SYDNEY PELAGIC TRIP REPORT November 10, 2007
A cool early summer's day with a light to moderate easterly wind which had
been in that quarter for several days. It was quite chilly especially in the first couple of hours, with people adding layers of clothing as we headed offshore, but we managed to avoid the several rain shower areas that were all around us at times.
Water temperature inshore was about 18.7 deg C and this increased a little to 19.3 deg C out on the shelf break.
Departed from Rose Bay at 07.00hrs and returned at 15.15hrs
The seas were quite choppy with a 1.0 metre wave on top of a 1.5 metre
easterly swell which made the journey out to the shelf a little
The wind was a 10-15 knot easterly which tended to increase later in the day.
With the somewhat uncomfortable conditions prevailing on the way out, there were a small number of people who succumbed to sea-sickness
This was another great pelagic birding day (aren't they all?) with bright conditions and the easterly winds and cool seawater temperatures promising some good sightings.
We departed Rose Bay with the 20 passengers on board hailing from Sydney, interstate and various places around the world. As soon as we passed through Sydney Heads, a couple of Humpbacks were seen blowing and we spent some time trying to locate them. However, as often is the case on their southerly migration, these whales sounded for a long period of time and we were unable to find them again. There were good numbers of birds present in the inshore zone with Wedge-tailed Shearwaters planing along the wave troughs and surprisingly large numbers of Short-tailed Shearwaters on their southerly migration - it seems quite late in the spring to see so many of these migrants. There were plenty of Fluttering Shearwaters showing well and, as we motored a little further out, we began to see more Hutton's Shearwaters amongst them. A close fly-by juvenile Black-browed Albatross was the first albatross of the day, and the first albatross ever for some of the observers on board, and this was followed shortly afterwards by a giant-petrel seen floating on the water which closer inspection revealed to be a Southern Giant-Petrel. A juvenile Wandering Albatross (taxa gibsoni) flew past causing great interest on board, there were a couple of Pomarine Jaegers and a single Arctic Jaeger, and then we were off into the Abysmal Plain with just the occasional parties of Short-tailed Shearwaters to entertain us as we headed out to Brown's Mountain and the shelf break. At about 18NM offshore, we encountered a pod of perhaps 50 Bottlenose Dolphins which came and rode our bow wave for a while before returning to their fishing activities.
As we approached Brown's Mountain, we began to see reasonable numbers of birds which included Cape Petrel, Black-browed Albatross, Providence Petrel, Great-winged Petrel and Flesh-footed Shearwater and things were looking very promising for our first berleying session. Indeed, as soon as we established a slick, all of the species just mentioned were around the boat in addition to some very obliging Wilson's Storm-Petrels and a lovely old Wandering Albatross of the nominate taxa exulans. Shortly thereafter, a 'cookalaria' petrel was picked up at some distance behind the boat which showed itself to be a GOULD'S PETREL but unfortunately it was seen only by David James and myself.
Surprisingly, after about 30 minutes of action around the Halicat, all the
birds except for the Wilson's Storm-Petrels left the slick and disappeared - we could only assume that the birds had been feeding well and were not hungry. We motored out into deeper water further east of Brown's Mountain without adding further species to the list except for a very late adult Yellow-nosed Albatross for which there have been very few records off NSW in November. As we headed back to Sydney, we came upon a pod of Oceanic Common Dolphins and we arrived back in the harbour well pleased with a count of 20 species for the day
(Note that numbers in parenthesises represent the maximum numbers seen at any one time)
Southern Giant-Petrel 1 (1)
Cape Petrel 4 (2)
Great-winged Petrel 7 (1)
Providence Petrel 9 (2)
GOULD'S PETREL 1 (1)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 90 (6)
Short-tailed Shearwater 700 (60)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 10 (2)
Fluttering Shearwater 50 (6)
Hutton's Shearwater 20 (2)
Wandering Albatross 6 (2) one exulans and five gibsoni
Black-browed Albatross 8 (1)
Yellow-nosed Albatross 1 (1)
Shy Albatross 3 (1)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 6 (3)
Australasian Gannet 6 (2)
Pomarine Jaeger 5 (1)
Arctic Jaeger 1 (1)
Silver Gull 200 (150)
Crested Tern 8 (4)
Humpback Whales 2
Bottlenose Dolphins 50
Oceanic common dolphins 20
Next Sydney pelagic trip will be on Saturday 8th December, 2007 departing
Mosman Ferry Wharf at 0645 and Rose Bay Public Wharf at 0700.
Call Hal on 0411 311 236 to make a reservation.