FW: Sydney Pelagic Trip Report - Saturday May 14, 2016

To: "birding-aus " <>
Subject: FW: Sydney Pelagic Trip Report - Saturday May 14, 2016
From: Roger McGovern <>
Date: Mon, 16 May 2016 00:32:51 +0000

As this pelagic trip was one of the quietest that we have ever experienced,
this report will be correspondingly rather short! It was an absolutely
superb day on the water with warm autumn sun, light winds and minimal seas
of about half a metre. Unfortunately, maybe because of the westerlies that
had been prevalent for the past few days, there were very few birds to be
seen. Our species count was nine, which is two better than our all-time low
count of seven but compared to our best species count of 29 and our average
of 16, it was indeed a very quiet day for birds. Furthermore, ignoring the
non-Procellariiformes (gannets, gulls and terns), we recorded only 20
individual birds on the entire trip. Having said all of that, the day was
highlighted by some excellent cetacean sightings including our largest
counts of Risso's Dolphins and a good close-up sighting of a pod of
Pantropical Spotted Dolphins - showing that there is always something good
to be seen on the ocean.

We departed Rose Bay Wharf at 7.20am with a complement of 20 passengers, all
locals except for one visitor from Belgium. We started the berley trail as
we left the harbour to attract a good following of Silver Gulls which, in
turn, would normally attract other birds to the berley as we left the coast.
However, after an hour or so, we still had a following of birds which
comprised only Silver Gulls and an occasional fly past of an Australasian
Gannet or Greater Crested Tern. About four or five miles off the Heads, a
pair of Cattle Egret were seen flying south, an unusual sighting off the
coast of Sydney. On the way out to the shelf at Brown's Mountain, we had the
odd Black-browed and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross pass by the boat but they
showed no interest in feeding on our berley trail. A beautiful adult
Campbell Albatross approached close to the boat giving great photo
opportunities but, again, it did not stay around for long. A loafing fur
seal (sp) gave brief but good views as we got into deeper water towards the

Approaching the shelf break, a small pod of four Short-beaked Common
Dolphins rode on our bow wave briefly and two Fairy Prions (first returning
sightings for 2016 off NSW) passed across the bow of the boat. As we reached
Brown's Mountain, we encountered the first of about four groups of Risso's
Dolphins which gave good views before we stopped to have our first berley
drift. After 40 minutes or so having seen no birds at all, we abandoned the
drift and started to motor slowly eastwards into deeper water where it was
still very quiet but punctuated by the odd sighting of Providence Petrel,
another Fairy Prion and a very distant 'cookilaria' petrel (possibly a
Gould's) seen only by a couple of observers. We continued to see groups of
Risso's Dolphins and estimated total numbers to be 70 - 80, and two Southern
Ocean Sunfish added to our tally of 'sea monsters'. After setting course
back to Sydney and while still in deep water off the shelf, we encountered a
small pod of Pantropical Spotted Dolphin which approached closely giving
good views and a distant Shy Albatross was spotted behind the boat becoming
our final new bird species for the day.

The regulars on board the boat tried (as usual) to come up with theories as
to why it was such a quiet day but, our trip on May 11, 2013 encountered
similar conditions and identical water temperatures of 21.5degC and yet
yielded 20 avian species for the day - and so the jury is still out! The
beautiful weather conditions made it a pleasure to be on the water and I
think that everyone enjoyed the day.

(Note that the number in parentheses represent the approximate maximum
number of that species in view at any one time)

Black-browed Albatross  5       (2)
Campbell Albatross               1         (1)
Shy Albatross                  1           (1)
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross      5       (2)
Fairy Prion                          3     (2)
Providence Petrel                      4           (1)
Australasian Gannet             30         (5)
Silver Gull                        140    (90)
Greater Crested Tern             8         (2)

Short-beaked Common Dolphin        4
Risso's Dolphin                 80
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin       15
Fur Seal (sp)                    1
Southern Ocean Sunfish             2

The next Sydney pelagic trip is scheduled for Saturday 11 June 2016 and all
details of our trips and contact details are hown on the website at and you can also find us on Facebook and post
photos at

Roger McGovern


<BR> Birding-Aus mailing list
<BR> To change settings or unsubscribe visit:

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • FW: Sydney Pelagic Trip Report - Saturday May 14, 2016, Roger McGovern <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU