Conditions: Winds were forecast to be south-easterly at 12-15knts during the morning shifting to an 18knt southerly in the afternoon, with seas 2m and swell of 1.5-2m. Conditions on the day were roughly as forecast. Sea temperatures were in the range of 22-23 degrees.
This was the first pelagic off Hillarys run in March, and the earliest in the year a trip has been run off Hillarys so it was interesting to see what was about. There was no repeat of the high Streaked Shearwater numbers from last year’s April trip and these seem to have been a cyclone-related occurrence. Overall though it was a reasonable trip, with 7 true seabirds recorded, along with a variety of jaegers and terns. Unfortunately, no unusual species were seen and the majority of species did not spend much time (if any) close to the boat.
|Flesh-footed Shearwater, the everpresent at all stops on the trip.|
We departed the harbour shortly after 0700 in clear conditions, and at least one person saw a Common Bottlenose Dolphin briefly in our wake. Bird activity was almost zero until half-way to the Rottnest line when we started picking up the first Wedge-tailed Shearwaters in the distance, along with one or two Australasian Gannet and some distant jaegers. The first real excitement came as a Pomarine Jaeger flew purposefully across the bow, and as we passed to the north of Rottnest the first Flesh-footed Shearwaters started to trail the boat. As we cleared the eastern edge of Rottnest, activity built and several new species were seen, including a brief but close view of a Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, reasonable views of an adult Shy Albatross, and the first distant Bridled Terns. At least one person also saw a distant Common Noddy and a couple of people picked up one or two White-faced Storm-Petrels and a couple of distant Hutton’s Shearwaters.
We stopped at the 400m contour on the edge of the Rottnest Trench and started burleying. Flesh-footed Shearwaters were on the scene immediately, followed shortly by smaller numbers of Great-winged Petrels and later the odd Wilson’s Storm-Petrel. The most interest came when a Common Noddy crossed the bow (sadly it didn’t hang around), and an adult Shy Albatross (possibly the same bird seen previously) made a pass and flew some circuits off the starboard side.
|Adult Shy Albatross making a pass. Unfortunately it did not settle near the boat and after a few circuits off the starboard side, it continued on its way.|
|A Great-winged Petrel, the only Pterodroma for the day, makes a pass.|
After just over an hour, we repositioned to the south-east, but saw nothing different so we left the trench and positioned several kilometres north-west of Rottnest. Flesh-footed Shearwaters immediately settled around the boat, and the odd Wedge-tailed Shearwater could be seen in the distance. A few mid-distant Bridled Terns were seen, and a couple of observers saw two Common Noddies. A nice Pomarine Jaeger made a close pass at the stern but did not hang around. Two more stops off the east end of Rottnest yielded similar species, with a few close passes from Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and a few Arctic Jaegers. The main excitement was a large turtle considered to be a Loggerhead Turtle which swam close to the boat for a while. We eventually headed for Hillarys, picking up the last few shearwaters quite close to shore, and docked at approx. 1545.
|Pomarine Jaeger making a pass behind the boat. It also continued on its way.|
|Some extra excitement caused by a circuit of the boat by a Loggerhead Turtle.|
Many thanks to all the participants, and to the boat crew from BlueJuice Charters for their assistance.
Species List [Total Count (Maximum no. seen at one time)]
Shy Albatross 2 (1)
Great-winged Petrel 14 (5)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 30 (6)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 200 (54)
Hutton's Shearwater 7 (2)
Wilson's Storm Petrel 10 (2)
White-faced Storm Petrel 2 (1)
Arctic Jaeger 6 (3)
Pomarine Jaeger 2 (1)
Jaeger sp. 3 (1)
Australasian Gannet 9 (3)
Crested Tern 7 (3)
Bridled Tern 25 (9)
Common Noddy 4 (2)
Common Bottlenose Dolphin 1 (1)
Loggerhead Turtle 1 (1)
|A Flesh-footed Shearwater near the boat.|