Here's what was seen outside the harbour on the pelagic from Kiama on the MV Kiama on Tuesday 27 December 2016. The list uses the IOC Checklist v6.4 for taxonomy, nomenclature & order of species. Note that since v.6.3, what was previously Great-winged Petrel has been split into Great-winged and Grey-faced Petrel. Today’s list gives fairly conservative numbers, which are estimates for the commoner species.
Juvenile Sooty Tern
Leaving Kiama Harbour at 07.30 hrs AEDST we headed E out to 34° 43’ 12” S; 151° 10’ 06” E, 28.7 km E of harbour in 220m+ shelf edge waters, where we stopped and drifted about 1 km in the NE current, before going out further east to 34° 43’ 36” S; 151° 13’ 08” E, 33.5 km E of the harbour in 300m+ pelagic waters, where we made our second stop. After chumming for an hour we drove SW along the now lengthy slick and stopped for the third time at 34° 45’ 11” S; 151° 11’ 22” E, 31.5 km E of the harbour in 250m+ shelf edge waters. Here we chummed up another slick for 40 minutes, then drove along it and continued to 34° 46’ 17” S; 151° 10’ 08” E, where we made our final stop in shelf edge waters, chumming and drifting 2.62 km to the SW in the strong NE current.
At this point (13.10 hrs) we turned back in, heading towards the harbour and making 2 short stops en route, chumming and drifting around 1 km SW in 120m+ and 70m+ shelf waters, to see if the shallower waters produced any differences in the range of species present. We arrived back in the harbour at around 16.00 hrs.
Seas were around 1-1.5m on the way out gradually decreasing to >1m on the way back as the wind dropped. Sea temperature was around 22°-23° inshore and further out. Conditions at sea were comfortable in a light to moderate wind, but hazy overhead with a strong glare.
Highlights were the Sooty Terns with juveniles and two species not seen for several years on either Kiama or Wollongong pelagics: Gould’s Petrel and Buller’s Shearwater. It was striking how many of the birds present today showed very little interest in the chum we provided.
Species seen, maximum at any one time in brackets:
063 Wilson’s Storm Petrel - 2 (2)
065 White-faced Storm Petrel - 1 (1)
088 Black-browed Albatross - 1 (1) 1 subadult
Black-browed/Campbell Albatross - 3 (2) immatures
091 Shy Albatross - 3 (2) subspecies not determined
075 Grey-faced Petrel - 10 (2) in shelf-edge and pelagic waters
078 Gould’s Petrel - 1 (1) gave good views in pelagic waters
069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 150 (50)
975 Buller’s Shearwater - 1 (1) brief views of a passing bird in shelf-edge waters
071 Short-tailed Shearwater - 20 (1)
072 Flesh-footed Shearwater - 30 (2)
068 Fluttering Shearwater - 3 (1) all inshore on our way back to the harbour
Fluttering/Hutton’s Shearwater - 2 (1)
125 Silver Gull - 15 (10) all close inshore or perched on rocks
115 Greater Crested Tern - 5 (1)
120 Sooty Tern - 4 (4) adults and dark coloured juveniles in pelagic waters
945 Pomarine Skua - 3 (1) adults and 1 dark juvenile
Pods of Common Dolphins accompanied us for brief periods on the way out and on our return.