Eaglehawk Pelagic - 12th of April, 2015
Craig Anderson, Tony Baker, Margie Baker, Ruth Brozek, Mona
Loofs-Samorzewski, Michael Vaughan, Peter Vaughan, George Vaughan, Els
Wakefield, and Paul Brooks (organiser and report compiler)
The Pauletta, skippered by John Males, with deckhand Michael Males.
Conditions and Activity:
The very rough day foreshortened the trip somewhat. The strong southerly
hit us not long after we left Pirates Bay and the sea was very choppy by
the time we got to the Hippolyte; we abandoned the usual circumnavigation
to head straight to the shelf. The swell was 2-3 metres at a short interval
with seas of 3-4 metres and a steady southerly of 30-35 knots. We pulled up
a couple of kilometres beyond the shelf to berley over 230 fathoms with
baitfish frames and tuna oil. We quickly drifted northwards to 130 fathoms
and, after a couple of high, tipping waves, the decision was made to move
back in to the shelf break. We stopped to berley here over 95 fathoms for
an hour, before the conditions again forced a move; this time to the north,
berleying over 90 fathoms. Unfortunately, the southerlies continued to
increase with gusts approaching 45 knots and, after a stop of only ten
minutes, we were forced to head back into shallow water at 1115 hrs. On
reaching the Hippolyte, we trawled around the several congregations of
birds hovering over schooling baitfish. After 30 mins of this, we returned
to Pirates Bay, hugging the coast, and docked early at 1400 hrs. It was
quite a dull day viewing-wise, overcast for much of the time, with
occasional brief periods of welcome sunshine and no rain. Air temperature
was around 11 deg C and the water temperature was in the mid-17 deg C range
in all waters, fairly high for April. Despite the rough conditions, nobody
experienced any seasickness.
Australian/New Zealand Fur Seal: c. 40 around the Hippolytes.
Common Dolphin: several small pods in pelagic and offshore waters,
totalling around 25 beasts.
Birds (IOC v 5.1 – max at one time in brackets):
Wandering-type Albatross: 1 bird with all-brown body plumage. Bill looked
large and bulbous at the tip, a possible *exulans*.
Antipodean Albatross: 3 (2) All pelagic, all Gibson’s.
Southern Royal Albatross: 1 bird in pelagic waters.
Campbell Albatross: 6 (5) All pelagic, although one bird followed the boat
a considerable distance into offshore waters. 5 adults and 1 sub-adult.
Shy Albatross: c. 65 (15) 11 inshore in the morning; 10 offshore; c. 40
pelagic (15 max); a few inshore in the afternoon. 3 immatures.
Buller’s Albatross: c. 44 (c. 30) All adult. 7 inshore in the morning; 5
offshore in the morning; 4 pelagic; c. 35 offshore in the afternoon.
Northern Giant Petrel: 3 (2) 1 offshore; 1 juvenile and 1 adult pelagic.
Cape Petrel: 1 (1) Both pelagic, both race *australae*.
Fairy Prion: c. 90 (c. 40) c. 30 spread out offshore in the morning; c.10
pelagic; a flock of c. 40 plus a few others offshore in the afternoon.
Great-winged Petrel: 3 (1) 2 nominate race birds in pelagic waters. Another
bird flew by just before we reached the shelf in the morning; not seen well
enough to assign a subspecies.
White-headed Petrel: 5 (2) One bird appeared just before we reached the
shelf and was joined by a second after we stopped to berley. These birds
circled the boat for some time often coming very close. At least one other
bird came to visit before we headed back to shore and, surprisingly, one
bird was observed cruising south near the Hippolyte in the afternoon.
Soft-plumaged Petrel: 2 (1) One bird gave excellent views on several close
passes of the boat as it circled for 10 minutes or so. The second bird
appeared for a short while in our wake as we motored back for shore, well
into offshore waters.
White-chinned Petrel: 4 (2) All pelagic.
Sooty Shearwater: 1 inshore in the afternoon.
Short-tailed Shearwater: c. 900 (c. 200) c. 400 around and beyond the
Hippolyte in the morning, the remainder passing through in offshore and
pelagic waters. Around a dozen birds fed in the slick occasionally in
Wilson’s Storm Petrel: 2 (2) Pelagic.
White-faced Storm Petrel: 1 pelagic.
Grey-backed Storm Petrel: c. 30 (21) Accrued steadily in pelagic waters
until there were upwards of 20 feeding in the slick at once.
Black-bellied Storm Petrel: 1 pelagic; fed around the boat for most of our
last berley stop, which only lasted for 10 minutes.
Common Diving Petrel: 6 (1) 1 inshore in the morning, the remainder
Black-faced Cormorant: c.250 (c. 100) Inshore in the morning and afternoon.
Australasian Gannet: c. 200 (c. 50) Inshore in the morning and afternoon.
White-faced Heron: 1 on the Hippolyte.
Masked Lapwing: 5 flying just outside Pirates Bay.
Sooty Oystercatcher: 3 on a rock shelf just outside Pirates Bay.
Silver Gull: c. 180 (c.70) Inshore in the morning and afternoon.
Pacific Gull: 5 (2) 3 adults inshore in the morning; 2 juveniles inshore in
Kelp Gull: c.120 (c. 30) Inshore in the morning and afternoon.
Greater Crested Tern: 6 (2) 4 inshore in the morning; 2 at the Hippolyte.
White-fronted Tern: 1 A single bird approached the boat without coming
close in pelagic waters. Two other terns which may have been this species
were seen crossing the bow in offshore waters.
Parasitic Jaeger: 1 A dark morph bird harassing a tern NW of the Hippolyte
in the morning.
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