• 13th August 2005, Sydney, Pelagic Trip Report, Sydney, NSW, Australia


    Fine, sunny and very cool with maximum temperature of about 17 deg C
    Water temperature at the shelf 17.8 deg C
    Departed Rose Bay at 07.10 and returned at 15.30
    Swell 2 metres falling to less than a metre, sea one metre falling to zero, winds light and variable from the south-east
    Reached 24NM ESE of Sydney Heads


    I had a feeling in my bones before this trip that we would get some really good (unusual) birds but, as usual with my pelagic premonitions, good or bad, I was completely wrong. Such is the glorious unpredictability of pelagic birding! However, it was a glorious winter morning as we set off through Sydney Heads with a complement of 25 birdos from the UK, USA, Canada, Belgium, The Netherlands, France and, of course, Australia. There was a two metre swell running with a one metre chop which caused some discomfort with a few people, but conditions settled down towards lunchtime and all the early 'casualties' were back into action.

    In the inshore region we picked up a few Yellow-nosed and Black-browed Albatrosses and then found our first Wandering Albatross (adult gibsoni) sitting on the water, which already made the trip a success for many people on board. A few Fluttering Shearwaters and two Huttons Shearwaters along with several Australasian Gannets were also seen inshore. As usual, the trip out to the shelf was fairly bird-free with an unsatisfactory view of a prion (sp) the only bit of interest. It was the only prion seen all day which was very disappointing.

    We spent the day drifting and berleying around Brown's Mountain (22.5NM ESE of Sydney Heads) in the company of several fishing boats both commercial and private. There were always good numbers of birds around the boat but no sign of anything unusual. However, with Wandering Albatross (exulans and gibsoni), Shy Albatross, many Yellow-nosed Albatross and a beautiful Campbell Island Black-browed Albatross all feeding close to the boat, all the visitors had a great day out. Probably, the most unusual aspects of the day were the appearance of two Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (early return date) and four Northern Giant-Petrels with no Southerns seen - it used to be that Northerns significantly out-numbered Southerns off Sydney.

    We had a frustrating day with cetaceans in that a strange whale blow was sighted but no whale found and, later, we saw a small pod of dolphins that were just breaking the surface without showing themselves and they too disappeared without trace. However, a large pod of Common Dolphins (maybe 150) were located on the way back to Sydney and they kept us company for several minutes. An out-of-season Sunfish was the only other sea monster sighted.

    Northern Giant-Petrel 4 (2)
    Giant-Petrel sp 2
    Cape Petrel 8 (2)
    Providence Petrel 6 (1)
    Prion sp 1
    Wedge-tailed Shearwater 2 (1)
    Fluttering Shearwater 20 (5)
    Huttons Shearwater 2 (2)
    Fluttering-type Shearwater 40 (25)
    Wandering Albatross 9 (3)
    Black-browed Albatross 11 (2)
    Yellow-nosed Albatross 45 (20)
    Shy Albatross 8 (3)
    Australasian Gannet 75 (60)
    Silver Gull 60 (30)
    Crested Tern 10 (4)

    Next trip will be on Saturday September 10, 2005 departing Cremorne Point wharf at 06.45 and Rose Bay wharf at 07.00. Call Hal at 0411 311 236 to book.

    Roger McGovern