Pelagic Outing September 2012

Another in the series of NParks sponsored surveys of the Straits of Singapore got underway shortly after 6:00am on Saturday, September 15th.  The dawn was good and it would stay rainless the entire day, but rather hazy; and it grew quite hot and humid as there was almost no breeze.  At times the sea was glassy smooth.

Clearling immigration formalities was pretty quick this time, and we had our first Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel shortly after 7:00am.  It wasn’t a blizzard, but they kept coming in ones and twos and sometimes half dozens.  None of them came really close though, but we could clearly see that many had very worn plumage.

Swinhoe's Storm Petrel

The vast majority were headed West for their wintering area in the Indian Ocean.  A few though were wandering around in circles.  None were feeding that we could see.

It was mostly petrels until around 8:10 when we got our first pod of dolphins and a few Bridled Terns.  The Bridled Tern numbers continued to build throughout the day, and it was running neck and neck with the petrels both numbers being in the hundreds.  Last year, Sept 2011, the bridled terns out numbered the petrels.  But this year the petrels made a stuning comeback and smashed the terns with nearly 500 petrels and just 300 Bridled Terns.

 Bridled Tern

The second pod of dolphins at 8:45am was more photographable.

Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin

Then at 9:00am we got our first Aleutian Terns sitting on driftwood.  Throughout the day would would keep coming across Aleutians sitting on driftwood in ones, twos or threes, and once in the company of a White-winged Tern.  It was our observation that the Aleutians were less skittish than the Bridled Terns, but that might just have been the luck of the day.  Around 15 Aleutian Terns were observed.

Aleutian Tern

By 9:15am we reach our favorite Cable Buoy, but today a fisherman was tied up alongside, so no terns or skuas were to be found.

Cable Buoy

Probably around 10am the petrels tappered off and were replaced with more regular sightings of bridled terns.  We did verify at least one White-winted Tern, resting comfortably on the left next to an Aleution Tern on the right.

White-winged Tern (left) Aleutian Tern (right)

We also came across a rather unusual craft, a self power barge appearing to be Vietnamese “Trung Kien” perhaps carrying sand from Cambodia.

Vietnamese Barge

Around Noon we came across an orange colored ship, carrying oranged colored containers.  Any guess what the contents are?

Orange Boat

By now it was getting really hot and humid, and we turned around and made our way back.  Here’s one a many Swift Terns on one of the buoys.

Swift Tern

Our route …

Route Map

And here is the happy crew.

Group Photo




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