NEWCASTLE NSW, AUSTRALIA Pelagic Trip Report 12 October 2002

Subject: NEWCASTLE NSW, AUSTRALIA Pelagic Trip Report 12 October 2002
From: richard baxter <>
Date: Mon, 14 Oct 2002 07:27:16 -0700 (PDT)

Newcastle, NSW, Australia, Pelagic Report SATURDAY 12 Oct 2002.


Departed 6.10am ? Returned 4pm.

Seas Slight ? Decreasing the further out.

Winds light ? 10knots

Primary Chumming Location: 80km East of Swansea.

Those on board: Damian Baxter, Snow Perry, David Geering, Matt Hughes, Allan Benson, Alan Stuart, Michael Hunter, Robert Mcdonald, David Brown, Mike Newman, Dick Jenkin, Phil Hansbro and Richard Baxter.

Trip Summary: An awesome pelagic trip, with the highlight being 2 Cookilaria Petrels, White-headed Petrel and Slender-billed Prion.

We departed Swansea at dawn and headed east and almost immeadiately we found ourselves amongst hundreds of Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Short-tailed Shearwater and Fluttering Shearwater. With these, were Silver Gulls and Crested Tern.

We continued east without slowing and over the next hour we started to see a few Flesh-footed Shearwater and Hutton?s Shearwater. Periodically an Australasian Gannet would cruise past the boat and continue on its journey. After another hour we crossed she shelf and saw our first Providence Petrel and Great-winged Petrels, with a few Wilson?s Storm Petrels in the distance. Rather than stopping at the shelf we continued out to sea and finally arrived at a primary chumming location 80km offshore.

We had come out this far in search of the rarer migrating petrels and we were certainly not disapointed. After a few minutes of chumming the first of about 25 Cape Petrels appeared, followed by a lone Wandering Albatross and a White-faced Storm Petrel. The Wandering Albatross numbers grew to ten over the next three hours and at least 100 Wilson?s Storm Petrels covered the slick and circled the boat allowing some great views and tremendously close photographs of this little seabird.

The next bird to arrive was a lone WHITE-HEADED PETREL. It cruised past the back of the boat about 30m away giving everyone on board a good look before continuing south and out of sight. This is the second trip in a row we have had excellent views of White-headed Petrel, with a very obliging bird seen in September. The bird on this day was not wasting any time heading south and I wonder if it was the same bird seen on the Sydney Pelagic 100km further south.

Over the next hour we were visited by a lone Shy Albatross and a Slender-billed Prion, which was the only prion of the day. Also of interest was that we had not seen a single Black-browed or Yellow-nosed Albatross all day.

After two hours at this distant location the wind began to drop and the water became glassy. There hadn?t been a new bird come to the boat for about an hour when Matt Hughes yelled from the top deck, "Whats this!" Only 20-30m from the back of the boat was a small, pale cookilaria petrel leisurely cruising past. Our quiet, relaxed afternoon in the sun suddenly turned chaotic with everybody rushing to a vantage point as a COOK?S PETREL slowly cruised past giving everyone outstanding views and if that wasn?t enough it went down the side of the boat, banked, turned and came back again. This time it came past in a southerly direction and by the time it went across the back of the boat I had taken 13 photos and everyone had had incredible views. It was certainly amazing to see this bird so close as most previous sightings are distant views and not close enough to rule out other similar species such as Pycroft?s Petrel.

After much celebration on board it was time for the journey home. We criused back towards the shelf and not long after crossing the shelf, Phil Hansbro yelled, "Stop the Boat!"as another cookilaria petrel was approaching from the rear and obviously darker than the Cook?s Petrel we had seen before. The GOULD?S PETREL refused to come very close to the boat giving very frustrating views. It followed the boat for about 30min and each time it started to get near the boat it would bank and fly right back nearly out sight eventually disapearing.

As we came closer to the coast we started to see Black-browed Albatross and a single Common Tern before arriving back at the harbour at 4pm ending a very memorable day.

Our last trip for the year is the 19th Oct and there are still a couple of vacancies.


086 Wandering Albatross 10

091 Shy Albatross 1

088 Black-browed Albatross 5

984 Cape Petrel 25

77 White-headed Petrel 1

75 Great-winged Petrel 75

971 Providence Petrel 75

918 Cook?s Petrel 1

78 Gould?s Petrel 1

  1. Wilson?s Storm Petrel 100

65 White-faced Storm Petrel 5

942 Slender-billed Prion 1

71 Short-tailed Shearwater 200

69 Wedge-tailed Shearwater 2000

68 Fluttering Shearwater 250

913 Hutton?s Shearwater 10

72 Flesh Footed Shearwater 100

115 Crested Tern 10

  1. Silver Gull 000?s
  1. Australasian Gannet
  1. Common Tern


Our next/last trip for 2002 is next weekend, Sat 19th Oct 2002. There are still a couple of spots available.



Richard Baxter


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