Perth Western Australia Pelagic Trip Report Sunday 8th August 2010
Trip report by Alan Collins

Participants (24) :

Alan Collins (organiser), Darryl Abbott, Sue Abbotts, Ben Allen, Graham Armstrong, Robin Ashford, Ken Baker (Victoria), Nick Brown, Sharron Burns, Martin Cake, Xenia Dennett (Victoria), Ben Drew, Alan Galbraith, Jacob Hughes, Brian Johnston (Victoria), Mel Lintern, Rob Morris (Queensland), Frank O’Connor, Robyn Pickering, Lin Pritchard, Andrew Sherwin, Georgina Steytler, Andrew Sutherland, Gavin White .

Conditions :

Departed Hillarys Boat Harbour at 7.10am. Returned at 4.20pm.  The forecast was for a fine and sunny day, with 13/18 knots E/SE winds. Seas were 1m with a swell of 3m.  Conditions were initially difficult for photography but eased during the day as both the winds and seas calmed.

Description :

The trip highlights were fleeting views of a possible Kerguelen Petrel and excellent close views of Soft-plumaged Petrels, including two rare dark morph birds.

As the boat departed from Hillarys, we headed WSW to the trench NW of Rottnest Island, we soon began to see Australasian Gannet and Brown Skuas. As we passed Rottnest Island a Humpback Whale was sighted close to the boat and later, more distant Humpback Whales were also spotted. Having passed the western end of Rottnest, we began to see an increasing number of Soft-plumaged Petrels and a couple of Great-winged Petrels. The vast majority of the Australasian Gannets we saw during the day were seen in a single large feeding flock at this position. We reached the underwater canyon and stopped with the depth at 480m. We put out the chum/burley and the oily slick quickly began to attract Soft-plumaged Petrels, Great-winged Petrels and Yellow-nosed Albatross. We had brief views of a possible Kerguelen Petrel but it didn’t linger.  A shearwater made a close pass of the boat but the views were again too fleeting for a confident ID, although a number of Flesh-footed Shearwaters later gave close views.

With the wind pushing the boat, we moved NW across the canyon into deeper water. We decided not to relocate but just drift with the existing burley slick.  A White-faced Storm-Petrel made a brief appearance before crossing the stern, a further two White-faced Storm-Petrels were seen over the burley trail. A Cape Petrel circled the boat a few times before settling on the distant ocean. The chum attracted a larger than usual number of Brown Skuas and just before we set off on the return journey, a dark morph Soft-plumaged Petrel made a pass of the boat.

We set off back for Hillarys and a Hutton’s Shearwater flew close to the stern of the boat, for once allowing views close enough to eliminate Fluttering Shearwater. A number of other, much more distant, Hutton’s Shearwaters were also sighted. Also, a couple of Soft-plumaged Petrels were seen in much shallower waters than is usual.

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

White-faced Storm-Petrel 3 (2)

Yellow-nosed Albatross 60 (21) race bassi
Cape Petrel 1 (1)

Flesh-footed Shearwater 3 (1)
Hutton’s Shearwater 10 (6)

Kerguelen Petrel 1 (possible)
Soft-plumaged Petrel 35 (10)
Great-winged Petrel 15 (2)
Australasian Gannet  60 (50)
Brown Skua 12 (6
)

Mammal List :

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) 5 (2)

© Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2010 Visits Last Modified 15th August 2010