My First Streaked Shearwater

A Streaked Shearwater gliding over the surface of the oceanThose of you who have read some of my previous articles will know that I failed dismally on my goal of seeing 400 Australian bird species in the 2015 calendar year. I managed a grand total of 277 which, considering I had a trip to Cairns, a trip to Brisbane, a trip to Melbourne and a trip to Canberra, as well as two pelagic trips and quite a lot of days out in my local area of the beautiful Illawarra region, was not very flattering. I had a secondary goal of adding 50 new species to my Australian life list, which faired somewhat better with 37 new species observed. This all came about after my curiosity was roused from watching the movie “The Big Year” starring Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin. Worth the watch!

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My First Pelagic Trip

A Shy Albatross in flight over the ocean in the Pelagic region off of Kiama
Shy Albatross

I was well on track to achieve my primary goal of 400 species after the first two months, with 122 species already seen. My secondary goal was also on track with 7 new species already in the bag. Unfortunately, the next four months have not been as fruitful and, at the end June, I had only managed to add another 47 species to the main list and just one species to my life list. I was getting very worried. I needed a good July count, and was hoping that a boat trip out to the Pelagic region was going to get some, much needed, momentum happening.

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SOSSA Seabird Study Association

A Great-winged Petrel seen on my first SOSSA trip
Great Winged Petrel

What is SOSSA? Well, SOSSA is the Southern Ocean Seabird Study Association, and it runs boat trips out past the Continental Shelf from Kiama (mainly) and Wollongong, NSW. I have been on three trips with them now, July 2015, November 2015 and February 2016, and they were all fantastically well run and very informative. Not only that, I got to see [and photograph] dozens of birds that I have never seen before, and that I probably never would have seen unless I was in a boat way out at sea!

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