Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
    Photographs: Short-tailed shearwater (P.J.Milburn)

    Departed: 07:10 returned at approx. 16:00 .
    Sea conditions: 1.0 to 2.0m SSE to SE.
    Swell: negligible.
    Weather: patchy cloud in the morning but overcast later.
    Temperature range: 17.3 to 23.6°C.
    Barometric pressure: 1012 HPa.
    Wind: SSE to 15 knots at first veering to SE in the afternoon.
    Sea surface temperature: 19.3 to 20.3°C.
    Primary chumming location: S 34° 42’ – E 151° 11’.


    A weak low-pressure trough extending northeastwards along the New South Wales coast was sandwiched between a high-pressure system in the Tasman Sea and another over southwestern West Australia . A weak front had passed through the area overnight bringing a southerly air stream in its wake that gradually became more easterly during the day. In the absence of any strong currents the sea conditions were never worse than mildly uncomfortable and, under the patchy cloud, the moderating breeze produced a rather comfortable day.

    Though birds were few just outside the harbour, thousands of Fluttering, Wedge-tailed, Short-tailed and Hutton’s Shearwaters (in order of decreasing abundance) were foraging over Wollongong Reef. Heading into the wind chop on a southeasterly course, we seemed to cruise through these flocks interminably. Several Pomarine Jaegers and a solitary Flesh-footed Shearwater joined the following seabird throng after a while. At the thirty-fathom line we crossed a water front into bluer and warmer water and soon both a first year Black-browed and an adult female WANDERING ALBATROSS fell in with the following crowd. A female Gibson’s Albatross also tagged along and we passed several impressive Short-tailed Sunfish.

    As we reached deeper water Common Terns appeared in small numbers and a fourth year Campbell Albatross latched onto us and followed us for the remainder of the day. In contrast an adult SHY and an adult Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross appeared briefly but both disappeared soon after to the south.

    The wind strength had decreased somewhat and the direction had shifted more toward the east as we cruised beyond the edge of the continental shelf. Several Great-winged Petrels and SHY ALBATROSS appeared once we were at the 100-fathom line but as we turned to the east and continued into deeper water we found only a Sooty Shearwater to add to our daily tally.

    It turned out to be one of those days when heading back to port was the best tactical decision. A Wilson ’s Storm-Petrel provided an early bright spot and the subsequent brief lull in proceedings was shattered by the sighting of 100+ PYGMY KILLER WHALES on the starboard beam. Just as soon as the sandwiches were back out of the lunch bags they were dropped again as a pelagic tern cruised in from the southeast and, to our great surprise, this was a BRIDLED TERN. The bird responded to the excited finger pointing and reaching for cameras by leaving as imperiously as it had appeared. A first year White-capped Albatross followed us at a distance for a while, keeping us guessing as to its identity. When once more in inshore waters a large number of gulls and a flock of jaegers joined us, the latter were great fun to watch. An unfortunate Short-tailed Shearwater had fallen victim to plastic pollution and was entangled in the remains of a party balloon.


    The second record of BRIDLED TERN for the Wollongong Pelagic Trip was a great thrill. The previous record was also in November. Seven species of albatross was probably an all time high for a November trip. In many ways the prolonged encounter with the large group of PYGMY KILLER-WHALES was the most memorable experience of the trip.

    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)

    073 Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma macroptera gouldi 6 (3)
    068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 3500+ (1000+)
    913 Hutton’s Shearwater P. huttoni 9 (4)
    069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 550+ (300+)
    070 Sooty Shearwater P. griseus 1
    071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 350+ (150+)
    072 Flesh-footed Shearwater P. carneipes 3 (1)
    086 WANDERING ALBATROSS Diomedea exulans 2 (1)
    847 Gibson’s Albatross D. gibsoni 6 (3)
    088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 3 (3)
    859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 2 (1)
    091 SHY ALBATROSS T. cauta 3 (3)
    861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 1
    864Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T.carteri 1
    063 Wilson ’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 2 (1)
    104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 5 (2)
    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 3 (3)
    128 Arctic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus 6 (3)
    945 Pomarine Jaeger S. pomarinus 26 (16)
    980 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 1
    981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 4 (4)
    125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 3600+ (3500+)
    115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 16 (3)
    953 Common Tern S. hirundo 4 (2)
    121 BRIDLED TERN S. anaethetus 1

    In the harbour:

    096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2 (2)
    097 Little Black Cormorant P. sulcirostris 1
    100 Little Pied Cormorant P. melanoleucos 1
    101 Australian Darter Anhinga melanogaster 1
    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 16 (10)

    25 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.

    Other birds:



    Pygmy Killer Whale Feresa attenuata 100+ (100+)



    Short Sunfish Mola ramsayi 4 (1)
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