Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.

    Photographs: Kermadec Petrel (Rob Hynson ); White-necked petrel (Rob Hynson ); Wandering albatross (Rob Hynson), Pomarine jaeger (Rob Hynson).

    Departed: Saturday 28th April at 22:30 and returned at 19:00 on Monday 30th April 2009.
    Sea conditions: to 1.0 m, northerly on Sunday and east northeasterly on Monday.
    Swell: east to 1.0 m throughout.
    Weather: Warm with largely clear skies for the entire trip.
    Barometric pressure: 1026 HPa steady.
    Wind: N 8 to 10 knots on Sunday veering to east northeasterly 8 knots on Monday.
    Sea surface temperature: 21.2 to 22.4°C.
    Primary chumming locations: S 36° 20’ – E 151° 31’, S 35° 55’ – E 151° 29’, S 35° 23’ – E 150° 57’and S 35° 21’ – E 150° 30’.


    A succession of high-pressure systems passing through the southern Tasman Sea brought gentle weather for the duration of the voyage. A strong warm water eddy was located to the east northeast so the initial phase of our plan was to head southeast overnight to its southern boundary and cruise northwards into the warmer water during the day on Sunday.

    After a delicious dinner on board on Saturday night, everybody retired early in preparation for a big day at sea. Most were asleep by the time we left the harbour. Several hours later, I noticed some unruly swells as we were passing the edge of the continental shelf but little else until I woke in time for a shower and breakfast before dawn.

    With daylight saving time still operating, we began recording observations just prior to 07:00 EDT and the first bird identified positively was a dark morph KERMADEC PETREL, which passed close along the starboard side. Shortly thereafter an intermediate morph KERMADEC PETREL passed astern. Grey-faced Petrels passed us regularly and a solitary Wedge-tailed Shearwater followed over the wake for a while. A distant WHITE-NECKED PETREL hinted that there could be more excitement to follow soon and several Solander’s Petrels in fresh plumage were a magnificent sight in the early morning sunshine. Some of us had breakfast on deck for fear of missing something and others had breakfast in the saloon. Nobody missed anything, whichever way one looks at it, and the day’s proceedings seemed to have slowed to the same pace as us after we shut down the engines in preparation for a drift-and-berley-session.

    The first arrival was a stunning pale morph Arctic Jaeger in breeding plumage, which was somewhat unexpected so far from the coast. WHITE-NECKED, Grey-faced and Solander’s Petrels were less of a surprise but no less welcome. Wedge-tailed Shearwaters joined us from afar and Wilson’s Strom-Petrels appeared from downwind in ones and twos building to an impressive flock. A fresh-plumaged LITTLE SHEARWATER appeared from the east and flew down the berley trail but, as is typical, evaded the view of most observers on board. A magnificent white male Gibson’s Albatross tricked everyone into thinking that it must have been a Wandering Albatross when it first appeared but as it swam close alongside we were able to ascertain its real identity. By way of confirmation a male ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS settled alongside providing a size comparison.

    Approximately 80 nautical miles southeast of Ulladulla with the sea surface temperature at 21.2°C, we drifted east-northeast at 0.4 knots for over five hours. Grey-faced Petrels were numerous, while Solander’s, KERMADEC, WHITE-NECKED and GOULD’S PETRELS provided a continuous stream of interest. A couple of WHITE-FACED STORM-PETRELS flew in and joined the Wilson’s Storm-Petrel flock. The increased scrutiny of the storm-petrels soon resulted in the discovery of a WHITE-BELLIED STORM-PETREL in their midst. Unfortunately this bird kept its distance and eventually disappeared into the glare of the sun. An impressively large Southern Sunfish drifted past us; or was it the other way around? Eventually, avian activity declined to the point at which it was clearly time to head for new waters.

    After a delicious lunch, we cruised north into the warmer water for 3 hours. At first things were fairly quiet but gradually seabird numbers, mainly Grey-faced Petrels, began to increase. Highlights of this leg were several more sightings each of WHITE-NECKED and GOULD’S PETRELS. When we reached a point where the sea surface temperature had increased by 1.0°C we stopped for a final drift-and-berley-session for the day. As we lost way, a small group of Australian Spotted Mackerel passed astern in hot pursuit of a shoal of King Gar and a solitary adult SHY ALBATROSS appeared to be following them with some intent.

    Once again, seabirds seemed sparse at first as we began to drift eastwards, some 60 nautical miles east southeast of Ulladulla. A few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters appeared and the ever-reliable Wilson’s Storm-Petrels began to arrive in dribs and drabs. As the sun started to descend toward the western horizon, Grey-faced Petrels began to show some interest in our efforts. Then 3 LITTLE SHEARWATERS passed to our south heading west and, as usual, remained distant. Solander’s, WHITE-NECKED and KERMADEC PETRELS were next to appear along with several Gibson’s Albatross. From nowhere a BLACK PETREL appeared at the stern and 2 WHITE-BELLIED STORM-PETRELS joined in with the large flock of Wilson’s Storm-Petrels. A second BLACK PETREL appeared around dusk and we closed the log at 19:00 EDT.

