• Sunday, 6th August 2017, Port Stephens, NSW, Australia

    Port Stephens Pelagic Trip Report- Sunday 6th August 2017

    Boat: M.V. Argonaut, skippered by Ray Horsfield

    CONDITIONS
    Similarly to June, a gentle offshore breeze was in our backs for most of the outwards leg, slowly becoming a steady 15 knot nor-wester that persisted into the early afternoon. Conditions were almost glassy for the last half of the return leg. Very little swell to speak of. Set up a drift at -32 54 29 / 152 35 27 drifting east to -32 55 18 / 152 36 00.

    ACTIVITY
    Departed wharf at 7:09am returning quite late at 5:33pm. Another very quiet winter pelagic. In fact this could be the lowest diversity and tally of birds on a Port Stephens pelagic thus far. Just a few Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross followed the boat out, along with our customary throng of Silver Gulls and the odd early-returning Wedge-tailed Shearwater. A couple of immature Campbell Albatross, a few fly-bys by Solander’s Petrels and reasonably consistent darting Fluttering/Hutton’s Shearwaters rounded out the activity at the shelf. Again there were no prions, no storm-petrels and no Shy/Black-browed/Wandering-type Albatross at all.


    Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross. Photo: Mick Roderick.

    BIRDS
    9 species (including only 6 tubenoses) were recorded outside the heads, representing as low a diversity as we have recorded on these trips. This trip literally had no ‘highlights’ though it was interesting to see many early-returning Wedge-tailed Shearwaters in the first week of August.

    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 V2.0.

    Fluttering Shearwater: 15 (6). Most birds in neritic waters; several juveniles photographed.

    Hutton’s Shearwater: 4 (1). One bird in pelagic waters, remainder inshore.

    Fluttering-type Shearwater: 20. Mostly inshore, including flocks of 3 or 4 birds together.

    Campbell Albatross: 2 (2) Both immature birds with pale eyes (in fact, these two birds were almost identical).

    Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross: 20 (7). Reasonable numbers though down on the June count (and the Swansea July trip).

    Solander’s Petrel: 4 (1). All pelagic. A couple of very worn birds amongst them.

    Australasian Gannet: 20 (4). Mostly single birds inshore, never seen as a feeding flock.

    Crested Tern: 6 (3). Very few birds today.

    Silver Gull: 25 (12). A group of about 8 birds followed the boat to the shelf, remainder inshore.


    MAMMALS:

    Pantropical Spotted Dolphin: 10, in a single pod early in the day.

    Short-beaked Common Dolphin: 5, as a small pod that appeared in the wake on the way back to port.

    Humpback Whale: 15+? Close views of a family group not far from the heads.