Eaglehawk Pelagic 5th of May 2013
Participants: Els Wakefield, Karen Dick, Scott Linnane, Will Newberry, Martin
Havlicek, Dan Giselsson, Linda McCurdy, Rob Hamilton, Diana Womersley, Jeremy
O’Wheel and Paul Brooks (organiser/compiler).
Boat: Pauletta, skippered by John Males with deckhand Brock.
Weather: 1-2 metre seas on a 2-4 metre swell kept us on our toes early, but
this lessened throughout the day to seas under 1 metre with a swell of less
than 2 metres. Wind was generally westerly at around 25 knots; this also
lessened somewhat during the day. Several squalls came in from the southwest,
bringing some rain and very cold winds up to 35 knots.
The trip turned out to be a very entertaining day on the water enjoyed by a
good mix of first-timers and marginally more experienced sea-birders. Although
the conditions were rough at times, none were seasick, but a couple (by their
own admission) came very close. Bird activity was consistent throughout and we
encountered a good spread of species. There was an interesting mix of summer
and winter birds, but no appearance of Providence Petrel as yet. Fairy Prions
were by far the most numerous bird of the day and Buller’s Albatross numbers
had dropped markedly since our last trip in March.
The highlight of the day came just beyond the shelf before we had stopped to
lay berley. A Procellaria petrel that had been following for a while came
close enough to show what looked like a distinctly dark bill-tip. After
several more close passes and photographs, it was thought that the bird was not
a White-chinned Petrel but a WESTLAND PETREL. We pulled up to toss some berley
over and the bird obliged us by sitting in the slick and allowing great photo
opportunities, which helped to clinch the ID. It was then that another
Westland Petrel was noticed flying around, followed soon after by a third! All
three birds sat in the slick at some point, sometimes together, and they even
followed us when we moved well to the north to lay a new slick later in the
morning. A very exciting record for all on board with a BARC submission
Just prior to our second stop, a small tern appeared off the stern. We pulled
up and, although the bird stayed quite high and somewhat distant, we managed a
few photos of what was thought to probably be a White-fronted Tern. On
examination of Rob Hamilton’s photos that night, however, the bird looked to
display the features of an ARCTIC TERN and Rohan Clarke confirmed the ID for us
the next day. A good Tasmanian record to go with the sightings from WA on the
The final highlight came not long after when a SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL appeared
from the south in the teeth of a southwesterly squall. This bird was also very
accommodating, making several close passes of the boat during the time it hung
Bird Species (after IOC v3.3, max numbers seen at one time in brackets)
Antipodean Albatross: 2 (1) Brief fly-bys in pelagic waters.
Southern Royal Albatross: 1 (1) Pelagic.
Black-browed Albatross: 2 (1) Pelagic.
Campbell Albatross: 1 (1) Pelagic.
Shy Albatross: c. 80 (28) From inshore to pelagic waters.
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 2 (1) Just offshore in the morning.
Buller’s Albatross: c. 26 (3) From inshore to pelagic waters.
Southern Giant-petrel: 2 (1) Pelagic.
Northern Giant-petrel: 7 (4) Offshore and pelagic. Also several ‘GP sp’.
Cape Petrel: 2 (2) Subspecies australe. Pelagic.
Fairy Prion: Hundreds (60) Offshore and pelagic.
Great-winged Petrel: 3 (2) Subspecies macroptera. Pelagic.
SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL: 1 (1) Pelagic.
White-chinned Petrel: 3 (3) Pelagic.
WESTLAND PETREL: 3 (3) Pelagic.
Sooty Shearwater: 6 (1) Offshore and pelagic.
Short-tailed Shearwater: 26 (13) From inshore to pelagic waters.
Fluttering Shearwater: 3 (1) Only a few for sure among c. 50 ‘fluttering-types’.
Hutton’s Shearwater: 1 (1) Only one certainty among c. 50 ‘fluttering-types’.
Wilson’s Storm-petrel: 6 (5) Pelagic.
Grey-backed Storm-petrel: 3 (3) Pelagic.
White-faced Storm-petrel: 2 (2) Pelagic.
Common Diving-petrel: c. 40 (1) From inshore to pelagic waters.
Australasian Gannet: c. 30 (20) Mainly inshore, one juvenile well offshore.
White-faced Heron: 4 (2) 3 on the Hippolyte and 1 near Pirates Bay.
Black-faced Cormorant: c. 400 (150) The Hippolytes and inshore, including many
Peregrine Falcon: 1 (1) Female soaring over the Hippolyte.
Silver Gull: c. 100 (40) Inshore.
Pacific Gull: 3 (2) Hippolyte.
Kelp Gull: 7 (2) Inshore.
Greater Crested Tern: 36 (11) Inshore to pelagic, including many immatures.
ARCTIC TERN: 1 (1) Pelagic. Identified from photograph.
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