Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Departed: 07:30 returned at approx. 15:30
Sea conditions: choppy SSW at first rising to 1.5 to 2m S by mid morning.
Swell: SSE 1 to 1.5 m.
Weather: Fine clear at first becoming cloudy by the afternoon.
Temperature range: 18.1 to 23.1 °C.
Barometric pressure: 1011 HPa steady.
Wind: calm at first rising to S 12 to 15 knots by mid morning.
Sea surface temperature: 18.1 to 20.9°C.
Primary chumming locations: S 34° 26’ – E 151° 19’ and S 34° 25’ – 151 04’.
A weak low-pressure trough was located over southern NSW and generally mild conditions prevailed. The dawn resembled that of a summer morning with heavy dew on land and a sea mist but, rather than the light winds predicted, an upper level disturbance generated a moderate southerly breeze in the morning. After a beautiful start, conditions became a little uncomfortable as we reached the edge of the continental shelf.
Winter seemed to have turned to summer since our previous trip, several cormorants were fishing in the glassy calm waters outside the breakwater and, out to sea, 6 Galahs were observed flying north! Swarms of Fluttering Shearwaters were foraging over Wollongong Reef but, apart from a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, no other species were observed among them.
We encountered 4 Southern Humpback Whales close to the 5 Islands and a small group of White-fronted Terns investigated us while we were watching these.
As we headed east we encountered a large group of Short-beaked Common Dolphins and greater seabird diversity including single Hutton’s and Sooty Shearwaters. At the 40-fathom line we encountered the first albatross of the day, a first year Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross. The first Common Tern and Flesh-footed Shearwaters of the spring were also recorded. As we cruised out toward the edge of the continental shelf we observed an adult White-capped Albatross and several Solander’s Petrels in 75 fathoms of water. Soon after a first year Campbell Albatross joined the flock behind the boat a brown mottled female TRISTAN ALBATROSS flew in from the south.
We continued to the 200-fathom line and began a berley session. A male Gibson’s, a Black-browed, a White-capped and several Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross attended us as we drifted. Solander’s Petrels were prominent among the large flock of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. No new birds joined us for what seemed an age but we were rewarded eventually when sharp eyes on the upper deck alerted us to an incoming BLACK-BELLIED STORM-PETREL. We were treated to good views of this well marked individual as it approached the vessel several times.
Continuing the recent trend, our trip back to port provided further excitement. As we passed the 75-fathom line a WHITE-HEADED PETREL appeared briefly over our wake. A group of Southern Humpback Whales was sighted in the distance to our north while we were setting up a drift-and-berley session over a deep-water reef. We enjoyed watching them as they passed us on their way south. Shortly after we resumed our journey back to port, a KERGUELEN PETREL raced up to our stern fizzing along our port side in typical fashion and those who blinked at the wrong moment unfortunately missed out. Many more Short-beaked Common Dolphins and two White-fronted Terns rounded off the day nicely.
On an engaging day on the ocean, exciting seabirds appeared throughout the day but the undoubted highlights were the excellent views of a female TRISTAN ALBATROSS and a vividly patterned BLACK-BELLIED STORM-PETREL and brief but action-packed views of a close-up super-charged KERGUELEN PETREL.
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)
077 WHITE-HEADED PETREL Pterodroma lessoni 1
971 Solander’s Petrel P. solandri 27 (15)
935 KERGUELEN PETREL Lugensa brevirostris 1
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 15 000+ (10 000+)
917 Hutton’s Shearwater P. huttoni 200+ (50+)
069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 650+ (150+)
070 Sooty Shearwater P. griseus 4 (1)
071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 50+ (30+)
072 Flesh-footed Shearwater P. carneipes 4 (3)
845 TRISTAN ALBATROSS Diomedea dabeneena 1
847 Gibson’s Albatross D. gibsoni 1
088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 1
859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 1
861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 2 (1)
089Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T.carteri 3 (2)
066 BLACK-BELLIED STORM-PETREL Fregetta tropica 1
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 7 (2)
096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
099 Pied Cormorant P. varius 2 (2)
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 4 (3)
980 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 1
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 3 (3)
125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 180+ (55+)
114 White-fronted tern Sterna striata 2 (1)
115 Crested Tern S. bergii 21 (5)
953 Common Tern S. hirundo 6 (2)
In the harbour:
096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3 (3)
099 Pied Cormorant P. varius 1
100 Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos 1
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 7 (7)
26 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.
273 Galah Cacatua roseicapilla 6 (6)
Humpback Whale Megaptera novaeangliae 5 (5)
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 500+ (200+)
Short Sunfish Mola ramsayi 1 very large individual