• Saturday, 19th March 2011, Port Stephens, NSW, Australia

    Port Stephens Pelagic Trip Report Ė Sat 19th March 2011

    Boat: M.V.Argonaut, skippered by Ray Horsefield

    CONDITIONS
    A comfortable day with moderate swell coming from the south with south-west winds initially that swung around to the south-east mid-morning. These winds were really only felt en-route to the shelf. Once at the shelf there was little wind to talk of and the seas were very slight. Water temperature was about 23 degrees at the shelf.

    HIGHLIGHTS
    17 species recorded outside of the heads, with a couple of Sooty Terns qualifying as the most unusual birds of the day. Long-tailed Jaegers were in good attendance with up to 7 birds seen, including some immaculate adults with full streamers (which unfortunately did not come in to the boat). A slightly unseasonal Shy Albatross was also seen.

    SUMMARY
    Departed Nelson Bay Public Wharf at 0700, returning at 1650.

    As is customary the day started with Wedge-tailed Shearwaters coming to investigate the boat about 3 miles from the heads. These were soon joined by Flesh-footed and the occasional Short-tailed fly-by. Birds were very attendant to the boat and seemed fairly hungry. A rolling groundswell and steady sou-west to sou-east winds made for a comfortable trip out and when Dan Mantle got onto 2 Sooty Terns about half way out, we thought we may have been in for another day with a Ďtropical feelí. The excitement grew when a group of 3 Long-tailed Jaegers came towards the boat just short of the shelf.

    Once at the shelf however, the wind had dropped to virtually a slight breeze and the sea surface was smooth. Many of the birds that had followed us out then chose to sit on the water and things moved along pretty slowly from there. We set up a drift at 32 55 27 / 152 34 25 and within about 15 minutes we had our first Great-winged Petrel. Wilsonís Storm-petrels then started to appear in the slick and this peaked at about a dozen birds. These birds were grilled in light of recent Wilson-like birds off Tassie and given the fact that it was nearly 12 months to the day when we had our streaky Kiwi friend visit us we made sure all Stormies were checked carefully.

    A few more Long-tailed Jaegers came and went as did a few Sooty Shearwaters and a lovely fresh Solanderís Petrel came in for a few passes. We left 32 57 54 / 152 33 00 at about 1315 and to our surprise picked up a beautiful adult Shy Albatross about half an hour into our return leg. This was the first Albatross for a visiting Scottish couple and it capped off a pleasant but fairly quiet
    March pelagic.

    Cheers,

    Mick Roderick

    BIRDS

    Species: Total (maximum number around the boat at one time)

    Wilsonís Storm-petrel: 25 (12)
    Shy Albatross: 1
    Fluttering Shearwater: 3 (1)
    Fluttering-type Shearwater: 2 (1)
    Wedge-tailed Shearwater: 300 (100)
    Flesh-footed Shearwater: 80 (35)
    Short-tailed Shearwater: 30 (10)
    Sooty Shearwater: 4 (1)
    Great-winged (Grey-faced) Petrel: 3 (1)
    Solanderís (Providence) Petrel: 1
    Crested Tern: 3 (2)
    SOOTY TERN: 2 (2)
    Pomarine Jaeger: 30 (10)
    Arctic Jaeger: 2 (1)
    Long-tailed Jaeger: 7 (3)
    Silver Gull: 6 (4)
    White-bellied Sea-Eagle: 1 (off Tomaree)

    MAMMALS

    Pan-tropical Spotted Dolphin: 50 (approx 10 at shelf, 40 in loose pods on way
    back in)