Port Stephens Pelagic Trip Report- Sunday 17th April 2016
Boat: M.V. Argonaut, skippered by Ray Horsfield
Winds were light early in the trip with a slight 1m swell, as predicted winds gradually increased throughout the day. While at the shelf winds reached around 10-15knots, swell to around 1.5m with the odd larger set. Squally storms and showers persisted during the trip with the odd heavy fall. Water temperature was around 21degrees.
White Tern. Photo: Tim Strong
Departed wharf at 7:01am returning 4:57pm. Upon reaching the shelf we had a slow drift from 32.93348/152.59531. A great slick was achieved trying out a new method, before long had good numbers of Wilson Storm-petrels, after a few hours we motored up the slick from 32.87841/152.55544 and restarted a drift 32.94127/152.5864.
Numbers of Stormies continued with a few White-faced Storm-petrels, the highlight of the day came when we were graced by a single White Tern with a pass right over the boat, the bird then hung around for 15mins or so and was seen plunge diving in the slick. Good numbers of Wedge-tailed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters were present throughout the trip. Many pods of dolphins passed by during the drifts.
Wilson's Storm-petrel. Photo: Tim Strong.
16 species were recorded outside the heads. Good numbers of very hungry Wedge-tailed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters were present all day. The highlight was the single White Tern which provided a ‘tick’ for many people on board.
Counts are totals for birds seen outside the heads (with the maximum number visible from the boat at one time in brackets) – many are estimates. Taxonomy follows the BirdLife Australia Working List V1.2.
Wedge-tailed Shearwater: 650 (500) Good numbers followed the boat all day with the usual increase closer to port.
Short-tailed Shearwater: 4 (1) The odd bird flew by some showed interest and followed closer to shore
Flesh-footed Shearwater: 100 (30) Some birds followed the boat during the day, better numbers closer to the shelf
Sooty Shearwater: 2 (2) Single birds flew through while travelling
Fluttering Shearwater: 4 (1) Single birds inshore
Hutton’s Shearwater: 2 (1) Single birds inshore
Hutton’s/Fluttering type Shearwaters: 4 birds too far away for ID
Wilsons Storm-petrel: 50(30) A few birds seen prior to the shelf with numbers increasing while drifting. Many birds coming closer to the boat providing great views, a few birds followed the boat back to inshore waters
White-faced Storm-petrel: 2 (1) Birds present during the drift in the slick, in and out of view during the time at the shelf
Solanders Petrel: 7 (2) Birds present shortly after arriving at the shelf, a few birds present the whole time while drifting, some very clean plumaged birds provided great views
Great-winged Petrel: 2 (2) Single birds during the drift at the shelf, present for most of the drift.
Australasian Gannet: 40 (15) Many young immature birds seen upon leaving the heads, larger numbers of birds seen inshore, many following the boat
Arctic Jaeger: 5 (3) Birds seen inshore with 3 close to the heads, followed the boat and harassed Crested Terns.
WHITE TERN: Single bird seen at the shelf, was seen coming in from the south-east, passed right over the boat and hung around for about 15-20mins, was seen plunge diving a few times before leaving. The bird provided great excitement for many punters on board!
Crested Tern: 12 (6) Most birds seen inshore, a seen closer to the shelf.
Silver Gull: 6 (2) Birds seen inshore
Pied Cormorant: 1 Single bird seen close to the heads
White-faced Heron: 2 (2) 2 birds seen about 3 miles from the heads, both birds flying in an easterly direction!
Indo-Pacific Common Dolphin: 10