• 29th OCTOBER 2000 WOLLONGONG PELAGIC TRIP REPORT, NSW, AUSTRALIA

    Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.

    Conditions:


    Departed at 7.30 am and returned at approx.4.00 pm.
    Sea Conditions: Seas moderate, 1.5 to 2.0 metres swell 2 to 3 metre, south
    easterly, abating in the afternoon
    Weather: Variable between full cloud cover to full sunshine. Max. 23C
    Barometeric pressure: 1020 HPa rising
    Wind: Moderate 15 to 20 kts south easterly, dropping to 10 to 15kts later.
    Water temperature 16.8 to 19.6 degrees C.
    Primary chumming location: S 34 31' : E 151 21'

    Summary:

    The low pressure system in the Tasman had moved further east since the previous day's trip, swinging the winds around to the south east. From years of prior experience we expected birds similar to the previous day, with predominantly birds of New Zealand provenance but perhaps with some birds from more northern waters in keeping with the season.

    Once again albatross numbers were high for the end of October. It is very unusual to see the numbers of Shy Albatross recorded on this trip as far north as Wollongong in October. Mercifully, we were able to identify a few Pterodroma Petrels on this trip, in contrast to the previous day.

    We departed the harbour in a friendly south-easterly breeze which had a look of promise to it. On this trip we were able to head due east although some unfortunate people found the conditions unpleasant. Not long out of the harbour we saw a Little Penguin alongside the boat and soon after we were joined by the shearwater hordes. As we headed east immature Black-browed and Shy Albatross appeared, foraging over the wake.

    Additional Albatross joined us until. at 75 fathoms. I observed a first year NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS approaching us. We stopped the boat and began to berley in earnest. Other albatross joined the melee for food at the stern. While most of us were delighting in the NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS, which looked immaculate in the perfect viewing conditions, Lindsay Smith yelled "this is a TRISTAN ALBATROSS!" Lindsay and I had been looking at one of the very few photographs of this species the previous evening and I was forced to agree with him. Carl Loves captured the bird with a skill level that rivalled Lindsay's skill in its identification. The bird had been banded and, expecting a South African band, I was pushed further into a state of perpetual amazement to see that it was one of our own! The bird was banded by SOSSA off Wollongong on September 1, 1999. At that time it was in its second year so it was mostly brown and was identified as TRISTAN ALBATROSS on the basis of morphometrics alone. This year the plumage characteristics confirmed its identity and photographs were obtained. The details of this occurence will be published in due course.

    The NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS followed us out to 420 fathoms and continued to steal food from the other albatross, which appeared tiny by comparison. No further rarities were recorded although, as usual, it was good to see so many seabirds at close quarters. On the return to port solitary Wilson' Storm-Petrels were observed close to shore.

    Highlights:

    A mixed flock of TRISTAN, Gibson's, NORTHERN ROYAL, Black-browed, Campbell, Shy and Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross feeding at the stern the boat!

    Birds recorded (positively identified) according to latest Environment
    Australia Reporting Schedule:Species code: Species name: NumbersNote: numbers in parenthesis = highest count at any one time)005 Little Penguin Eudyptula minor 1
    080 Cape Petrel Daption capense australe 12 (8)
    075 Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma macroptera gouldi 12 (5)
    971 Solander's Petrel P. solandri 1
    083 Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur 5 (2)
    068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 13 (4)
    913 Hutton's Shearwater P. huttoni 3 (1)
    069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 20 (10)
    070 Sooty Shearwtater P. griseus 4 (1)
    071 Slender-billed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 5 000+ (750+)
    845 TRISTAN ALBATROSS Diomedea dabeneena 1 (possibly 2)
    847 Gibson's Albatross D. gibsoni 12 (7)
    973 NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS D. sandfordi 1
    088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 9 (2)
    859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 13 (8) one adult
    091 Shy Albatross T. cauta 31 (9)
    861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 8 (5)
    864 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T. carteri 2 (1) one adult
    063 Wilson's Storm Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 54+ (48)
    104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 18 (15)
    128 Arctic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus 1
    945 Pomarine Jaeger S. pomarinus 1
    981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 3
    125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 64 (35)
    115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 4 (2)
    114 White-fronted Tern S. striata 2 (1)
    953 Common Tern S. hirundo 18 (5)

    In the harbour:

    100 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 11

    27 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.

    Mammals:

    None observed
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