Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The WPO: at sea, from New Caledonia to Rennell Island.

It is 14th April & I am feeling a little sluggish! The previous evening turned into a bit of a session & that combined with large seas meant a rather fitful night’s sleep. 

Tahiti Petrel
 Brown Booby

 Greater Frigatebird

Up on deck sea-birding revealed 20+ Tahiti Petrels & several Brown Boobies.  A Greater Frigatebird was also noted.
 Greater Frigatebird

Black-winged Petrel
After lunch is got pretty slow, we slowly headed out into deeper water & left many birds behind.  A couple more Brown Boobies were seen, along with a Black-winged Petrel & a lone Greater Frigatebird. And that was about it!
The hard core!
 Kermedec Petrel

The 15th was not much better. The weather was choppy & made viewing quite difficult, but there wasn’t a lot to see, at first! 5 Tahiti Petrels & a Kermedec Petrel kept us on our toes and very early on we were still in range for Gould’s Petrels, but these soon dried up. A Collared Petrel shot by, but I failed to get a photo.
Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were still around as well as 3 Short-tailed Shearwaters.

Wilson's Storm Petrel
 Polynesian Storm Petrel

 One of the most wanted seabirds of the trip.

But it was the Storm Petrels we were interested in & after 3 Wilson’s we finally saw Polynesian Storm Petrel! Wow, what a bird! By the end of the day we had seen four individuals, but all were difficult to view. Delighted to capture one on the camera!

White-tailed Tropicbird

 Immature Red-footed Booby

3 White-tailed Tropicbirds were seen as were at least 10 Red-footed Boobies & two proper Masked Boobies (not the Tasman’s seen earlier in the trip).
That was about it! A few Sooty Terns all at great distance & four Brown Noodies were seen, but it was a long afternoon look out over the ocean!

David & Arthur - enjoying the morning.
Morning of the 16th was lovely. The sea had calmed down in the night & it was a beautiful morning, but once again almost bird less! A very distant Band-rumped type Storm Petrel was seen. There are no populations of this species for thousands of miles! But later in the morning we saw a Wilson’s Storm Petrel flying with a slightly larger bird & it could be a new species for science! This individual was slightly larger than Wilson’s with longer wings & a lighter diagonal bar on the upper surface of the wing.

 Red-footed Booby

Red-footed Boobies kept us entertained as they caught flying fish from almost under the bow of the ship!
White-tailed Tropicbird

White-tailed Tropicbirds were also seen, but little else of interest.

We anchored off Rennell Island & watched a magnificent sunset. 

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