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Western Australia 2012

White-tailed Tropicbird off western Australia
White-tailed Tropicbird - understandably the birding highlight of the trip
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The vessel departed Singapore 19 August 2012 and sailed for Dampier, NW Australia where we arrived 26th August. After this we spent most of the time on the Goodwyn (130km NW of Karratha) and North Rankin fields (135km NW of Karratha).

Very little in the way of birdlife (or any other kind of life!) was seen on the transit between Singapore and Australia.  

Alongside at the offshore base at King Bay Supply Base near Dampier there was no opportunity to go birding (or even ashore!) but a small number of species were seen here including Little Correllas (apparently commuting between the mainland and one or more of the islands), Silver Gulls, Crested Terns and Brown Boobies. The highlight here was large numbers of Humback whales - especially prolific on our arrival and typically not seen up close after that despite regular sightings at long range.

Yellow-throated Miner Crested Tern, Goodwyn Field, off West Australia
Yellow-throated Miner, Karratha Airport Crested Tern, near Goodwyn A, September 2012

Lesser Frigatebird Wilson's Petrel
Lesser Frigatebird, North Rankin, September 2012 Wilson's Storm Petrel - here showing the diagnostic yellow webs on its feet. Click on image for more.

Out at sea there were generally few birds most days, just the occasional shearwaters, all of those identified being Wedge-tailed Shearwater. Wilson's Petrel were observed in small numbers almost daily, usually during daylight hours (compare to previous visit to this area). Small numbers of Crested Terns were also very regular.

Brown Booby were regular around North Rankin but seemed to spent all their time sitting on anchor buoys. A Lesser Frigatebird put in a brief appearance here on 8th September.

Brown Booby Brown Booby
Brown Boobies at North Rankin - typical long range view Brown Booby at Dampier, September 2012

Goodwyn A platform
 Goodwyn A platform

Ocean America rig
Ocean America rig

Wedge-tailed Shearwater
Record shot of Wedge-tailed Shearwater, September 2012

Humback Whale
Breaching Humback Whale, September 2012
The Humback migration seemed to be in full swing when we arrived in late August but numbers dropped during the trip. Whales were seen very close to land - in fact the best day was on arrival at Dampier when around 30 were seen - some at very close range. To get even better views of whales you may need to head out to sea. A boat charter can take you out on a whale watch. You can also find Viking yachts for sale online if you interested in a boat of your own.

Wedge-tailed Shearwater Puffinus pacificus Small numbers very regular offshore. Rarely more than 10 or so seen. Note that the race seen in this area has a horn coloured beak with a dark tip.
Wilsons Petrel Oceanites oceanicus Small numbers (up to 6) very regular.
Australian Pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus
One seen whilst departing King Bay Supply Base 12.09.12. 
Silver Gull Larus novaehollandiae Common at King Bay Supply Base and inshore.
Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel One noted near North Rankin 08.09.2012
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster
Several daily at North Rankin, occasional at Dampier
Crested Tern Sterna bergii Small numbers (1-5) very regular offshore. Also common at Dampier
White-tailed Tropicbird

Phaethon lepturus

One near Goodwyn A, 29 August 2012
Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea Small numbers of what was probably this species making flights over the water at King Bay Supply Base
Yellow-throated Miner Manorina flavigula One at Karratha airport
Magpie Lark Grallina cyanoleuca A pair seen at Karratha airport

Sea Snake, North Rankin
Sea Snake offshore near North Rankin, WA
Flatback Turtle, West Australia Swimming crab
Flatback Turtle, September 2012 Swimming crabs such as this one were regular offshore
September 2012

North Rankin platform Safe Astoria at North Rankin
North Rankin platform Safe Astoria at North Rankin
Dampier view Dampier
King's Bay, Dampier King's Bay, Dampier

Nocturnal Dolphin, Dampier
This dolphin fed around the vessel one evening as we lay at anchor off Dampier

A couple of days in Perth were spent in the office with the exception of one quick evening stroll to King's park near the city centre. Unfortunately the light was already going but I did manage to pick up a few species here. An early morning visit the following morning was thwarted by heavy rain.

Species inclued Rainbow Lorikeet, Laughing Kookaburra, Red Wattlebird, Sacred Ibis, Singing Honeyeater, Galah, a species of Black Cockatoo, a crow, Wood Duck, Australian Magpie and more.

Rainbow Lorikeet Laughing Kookaburra Red Wattlebird
Rainbow Lorikeet
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Laughing Kookaburra
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Red Wattlebird
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Unidentified Black Cockatoo
A species of Black Cockatoo - no colour seen on the tails....


Frank O'Connor's Birding Western Australia

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