Sydney Pelagic Trip Report - Saturday 13 August 2011

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Sydney Pelagic Trip Report - Saturday 13 August 2011
From: David James <>
Date: Tue, 6 Sep 2011 01:43:20 -0700 (PDT)
Whoops again, I forgot to post this trip report to B-A a couple of weeks ago,  
Thanks for the reminder, Nikolas
Another Sydney Pelagic this Saturday, hopefully the weather will hold, contact 
Hal to book a spot. 
 Sydney Pelagic Trip Report - Saturday 13 August 2011
This trip had 24 pax plus 4 crew. Conditions were fairly mild with a manageable 
south-easterly swell up to 1.5 m, a southerly sea less than 1 m and a sea state 
of 3-4. It was mostly overcast with light rain during much of the afternoon. 
Sea temperatures over the shelf-break were 17-18 degrees C, the coldest yet 
this year. The preceding week saw relatively calm conditions, but moderate 
southerly winds on Friday. It did not seem quite like the conditions we needed 
to get five species of prion.
Before leaving Sydney Heads we saw two Black-browed Albatrosses in the harbour. 
Passing through the Heads at about 7:30, we burleyed almost continuously to the 
shelf break and beyond, hoping to drag as many birds with us as possible. We 
failed to attract albatrosses immediately at the Heads, but by 8:00 there were 
about 30 following, along with Crested Terns and a Brown Skua. Humpback Whales 
were seen in the distance but we did not divert. Just before 9:00 an adult 
Buller’s Albatross joined the followers, about 13 NM ESE in 160 m of water. We 
reached the shelf break at about 9:45 and set a slick for prions. Only fairies 
attended. We then headed to Brown’s Mountain (34 02’, 151 40’) and set another 
slick. A couple of Australian? Fur Seals and a dispersed pod of Oceanic 
Bottle-nosed Dolphins were there. A lone Providence Petrel, some Cape Petrels 
and a Grey-backed Storm-Petrel attended the slick. The Grey-backed was the 
third for NSW and second for
 Sydney pelagics this winter. To avoid rain we moved east (about 26 nm 
offshore) and set two more slicks (34 03’ 151 41’ and 34 02’ 151 45’), but 
prions were in short supply, with only about 10 Fairies around. Albatross 
numbers continued to build and turn over. Wandering albatross of two forms, 
mostly exulans and some gibsoni, were viewed together. A couple of grey-headed 
juvenile albatrosses from the “shy” complex were interesting. Whilst it was 
announced earlier that one or more of these might be Salvin’s Albatross, it now 
appears that there were at least three fresh juvenile White-capped Albatross 
(steadi) from NZ. On the way in we stopped at the shelf break and set a fifth 
slick, but still could not find more than a handful of Fairy Prions. We did, 
however, get great views of a seal that seems to be a New Zealand Fur Seal. At 
4 nm outside the heads we paused to watch two Humpback Whales for a few 
Wandering Albatross (exulans)                3 (1)
Wandering Albatross (gibsoni)                3 (1)
Black-browed Albatross (melanophris)   100 (50)
Black-browed Albatross (impavida)        2 (1)
Buller’s Albatross                                    1
Shy Albatross (cauta)                              5 (2)
Shy Albatross (steadi)                              3 
Yellow-nosed Albatross (bassi)               20 (10)
Cape Petrel                                               4
Fairy Prion                                               40 (20)
Providence Petrel                                     5 (1)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater                        1
Fluttering Shearwater                              30 (10)
Grey-backed Storm-Petrel                       1
Australasian Gannet                                50 (10)
Brown Skua                                             8 (4)
Silver Gull                                               40 (3)
Crested Tern                                            20 (15)
Humpback Whale                                   4 (2)
Oceanic Bottle-nosed Dolphin               50
Australian? Fur Seal                                 2
New Zealand? Fur Seal                            1
Mako? Shark 
Photos of the day’s birds have been posted by Raja Stephenson at:
The next Sydney pelagic trip is scheduled for Saturday 10 September 2011, 
departing Mosman Bay Ferry Wharf at 6.45 am and Rose Bay Ferry Wharf at 7.00 
To book call Hal at 0411 311 236 or visit
Happy seabirding

David James, 


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