Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Departed: 08:30 returned at approx. 17:30 EST.
Sea conditions: to 1.0 to 2.0m S.
Swell: S 1.5 to 2m offshore.
Weather: Heavily overcast at first clearing through the day to brilliant winter sunshine.
Temperature range: 10.1 to 17.0°C.
Barometric pressure: 1025 HPa, steady.
Wind: S 10 knots at first, rising to 15 to 20 kts in the afternoon.
Sea surface temperature: 16.3 to 19.5°C.
Primary chumming location: S 34° 39’ – E 151° 09’.
A chilly mid-winter day, with leaden skies at first and uncomfortable sea conditions. The skies cleared during the day and we were rewarded with some stunning views of some exciting sub-Antarctic seabirds. As we left the harbour we were treated to views of several Little Penguin and good numbers of mostly adult Black-browed and Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross over the inshore reefs. Continuing out to sea with a side-on swell we passed numerous small flocks of Australasian Gannets and occasional Hutton’s and Fluttering Shearwaters. Fairy Prion numbers were low and the first White-capped Albatross of the day was encountered at the 52 fathom mark.
The routine observations of the morning were sharply punctuated by an adult GREY-HEADED ALBATROSS cruising south in the middle distance. Adults of this species are very uncommon in Wollongong waters and unfortunately not everybody on board had good views of this one.
As the southerly breeze stiffened we swung to a more southerly course to counter the sea. As we punched our way to the continental shelf break we recorded a lone SLENDER-BILLED PRION. Although uncomfortable, we maintained a drift for an hour at the 120 fathom line as a steady stream of interesting species investigated our berley trail, the most notable being a KERGUELEN PETREL.
Our return trip was deviated by a call for assistance from a game-fishing vessel with engine trouble. Whilst this seemed like a rather tedious turn of events, this excursion led us to a number of exciting observations, including a white morph Southern Giant Petrel, another SLENDER-BILLED PRION that gave excellent views, a KERGUELEN PETREL brilliantly illuminated in the afternoon sunshine and most amazingly an adult CHATHAM ALBATROSS.
Adult GREY-HEADED and CHATHAM ALBATROSS starred among a total cast of eight species of albatross. It is always a great treat to see a white Southern Giant-Petrel in brilliant winter sunshine against a deep blue sea. Several KERGUELEN PETREL and SLENDER-BILLED PRION added additional excitement to a memorable winter pelagic trip.
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)
929 Southern Giant-Petrel Macronectes giganteus 1 dalmatian morph
937 Northern Giant-Petrel M. halli 1
080 Cape Petrel Daption capense australe 3 (2)
075 Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma m. macroptera 2 (1)
971 Solander’s Petrel P. solandri 3 (3)
935 KERGUELEN PETREL Lugensa brevirostris 3 (1)
083 Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur 300+ (200+)
942 SLENDER-BILLED PRION P. belcheri 2 (1)
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 2 (1)
913 Hutton’s Shearwater P. huttoni 1
847 Gibson’s Albatross Diomedea gibsoni 2 (2)
088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 29 (6) mainly inshore
859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 7 (4)
091 SHY ALBATROSS T. cauta 2 (2) 1 first year, 1 adult
861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 7 (3)
863 CHATHAM ALBATROSS T. eremita 1 adult
864 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T. carteri 75+ (30+)
090 GREY-HEADED ALBATROSS T. chrysostoma 1 adult
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 93 (25)
980 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 1
125 Silver Gull Larus novaehollandiae 145+ (55+)
115 Crested Tern Sterna. bergii 15 (5)
In the harbour:
097 Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris 1
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 3
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 2
23 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.