• 24th June, 2006 SOSSA PELAGIC TRIP, WOLLONGONG, NSW, AUSTRALIA.

    Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.

    Departed: 07:20 returned at approx. 15:30 .
    Sea conditions: choppy WSW at first rising to 1.5 to 2.0m SW by late morning.
    Swell: SE 1.0 m inshore and 1.5 to 2.0 m offshore.
    Weather: Bright sunshine all day.
    Temperature range: 9.1 to 18.1įC.
    Barometric pressure: 1014 HPa steady.
    Wind: WSW 8 to 10 knots at first increasing to SW 15 to 20 knots later.
    Sea surface temperature: 18.2 to 21.9įC.
    Primary chumming location: S 34į 34í Ė E 151į 11í.

    Summary:

    A slow-moving anticyclone was located over the Great Australian Bight and a weak low-pressure system was located in the southwestern Tasman Sea . Overnight rain had cleared and a southwesterly airflow continued throughout a fine day.

    Black-browed Albatross were hunting for food just offshore and an adult White-fronted Tern homed in on us as we left the harbour. Large flocks of Fluttering Shearwaters were searching for fish over the inshore reefs and several small groups of Huttonís Shearwaters were observed among them. Australasian Gannets, Black-browed and Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross were also patrolling the area. Several Southern Humpback Whales were moving slowly northwards a couple of miles offshore.

    Fairy Prions became evident as we reached 35 fathoms and more White-fronted Terns followed us for a while. Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross joined us continuously as we cruised eastwards. I had just emerged from the cabin after checking our position at the 60-fathom line, when a juvenile GREY-HEADED ALBATROSS flew up to our wake and landed among the Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross. After the obligatory hollering of Ďstop the boat!!í the bird swam right up to our stern triggering a photographic frenzy. It must have left the nest quite recently since it still had a large tick engorging itself on the skin at the base of its bill. A Campbell and a White-capped Albatross joined us and so did a diomedea albatross that had the appearance of female exulans but was far too small to be that species. Close inspection revealed that this bird was most probably a TRISTAN ALBATROSS. Hundreds of Fairy Prions were around us and a Brown Skua joined the mob at the stern.



    We resumed our trip eastwards toward the continental slope and not long afterwards a stunning adult BULLERíS ALBATROSS quartered our stern but then departed. A small group of Oceanic Bottle-nosed Dolphins rode the bow wave for several minutes, much to the delight of some of our international guests. A female ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS was next in the albatross procession and a Solanderís Petrel presented itself well inside the edge of the continental shelf.

    The sudden appearance of nominate Great-winged, Cape and Solanderís Petrels announced our arrival at the 100-fathom line. A second year SHY ALBATROSS appeared as we began a drift-and-berley session. The number of Fairy Prions was relatively low in the deeper water, which was a bit disappointing but a single Wilson ís Storm-Petrel appeared over the berley trail. A female Gibsonís and a juvenile WANDERING ALBATROSS joined the albatross flock, which included seven species at this point.

    Our trip back to port was fairly uneventful in bird terms but we did encounter 3 different groups of Southern Humpback Whales.

    It seems that Fairy Prion has well and truly made a comeback to Wollongong waters after a 3 year hiatus but Campbell Albatross were in unusually low numbers.

    Highlights:

    Another fantastic trip for albatross encounters with excellent views of 11 species of albatross including the first records of GREY-HEADED and TRISTAN ALBATROSS for 2006. Species diversity was relatively high with a total of 19 species of procellariiformes recorded.

    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)

    080 Cape Petrel Daption capense australe 2 (2)
    075 Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma m. macroptera 2 (1)
    971 Solanderís Petrel P. solandri 9 (6)
    083 Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur 200+ (100+)
    068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 200+ (150+)
    913 Huttonís Shearwater P. huttoni 5 (4)
    071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 1
    086 WANDERING ALBATROSS Diomedea exulans 3 (3)
    845 TRISTAN ALBATROSS D. dabeneena 1
    846 ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS D. antipodensis 2 (2)
    847 Gibsonís Albatross D. gibsoni 5 (4)
    088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 46 (25)
    859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 7 (3)
    931 BULLERíS ALBATROSS T. bulleri 1
    861 SHY ALBATROSS T. cauta 1
    861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 3 (2)
    864Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T.carteri 33 (15)
    090GREY-HEADED ALBATROSS T.chrysostoma 1
    063 Wilsonís Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 1
    104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 5 (2)
    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 8 (8)
    980 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 5 (3)
    981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 4 (4)
    125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 145+ (75+)
    114 White-fronted Tern Sterna striata 6 (2)
    115 Crested Tern S. bergii 10 (6)

    In the harbour:

    100 Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos 1
    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 3 (3)
    981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 1
    115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 2 (2)

    26 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.

    Other birds:

    None

    Mammals:

    Humpback Whale Megaptera novaeangliae 15 (6)
    Oceanic Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 5 (5)

    Reptiles:

    None

    Fish:

    None
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