Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Photographs: Long-tailed jaeger (Inger Vandyke), Antipodean albatross (Inger Vandyke), Risso's dolphins (P.J. Milburn), Streaked shearwater (P.J. Milburn).
Departed: 07:15 returned at 15:45 EDT.
Sea conditions: to 0.5 to 1.0m NE.
Swell: to 2.0 to 3.0m ESE offshore.
Weather: pleasantly warm and mostly overcast but clearing for a while in the late morning.
Temperature range: 21.1 to 26.8 °C.
Barometric pressure: 1004HPa steady.
Wind: calm at first with a NE breeze of 5 to 10 knots developing by mid morning.
Sea surface temperature: 22.8 to 24.4°C.
Primary chumming locations: S 34° 25’ – E 151° 19’ and S 34° 26’ – E 151° 22’.
A featureless pool of low pressure covered the entire continent creating gentle conditions across eastern Australia with northeasterly sea breezes flowing from the Tasman Sea. An upper-level disturbance moved north up the NSW coast during the day bringing thunderstorms late in the afternoon. A warm water core was situated to the south of Wollongong. High levels of seabird and cetacean activity had been reported offshore from the southern NSW ports of Bateman’s Bay and Merimbula the previous weekend and we were hoping to experience something similar.
It was quiet immediately outside the harbour but as we reached Wollongong Reef we encountered an interesting variety of seabirds. Several pelicans and penguins were at sea along with an assortment of shearwaters and amongst the Pomarine and Arctic were 4 LONG-TAILED JAEGERS.
A large herd of Short-beaked Common Dolphins was observed feeding in 70 fathoms of water and the first Hutton’s and Flesh-footed Shearwater recorded for the day were amidst the attendant flock of seabirds.
As we cruised east over the continental slope we were joined by 2 BULLER’S SHEARWATERS and a male ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS flew in from the southwest. We elected to begin a drift-and-berley session and were treated to prolonged views of these two species at close range.
We continued east until an adult SHY ALBATROSS appeared where upon we stopped to berley but true to its name it only approached the boat once. Adult SHY ALBATROSS are very rare as far north as Wollongong but this observation follows the reports of quite large numbers of Shy (and other) Albatross further south the preceding weekend and a beach cast specimen several days prior. We attracted Great-winged Petrels and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters to the boat and eventually a female Gibson’s Albatross joined the flock feeding behind the boat.
As we began to cruise toward land a pod of Risso’s Dolphin was spotted form the top deck.
As we passed the ships anchored outside Port Kembla we added Kelp Gull and STREAKED SHEARWATER to the daily log. The STREAKED SHEARWATER generated great excitement appearing late in the day and so close to the harbour despite the fact that it kept its distance from us.
Excellent views of an adult SHY ALBATROSS and a male ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS were most unexpected in January. More in keeping with the season were 4 LONG-TAILED JAEGERS, several BULLER’S and a STREAKED SHEARWATER.
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)
005 Little Penguin Eudyptula minor 2 (1)
073 Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma macroptera gouldi 50+ (35+)
853 STREAKED SHEARWATER Calonectris leucomelas 1 (1)
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 3 (2)
917 Hutton’s Shearwater P. huttoni 2 (1)
069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 700+ (175+)
071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 36 (25)
975 BULLER’S SHEARWATER P. bullerii 3 (2)
072 Flesh-footed Shearwater P. carneipes 9 (4)
846 ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS Diomedea antipodensis 1 adult male
847 Gibson’s Albatross D. gibsoni 1 adult female
861 SHY ALBATROSS Thalassarche cauta 1 adult
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 1 (1)
096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1 (1)
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 4 (2)
945 Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus 38 (15)
128 Arctic Jaeger S. parasiticus 4 (3)
933 LONG-TAILED JAEGER S. longicauda 4 (4)
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 1 (1) adult
25 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 14 (10)
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 7 (4)
In the harbour:
005 Little Penguin Eudyptula minor 3 (2)
096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2 (1)
097 Little Black Cormorant P.sulcirostris 1
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 5 (4)
21 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 350+ (300+)
Risso’s Dolphin Grampus griseus 20+ (20+)