• 23rd June, 2007 SOSSA PELAGIC TRIP, WOLLONGONG, NSW, AUSTRALIA.

    Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.

    Photos: Black-browed albatross (B. Whylie); 2 x Bullers albatross (B. Whylie).


    Departed: 07:25 returned at 16:14 .
    Sea conditions: slight SW at first to1.0m SSW by late morning.
    Swell: SE 2.0 to 3.0m inshore and 3.5 to 5.0m offshore.
    Weather: Perfect winter sunshine all day.
    Temperature range: 5.9 to 15.6įC.
    Barometric pressure: 1019 HPa rising.
    Wind: WSW 3 to 5 knots at first increasing to SSW 8 to 12 knots later.
    Sea surface temperature: 17.2 to 20.3įC.
    Primary chumming location: S 34į 31í Ė E 151į 18í.



    Summary:


    A large anti-cyclonic system was moving out of the Great Australian Bight over southeastern Australia . An intense low-pressure system that had generated damaging storms during the week preceding was by now east of New Zealand . A cold southwesterly air-stream prevailed and, in combination with clear skies, we awoke to a frosty winter morning.

    Inshore the water was a bit murky after the recent heavy rains but, as we cleared Wollongong Reef, we began to encounter some typical winter seabirds. Black-browed outnumbered Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross and, while we stopped to allow several Humpback Whales to pass, a Brown Skua entertained us by harrying the Silver Gulls. As we resumed our journey eastward we soon encountered Campbell and SHY ALBATROSS, a SOUTHERN GIANT PETREL, additional Brown Skuas and several White-fronted Terns. The early indications were that we would have another great day of albatross watching. Clearly, the winter season had begun in earnest.


    At the 80-fathom line, we encountered small groups of Fairy Prions and a NORTHERN GIANT-PETREL. Continuing eastwards toward the continental slope, more prions were around us but all that offered close inspection were Fairy Prions. At the edge of the continental shelf a female Gibsonís Albatross arrived and soon after sharp eyes picked out an adult BULLERíS ALBATROSS in the distance. A Wilson ís Storm-Petrel appeared while we drifted and enjoyed close up views of six albatross species foraging at our stern. Venturing into deeper water, we began to encounter petrels and soon Solanderís, nominate race Great-winged and Cape Petrel were in view. We began a drift-and-berley session and gradually began to attract greater seabird numbers but no new species for the daily tally.


    As we began our voyage back to port we had a brief glimpse of several Oceanic Bottle-nosed Dolphins surfing down a large swell and at the edge of the continental shelf those who happened to be looking in the right direction witnessed a Minke Whale spy hop. The Fairy Prions were still in evidence at the 80-fathom line along with another Wilson ís Storm Petrel. A second BULLERíS ALBATROSS joined the one that had been following us for several hours along with another Cape Petrel and additional brown Skuas and Gibsonís Albatross also tagged along.

    Once more inshore, small groups of southward bound Fluttering Shearwaters passed astern and several first winter Kelp Gulls were among the Sliver Gulls. Still several miles offshore, an adult White-bellied Sea-Eagle passed overhead and continued purposefully toward New Zealand . The unexpected finale to the day was a sub-adult ARCTIC TERN.


    Highlights:


    A wonderful day on calm ocean with a roller-coaster swell, the return of winter being heralded by the presence of 6 species of albatross, including 2 stunning adult BULLERíS and an unusually high number of SHY ALBATROSS. In total, 14 species of procellariiformes were identified with several sightings of cetaceans adding depth to the overall experience. An ARCTIC TERN topped off the day nicely.


    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)


    929SOUTHERN GIANT-PETREL Macronectes giganteus 1
    937NORTHERN GIANT-PETREL M. halli 1
    080 Cape Petrel Daption capense australe 2 (1)
    075 Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma m. macroptera 7 (3)
    971 Solanderís Petrel P. solandri 5 (2)
    083 Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur 65+ (35+)
    068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 10 (3)
    847 Gibsonís Albatross Diomedea gibsoni 5 (3)
    088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 28 (8)
    859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 15 (7)
    931 BULLERíS ALBATROSS T. bulleri 2 (2)
    861 SHY ALBATROSS T. cauta 10 (6)
    864 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T.carteri 21 (8)
    063 Wilsonís Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 2 (1)
    104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 11 (2)
    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 1
    981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 3 (3)
    125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 74 (33)
    114 White-fronted Tern Sterna striata 10 (3)
    115 Crested Tern S. bergii 35 (19)
    952 ARCTIC TERN S. paradisaea 1


    In the harbour:

    193 Striated Heron Ardeola striatus macrorhynchus 1
    096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2 (2)
    100 Little Pied Cormorant P. melanoleucos 4 (3)
    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 2 (2)
    115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 2 (2)
    21 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.

    Other birds:
    226 White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster 1
    Mammals:
    Humpback Whale Megaptera novaeangliae 3 (3)
    Antarctic Minke Whale Balaenoptera bonaerensis 1
    Oceanic Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 3 (3)

    Reptiles:

    None


    Fish:
    None
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