25th May, 2002 SOSSA PELAGIC TRIP, WOLLONGONG, NSW, AUSTRALIA.
Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Departed: 07:20 returned at approx. 16:30.
Sea conditions: 1.5 to 2.0m S.
Swell: S 2 to 3m.
Weather: Mostly overcast with occasional showers but also substantial sunny
Temperature range: 15.8 to 19.3°C.
Barometric pressure: 1024 HPa rising.
Wind: SSW 10 to 15 kts at first, rising to 15 to 20 kts, veering to SSE 15
Sea surface temperature: 18.6 to 19.4°C.
Primary chumming location: S 34° 37' - E 151° 11'.
For nearly two weeks prior to this trip cold southerly winds had buffeted
the coast as a result of a deep low-pressure system located south of
Tasmania. Mercifully, a high-pressure system had moved far enough to the
east for the storms to abate. A chilly southerly breeze under a leaden sky
reminded us that winter had arrived early. The weather closed during the
morning and, yet again, in a rising southerly we punched out into the sea.
After buffeting through a couple of rain squalls the wind veered slightly
to the east and eased somewhat. The conditions were tough and the skipper,
Carl Loves, did an excellent job using the engine to hold the boat into to
the sea while we were chumming.
We were less than 100 metres from the breakwater when an adult Black-browed
Albatross circled the boat. This set the tone of the day with albatross in
view for the whole time that we were at sea. Due to the weather conditions
we were compelled to run south and so took the opportunity to look at some
of the Five Islands group. The islands and their birds were soon forgotten
when several Campbell Albatross and a Southern Giant Petrel were observed
close to the boat.
Continuing out to sea, we soon encountered a number of prion species
including several ANTARCTIC PRIONS and a SLENDER-BILLED PRION, less than 5
NM out. At about the 55-fathom mark, a good current line was encountered
and a number of new species for the day were encountered. These included a
magnificent male Gibson's Albatross, a group of Wilson's Storm Petrels that
included a possible White-bellied Storm-Petrel, a couple of Cape Petrels
and no fewer than 5 White-capped Albatross.
At this point, the weather closed in and we enjoyed some refreshing showers
of rain, which served to wash off some of the salt at least! We continued
our voyage into deeper water but after the rain squalls the number of birds
seemed to have diminished. The first Brown Skua of the winter was observed
in about 75 fathoms of water and the appearance of the first Solander's
Petrel indicated that we had passed to the east of the continental shelf.
The sea conditions were too uncomfortable to drift, so we elected to stay
under power and hold the boat stationary into the sea. Setting up a trail
of chum our hopes were held out for a rare visitor from southern waters. A
newly fledged Shy Albatross and a female Gibson's Albatross were amongst
the first new birds to join us. The next excitement arrived in the form of
a third year BULLER'S ALBATROSS that dropped casually into the middle of
the burgeoning albatross throng. While still discussing the nuances of
identifying this bird, a shout of "what's this?" drew our attention to a
long-winged petrel flying down wind straight at the boat. To everyone's
amazement it was a pale morph HERALD PETREL that gave great but typically
brief views. We continued to accumulate an impressive flock of seabirds,
in the form of Wilson's Storm-Petrels, Fairy Prions, assorted Giant Petrels
and Albatross, including another third year BULLER'S ALBATROSS.
On the return trip we observed an adult BULLER'S ALBATROSS and a
dark-headed bird that may well have been a Pacific Albatross.
Winter has clearly arrived with a rush of cold air, it almost seemed that
we had seen as many albatross in one day as we had seen during the whole of
the last very quiet winter. I have never seen so many third year albatross
in one day. Despite this the rarity of the day was an autumn visitor from
the tropics, namely a HERALD PETREL.
Excellent views of a pale morph HERALD PETREL, three species of prion and
seven species of albatross in view for much of the day.
Birds recorded according to the latest Environment Australia Reporting
Species code: Species name: Numbers:
(Note: numbers in parenthesis = highest count at any one time)
929 Southern Giant-Petrel Macronectes giganteus 3 (1)
937 Northern Giant-Petrel M. halli 4 (3)
080 Cape Petrel Daption capense australe 2 (2)
971 Solander's Petrel Pterodroma solandri 13 (7)
921 HERALD PETREL P. heraldica 1
083 Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur 220+ (135)
084 ANTARCTIC PRION P. desolata 7 (2)
942 SLENDER-BILLED P. belcheri 1
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 1 (1)
071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 2 (1)
847 Gibson's Albatross Diomedea gibsoni 9 (5)
088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 6 (2)
859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 23 (8)
931 BULLER'S ALBATROSST. bulleri 3 (2) + possible PACIFIC ALBATROSS 1 adult
091 Shy Albatross T. cauta 1 first year
861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 8 (5)
864 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T. carteri 13 first year (3)
063 Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Oceanites oceanicus 160+ (150+)
104 Australasian Gannet, Morus serrator 19 (11)
096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 4 (3)
980 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 3 (1)
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 15 (7)
125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 850+ (350+)
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 23 (7)
In the harbour:
096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
099 Pied Cormorant P. varius 1
100 Little Pied Cormorant P. melanoleucos 1
101 Australian Darter Anhinga melanogaster 1 male
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus1
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 1
25 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.
All Pelagic Trips from NSW are operated at no profit to the organisers
being operated as group boat charters for the benefit of all who wish
to join us. If you would like to join one of these trips please contact us
To make a booking on the SOSSA Wollongong Pelagic Trips that depart on the
4th Saturday of each month contact:
SOSSA: Phone 02 4271 6004.
Carl Loves Phone: 0427 423 500
Pete Milburn: Mobile 0428 249 506, 02 6255 1313 (AH) or 02 6125 4173 (BH)
To make a booking for Sydney Pelagics,
which depart on the 2nd Saturday of each month contact
Tony Palliser Ph; 02-99001678 (w), 02-94115272 (h)
To make a booking for Eden Pelagics which are run on the 5th
Sunday of each month it occurs.
Barbara Jones or Ph (02) 6495 7390
Note: SOSSA = Southern Oceans Seabird Study Association
Dr P.J. Milburn
Biomolecular Resource Facility
Australian National University
GPO Box 334
+61 2 6125 4173 'Phone
+61 2 6125 4326 FAX
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