Photographs by: Mike Double (Short-tailed shearwater, Common dolphin, Gibson's albatross, Wedge-tailed shearwater)
Departed: 07:30 returned at 15:30 EDT.
Sea conditions: waves to 0.5m ESE.
Swell: 1.5 to 2.5m SSE.
Weather: Overcast for most of the day with some sunny periods around mid-day.
Temperature range: 18.8 to 20.6°C.
Barometric pressure: 1020HPa steady.
Wind: ESE 5 to 10 knots.
Sea surface temperature: 18.9 to 19.9°C.
Primary chumming location: S 34° 28’ – E 151° 19’.
A high-pressure system approaching from the Great Australian Bight had generated a strong southerly air stream that had abated overnight to a gentle ESE breeze. Conditions remained calm, overcast and humid for most of the day.
We encountered a variety of shearwaters foraging beyond the breakwater and with the benefit of the calm conditions several Smooth Hammerheads were observed cruising at the surface. The spring tern migration appeared to have finished but the influx of shearwaters appeared to be in full swing. Short-tailed Shearwaters were numerically dominant inshore with the relative numbers of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters increasing further offshore. Flesh-footed Shearwaters were soon following us on our journey east.
Jaeger numbers were low for late spring but we were joined by a first year Black-browed (Kerguelen type) and a first year Campbell Albatross on our cruise out to deeper water. Nearing the edge of the Continental Shelf, we came upon several groups of foraging Short-beaked Common Dolphins with good numbers of seabirds in attendance, including a few Little Penguins.
As we cruised beyond the Continental Shelf break, we immediately noticed a change in the composition of the seabird flock trailing along behind us. Great-winged Petrels appeared, along with several more Campbell Albatross, some Pomarine Jaegers and a female Gibson’s Albatross.
We elected to begin a drift-and-berley session at this juncture. The female Gibson’s Albatross carried a red Darvic band on the right leg and a metal band on the left leg. It was easy to read the white number on the Darvic as the bird swam to the stern. We attracted an ever-increasing number of Great-winged Petrels and, being November, it seemed only a matter of time before a BLACK PETREL appeared. Eventually, at least two BLACK PETRELS appeared amidst the attendant throng. Despite conditions perfect for observation little else was recorded during this drift other than a lone Wilson’s Storm Petrel. Just prior to beginning our return cruise a striking adult White-capped Albatross in full breeding regalia appeared, only to join the small group of assorted albatross resting on the glassy ocean, a considerable distance from our vessel.
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 3 (3)
073 Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma macroptera gouldi 55+ (50+)
917 BLACK PETREL Procellaria parkinsoni 2 (2)
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 13 (3)
917 Hutton’s Shearwater P. huttoni 1
069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 450+ (150+)
070 Sooty Shearwater P. griseus 9 (3)
071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 1500+ (150+)
072 Flesh-footed Shearwater P. carneipes 33 (15)
847 Gibson’s Albatross Diomedea gibsoni 1 female
088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 1 first year Kerguelen type
859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 3 (2)
861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 1 adult
063 Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 1
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 3 (2)
945 Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus 18 (5)
128 Arctic Jaeger S. parasiticus 4 (2)
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 2 (1)
125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 75+ (40+)
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 15 (5)
In the harbour:
100Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos 1
096 Great Cormorant P. carbo 1
097 Little Black Cormorant P. sulcirostris 3
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 6
20 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 80+ (50+)
Smooth Hammerhead Sphyrna zygaena 3 (1)