Thursday, April 12, 2012

South Polar Skua at Bremer Bay

An intermediate-morph South Polar Skua (Catharacta maccormicki) was observed around the Bremer Bay area over the Easter weekend, from Saturday 7th April 2012 until at least Monday 9th April. Authenticated sightings of this species are extremely rare in Australia, particularly Western Australia, and even these records are typically pelagic or offshore, making this sustained inshore sighting most unusual.

The bird was first seen distantly on the afternoon of 7th April, harassing Crested Terns and Silver Gulls around the rocky point and offshore island east of the Fisheries harbour (end of Swarbrick Rd) at Bremer Bay. Its contrasting pale head and neck, and relatively small size raised suspicions of South Polar Skua, but unfortunately this could not be confirmed before the bird disappeared.

South Polar Skua at Bremer Bay.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hillarys Pelagic Trip Report - 1 April 2012

Participants (21)
Alan Collins (organiser), Ben Allen, Dimitris Bertzeletos, Steve Burns, Martin Cake, Cheryl Davis, John Graff, Mike Green, Greg Howell, Liz King, Richard King, Louise Little, Wayne Merritt, Clive Nealon, Jenny Preston, Jon Pridham, Mark Stanley, John Vogel, Nathan Waugh, Bruce Wedderburn, Pete White

Departed Hillarys Boat Harbour at 7.20am. Returned at 3.45pm.  The forecast was for a partially cloudy day with showers and 10/15 knots W/SW winds increasing to 18/23 knots by early afternoon. Seas were 2m with a swell of 2m.

The highlight of the trip was the large numbers of Streaked Shearwater seen. At least 40 birds were seen very close to the northern shore of Rottnest Island; this species has never been seen in the SW of Western Australia, before this trip the furthest south they had been recorded at sea in WA was just north of Geraldton. Other highlights included prolonged and close views of Wilson’s Storm-Petrels and a couple of very obliging Hutton’s Shearwater.

Streaked Shearwater, Hillarys Pelagic Trip April 2012.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Streaked Shearwaters near Rottnest Island

Streaked Shearwaters are relatively common visitors to waters off northern Australia, but there are few (if any) records from the seas off Perth, and certainly no recent records. Hence it was something of a surprise when the recent pelagic trip organised out of Hillarys Boat Harbour recorded good numbers just north of Rottnest Island. The first birds were recorded c. 12km NNE of Rottnest Island (c. 15km off the mainland) on the outward passage of the boat. Several birds were seen in this area, but no further birds were seen on the outbound journey. However, on the return journey, several more Streaked Shearwaters were recorded c. 8km NW of Rottnest, and larger numbers (probably 20+) 2-5km due N of Rottnest Island. Overall, it was estimated that 40+ birds were recorded on the trip.

A Streaked Shearwater with the Perth skyline in the background, April 2012.

Location of Streaked Shearwater records on April 2012 pelagic. Click here for full Google Map.