Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Departed: 07:30 returned at approx. 13:00.
Sea conditions: SW 2.0 to 2.5m offshore.
Swell: S 2.0 to 3.0m offshore.
Weather: Sunshine with patches of high cloud.
Temperature range: 15.0 to 22.0°C.
Barometric pressure: 1015 HPa rising.
Wind: SW 20 to 25kts.
Sea surface temperature: 15.8 to 17.4°C.
Primary chumming location: North of Bass Point!!
A low-pressure system in the Tasman Sea and a high-pressure system in the Great Australian Bight generated a stiff southwesterly breeze overnight. The hardy contingent of international visitors dispelled any notion of canceling this trip. It was a case of donning the waterproof gear and hanging on tightly!
The unruly seas enforced a SSE course that saw us edging out towards the continental slope. Once we were clear of the 5 Island Group, the seabirds were thick around us. An adult WHISKERED TERN was a complete surprise among the typical early spring species, since this was the first time that this species has been recorded on a Wollongong Pelagic Trip.
After more than 2 hours of punching into the sea we reached the 70-fathom mark and almost immediately lost our cohort of seabirds. Conditions were very poor for observing birds and with the prospect of another 2 hours of significant discomfort ahead before we reached the continental slope we elected to run back to more sheltered waters. Chumming heavily we sought shelter in the lee of Bass Point. Our unusual ploy, the brainchild of the skipper (Capt. Carl Loves), paid handsome dividends. We attracted no less than 6 species of albatross to the boat some 150m offshore from the car park in windy but calm conditions! Interestingly, the numerous shearwaters refused to follow us into the sheltered waters.
Passing through the 5 Island Group on our way back to port we encountered a large group of White-fronted Terns with a small number of Common Terns among them. Highlights:
The adult WHISKERED TERN was the first record of this species on a Wollongong Pelagic Trip. Under trying circumstances, the 6 species of albatross attracted to the boat less than 150m offshore represented a major surprise!
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)
929 Southern Giant-Petrel Macronectes giganteus 1
083 Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur 2 (1)
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 150+ (100+)
913 Hutton’s Shearwater P. huttoni 31 (20)
069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 45 (35)
070 Sooty Shearwater P. griseus 1
071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 30 (25)
847 Gibson’s Albatross, Diomedea gibsoni 2 (1)
088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 11 (6)
859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 1
091 Shy Albatross T. cauta 1
861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 3 (3)
864 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T. carteri 2 (2)
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 6 (4)
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 1
980 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 2 (1)
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 7 (5)
125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 600+ (400+)
110 WHISKERED TERN Chlidonias hybrida 1
114 White-fronted Tern Sterna striata 41 (35)
115 Crested Tern S. bergii 35+ (30+)
953 Common Tern S. hirundo 6 (6)
In the harbour:
096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
097 Little Black Cormorant P. sulcirostris 6
101 Australian Darter Anhinga melanogaster 1 male
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 6
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 1
22 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis