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[Ashmore Trip 1] Days 2 -> 4: Under sail, then arrival at Ashmore

May 7, 2013

[This is the fourth in a series of ‘Ashmore Trip 1’ posts, essentially diary entries. Internet was unavailable at the Ashmore Reef, so they are being presented one-day-per-day now that I am back in Melbourne.]

08/04/2013 -> 10/04/2013

Day 2: Awoke in Broome. Another trip to the sewerage works and beach (Black Kites have scared nearly everything else from the beach), as well as the wharf. The large, white, local parrot (probably Little Corella) made an appearance at the beach, as did the Eastern Reef Egret.

After breakfast, hurried preparations for leaving. The boat was not at a wharf, so we had to prepare for a wet boarding, from the beach via the ship’s tenders.

Underway by 12:30, the Kimberley coast slowly disappearing over our starboard side. Many new seabirds: Brown Boobies, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Streaked Shearwaters, Common, Roseate, Crested, Whiskered, Sooty, and Bridled Terns. One notable appearance of an Abbot’s Booby (on the 10th). Sea snakes and dolphins (Bottle-nosed and Spinner) also in evidence.

Felt queasy during dinner. Went to bed early.

Day 3: Under way all day. Spent whole day in bed, vilely seasick.

Day 4: Started much as Day 3, but as we were nearing the island (about 11:00), the boat slowed for a better look at the Abbot’s Booby. Thinking we were arriving at the reef, I ran to the foredeck, excited. Did not feel seasick for the remainder of the journey.

Arrived at Ashmore ~12:30. Heavy Navy and Customs presence, one Navy vessel heavily laden with refugees. We were overflown by Coastwatch and boarded by Customs, seeking confirmation of our plans on the island. Moored at Inner Mooring.

~13:00, jumped into tenders and landed on West Island. Red-tailed and White-tailed Tropicbirds very much in evidence, circling above the beach. Abundant Nautilus shells (though none in particularly good condition). It is particularly good to see Red-tailed Tropicbirds here. I have seen only one, once before, during the Rena oil spill. It was collected from a beach, dead and oiled.

The team gathered banding, bleeding, and sampling experience on Red-tailed Tropicbirds. The heat made for slow going, and we continued until sunset.

A big day is planned for tomorrow. We’ll start deploying GPS loggers on Frigatebirds and Boobies. Spent ~2 hours after dinner getting loggers final-charged, waterproofed, and ready to go. Will depart for Middle ~06:30 with all gear, to see how many birds we can track.

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