    We decided to go in search of a different range of seabird species on Monday morning and relocated to the waters over the continental slope during the night. At first light we began to lay a slick of tuna oil, 26 nautical miles due east of Ulladulla in 500 fathoms of water. Frigate Mackerel and Skipjack Tuna were early visitors and perhaps not surprisingly were not seen again after a pod of Short-beaked Common Dolphins played around our drifting vessel for a while. Grey-faced and Solander’s Petrels were the principal attendees early on and the occasional Australian Gannet also checked us out. A smattering of Fluttering, Hutton’s, Wedge-tailed, Short-tailed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters set the tone for the day. Wilson’s Storm-Petrels accumulated over the berley trail and several WHITE-FACED STORM-PETREL were also present. During the morning one dark morph and, later, one intermediate morph KERMADEC PETREL investigated us at close range, exciting the photographers. A high flying Crested Tern raised hopes for those wishing to see a tropicbird but that would have to wait for another day. Arctic and Pomarine Jaegers came and went and Gibson’s, Campbell, Shy and White-capped Albatross were also recorded as we drifted south-southwest. An intermediate morph WHITE-BELLIED STORM-PETREL with a smudgy grey rump was in view briefly before it disappeared into the glare of the sun. We attempted to follow it but all we achieved was the total dispersal of the storm-petrel flock.

    Several fishing vessels were working in the area and one in particular had attracted a very large flock of birds. We relocated to the point where the trawler had hauled its nets as it returned to our north and, in doing so, passed several very large Southern Sunfish.

    An adult Black-browed Albatross was the first of the trip and one of a small group of albatross that we had attracted form the trawler. There were also more shearwaters around in the afternoon, including a couple of Sooty Shearwaters.

    At 16:00 EDT we resumed course for Ulladulla, and as usual this last leg of the voyage was highly entertaining. The first excitement was the appearance of a BULLER’S SHEARWATER over the wake, which passed the vessel several times providing photo opportunities. The second excitement, a STREAKED SHEARWATER, was much less confiding and remained distant but brilliantly illuminated in the late afternoon sunshine. As usual the first Silver Gulls were greeted with foolish enthusiasm. The seabirding was brought to an emphatic close by the arrival of an adult White-breasted Sea-Eagle. Crested Terns, Little Pied and Great Cormorant were also recorded just outside the harbour. We reached the harbour at 18:30 EDT concluding another great trip out into the Tasman Sea.

    Twenty-four hours of pelagic observations provided wonderful entertainment right from the very first bird identified, a dark morph KERMADEC PETREL. The first day was dominated by great views of 6 species of petrel; namely Grey-faced, Solander’s, KERMADEC, WHITE-NECKED, GOULD’S and BLACK PETREL. Wilson’s, WHITE-FACED and WHITE-BELLIED STORM-PETREL were seen on both days. However, this will be remembered as a great trip for the 9 species of shearwater recorded (8 on the second day alone) with STREAKED, LITTLE and BULLER’S SHEARWATER being the keynote species.

    Birds recorded according to the latest Environment Australia Reporting Schedule:

    EA code Species name 29/3/09 30/3/09

    075 Grey-faced Petrel Pterodroma (macroptera) gouldi 123 (51) 47 (35)
    971 Solander’s Petrel P. solandri 15(2) 18 (4)
    922 KERMADEC PETREL P. neglecta 7 (1) 2 (1)
    774 WHITE-NECKED PETREL P. cervicalis 8 (1) 0
    078 GOULD’S PETREL P. leucoptera 6 (1) 0
    917 BLACK PETREL Procellaria parkinsoni 2 (1) 0
    853 STREAKED SHEARWATER Calonectris leucomelas 0 1
    067 LITTLE SHEARWATER Puffinus assimilis 4 (3) 0
    068 Fluttering Shearwater P. gavia 0 4 (1)
    913 Hutton’s Shearwater P. huttoni 0 4 (3)
    069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 14 (3) 118 (85)
    070 Sooty Shearwtater P. griseus 0 2 (1)
    071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 0 17 (3)
    072 Flesh-footed Shearwater P. carneipes 0 15 (7)
    975 BULLER’S SHEARWATER P. bulleri 0 1
    846 ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS Diomedea exulans 1 0
    847 Gibson’s Albatross D. gibsoni 4 (3) 2 (1)
    088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 0 1
    859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 0 6 (4)
    091 SHY ALBATROSS T. cauta 1 11 (3)
    861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 0 2 (2)
    063 Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 114 (68) 48 (37)
    065 WHITE-FACED STORM-PETREL Pelagodroma marina dulciae 2 (2) 4 (1)
    944 WHITE-BELLIED STORM-PETREL Fregetta g. grallaria 3 (2) 1
    104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 2 (1) 85 (64)
    096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 0 1
    100 Little Pied Cormorant P. melanoleucos 0 1
    128 Arctic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus 1 8 (3)
    945 Pomarine Jaeger S. pomarinus 0 27 (8)
    115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 0 31 (16)

    24 species of procellariiformes in a total of 30 species of seabird identified.

    Other birds:

    226 White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster 1


    Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 16 (7)




    King Gar Scomberesox saurus scombroides 50+ (50+)
    Australian Spotted Mackerel Scomberomorus munroi 15 (15)
    Leaping Bonito Cybiosarda elegans 50+ (50+)
    Frigate Mackerel Auxis thazard 75+ (50+)
    Skipjack Tuna Katsuwonus pelamis 100+ (100+)
    Mackerel Tuna Euthynnus affinis 30+
    Southern Sunfish Mola ramsayi 4 (1)
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