When I worked at the Australian Museum bird department in the 1980s and 90s I could always tell when someone opened the cabinets where the seabird study skins were kept. There was an unusual odour to those specimens, that was neither unpleasant nor pleasant. Perhaps it was for this reason that I had avoided ocean birding trips. I have often been out in the ocean, either on fishing trips or scuba diving, and I do not get sea sick, so it was not that I disliked the ocean.
For years I would gaze at the giant gap in my Australian bird life list between Storm-Petrels and Boobies and did not have the slightest inclination to make a special trip out to see any of these birds. I always looked for them when I was out fishing, but had not contemplated going out for a trip to just look for seabirds.
In 2015 I set myself a goal to try and add 50 new Australian bird species to my life list and seabirds were the obvious place to start. Living in Dapto, it was only natural that I look for an organised trip run in my local area. I searched one up on the internet and came up with SOSSA. I was not sure whether they took visitors, or whether it was just for members, but a short few emails later and I was sitting on a boat heading out from Kiama in May 2015.
Well, the rest, as they say, is history. I saw 14 new seabird species that day and a further 11 on another trip that I took with SOSSA in November. The people on the boat have always been fantastic at helping to identify the various birds, and the crew are also terrific and friendly. Lindsay is always entertaining with his vast experience and knowledge.
I am booked to go out again this Saturday. The weather is supposed to be wet, but I am so looking forward to going out looking for seabirds!