Sydney Pelagic Trip Report - November 13, 2010

To: "birding-aus " <>
Subject: Sydney Pelagic Trip Report - November 13, 2010
From: "Roger McGovern" <>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2010 16:02:21 +1100


A private pelagic charter out of Sydney last Monday had produced only one
albatross and very few pterodromas and so, with the northerlies still
blowing, we surmised that our best chance of a rarity today might be
something tropical. For once, a theory voiced prior to a trip came to
fruition and our top bird of the day was a BLACK NODDY which gave everyone
excellent views during our second drift about 5NM east of Brown's Mountain.
Although the pelagic sightings on Tony Palliser's website have not been
updated for a while, there is only a single record of Black Noddy for Sydney
and/or Wollongong for the period over which the statistics were compiled.
There was of course a Sydney record earlier this year of an individual which
stayed on Long Reef from about April 6 until April 19. The other notable
highlights of the trip were the good numbers of Great-winged Petrels which
fed avidly alongside the boat, the continued migration of Short-tailed
Shearwaters and a sighting of a huge Ocean Sunfish (or Common Mola). The
sunfish that we normally see off Sydney is the Southern Ocean Sunfish (Mola
ramsayi) but this Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) was distinctly larger and far
paler in the water. They average up to 4 meters in length and weigh in at
upwards of 1000 kg which this one certainly did - see this website for more

Surface water temperatures were only a little up on last month's, with
18.8degC inshore rising to 19.1degC at the continental shelf. We departed
from Rose Bay ferry wharf at 7.10am and returned at 3.45pm. Sea conditions
were a little bumpy with a north easterly sea of a metre on a swell of 2 to
3 metres. The wind started off quite light at 5 knots from the north to
north east but freshened during the day to 15 - 20 knots. The weather was
mostly sunny and warm but the sea conditions caused a few cases of sea
sickness unfortunately, although the majority of those on board coped well.


Those who boarded the boat at Mosman Wharf had brief views of a Little
Penguin on the way over to Rose Bay but, fortunately, we were to get great
views of another one in Rose Bay itself on the way back in, so nobody dipped
on the sighting. We departed Rose Bay with a complement of 23 passengers
from Australia, USA, Canada and the UK and, unusually, had a Peregrine
Falcon fly overhead near Vaucluse. As we headed out into a fairly brisk
chop, we immediately began to see Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, a few
Short-tailed Shearwaters, the odd Fluttering Shearwater and an immature
Australasian Gannet. The first brief excitement of the day was when a
distant pale bird flying close to the water was touted as a Buller's
Shearwater, but the continuous laboured flight pattern soon revealed that it
was, in fact, a pale morph Arctic Jaeger. A sleeping Australian Fur Seal was
approached giving good views to all, and migrating groups of Short-tailed
Shearwaters began to appear with greater frequency. A Pomerine Jaeger and a
Flesh-footed Shearwater were the only other new species seen before we
reached the shelf, and we began our first drift at Brown's Mountain with
very few birds in evidence. The berley slick began to attract a few
Great-winged Petrels (all of the NZ race, gouldi), one Providence Petrel and
a lone immature Black-browed Albatross. After returning to the head of the
slick for another drift with no positive results in terms of bird species,
we decided to head into deeper water to our Sperm Whale site to see whether
we would fare better. Well, we didn't see any Sperm Whales but our first
drift had immediate results in term of bird numbers with up to 40 or 50
Great-winged Petrels feeding hungrily close to the boat and being joined by
the odd Providence Petrel, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Wedge-tailed Shearwater,
Pomarine Jaeger and Wilson's Storm-Petrel. Steve noticed a huge pale object
in the water a couple of hundred meters from the boat and we interrupted the
bird attracting to head over and check it out. As described at the beginning
of this report, the object was a massive Ocean Sunfish and we had a great
opportunity to observe it in the water at quite close quarters. Back to the
slick for one more drift and in came a pristine BLACK NODDY which drifted
past us at a fairly close distance and then just kept going. Shortly
afterwards, two Sooty Shearwaters were sighted some 300 metres from the boat
but did not approach and were missed by many people on board.

On the way back to Sydney, we sighted a mature Wandering Albatross (gibsoni)
which came past the boat giving great views and great joy to those overseas
birders for whom it was a coveted lifer. The Great-winged Petrels followed
the Halicat for some distance, well inshore of the shelf break, but they
eventually left us and the only new species seen was a Common Tern about 5
NM east of Sydney Heads. The combination of the warmer water and the
consistent northerly winds conspired to move our 'normal' November species
to the south of Sydney resulting in a modest species count of eighteen but
it was an absorbing day's birding for all on board.

(Note that the numbers in parentheses represent the maximum number of that
species in view at one time)

Little Penguin  2       (1)
Great-winged Petrel     50      (70)
Providence Petrel       6       (1)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 90      (25)
Sooty Shearwater        2       (2)
Short-tailed Shearwater 500     (50)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 15      (3)
Fluttering Shearwater   9       (3)
Wandering Albatross     1       (1) gibsoni
Black-browed Albatross  2       (1)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel   4       (2)
Australasian Gannet     2       (1)
Arctic Jaeger   1       (1)
Pomerine Jaeger 4       (1)
Silver Gull     50      (15)
Crested Tern    8       (4)
Common Tern     1       (1)
BLACK NODDY     1       (1)


Australian Fur Seal     1
Southern Ocean Sunfish  1
Ocean sunfish   1

The next Sydney pelagic trip will be on Saturday 11 December 2010 departing
Mosman Ferry Wharf at 6.45am and rose Bay Ferry Wharf at 7.00am. Call Hal at
0411 311 236 to make a booking.

Roger McGovern  


__________ Information from ESET Smart Security, version of virus signature
database 5619 (20101114) __________

The message was checked by ESET Smart Security.


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 Trip Report - November 13, 2010, 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