The Bird Observation and Conservation Australia (BOCA) pelagic got out
off Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania on the weekend. Despite the rather strong
winds it was a good trip.
BOCA PELAGIC TRIP OFF EAGLEHAWK NECK, TASMANIA
Sunday 28th Nov 2010
OBSERVERS: Geoff Bromfield, Mike Bysouth, Joe Gilmour, Sam Gilmour,
Chris Lester, Rosemary Lester, Elizabeth Lloyd, Marlene Lyell, Simon
Nevill, Roger Pedley, John Stirling, & Rohan Clarke (organiser and
WEATHER: Fairly heavy cloud through much of the day with occasional
short grabs of sunlight breaking through. Combined with a few patches of
light drizzle in the AM and a lively sea, conditions were not the best
for photography. As the trip departed just hours after a fast moving
cold front passed over Tasmania it was quite cold for a late November
trip. Initially a 25 knot south westerly wind, with occasional gusts to
30 knots on the way out. This eased slightly through the middle of the
day to 20 knots and remained there on the return leg.
SEA: A fairly lively sea with moderate swell. At the shelf there was a
1.5 to 2.5 m swell with moderate chop (to 1 m) meaning we did pitch
about a bit, especially when side-on to the sea. Inshore, and especially
when in the lee of the cliffs of Tasman Peninsula, conditions were quite
mild. There was relatively little spray when underway but the strong
breeze combined with some slop at the shelf meant we copped a few
splashes and a bit of spray during the drift and berley session.
ACTIVITY: Departed Pirates Bay Wharf at 0735 EST. Headed east out of
Pirates Bay and along the coast to level with the Hippolytes before
running across to ‘the rock’ with a following sea and on out to the
shelf. A few birds inshore including many gannets plunge diving close in
to the cliffs, a dense band of shearwaters and accompanying albatross
just past the Hippolytes and a second band of shearwaters and other
seabirds just inshore of the shelf edge. We crossed the shelf break (100
fathoms) at 0930 before making a single long drift and berley session
for the day. With a 20+ knot wind we drifted over 10 km along the shelf
edge. Our berley session ended near 42º59.08’S 148º15.01’E at 1245.
Because of the conditions we didn’t travel beyond the shelf as we would
normally do and consequently the maximum depth achieved for the day was
just ~120 fathoms. Berley was a mix of chicken skin, tuna frames and
fish oil. Again because of the rough sea, on the return leg we tracked
to a point below the cliffs a few km to the west of Pirates Bay before
running along the coast into the harbour. This different route paid off
as we had three Humpback Whales lunge feeding at the surface close
inshore. We watched this spectacle for nearly 40 mins, at times close
enough to smell the breath of these magnificent animals, before the
final run home. Disembarked at ~1500.
MAMMALS: Australian Fur Seals perhaps 20 on the Hippolytes (probably
more as we didn’t circumnavigate it). Also 2 offshore in the am and 3
offshore in the pm.
Common Dolphin: A single pod of ~8 in relatively shallow water about 1
km outside of Pirates Bay in the AM.
(Oceanic) Bottle-nosed Dolphin: A huge pod of 80+ in the PM over 60
fathoms of water. It is very unusual to see such a large aggregation of
Bottle-nosed Dolphins. Much leaping clear of the water allowed us to
confirm IDs on at least 30 individuals and the rest appeared the same on
size, colour and dorsal fin structure. Many albatross and shearwaters in
attendance suggests they were actively feeding.
Humpback Whale: 2 distant animals in the AM close inshore to the east of
Pirates Bay. These animals leapt clear of the water on one or two
occasions and half clear of the water on many more occasions. In the PM
close inshore to the west of Pirates Bay we encountered 3 animals that
put on an incredible spectacle. Surface lunge feeding repeated in close
proximity to the boat. No super-telephoto lenses required here…for most
I imagine this was the highlight of the day. A couple of pics here…
http://www.pbase.com/wildlifeimages/humpback_whale (first two pics in
BIRDS: 21 species beyond the entrance to Pirates Bay is low count for a
Tasmanian pelagic. Highlights were large numbers of Wandering Albatross,
good views of Southern Royal Albatross, Buller’s Shearwater and a very
showy Long-tailed Jaeger. Gould’s Petrel would also have been a
highlight but for the very brief views.
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel: 6 (3). All pelagic.
White-faced Storm-Petrel: 3 (1). All pelagic.
Wandering Albatross: 30 (12) good numbers of this species whilst at the
shelf. All pelagic, except for 2 seen just inside the shelf in the AM.
Almost all appeared to be gibsoni, with just one possible exulens.
SOUTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS: 1 immature pelagic. Another Royal Albatross
seen very distantly was either a second immature Southern or a Northern
Black-browed Albatross: nominate race 18 – most were older immatures but
also 2 adults. 2 offshore remainder pelagic.
impavida 3(2). all pelagic. Two adults and at least 1 older immature.
Shy Albatross: 100 (40). All cauta. 14 inshore, 30 offshore, remainder
pelagic. All adult.
Northern Giant Petrel: 2 immature individuals and 1 young adult.
Fairy Prion: 1 offshore seen by just a couple of observers.
Short-tailed Shearwater: 10,000+ (2000). Mostly offshore as several
dense bands of rapidly moving birds, but also many at the shelf and a
flock of ~800 with the Humpback Whales in the PM.
Sooty Shearwater: 9 (2). 2 offshore, remainder pelagic.
Fluttering/Hutton’s Shearwater: A single unidentified bird at the shelf.
BULLER'S SHEARWATER: 8 (3). 1 inshore, 1 offshore, remainder pelagic.
White-chinned Petrel: 20 (5). 2 offshore, remainder pelagic.
Great-winged Petrel: 15 (3). All gouldi. All pelagic
GOULD'S PETREL: A single brief flyby at the shelf.
Australasian Gannet: 180 (100), 2 pelagic, remainder inshore. Also 200+
on the Hippolytes.
Black-faced Cormorant: 39 inshore, 5 offshore and 100 ashore on the
LONG-TAILED JAEGER: 1 non-breeding adult at the shelf stayed with us for
at least half an hour. Photos of the bird are here...
Crested Tern: 6 (3). 1 inshore, remainder at the shelf.
Kelp Gull: 7 inshore in the AM and at least 10 at the Hippolytes.
Silver Gull: 20 inshore and 150+ around the Hippolytes.
Also a ~2 m Mako Shark at the back of the boat nudging the fish oil
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