Seabird guides Daniel Mantle and Plaxy Barratt say there’s something extraordinary about observing birds while at sea. “Watching seabirds mastering the strong oceanic winds is just about the pinnacle of birding for both us,” Plaxy explains. “The spray, the wind, the rocking boat… it’s magic.”
The two pelagic birdwatchers are regular guests and seabird guides on Naturaliste Charters expeditions, keen to share their knowledge with other sea bird enthusiasts. “By helping people recognise and appreciate the seabirds that they’re seeing, I hope we can help instil an interest in the birds’ conservation and protection,” Plaxy says.
Juvenile Australasian Gannet. Image: Naturaliste Charters
Throughout the year local birds such as Flesh-footed and Little Shearwaters, Great-winged Petrels, and White-faced Storm-Petrels – along with visitors from much further afield including Indian Yellow-nosed, Black-browed, and Shy Albatrosses – make regular appearances. The Bremer Canyon location, too, has gained a really strong reputation for attracting rare summer seabirds. “Great and Cory’s Shearwaters, Barau’s Petrels, and the rare and stunning Amsterdam and Chatham Albatrosses are some of the species we might see throughout the year,” says Plaxy.
Black-browed Albatross with a catch. Image: Naturaliste Charters
Dan and Plaxy especially enjoy bringing guests’ attention to certain species’ unique behavioural patterns, such as those of the White-faced Storm-petrel. “We see them jumping from spot to spot across the ocean surface, pushing off with their webbed feet,” Dan says. “Most Storm-petrels patter across the water in similar manners – as if they are ‘walking on water’ – and are sometimes referred to as Jesus Birds.”
What elevates the Naturaliste Charters expeditions to even further heights is the opportunity to watch seabirds and Orcas interact. “The highlight at Bremer Canyon is watching the birds following the Orcas and scavenging for scraps when the Orcas make a kill,” Dan says. “Larger predation events can attract thousands of seabirds and the excitement of involving the guests in photographing the action and searching through the masses of seabirds for that special rarity is always a great buzz.”
Crested Terns. Image: Naturaliste Charters
Bremer Canyon Killer Whale Expedition
The Bremer Canyon has become one of the most sort after whale watching expeditions across the globe, with over 100 Killer Whales (Orcas) returning to the submarine canyon each year from January to April; the only place in Australia where you can regularly encounter Killer Whales in the wild.