SYDNEY PELAGIC REPORT - SATURDAY MAY 8, 2010
Regular readers of the Sydney pelagic reports will know that I always claim that pelagic trips inevitably come up with something unusual and interesting, no matter what. I suppose that this trip lived up to that claim in the sense that the very low numbers of birds, the lack of anything remotely rare and the complete lack of cetaceans is indeed unusual and interesting! The positives for the trip were that the weather was superb as were the sea conditions and nobody suffered from sea-sickness - so it was an extremely pleasant day out on the ocean. I did have a suspicion beforehand that it might not be a productive day since I knew that the shearwaters would have departed for the winter and, with the warm water temperatures still prevailing, the southern species might not yet be putting in an appearance and this is how it transpired. The water temperatures had a pattern that we had not experienced before starting at 20.0 deg C just out of the heads, increasing to 21.4degC at the Ten Mile and then dropping to 19.8 deg C at Brown's Mountain. Then, amazingly, only about 4 miles east of Brown's, the water temperature was back up to 22.8 deg C indicating some major discontinuities in the eastern offshore current spiral - perhaps the birds and sea monsters avoid areas of rapidly changing water temperatures?
We departed from Rose Bay at 7.05am and returned at 3.10pm and travelled in sea conditions of 1.0m on a 1.0m swell and the sea dropped off after noon to almost a flat calm. Winds were easterly 10 -15 knots in the morning and
eased right off in the afternoon.
For the first time in memory, after seeing a couple of Australasian Gannets
at the heads, we travelled for about 10NM eastwards without seeing a single
bird or cetacean. Eventually a single Short-tailed Shearwater was sighted at some distance and then a Black-browed Albatross flew past the boat and kept on going. As we approached Brown's Mountain, a Yellow-nosed Albatross was sighted as were two distant pterodromas (probably Providence Petrels). There were no birds at all at Brown's (despite a large number of recreational fishing boats being there) and so we kept on motoring east. When another Yellow-nosed Albatross and a Wilson's Storm-Petrel put in an appearance, we stopped and berleyed for a while but without much success with visits from a couple of Providence Petrels, a Yellow-nosed Albatross and an odd Wilson's Storm-Petrel. A further stretch of motoring produced a brief fly-by from a Wandering Albatross (adult gibsoni) and a brief visit from a Shy Albatross. Several flying fishes were seen in the warmer patches of water and our young deck hand caught a nice Striped Tuna which was released.
On the way back we came across the only Fluttering Shearwater of the day which, when flushed from the water, had difficulty taking off. We had the same experience with a Short-tailed Shearwater which also laboured to get airborne. Further inshore, in what was now very calm water, we came across another couple of Yellow-nosed Albatross, a Black-browed Albatross and our second Shy Albatross of the day. The only hint of a rarity came towards the end of the trip when Nikolaas Haas and I got onto a very interesting but distant bird flying away (of course!). We compared notes on structure, size, flight pattern and plumage and the nearest match that we could make was a pale morph Wedge-tailed Shearwater - but we shall never know!
(Note that the numbers in parentheses represent the maximum number seen at one time)
Providence Petrel 2 (1)
Short-tailed Shearwater 3 (1)
Fluttering Shearwater 1 (1)
Wandering Albatross 1 (1) gibsoni
Black-browed Albatross 2 (1)
Yellow-nosed Albatross 6 (2)
Shy Albatross 2 (1)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 8 (2)
Australasian Gannet 15 (6)
Crested Tern 24 (8)
Silver Gull 80 (20)
Flying Fish 8
The next Sydney pelagic trip will be on Saturday 12 June, 2010 departing from Mosman Ferry Wharf at 06.45am and Rose Bay Public Wharf at 07.00am.
Call Hal at 0411 311 236 to make a reservation.