I went for my first ever pelagic bird watching trip on the weekend. I had wanted to go on one for ages but none had been close enough. I was up at 5am for a 6:30am and 6:45 departure from Fremantle. I had been worried about the weather but it was only overcast and the forecast was a window of good weather before a cold front came in the evening. There were 28 of us – I didn’t know anyone but was amongst similar minded people.
We got ourselves underway and saw a few common seagulls and a welcome swallow on the way out. We saw our first Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross just before we hit Rottnest – this was my first lifer of the day. Next a call went out “Orca” or Killer Whales. I had secretly been hoping for some mammals on the trip and I got really lucky early on – they are pretty rare around Perth and these were found just on the seaward side of Rottnest – not that far off West End.
The pod had a couple of males identifiable by there tall thinner fin and some females with the more rounded dolphin like fin.
Orca Male @ off Rottnest
We had amazing views of an animal I have always wanted to see but thought I was going to have to travel to Bremer Bay or Exmouth to see! I was very excited 🙂 We then headed out further to see the birds..
We then saw a Cape Petrel – new for me – but pretty common on the ocean.
Our destination was the start of the Perth Canyon approx 25 nautical miles offshore (45kms for non seafaring types!). It is incredibly deep and we were in depths of 800m+. This is where you get the pelagic birds – amazing to find them so far away from land. We had a tuna oil slick and were chumming with mulies. Pretty soon we had a bunch of majestic albatross behaving like squabbling seagulls!
Gaggle of Indian Yellow-nose Albatross
We saw a rarity – a subspecies of the Yellow-nosed Albatross – the normal ones around Perth are the Indian but we also saw an Atlantic – quite a long way from home. You may have to take my word for it (I took others) but the darker eyes are the indicator for that subspecies.
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross
The map below gives a good idea where we headed out and also where I took most of my photos – I took 500+ this day – but heaps were blurry. I learnt some new skills balancing on a rocking boat trying to aim a huge lens at a flying bird – it can mean plenty of blurry shots and some just of water!
We went out a looooong way!
Assorted photos of most of the bird species I saw.
Artic Tern – another rare species
Shy Albatross – another rarity @ Perth Canyon
White-headed storm Petrel
Juvenile Yellow-nosed Albatross
It was an awesome day – 14 new species of Perth and 1 new mammal. I was also really pleased with some of my photos taken in challenging conditions.
I recently saw that someone had posted a possum sighting on one of my favourite websites iNaturalist. It was in Gosnells which is only a 20 minute drive from my house but pretty much in central suburban Perth. This pricked my interest so I invited a friend to come and explore. We travelled to John Okey Davis Park which backs onto a bush corridor on the upper reaches of the Canning River.
I am always optimistic prior to exploration but just as we got there, I thought – how likely are we to see anything? Well 3 minutes later we had seen our first brushtail possum!
We also heard something large dash away on the ground – possibly a cat or maybe a fox? We walked a little further and saw our second, then a third! There were possums everywhere..
The best technique for spotlighting is to either have a good headtorch or a place the torch on the side of your head near your eyes, as then you can pick up eyeshine of the nocturnal animals. You need to scan the trees and the undergrowth looking for a little double glow! With possums and many mammals it is orange/red colour. After a while you get your eye in – my friend didn’t spot the first few but then was finding his own.
We also were able to get very close to a few to get some really nice photos. They must be pretty used to people as their is housing all around outside the bush strip.
I also managed to find a Moaning frog – just for the dual white eye reflection on the ground. Cute little guy (Not sure if its a guy or gal though).
And then not far from the Moaning frog – this Slender tree frog hiding in some vegetation. The only frog heard calling was Squelching Froglets but we never found any – but they are pretty small. I have heard these Moaning frogs can drive people mad. If you live near a wetland and they burrow into your grass near your bedroom window – they can call all night long – listen to one here.
What an amazing evening – I think probably 20 possums or so all up and 3 moaning frogs and a slender tree frog.
The following image is a rough map of where the possums where and the crosses where the frogs where found.