) 1 (1)
Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis) 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.  For details contact Frank O'Connor on 08 9386 5694 or email foconnor@iinet.net.au

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2009 Visits Last Modified 9th October 2009