Swansea Pelagic Trip Report- Thurday 21st July 2016
Boat: 45ft Randell, skippered by Brad Minors
Calm day at sea with a slight offshore breeze on the run out, swinging to be a moderate (at best) sou-easter in the afternoon. Seas and swell <1m. Water temperature given by the skipper as 25 degrees, which would be very high.
Departed wharf at 7:05am returning 4:02pm. We commenced a very slow drift from -33.22378, 152.20259. After a solid 2 hours of little activity we motored back up the slick from the end point at 33.22856,152.20950 – we’d hardly drifted anywhere.
Buller's Albatross. Photo: Mick Roderick
There was a moderate sized flock of ~600 Fluttering Shearwaters within a mile of the heads, though they showed no interest in the boat. Good numbers of Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross and a few Black-browed types came in not too much further out and followed the boat for some time before losing interest. These were accompanied by up to 4 Brown Skuas. At the shelf there was a very low turnover of birds. On the return leg we again “hit the patch” of inshore albatross. No storm-petrels seen at all.
13 species were recorded outside the heads. ‘Highlights’ would be the Northern Giant-Petrel at the shelf and the Campbell and Buller’s Albatross on the outward leg. 4 Brown Skuas is a good count. 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 V2.
Fluttering Shearwater: 615 (600) Big flock inshore was scanned for any Hutton’s, though all photographs showed Fluttering only. ~15 birds identified during the remainder of the day.
Hutton’s/Fluttering type Shearwaters: 3 birds too far away for ID.
Solanders Petrel: 7 (1) One bird seen just over half way to shelf break, remainder pelagic
Northern Giant-Petrel: 1 juvenile that flew into the boat literally as we made the decision to leave!
Black-browed Albatross: 8 (4) A few adults mixed in with the young birds, mostly inshore.
Black-browed type Albatross: 11 immature birds, again mostly inshore.
Campbell Albatross: 1 immature bird not picked up at the time, but ‘discovered’ in images later (inshore).
Shy-type Albatross: 2 (1) both in neritic waters, one with a broken leg.
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross: 40 (10) Good numbers inshore, with a slow turnover of new birds in pelagic waters, as evidenced by an unusual bird with aberrant feathers on the head that arrived not long before we left the deep water. 2 or 3 juveniles also.
Buller’s Albatross: 1 bird about 2/3 the way out, that came in to monster the chicken skin we had ready for it.
Fairy Prion: 50 (11) Moderate numbers in neritic and pelagic waters.
Australasian Gannet: 45 (20) Moderate numbers throughout the day. A raft of 20 birds seen sitting on the water.
Brown Skua: 4 (4) 3 birds attended the rear of the boat, with a 4th bird being distant. All inshore.
Crested Tern: 50 (40) Big numbers close to the heads on return leg.
Silver Gull: 1000+ emanating from Moon Island on the return leg.
Humpback Whale: ~10, mostly distant views
Fur Seal sp.: 1 animal hauled out on the rudder of a coal ship.
An unidentified ‘thing’ was seen by a few observers at the shelf break. It appeared just under a metre in diameter, present just below the surface. One theory was a dead turtle.