28-11-2004

In the morning weather looked well apart from some dark clouds that never
reached us. We walked to Shakespeare’s Lookout. Around the time we should board the
boat for the pelagic to Red Mercury Island we met the American couple Michael and
Merce who arranged the trip. But bad news, the captain considered the weather to be too
rough to go out. It didn’t seem that bad so we decided to find ourselves another boat.
Luckily there are enough sport fishing boats around Whitianga and with the help of the
Information officer we quickly found another boat for NZ $ 400,-. We quickly bought
some fish oil and fish parts and with an hour delay we departed, unfortunately with an
inexperienced crew in terms of birding pelagics.
Within half an hour the first Fluttering Shearwaters started to turn up in numbers. I was
extremely lucky to find a Hammerhead shark swimming right under our boat. The captain
led us to a spot with not much birding activity around and after a bit of discussion we
decided to go on to the 100 meter (depth?) mark but that cost us another NZ $ 240,- in
total. It was only at that 100 meter mark that the birds started to come. First to arrive and
very numerous were White-faced Storm-Petrels (Pelagodroma marina, Bont
Stormvogeltje) and Common Diving-Petrels. The rough sea (the first captain was right
after all but it was not that bad, nobody got sick anyway) and the fact that none of us had
much experience made it impossible to put names to all the birds. We birded at three
spots around the 100 meter mark and close to Red Mercury Island until about 19:00
hours. We finally found a few Black Petrels (Procellaria parkinsoni, Zwarte
Stormvogel), several Great-winged/Grey-faced Petrels (Pterodroma macroptera,
Langvleugelstormvogel), one Black-winged Petrel (Pterodroma nigripennis,
Zwartvleugelstormvogel), three Little Shearwater (Puffinus assimilis haurakiensis,
Kleine Pijlstormvogel), good numbers of Buller’s Shearwater and Flesh-footed
Shearwater and several Pycroft/Cooks Petrels, based on the location most probably
Pycroft’s Petrel (Pterodroma pycrofti, Pycrofts Stormvogel), but what a drag to identify
those to the sp