Port Stephens Pelagic Trip Report - Sunday 23rd October 2011
Boat: M.V. Argonaut, skippered by Ray Horsefield
Dan Williams, Steve Wood, Dick Jenkin, Win Filewood, Alwyn Simple, Alan Stuart,
Michael Kearns, Peter Alexander, Lorna Mee, Dean Macaskill, Steve Edwards and
Steve Roderick (leader and organiser).
Despite the forecast predicting swell to 1m and 5-10Knot winds increasing in
the late afternoon, the trip ending up arriving at the shelf and leaving
immeadiately due to unsafe conditions.
Leaving the heads a slight NE wind blew with swell around 1m.
As we made our way to the shelf the swell and wind gradually increased. Winds
were around 15-20knots and the swell was between 2-2.5m's, the real killer was
the swell duration which got to about 2-3 seconds.
Great for birds, but not the land lubbers!
Suprisingly their were no highlights. The strong winds and large swells
promised something special, even though our visit was brief but none were to be
Departed Nelson Bay at 7am and arrived back in port around 2pm.
A early wind upon leaving the heads had the hopes up of some better birding
than the previous day.
A few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were cruising close to shore and as with the
previous day there was a birdless area within 5-10kms of shore.
Wedgys showed again and chumming begun to drag them in. Interest was shown and
a Huttons Shearwater cruised by.
Intermittent Short-tailed Shearwaters passed by and Australasian Gannets were
An unusual sighting of three Great Cormorants about 15kms from shore was
A few Silver Gulls appeared as they did the day before.
Conditions were gradually getting worse. Numbers of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters
had grown to around 100 birds and the first of the Flesh-footed Shearwaters
Nearing the shelf a Fluttering Shearwater flew by and a single Providence
Petrel was seen, by this stage all but the most game observers had retired to
within the cabin as the swell belted the boatside and sprayed the rear birders.
Upon reaching the shelf, we had immeadiate success with a Great-winged Petrel
and a young Black-browed Albatross coming in, also four Wilson Storm-petrels
were seen. The swell was now knocking the boat into large side rolls and the
wind was creating .5m white caps.
The decision was made to leave as not only were the comfort levels unacceptable
but it was bordering on unsafe.
If you werent holding on tight you were out of the boat!
I lonely birded and chummed out the back on the return trip, being belted by
the relentless spray, in the hope that we would pick up some more Pterodroma
species, but to no avail.
Shearwater numbers grew to over 300 birds following the boat the odd Wilsons
Storm-petrel showed itself.
No new species were added to the list on the return trip and it was frustrating
to have such great conditions for birds and not being able to stay the course.
A brief motor pass Boondelbah Island was done on the way in to show the Goulds
Species: Total (maximum number around the boat at one time)
Wilsons Storm-petrel: 6 (4)
Black-browed Albatross: 1 (1)
Short-tailed Shearwater: 25
Wedge-tailed Shearwater: 500 (300)
Flesh-footed Shearwater: 8 (4)
Huttons Shearwater: 1
Fluttering Shearwater: 1
Fluttering Type Shearwaters: 4
Providence Petrel: 1
Great-winged Petrel: 2 (2)
Australasian Gannet: 4
Crested Tern: 2
Silver Gull: 12 (6)
Great Cormorant: 3
No Mammals were seen.
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