Sydney Pelagic Report - Sunday March 9, 2008

To: "birding-aus " <>
Subject: Sydney Pelagic Report - Sunday March 9, 2008
From: "Roger McGovern" <>
Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2008 17:53:15 +1100


March 9,2008 



A perfect late summer's day with almost no wind at all, cloudless skies and
temperatures in the mid-20degC range

Water temperature inshore was about 21.5degC and this increased a little to
22.0degC out on the shelf break where the water was a superb cobalt blue

Departed from Rose Bay at 07.00hrs and returned at 15.30hrs but didn't get
in to the wharf until 16.55hrs (see later)

The seas were almost calm with zero waves on top of a 0.5 metre
south-easterly swell which made the whole day extremely comfortable

Winds were light and variable all day and didn't pick up until after we had
arrived back inside the harbour

With such totally benign conditions, nobody on board suffered from
sea-sickness, which is the first time in a long while that this has been the


Trip Summary

On the rare occasions that we have had flat calm and sunny conditions, it
has usually been the case that finding birds has been difficult but finding
cetaceans and other sea monsters has been easier than usual. This proved to
be the case again today.


This was a one-off Sunday (as opposed to the normal Saturday) trip out of
Sydney and we had on board a good number of local birders that we haven't
seen on the boat for a while which was good to see. With Saturdays being a
difficult day to get away for some people, we will plan to operate the rest
of the 2008 pelagics on an alternating basis of Saturdays and Sundays which
will give everyone a chance of getting out on a regular basis. Hopefully,
this will not be confusing so be sure to check carefully on which day each
month's trip will be leaving - I will put a posting on birding-aus when the
rest of this year's dates are known.


As we headed out through the Sydney Heads into the Tasman Sea, there was an
ominous lack of bird activity with just a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters
showing and just the odd Flesh-footed Shearwater and Short-tailed Shearwater
passing by, and the only Australasian Gannet of the day made a brief
appearance. A distant small bird on the water was initially called out as a
penguin but, when we got closer to it, turned out to be a single Fluttering
Shearwater which curiously allowed a very close approach before finally
taking flight. It was to be the only Fluttering/Hutton's Shearwater seen all
day. As we entered the Abyssmal Plain, there were representatives of all
three jaeger species present in small numbers which allowed everyone to
brush up on their jaeger identification skills. Surprisingly (or perhaps not
in the light of recent land-based reports from Maroubra) there were more
Long-tailed Jaegers seen on the trip than either Pomarine or Arctic.


The remainder of the trip out to the shelf break was more notable for
cetaceans than for birds with groups of Common Dolphins, Oceanic Bottlenose
Dolphins, a single False Killer Whale and Risso's Dolphins providing good
viewing for all on board. When we arrived at the underwater sea mount called
Brown's Mountain, there were large numbers of recreational fishing boats but
very few birds. Our normal berleying activity brought little response as the
birds were obviously well fed and their feeding conditions were ideal, so we
resorted to motoring along at medium pace looking for birds. Besides the
Wedge-tailed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters, we saw small numbers of
Great-winged Petrels and a large pale bird sitting on the water showed
itself to be a Black-browed Albatross, a most unusual sighting for this time
of the year. Excitement mounted when a distant high bird was identified as a
tropicbird, but excitement turned to dismay when the bird quickly
disappeared from view and was deemed too distant to be called as to species.
Cetaceans continued to be constantly in evidence with more Risso's
Dolphins, Oceanic Bottlenose Dolphins and a pod of about ten False Killer
Whales. One of the False Killers was an albino which swam along parallel to
the boat giving great views and photo opportunities to all. Just as some of
us were thinking that this was not going to be a memorable day for birds, a
white bird took off from ahead of the boat and was immediately identified as
an adult WHITE-TAILED TROPICBIRD which circled and climbed to be joined by a
second adult bird, before they both passed from view. From the records that
I have, this was only the eighth record for the species from
Sydney/Wollongong in the past 20 years or so and was a life bird for many of
the birders on board.


The journey back to Sydney was uneventful except that, upon entering the
harbor we had to anchor up for almost an hour and a half off Vaucluse while
something called the Sydney Superboat Grand Prix took place. A straw poll of
those on board indicated that none of us was interested in seeing noisy
power boats, nobody cared who won and most people were pretty cranky at
being prevented from being able to get into the Rose Bay Wharf. However, the
tropicbirds made everybody's day and we all went home well satisfied.   




Bird List

(Note that numbers in parenthesises represent the maximum numbers seen at
any one time) 


Great-winged Petrel                        15      (2)             

Wedge-tailed Shearwater                45      (8) 

Short-tailed Shearwater                   3        (1)

Flesh-footed Shearwater                 52      (6)           

Fluttering Shearwater                      1        (1)

Black-browed Albatross                  1        (1)


Tropicbird sp.                                   1       (1)               

Australasian Gannet                        1        (1)

Pomarine Jaeger                               6        (1)

Arctic Jaeger                                    5        (2)

Long-tailed Jaeger                           7        (2)

Silver Gull                                        70      (20)

Crested Tern                                    1        (1)



Cetaceans and others

Oceanic Bottlenose Dolphins          30

Oceanic Common Dolphins             10

Risso's Dolphins                              18

False Killer Whales                          11  (including an albino)

Southern Ocean Sunfish                  2

Flying fish sp                                   1



Next Sydney pelagic trip will be on Saturday 12th April, 2008 departing
Mosman Ferry Wharf at 0645 and Rose Bay Public Wharf at 0700. Call Hal on
0411 311 236 to make a reservation



Roger McGovern 



To unsubscribe from this mailing list, 
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Sydney Pelagic Report - Sunday March 9, 2008, Roger McGovern <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU