Here's what was seen outside the harbour on the pelagic from Kiama on the MV Kato on Saturday 25 February 2017. 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.
Leaving Kiama Harbour at 07.30 hrs AEDST we headed south-east out to 34° 43’ 21” S; 150° 59’ 14” E, 11.3 km from the harbour in 110m+ shelf waters, where we stopped, chummed and drifted SSW about 1 km in the strong NE current, then continued further SSW following the edge of the current, stopping at 34° 44’ 29” S; 150° 58’ 18” E, chumming and drifting a further 600m in 110m+ shelf waters. At 11.15 hrs we headed out further east to 34° 38’ 01” S; 150° 53’ 16”, 17.3 km E of the harbour in 120m+ shelf waters, where we stopped for about an hour, chummed and drifted 1.4 km SSW. We then pushed on further east to 34° 44’ 18” S; 151° 03’ 43” E, 19.9 km SE of the harbour in 130m+ shelf waters, where we stopped for a short time before conditions became too unpleasant and we turned back for the harbour at 13.40 hrs, stopping for about 20 mins 7 km E of the harbour in the hope of locating a Streaked Shearwater, but without success. We arrived back in harbour at 16.00 hrs.
Short-beaked Common Dolphins
Sea temperatures were around 21° inshore with the warm offshore NE current being around 25°. Seas were increasingly rough the further we got out from land with swells of 3-3.5 m, moderating slightly in the afternoon, but we were unable to get to the shelf edge. These were challenging conditions for birding. The strong southerly produced plenty of spray as the boat punched into the swells and that, combined with intermittent light rain made it difficult to keep spectacles, binocular and camera lenses clean. Despite the difficult conditions, observers were rewarded with the spectacle of large numbers of birds around the boat and good views of several species of petrels.
Species seen outside the harbour, maximum at any one time in brackets:
088 Black-browed Albatross 3 (1) adults
091 Shy Albatross 8 (2) adults and immatures; subspecies not determined, possibly steadi
075 Grey-faced Petrel 5 (1)
922 Kermadec Petrel 1 (1) brief views had by some observers
774 White-necked Petrel 4 (1) excellent close-in views of this summer visitor, most likely from the Kermadec Islands
078 Gould’s Petrel 10+ (1) birds may have been following the edge of the strong NE current
918 Cook’s Petrel 1 (1) distant views of a pale-headed cookilaria petrel most likely this species
069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater 300+ (100)
975 Buller’s Shearwater 1 (1) distant views
071 Short-tailed Shearwater 10 (1)
072 Flesh-footed Shearwater 400+ (100)
068 Fluttering Shearwater 10 (1)
Fluttering/Hutton’s Shearwater 1 (1)
White-faced Heron 6 (6) flying N some distance offshore
104 Australasian Gannet 5 (1) adults and immatures
125 Silver Gull 9 (9) all close inshore
115 Greater Crested Tern 2 (2) close inshore
945 Pomarine Skua 10 (2)
128 Parasitic Jaeger 1 (1) harassing the Silver Gulls inshore
White-throated Needletail 4 (2) seen well offshore
Australian Raven 1 (1) close inshore
Small pods of Bottlenose Dolphins and Short-beaked Common Dolphins were seen, but no other cetaceans.