Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Departed: 07:15 returned at approx. 14:30.
Sea conditions: WSW to 2m at first, rising 2.5-3.5m W later.
Swell: SE to 0.5m decreasing.
Weather: Partly cloudy with sunny intervals.
Temperature range: 17.4 to 20.4°C.
Barometric pressure: 1008 HPa rising.
Wind: Variable WSW 20 kts at first, backing to W 35-40 kts by mid morning.
Sea surface temperature: 16.8 to 18.0°C.
Primary chumming location: none due to adverse conditions.
A low-pressure system was located in the Tasman Sea and a large high-pressure system was situated over Central Australia, which generated a strong westerly airflow.
This was a grueling day from the outset. The sort of day when a huge flock of Silver Gulls turned for home several miles out of the harbour, leaving one with the impression that they knew more than us…… and they did! A small group of WHISKERED TERNS (the second record of this species for a Wollongong Pelagic Trip) were an early surprise but little excitement followed. In adverse weather conditions, we punched south into the sea until we reached a depth of 80 fathoms but as the wind intensified and shifted more to west we were forced to return to port. The 2003 winter season was a nadir in pelagic seabird terms but, finally, the spring season had produced some of the birds that we had expected from winter. Late records of the nominate race of Great-winged Petrel and WHITE–HEADED PETREL on this trip exemplified this. In the negative sense low numbers of Short-tailed Shearwaters and the absence of Flesh-footed Shearwaters and Jaegers were indicative of a late seasonal turn around.
Almost 12 months later to the day after recording the first WHISKERED TERN on a Wollongong Pelagic Trip we encountered six more! It seems as though the normal WHISKERED TERN migration route was still displaced well to the east. A late record of WHITE-HEADED PETREL produced some excitement on the trip back to port.
Birds recorded according to the latest Environment Australia Reporting Schedule:Species code: Species name: NumbersNote: numbers in parenthesis = highest count at any one time)075 Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma m. macroptera 1
077 WHITE-HEADED PETREL P. lessonii 1
971 Solander’s Petrel P. solandri 8 (3)
083 Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur 1
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 7 (3)
069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 150+ (100+)
071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 5 (1)
859 Campbell Albatross Thalassarche impavida 1
861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 7 (4)
864 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T. carteri 1
096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4 (3)
097 Little Black Cormorant P. sulcirostris 1
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 5 (2)
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 3 (2)
980 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 2 (2)
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 8 (7)
125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 750+ (500+)
110 WHISKERED TERN Chlidonias hybrida 6 (5)
114 White-fronted Tern Sterna striata 28 (10)
115 Crested Tern S. bergii 4 (2)
In the harbour:
097 Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris 1
100 Little Pied Cormorant P. melanoleucos 1
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 1
125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 15
188 White-faced Heron Egretta novahollandae 1
20 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.
131 Sooty Oystercatcher Haematopus fuliginosus 16 (15)
Humpback Whale Megaptera novaeangliae 2 (2)
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 15 (15)