The annual Pelagic Trip to Ashmore Reef aboard the Flying Fish Five continues to grow in popularity and considering the number of exciting species that we see including birds, cetaceans, turtles and sea snakes etc it is hardly surprising. In shallow water north of Broome lots of Terns including Roseate, Brown Boobies and Lesser Frigatebirds. Once in deep water on the second day we started to see Tahiti Petrels and Bulwer’s Petrel. We eventually saw all possible 3 Jaegers, Long-tailed, Pomerine and Arctic. Overall we saw lots of Storm Petrels including Matsudaira’s and Swinhoes. The cetacean highlight for the trip was the discovery of Fraser’s Dolphins amongst a large pod of Short-finned Pilot Whales and Spinner Dolphins. Calm conditions are ideal for spotting these animals and we were graced with several days of what the boaties term as a “glass off”. It was a fantastic trip for cetaceans with 8 species seen. Ashmore Reef itself was spectacular, we had access to all three islands care of Her Majesty’s Customs escorting us which was very good of them.
This is an exclusive opportunity to witness the spectacular seabird breeding opportunities of Middle and East Island. As for rare vagrant birds on West Island, it’s hard to believe that we found two species of vagrants namely Asian Brown Flycatcher and Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warbler that were found last year. Had they stayed on the island from last year? Who knows? Everyone had excellent views of these two rare birds in an Australian territory. A pair of Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes were also on the Island and with further research there is a good chance they are actually Wallacian Cuckoo Shrikes—a close Indonesian relative to the common Australian bird.
This trip is a MUST for any keen birdwatcher and worth every penny.