Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Photos by P.J. Milburn (Short-tailed shearwater) and Brook Whylie (Pomarine jaeger).
Departed: 07:15 returned at 16:10 EDT.
Sea conditions: to 0.5 to 1.0m NE.
Swell: 1.0 to 2.0m ESE.
Weather: hot with bright sunshine all day.
Temperature range: 21.0 to 34.6°C.
Barometric pressure: 1022HPa steady.
Wind: calm at first but a NE breeze of 5 to 10 knots developed by mid morning.
Sea surface temperature: 19.7 to 20.5°C.
Primary chumming location: S 34° 22’ – E 151° 22’.
A high-pressure system was located in the Tasman and another was approaching from the Great Australian Bight. This pattern generated hot conditions across eastern Australia and northeasterly sea breezes. The summery weather on land was matched by a typical early summer day on the ocean. Although the water was warm there were no marked warm currents offshore and it appears that spring migration had finished.
We encountered a variety of shearwaters foraging beyond the breakwater with Fluttering Shearwater numbers being unusually high for the season. Pomarine Jaegers were soon in evidence and visible for most of our cruise to the continental slope.
An adult White-capped Albatross at the edge of the Continental Shelf was the first albatross encounter of the day but no additional species were noted. We continued northeast into deeper water for quite some time, diligently scrutinising the following mob of shearwaters before we saw our first Great-winged Petrel for the day. A little later, a third year Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross appeared, which followed for remainder of the day.
Changing tactics, we initiated a drift-and-berley session. We attracted an impressive number of Great-winged Petrels almost immediately and, later, a couple of Wilson’s and a White-faced Storm Petrel. Just prior to beginning our return cruise an adult female Gibson’s Albatross joined the flock feeding behind the boat.
The cruise back to harbour featured a second female Gibson’s Albatross and a seasonally late female Humpback Whale with calf several miles offshore.
The number of seabirds in the area was relatively high but the species diversity was surprisingly low for the season, perhaps exemplified best by our failure to observe a Kelp Gull for the first time in many years.
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 80+ (80+)
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 130+ (95)
917 Hutton’s Shearwater P. huttoni 2 (1)
069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 2500+ (250+)
070 Sooty Shearwater P. griseus 2 (1)
071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 265+ (50+)
072 Flesh-footed Shearwater P. carneipes 21 (15)
847 Gibson’s Albatross Diomedea gibsoni 2 (2)
861 White-capped Albatross Thalassarche steadi 1 adult
864 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T.carteri 1
063 Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 2 (2)
065 White-faced Storm-Petrel Pelagodroma marina 1
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 14 (3)
945 Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus 29 (8)
125 Silver Gull Larus novaehollandiae 40 (25)
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 15 (4)
In the harbour:
096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
097 Little Black Cormorant P. sulcirostris 1
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 1
16 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.
Humpback Whale Megaptera novaeangliae 2 (2)
Short Sunfish Mola ramsayi 1