Heaps of Humpbacks

Tuesday September 3, 2013

[From the trip East Coast Odyssey]

Dawn saw us well off the shelf, but sadly not a huge amount of bird activity.  Fortunately before too long things started to happen.  Providence Petrels were regular if only in small numbers, and White-faced Storm-petrels started dancing on the waves in the lines of current.  Providence Petrels breed on Lord Howe Island and on Phillip Island near Norfolk.  They used to also breed on Norfolk itself, and their name “Providence” comes from sailors shipwrecked on Norfolk who killed and ate the birds.  Storm-petrels of all kinds have an interesting habit where they flutter slowly with wings out just above the water and paddle their feet on the surface.  It looks just like they are dancing.  We saw this behaviour for most of the day.  A handful of Fluttering Shearwaters and a few different species of Albatross were also quite nice.  Humpback Whales continued to keep us company, with sporadic sightings all day, and two separate groups coming to investigate the boat during the day.  The morning was a near-mugging, with two whales at the stern coming quite close, while in the afternoon a Humpback breached twice near the boat, putting on quite a show for those on deck.  We finished the day sailing into Wreck Bay, part of Booderee National Park.  Two huge navy ships were in the area, a reminder that this little section of land belongs to the Australian Capital Territory and has a military base alongside the national park.

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Chris