Pelagic Outing September 2013

Sunday Sept 15 started out like any other Sunday, except for 8 of us who went out for a pelagic in the straits.

This trip was actually instigated by a birder from Japan, Hiroyuki Shimizu.  He had been following our exploits for over a year, and keenly wanted to see Swinhoe’s Storm Petrels.  So finally he booked a boat for this date, flew down from Japan, and we joined him for this outing.

We were off to a cloudy start, but we hoped for improvement as the day went on, as the forecast was pretty good.

Getting Underway

But the birds apparently knew what was coming better than the weatherman did, at our usually productive cable buoy there was only one Lesser Crested Tern.

Cable Buoy

But we had been seeing a smattering of petrels on the fall migration towards the Indian Ocean.  Here’s an underside view of a Swinhoe’s, and a lifer for Hiroyuki.  A long way to come for an almost all dark petrel!

Petrel, Swinhoe's Storm

We saw the same wooden boat with an oversized engine as we saw in July, really moving.

Speed Boat

We saw a number of Bridled Terns on their migration in the opposite direction of the petrels.  And we started seeing Aleutian Terns on the long distance migration from Alaska to still as yet unknown wintering grounds.

Aleutian Tern

These two photos (above & below) are the same adult Aleutian Tern.

Aleutian Tern

The photo below is a first year or juvenile Aleutian Tern.

Aleutian Tern (juv)

As the bird life wasn’t at a peak, there are always lots of interesting boats in the straits.  Below is the Deep Sea 1, a class of tug boat that handles the anchors for deep sea oil rigs and tows them to location.  Built in Singapore.

Deep Sea 1

Next up is the Royal Malaysian Navy guided missle patrol boat, Gempita.

Gempita (3514)

And a Malaysian customs boat.  I wonder if he was looking for the fast boat with yellow deck covering above?  As you can see the weather is getting pretty threatening.

Malaysian Customs

Lots of boats at anchor in Malaysian waters, here are a couple of fixer uppers, all the rust you could ever want.

Fixer Upper

STX Forte is a chemical and oil products tanker, built in 2010, the orange paint is still fresh.  From South Korea.

STX Forte

And then just after Noon it started raining, heavily at times, and rained all the way back to our berth.  At times the visibility was very limited.  Now the weatherman knew it was going to rain today.

Ghost Ship

We got back to Sentosa Cove around 3:00 pm, the rain finally stopped.


Here is our rather damp group.  Our visitor from Japan is second from the right.

Not quite the numbers of petrels we got in Sept 2011 (~500) or Sept 2012 (~500), nor Bridled Terns in Sept 2011 (~600) or Sept 2012 (~300).  You’d think “storm-petrels” would love rainy weather.

Rough tally:-

Swinhoe’s Storm Petrels      75

Bridled Terns                        20

Aleutian Terns                      30

Greater Crested Terns         10

Lesser Crested Terns            2

Little Terns                             5

Japanese Sparrowhawk        1

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2 Responses to “Pelagic Outing September 2013”

  1. David Mitford says:

    Nice work Con.
    In your text you say the Aleutian Tern wintering grounds are still unknown.
    Well you may have heard that at least 15 are ‘wintering’ in Australia at Old Bar
    This is mega news in Australia as this is the first time they have been seen here.
    Lots of people are trying to figure out if this is a new phenomenon or if they have been overlooked.
    Kind regards
    David Mitford

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