• Sunday 11th September 2016, Sydney Pelagic Trip Report, Sydney, NSW, Australia


    Saturday's regular trip was rescheduled to the following day due the forecast. With much better weather conditions than the previous day - and fewer participants (including Roger McGovern!) - we headed out on calm seas on a perfect Spring morning. There was no seasickness and the weather remained relatively consistent throughout the trip. Although no rarities were seen there was a good mix of birds observed for this time of year. Highlights included great views of White-faced and Wilson's Storm-Petrels as well as Fairy Prion with all coming in close to the boat at times. Cetacean highlights included a pod of Risso's Dolphin which cooperated for several minutes giving good views, also a breaching Humpback was seen as well along with a distant Humpback repeatedly tail-slapping. A Fur Seal sp, was spotted loafing on the surface close to the Heads. Also briefly seen by some were Minke sp. and Marlin.

    We exited the Heads around 7:30am making Brown's Mountain in good time well before 10:00am. After drifting for a while the decision was made to motor further out to the self given the ideal conditions on the water. A number of birds followed the boat further out. Another drift was made in the deeper water where most of the highlights were seen. Motoring back to the Harbour we stopped just outside the Heads to view Humpbacks which were putting on a show. We arrived back at Rose Bay around 3:45pm.

    We left Rose Bay a bit after 7:00am on the MV Avalon IV with a mixture of regulars, first timers and a handfull of visiting overseas birders. We departed the Heads at around 7:30am with zero birds following the boat. Soon after hitting open water we encountered migrating Wedge-tailed, Fluttering and Hutton's Shearwaters as well as the often seen Silver Gull and Greater Crested Tern mix. Australasian Gannet were also about with quite a few immature birds making up their numbers. It looked very promising with so many birds! Despite the delightful temptations of the berley on offer the Shearwaters showed little interest with none persisting in following the boat. From what had been reported the previous day along the coast of Sydney the Shearwaters/Gulls/Terns were feeding well on the food that is around at the moment.

    Waving goodbye to the seemingly endless stream of migrating Shearwater we continued motoring out toward Brown's Mountain with no birds in tow.

    On our approach to Brown's the first of the interested - and no doubt hungrier - Wedge-tailed Shearwater picked up the berley trail. Numbers of distant Fluttering-type Shearwater were also seen with a few Hutton's and Fluttering positively identified amongst them. Black-browed Albatross were also starting to show some interest as well as the occasional Australasian Gannet. They were joined by the first of the Buller's Albatross which tagged along for the remainder of the trip.

    With our small party of birds we arrived at Brown's Mountain before 9:45am and set up a slick and slowly drifted. An immature Wandering Albatross (Gibson's) flew in and landed on the water which was quickly followed by an older bird. A couple of White-faced Storm-Petrel were also seen feeding in the slick with several close approaches as they danced across the surface. The first of the Providence Petrels joined the party coming in close to pick berley titbits from the water surface before quickly flying off again.

    After drifting for some time at Brown's, given the superb conditions, we decided to motor further out to the shelf. A small detour was made enroute after a pod of Risso's Dolphin was spotted in the distance by Steve Anyon-Smith. The dolphin did not disappoint and were quite tolerant of our presence.

    At the shelf we set up a berley slick and once again drifted. Two Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross had joined us by now. One being an immature bird and the other an adult allowing a comparative view of the two. A young Shy Albatross also gracefully glided past the boat without landing initially. Two Wilson's Storm-Petrel were seen briefly working their way down the slick. Fairy Prions were also working their way through the slick with one sitting on the water for a moment to preen. Great-winged Petrel also made an appearance while we were drifting. The older Wandering Albatross seen earlier had caught up to us and landed close to the boat. A second adult Shy Albatross wheeled its way in to the mix. Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Providence Petrel, Black-browed Albatross and Buller's Albatross were also a constant presence while we drifted.

    Given the distance we had traveled from shore we decided to start heading back around 12:30pm. During the return trip we had most of the species seen further out, including the older Wandering Albatross, following us for most of the journey. Closer to the Heads a Northern Giant-Petrel was seen flying past the boat as well as a Brown Skua. The former landed well behind the boat. We stopped briefly to observe Humpbacks with breaching prior to stopping and a distant whale actively tail-slapping. A Fur Seal sp. was seen loafing on the water near the Heads. The return journey was a pleasant affair seeing us arrive at Rose Bay around 3:45pm. Ocean temperatures were around 19 deg C.

    (Note that the numbers in parentheses represent the approximate maximum
    number of that species in view at any one time)

    Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 6 (2)
    Buller's Albatross 8 (5)
    Shy Albatross 5 (3)
    Black-browed Albatross 60 (40)
    Wandering Albatross (Gibson's) 4 (2)
    Northern Giant-Petrel 1 (1)
    Great-winged Petrel 6 (6)
    Providence Petrel 25 (15)
    Fairy Prion 15 (4)
    prion sp. 6
    Wedge-tailed Shearwater 400 (300)
    Hutton's Shearwater 15 (3)
    Fluttering Shearwater 20 (10)
    fluttering-type Shearwaters 50
    Wilson's Storm-Petrel 2 (2)
    White-faced Storm-Petrel 8 (3)
    Australasian Gannet 50 (30)
    Brown Skua 1 (1)
    Silver Gull 75 (50)
    Crested Tern 20 (10)

    Humpback Whale 5
    Risso's Dolphin 10
    Minke sp. 1
    Fur Seal sp. 1
    Marlin 1

    All information on our trips including dates and contact details can be
    found in the website at www.sydneypelagic.info/ and you can also find us on
    Facebook and post photos at https://www.facebook.com/sydneypelagics/

    If you are on facebook, please feel free to post any photos you have on the day.

    Our next scheduled trip is Saturday 8th October. Book early!

    Greg McLachlan