Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Departed: 07:20 returned at approx. 14:30.
Sea conditions: Calm at first but deteriorating to 2m WSW by mid morning.
Swell: to 0.5m SE.
Weather: Overcast at first but clearing to patchy cloud by mid-morning and clear later. Temperature range: 8.1 to 12.3°C.
Barometric pressure: 1011 HPa rising.
Wind: WSW 10 to 15 knots at first, strengthening to 30 knots later in the morning.
Sea surface temperature: 16.9 to 18.3°C.
Primary chumming location: none due to adverse conditions.
An anticyclone located over South Australia and a deep low-pressure system southeast of Tasmania combined to produce a strong westerly airflow over southern Australia. This weather pattern is not usually the most productive and after a smooth run to deep water the trip back to port was hard going. The day followed the expected pattern with several Black-browed Albatross patrolling the reefs at the 20-fathom line and good numbers of adult Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross joined us in deeper water. A few Fluttering Shearwaters zoomed past riding the wind. The trailing flock of Silver Gulls was reluctant to follow us to far offshore but a couple of Kelp Gulls showed unusual tenacity and followed us almost to the 80-fathom line. With the strengthening wind it was just a question of when it would be appropriate to begin the slog back to port.
We continued east until we encountered several Solanders (Providence) Petrels and since the wind was gusting to over 30 knots WSW already, we elected to turn and head west without further ado. Punching back into the short choppy waves was wet and uncomfortable at first but as we neared the coast conditions improved and we were able to enjoy the company of the albatross, which looked fantastic in the afternoon sunshine. Gliding alongside the boat some were at times close enough to touch and I think that many good photographs were obtained.
The wonderful views of Black-browed and Yellow-nosed Albatross in the winter sunshine were the highlight of an otherwise quiet day.
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)
971 Solander’s Petrel Pterodroma solandri 6 (3)
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 7 (3)
088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 5 (2) all adult
864 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T.carteri 56 (27)
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 6 (2)
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 1
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 3 (3)
125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 85+ (85+)
114 White-fronted tern Sterna striata 2 (1)
115 Crested Tern S. bergii 4 (2) In the harbour:
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 14
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 2
10 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.