Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Departed: 07:15 returned at 15:30.
Sea conditions: S 1.0 to 1.5m and then SSE to 1.0 m by late morning.
Swell: ESE to 1.0m.
Weather: Clear and sunny all day.
Temperature range: 11.1 to 19.0įC.
Barometric pressure: 1022 HPa rising.
Wind: south westerly 10 to 12 knots at first and then SSE 8 to 10 knots later.
Sea surface temperature: 19.1 to 20.5įC.
Primary chumming locations: 34į 39í S : 151į 13í E.
A large anticyclonic system was located to the south of Tasmania that extended a ridge of high pressure along the New South Wales coast. The stable conditions produced the perfect morning for a late autumn pelagic excursion; cool and clear with gentle southerly breezes. Conditions were simply perfect as we left Wollongong Harbour.
Black-browed, Campbell, Indic Yellow-nosed and SHY ALBATROSS were foraging close to shore and several Fluttering Shearwaters passed astern as we headed east. An unseasonably late POMARINE JAEGER was a surprise as we cleared the inshore reefs. A stunning adult BULLERíS ALBATROSS joined the following pack shortly afterwards and then within a minute another equally stunning individual appeared.
It felt as though we had already enjoyed a great day at sea well before anyone tucked into the first of their sandwiches and then Brown Skuas appeared from all directions. Almost immediately afterwards Fairy Prions were all around us and, even before they appeared, Iím certain that somebody had already mentioned the fact that Brown Skuas are irresistibly attracted by flocks of prions.
Our cruise eastward continued in the much the same vein; at one point there were 3 adult and one first year BULLERíS ALBATROSS following our vessel. SHY ALBATROSS were uncommonly abundant and at least two White-capped Albatross were also present. We set up a drift-and-berley session beyond the 200-fathom line despite the fact that we had not encountered any pterodroma petrels by this time. Instead we were treated to great views of Sooty Shearwater. Eventually a solitary Solanderís Petrel did appear but only for the briefest of views. By way of compensation several diomedea albatross appeared and after an hour or so we had attracted an impressive mixed species albatross flock.
With the small but choppy sea behind us, the journey back to port was even more pleasant than the outward-bound leg and we added Pied Cormorant, Kelp Gull and a very late record of COMMON TERN to the list of species recorded for the day. At least one additional adult and another first year BULLERíS ALBATROSS followed us for much of the return trip and the surprise sea monster turned out to be an adult male Australian Fur-Seal.
The preponderance of Fairy Prions, BULLERíS ALBATROSS and Brown Skuas borne ahead of a steely cold southerly breezes were a crystal clear portent of the approaching winter but the late records of POMARINE JAEGER and COMMON TERN provided that unique mix of seabirds that gives late autumn pelagic cruises a special character.
Birds recorded according to the latest Environment Australia Reporting Schedule:
Species code: Species name: Numbers:
(Note: numbers in parenthesis = highest count at any one time)
971 Solanderís Petrel Pterodroma solandri 1
083 Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur 214 (61)
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 8 (5)
913 Huttonís Shearwater P. huttoni (5) 1
070 Sooty Shearwater P. griseus 3 (2)
086 WANDERING ALBATROSS Diomedea exulans 3 (1)
847 Gibsonís Albatross D. gibsoni 4 (2)
088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 10 (5)
859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 8 (4)
931 BULLERíS ALBATROSS T. bulleri 6 (4)
091 SHY ALBATROSS T. cauta 7 (10) 9
861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 3 (2)
089 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T. carteri 95 (33)
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 32 (12)
099 Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax varius 1
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 1
980 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 5 (5)
945 POMARINE JAEGER Stercorarius pomarinus 1
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 11 (7)
125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 100+ (35)
114 White-fronted Tern Sterna striata 2 (1)
115 Crested Tern S. bergii 24 (7)
953 COMMON TERN S. hirundo 1
In the harbour:
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 6 (6)
100 Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos 1
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 1
13 species of procellariiformes in a total of 23 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.
Australian Fur Seal Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus 3 (1)