22nd March 2008, SOSSA PELAGIC TRIP, WOLLONGONG, NSW, AUSTRALIA.
Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Departed: 07:10 returned at 15:00.
Sea conditions: S 2.0 to 3.0 m at first and then 1.5 to 2.0 m by late morning.
Swell: ESE 2.0 to 3.0m.
Weather: squally rain until mid morning and
patchy cloud for the remainder of the day.
Temperature range: 16.1 to 19.0°C.
Barometric pressure: 1024 HPa falling.
Wind: southerly 15 to 20 knots at first and then E 13 to 18 knots later.
Sea surface temperature: 19.2 to 23.2°C.
Primary chumming locations: 34° 37'S : 151° 10'E.
A high-pressure system was moving out into the
Tasman Sea to the east of Tasmania and had
generated a moist southerly air stream during the
previous night that backed to easterly during the
morning. Conditions were quite miserable as we
left the harbour in heavy rain. The sea
conditions were very sloppy and we had no option
other than heading south into the heavy chop.
Flesh-footed and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were
around us immediately and we were soon joined by
some handsome Pomarine Jaegers in their nuptial
garb. Use of binoculars was pretty much out of
the question so it became an intriguing challenge
to identify the birds that joined the flock that
tagged along behind. An Arctic Jeager put in a
brief appearance and, shortly afterwards, a
juvenile LONG-TALED JEAGER in very worn plumage
presented us with an identification puzzle in the
difficult conditions. Conveniently, rather more
obvious LONG-TALED JEAGERS appeared, providing
comparison that confirmed the identification of
the first ragged individual.
After an hour or so a WHITE-NECKED PETREL closed
upon us from astern, providing a much-needed
boost to the prospect of us having a good day.
Eventually the wind shifted to the east and we
were able to change course into it but our cruise
out to the edge of the continental shelf remained
uncomfortable. Jaegers dominated the
proceedings, including some handsome LONG-TALED
JEAGERS, but a steady stream of WHITE-NECKED
PETRELS kept our expectations high. If only the
conditions would improve!
By mid-morning the rain finally abated and, just
inside the edge of the continental shelf, we were
finally able to use our binoculars. Several
Fluttering Shearwaters and a magnificent female
WANDERING ALBATROSS joined in company with us.
Solander's Petrels and a distant dark morph
KERMADEC PETREL greeted us as we reached the
deeper water at the edge of the continental
shelf. Straining to relocate the KERMADEC PETREL
we spotted an adult SOOTY TERN heading up the
wake. Continuing east we observed the first
Grey-faced Petrel for the trip and then a
Catharacta Skua. Unable to secure
identification, we stopped and initiated a
drift-and-berley session just outside the shelf
The adult Brown Skua was an unusually early
record for what is typically a winter visitor but
this became unremarkable in the context of the
following events. An adult SHY ALBATROSS circled
us several times while WHITE-NECKED PETRELS were
present on both sides of the boat; Wilson's
Storm-Petrels flocked in from downwind in
sixes-and-sevens and both Grey-faced and
Solander's Petrels continued to build in numbers.
The procession of WHITE-NECKED PETRELS was
eventually punctuated by the arrival several
KERMADEC PETRELS and at the point when even this
was even becoming passé an adult BULLER'S
With the sea behind us, the journey back to port
was far more pleasant than the outward-bound leg
and we added Gibson's and ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS,
Hutton's Shearwater and Kelp Gull to the list of
species recorded for the day. Another half a
dozen sightings of WHITE-NECKED PETREL added the
final touches to a physically demanding but
otherwise thoroughly enjoyable day of pelagic
On a day that promised little but misery at the
outset this turned out to be a fantastic trip; a
major highlight in itself! The first March
records of Brown Skua and BULLER'S ALBATROSS were
significant but the real treats were the multiple
sightings of KERMADEC and WHITE-NECKED PETRELS,
the latter being observed in unprecedented
abundance at Wollongong. Personally, I never
cease to be in awe of the way in which the
jaegers transform themselves from the worn,
ragged, moulting mess we are used to in the
austral summer into the majestic animals they
become as they acquire their alternate plumage
prior to their northward migration.
Birds recorded according to the latest
Environment Australia Reporting Schedule:
Species code: Species name: Numbers:
(Note: numbers in parenthesis = highest count at any one time)
075 Grey-faced Petrel Pterodroma macroptera gouldi 12 (8)
971 Solander's Petrel P. solandri 7 (4)
922 KERMADEC PETREL P. neglecta 5 (2)
774 WHITE-NECKED PETREL P. cervicalis 26 (4)
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 3 (2)
913 Hutton's Shearwater P. huttoni 1
069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 188 (124)
071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 4 (1)
072 Flesh-footed Shearwater P. carneipes 47 (24)
086 WANDERING ALBATROSS Diomedea exulans 1
846 ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS D. antipodensis 1
847 Gibson's Albatross D. gibsoni 2 (2)
931 BULLER'S ALBATROSS Thalassarche bulleri 1
091 SHY ALBATROSS T. cauta 1
063 Wilson's Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 200+ (100+)
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 5 (3)
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 1
128 Arctic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus 2 (1)
933 LONG-TAILED JAEGER S. longicauda 14 (8)
945 Pomarine Jaeger S. pomarinus 33 (12)
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 2 (2)
125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 5 (2)
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 9 (2)
120 SOOTY TERN S. fuscata 1
In the harbour:
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 7 (7)
100 Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos 1
15 species of procellariiformes in a total of 24
species of seabird identified outside the
131 Sooty Oystercatcher Haematopus fuliginosus 5 (3)
Smooth Hammerhead Sphyrna zygaena 1
For previous trip reports and selected images from this trip visit
All Pelagic Trips from NSW are operated at no
profit to the organizers, 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 as detailed below:
To make a booking on the SOSSA Wollongong Pelagic
Trips that departs on the 4th Saturday of each
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)
Note: SOSSA = Southern Oceans Seabird Study Association
Dr P.J. Milburn
ANU ACRF Biomolecular Resource Facility
John Curtin School of Medical Research
Australian National University
GPO Box 334
Canberra ACT 0200
'Phone +61 2 6125 4326
FAX +61 2 6125 9533
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