Pelagic Outing October 2012

Meeting on October 13 at 6:00 am at One Degree North marina we set out promptly reaching Sisters Islands at 6:15 am.  We were the first to clear immigration, and were off to a good, but hazy start.

Hazy Sunrise

 One of our first birds was a swallow, tempting to call it a petrel, but no such luck.  Then we got swiftlets commuting across the straits toward Singapore.  And at least one lesser crested tern.  And of course big boats.


It’s amazing to see local fishermen out there near these large craft.

David & Goliath

Around 7:40 am we encountered our first dolphins.  Altoghether we encountered two pods, one about three and the other about eight individuals.  We stayed with them for an hour, at times they came very close.  They were located in the same general area where we have seen dolphins on several occasions before.

 Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin

 All the while during our dolphin encounter we’d be looking up at the sky.  Not a single bird, not even a crested tern.  Finally around 8:40 am we had to leave the dolphins to continue our primary mission which is to survey birdlife in the straits.  But it was looking pretty grim.  Finally we arrived at one of the more productive spots, the Cable Buoy off Batam.

Cable Buoy

There were a dozen or so Swift Terns, but no hoped for skua chasing them.

Swift Tern

 Meanwhile we had seen no petrels, no aleutian terns and not a single bridled tern!  We continued on our way to our usual survey end point near the eastern tip of Batam.  Not a single bird in the sky!  In both prior years, 2010 and 2011 the October survey had at least several off all of these species.  Perhaps the migration was already concluded earlier this year.

Turning around and heading back now we encounted some rain.


As we got nearer to downtown Singapore we encountered one last species, a solitary white winged tern.

Route Map

Above is the route we took, thanks to Koh Hui for the GPS.  And below is the crew.

Group Photo


Final count:

Great Crested (Swift) Tern            30

Lesser Crested Tern                       1

White-winged Tern                          1

Barn Swallow                                  4

Swiftlets                                  More than 100

Brahminy Kite                                 1




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