Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Departed: 07:15 returned at 16:00.
Sea conditions: calm at first, to 1.0m SE by mid-morning and to 2.0m SW in the afternoon.
Swell: southerly to 1.5m.
Weather: mostly clear at first but with building cloud and heavy showers developing during the day. The rain periods were punctuated with some sunny periods however.
Temperature range: 19.2 to 21.8°C.
Barometric pressure: 1017 rising.
Wind: calm at first, SE 10 to 15 kts by mid morning, E 10 to 15 kts in the early afternoon and SW 15 to 20 kts in the late afternoon.
Sea surface temperature: 19.2 to 24.8°C.
Primary chumming location: S 34° 27’ – E 151° 26’.
The morning was mild and overcast as we left the harbour. The ocean was glassy calm but corrugated by a southerly swell. There were no significant weather systems in our area and the forecast was uncertain but hinted at light winds from the east. Shortly after leaving the shelter of the coast a southerly breeze picked up making the going a little uncomfortable.
The Silver Gulls were in the mood to follow us, perhaps a sign of the changing seasons, which in turn attracted the attention of several Arctic Jeagers. An assortment of shearwater species was encountered as we cruised east but their numbers were low. Two intermediate morph LONG-TAILED JEAGERS joined us at the 75-fathom mark on our way out to the continental slope.
As we cruised over the edge of the continental shelf at the 100-fathom line seabird numbers began to increase. A SOOTY TERN and 2 LONG-TAILED JEAGERS were amidst the shearwater flocks but this zone seemed fairly quiet and our instincts led us further east.
At the 350-fathom line we encountered the first Solander’s Petrel of the season returning to the Tasman Sea for the forthcoming breeding season. As we reached the 600-fathom line we observed large flocks of shearwaters feeding on small Arrow Squid (Nototodarus sp.).
We elected to stop here and berley and in doing so we attracted large numbers of birds, including several Wilson’s Storm-Petrels. After some 45 minutes we rewarded by the arrival of a TAHITI PETREL that circled the boat numerous times and eventually settled to feed over or berley trail.
After protracted views of the TAHITI PETREL we were distracted from birdwatching by the arrival of a large group of Pantropical Spotted Dolphin. It was time to begin our return trip so we started the engines and 10 of the dolphins thrilled us by riding the bow wave for several minutes. There were other cetaceans present but we were only able to identify positively one False Killer Whale that surfaced several times within 10m of the boat.
Excellent views of a TAHITI PETREL in worn plumage were the highlight of the days' birdwatching, with the FALSE KILLER WHALE and PANTROPICAL SPOTTED DOLPHINS providing additional excitement.
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 26 (10)
971 Solander’s Petrel P. solandri 5 (2)
920 TAHITI PETREL Pseudobulweria rostrata 1
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 5 (2)
917 Hutton’s Shearwater P. huttoni 6 (3)
069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 1000+ (450+)
071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 2 (1)
072 Flesh-footed Shearwater P. carneipes 160+ (50+)
063 Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 6 (5)
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 6 (1)
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 1
128 Arctic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus 5 (3)
933 LONG-TAILED JAEGER S. longicauda 4 (2)
945 Pomarine Jaeger S. pomarinus 11 (5)
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 3 (3)
125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 175 (97)
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 11 (3)
120 SOOTY TERN S. fuscata 1
In the harbour:
097 Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris 1
100 Little Pied Cormorant P. melanoleucos 7
125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 23
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 2
18 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.
226 White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster 1 2nd year.
FALSE KILLER WHALE Pseudorca crassidens 1
PANTROPICAL SPOTTED DOLPHIN Stenella attenuata 75+ oceanic form