• Friday, 19th January 2018, Crowdy Head, NSW, Australia

    Crowdy Head Pelagic Trip Report- Friday 19th January 2018

    Skippered by Roger Edwards

    CONDITIONS
    This trip was run on the tail of a significant low pressure system that had been situated in the Tasman Sea all week and had generated very strong southerly winds and massive swell for the previous few days. There was some residual large 2.5m swell early on but this abated quickly over the course of the day. Winds were initially a gentle sou-west breeze to 10 knots, then dropping off during the middle of the day. Water temperature 22.8 at the shelf break.


    Long-tailed Jaeger. Photo: Mick Roderick

    Drift Start: -31.8783544, 153.2063318
    Drift End: -31.86723, 153.21433 (we returned to just south of the start point at ~10:30am to commence a second drift)

    ACTIVITY
    Departed wharf at 6:33am returning at 1:31pm. Although diversity wasnít great it was still a very entertaining day with plenty to look at (I often think pelagic trips in small boats have an extra element of excitement to them). There weren't any large feeding flocks of shearwaters but we did encounter one foraging flock of about 50 birds at the shelf break. We made a quick visit to Mermaid Reef as well where we found very little activity (and the gannets were mostly sat on the water). Probably the standout (apart from the fly-by Black-winged Petrel) was having up to 15 jaegers visible at the one time, with an estimated total of 11 Long-tailed; the majority of which were in deep water.


    Black-winged Petrel. Photo: Mick Roderick

    BIRDS
    13 species recorded outside the heads represents a fairly low diversity, though we didnít manage a Silver Gull! Counts are totals for birds seen outside the heads (with the maximum number visible from the boat at one time in brackets) Ė many are estimates. Taxonomy follows the BirdLife Australia Working List V2.1.

    Wedge-tailed Shearwater: 250 (80). Mostly marauding individuals, as well as the odd feeding flock.

    Short-tailed Shearwater: 4 (1). All inshore.

    Sooty Shearwater: 1. Single bird barrelled past about half way out on the outbound leg.

    Flesh-footed Shearwater: 40 (6). As is nearly always the case, first picked up about 5 miles out. Vast majority of birds were in neritic waters (only one or two birds in pelagic water).

    Fluttering Shearwater: 1. Single bird seen up close on the outward leg.

    Hutton's Shearwater: 2 (1). One bird landed next to the boat and fed in the slick at the shelf, with the other seen close to the wave buoy on the way back in.

    Fluttering-type Shearwater: 5. Mostly close to the wave buoy on the way back in

    Grey-faced Petrel: 16 (4). All pelagic, with a turnover of birds evident by the different moult/plumage-state of birds.

    Black-winged Petrel: 1. The bird literally appeared right next to the boat about half-way to the shelf (at -31.8400862, 153.0800940), giving very close views for a few seconds. Unfortunately it continued away from the boat, making just the one turn back towards the boat, being easily lost in the moderate swell. Just the second record for the Hunter Region.

    Black Petrel: 1. A bird arrived about an hour into the drift and stayed with the boat and fed on the berley for at least 10 minutes or so.

    Australasian Gannet: 8 (3). All inshore.

    Arctic Jaeger: 3 (2). One bird at the shelf, two inshore.

    Pomarine Jaeger: 7 (2). In pelagic and inshore waters.

    Long-tailed Jaeger: 11 (9). Difficult to estimate but there was consensus that there were 9 birds visible at the one time at the shelf. Very close views and some sat on the water for extended periods.

    Australasian Gannet: 25 (16). All inshore, the count of 16 being birds loafing on the water not far from port on the way back in.

    Crested Tern: 6 (3). All inshore.

    MAMMALS:

    Inshore Bottlenose Dolphin: One pod immediately outside the port.

    FISH

    Marlin sp: free-jumping about 6 miles out on the way back in. Considered likely a small Black Marlin.