Here's what was seen outside the harbour on the SOSSA pelagic from Kiama on the MV Kiama on Saturday 25 June 2016. The list uses the IOC Checklist v6.2 for taxonomy, nomenclature & order of species and gives fairly conservative numbers. For the commoner species the numbers are estimates.
Leaving Kiama Harbour at 07.30 hrs AEST, we headed SE into the large swell, choosing discretion over valour in deciding to not attempt to reach the edge of the continental shelf, given the forecast 35 knot winds and big seas. As it was, neither the wind nor seas were as bad as forecast, though it could have been much worse further out than closer in. Seas of 2 to 2.5 m were better than expected, given the forecast, but the strong SW was bitter after a cold night. Sea temperature was around 18°. We made our first stop at 34° 44’ 39” S; 150° 58’ 40” E, 13.5 km from the harbour in 110m+ shelf waters, where we chummed and attempted to catch and band as many as possible of the numerous Buller’s Albatrosses around the boat. Having drifted 1.2 km ENE in the moderate to strong SW wind, we turned back along our drift track and made our second stop at 34° 44’ 43” S; 150° 58’ 18” E, 13.1 km from the harbour in shelf waters, where we chummed and caught a further 5 Buller’s Albatrosses, 09.25-09.55 hrs, drifting 900m ENE.
We then came further inshore to 34° 44’ 22” S; 150° 57’ 50” E in shelf waters, where we stopped, chummed, banded a juvenile Northern Giant Petrel, and drifted 3.12 km ENE in the wind, 10.05-11.40 hrs. We then turned back in to 34° 42’ 12” S; 150° 55’ 35” E, 7.04 km SE of the harbour in 60m+ shelf waters, where we stopped, used up the remainder of our chum, and caught and banded another Northern Giant Petrel and Buller’s Albatross, 12.07-13.50 hrs, drifting 3.97 kms NE. With our chum exhausted and the birds reluctant to come in close without it, we decided to come back into harbour early, arriving at 14.22 hrs.
Juvenile Northern Giant-petrel
There were good numbers of birds and a very decent range of species, considering we did not get to the shelf edge. Highlights were good views of a Salvin’s Albatross, the large numbers of Buller’s Albatross, outnumbering even the Black-browed Albatrosses, and Giant Petrels, with seven on the water together at one point. It was unusual to see Great-winged Petrels and Providence Petrels in shelf waters.
Species seen, maximum at any one time in brackets:
063 Wilson’s Storm Petrel 4 (2)
088 Black-browed Albatross 30+ (20+) adults
859 Campbell Albatross 2 (2) adult
Black-browed/Campbell Albatross 3+ (3+) immatures
091 Shy Albatross 15 (8) most cauta but 2 suspected immature steadi present
862 Salvin’s Albatross 1 (1)
864 Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 3 (3) 2 adults & 1 immature
931 Buller’s Albatross 40+ (20+) 12 birds banded over the course of the day, the most ever handled in one day on a SOSSA pelagic
929 Southern Giant Petrel 1 (1) juvenile
937 Northern Giant Petrel 7 (7) juvenile; 2 birds banded
080 Cape Petrel 1 (1) nominate race
083 Fairy Prion 30+ (20+)
075 Great-winged Petrel 7+ (5) most were nominate race macroptera from WA, and the oceans further west; 1 was NZ breeding gouldi. These will be split in the next iteration of the IOC list
971 Providence Petrel 4+ (2)
071 Short-tailed Shearwater 1 (1) a late stayer
068 Fluttering Shearwater 8 (2)
104 Australasian Gannet 8 (3)
096 Great Cormorant 2 (1) both just outside the harbour
125 Silver Gull 5 (3)
115 Greater Crested Tern 10 (6)
980 Brown Skua 2 (2)
We saw a small pod of Humpback Whales heading north and a few Common Dolphins came in to investigate us.