• 9th October 2004, Sydney, Pelagic Trip Report, Sydney, NSW, Australia


    Trip summary:

    Once again, October brought an outstanding birding day on the water, especially for this observer who saw his first seabird lifer in more than two years. The day was sunny and cool with moderate south to south-easterly winds. Sea conditions were not comfortable with a good swell of 3metres running together with a 1.5metre sea. Several people fell victim to sea-sickness but, for those who stayed upright, it was a memorable day.

    A combination of the sea conditions and a couple of stops to observe migrating Humpbacked Whales meant that we did not reach our first berleying point at Brown's Mountain (22.5NM east of Sydney Heads) until about 10.45am. After setting a good slick and attracting good numbers of the expected species for this time of year, our first major event was the arrival of a magnificent adult (Stage 5) SOUTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS which landed close to the boat and fed ravenously for nearly two hours, actually re-appearing at our second berleying location. After a further 20 minutes or so, a small pterodroma planed in and landed in the slick before anyone obtained good flight views. General coloration and head pattern suggest Soft-plumaged or maybe Herald Petrel but when the bird lifted off and flew around the boat, all on board had great views of a SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL. Again, this bird stayed with us for more than half an hour giving many opportunites for close examination. We had had several Wilson's Storm-Petrels and a White-faced Storm-Petrel in the slick for some time when the call went up for a GREY-BACKED STORM-PETREL and, again, the bird lingered for some time giving everyone good views. A move to a new berleying location some 3NM north-east of Brown's Mountain brought no more rarities but, on the way back to Sydney, an early arrival LONG-TAILED JAEGER overtook the boat flying towards the west.

    It was not an outstanding day for cetaceans with two pairs of Humpbacked Whales seen about 7NM east of the heads and a small pod of Short-beaked Common Dolphins in the same area on the way home.

    Species List:

    Cape Petrel 1 (1)
    Great-winged Petrel 10 (2)
    Providence Petrel 40 (5)
    procellaria sp. 1 (1) probably Black Petrel
    seen briefly by one observer
    Wedge-tailed Shearwater 100 (30)
    Short-tailed Shearwater 25 (8)
    Fluttering Shearwater 20 (6)
    Wandering Albatross 2 (1)
    Black-browed Albatross 20 (4) including two Campbells
    Yellow-nosed Albatross 5 (2)
    Shy Albatross 14 (3) all cauta
    Wilson's Storm-Petrel 7 (6)
    White-faced Storm-Petrel 2 (1)
    Australasian Gannet 10 (3)
    Silver Gull 150 (120)
    Crested Tern 4 (2)

    Next Sydney trip will be on Saturday 13 November 2004. Call Hal on 02
    9280 3043 or 0411 311 236 to make a booking.

    Roger McGovern