Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Departed: 07:15 returned at approx. 16:00 EST.
Sea conditions: Calm.
Swell: S to 3m offshore.
Weather: Brilliant winter sunshine.
Temperature range: 11.8 to 20.2°C.
Barometric pressure: 1026 HPa, steady.
Wind: calm to 5 kts NW in the afternoon.
Sea surface temperature: 18.0 to 21.1°C.
Primary chumming locations: S 34° 32’ – E 151° 20’, S 34° 32’ – E 151° 24’.
A cloak of cold air lay over the ocean; steam rose from the surface and hung in shrouds. As we cleared the breakwater not only the light played tricks but also so did the birds. Our first encounter was with a pod of Short-beaked Common Dolphins. As if driven by their competitive nature, Black-browed Albatross drew our attention from the dolphins almost as soon as we had forgotten our quest for seabirds. From an Antipodean perspective, I often think that Black-browed Albatross are the most underrated albatross. Over a brilliant blue winter ocean, these birds create an incredible spectacle.
In the calm, park-lake like conditions it did not seem incongruous that a Masked Lapwing and a pair of Maned Duck flew past as we proceeded out to sea. A female Gibson’s Albatross soon shattered that illusion and although we should have already been alerted by the presence of a number of Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross. Progressive sightings of a Little Penguin, an Australian Fur-Seal and 3 Southern Hump-backed Whales left no one in any doubt that this was the Southern Ocean on an exceptionally gentle day.
On our trip to the edge of the Continental Shelf we recorded several Fairy Prions and Campbell and White-capped Albatross. Drifting and berleying attracted a Southern Giant-Petrel and a group of six Striped Marlin but no further additional species for the day so we elected to head east into deeper water. We were soon rewarded with views of nominate race Great-winged Petrel, Solander’s Petrel and WHITE-HEADED PETREL.
Further drift and berley sessions added Brown Skua, Cape Petrel and SHY ALBATROSS to our trip list.
During our voyage back to port we enjoyed views of White-fronted Tern, Hutton’s and Fluttering Shearwater.
A WHITE-HEADED PETREL featured among a total of 5 winter petrel species and a first year SHY ALBATROSS led a cast of six species of albatross.
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 1
929 Southern Giant-Petrel Macronectes giganteus 2 (1)
080 Cape Petrel Daption capense australe 1
075 Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma m. macroptera 1
077 WHITE-HEADED PETREL P. lessonii 1
971 Solander’s Petrel P. solandri 34 (21)
083 Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur 50+ (20+)
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 10 (4)
913 Hutton’s Shearwater P. huttoni 1
847 Gibson’s Albatross Diomedea gibsoni 8 (3)
088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 36 (5)
859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 8 (3)
091 SHY ALBATROSS T. cauta 1 first year
861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 2 (1)
864 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T. carteri 54 (15)
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 43 (21)
980 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 1
125 Silver Gull Larus novaehollandiae 178 (53)
114 White-fronted Tern Sterna striata 3 (2)
115 Crested Tern S. bergii 39 (21)
In the harbour:
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 2
20 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.
133 Maned Duck Chenonetta jubata 2 (2), 1 pair
208 Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles novahollandiae 1