Eaglehawk Pelagic Trip Report - March 4th, 2018
Ruth Brozek, Devon Bull, Ross Crates, Helen Cunningham, Karen Dick, Rob
Hamilton, Mona Loofs-Samorzewski, Carolyn Upston, Els Wakefield and Paul
Brooks (report compiler)
The Pauletta, skippered by John Males, with deckhand Hugh Smith.
A day of peaks and troughs in terms of both birding and sea conditions. There
was a lot of action early in the day, with observations of a flying fish,
recently hatched gannet chicks on the Hippolytes, a very inshore Wilson’s
Storm Petrel near the Hippolytes and a large aggregation of albatrosses and
shearwaters over a bait ball along with dolphins and seals. We also had
brief views of a Little Shearwater over a second bait ball and some had
fleeting views of a Buller’s Shearwater. Things quietened down after that
and species diversity and numbers were quite low for some time in deep
water but we gradually built up a longer list of species including
Black-bellied Storm Petrel and Soft-plumaged Petrel. The seas were large
at times but nobody was seasick.
Left port at 0715 hrs and headed straight down to the Hippolytes. We
cruised past the northern side twice to check the gannetries before heading
south-east, diverting to check a large aggregation of birds over a bait
ball. Not far into offshore waters, we again passed over a bait ball, this
time with very little activity, but doubled back to follow up a Little
Shearwater that darted past the stern. We eventually pulled up over 240
fathoms at 0935 hrs to berley, drifting almost dead east to 615 fathoms at
1240 hrs. We headed straight back to port to dock at 1455 hrs.
Skies were mainly cloudy as we left Pirates Bay in the morning but cleared
up as we went offshore. The south-westerly breeze was below 10 kn and the
swell was below 1 metre. Past the Hippolytes, the swell came up towards 2
metres but the seas were low in the 10 kn breeze. Towards the shelf break,
the swell reached 3 metres and the wind picked up to ~15 kn pushing the
seas up over a metre. The wind would occasionally push the 20-25 knot mark
and we found ourselves tossed around a bit at times, with some waves
pushing 5 metres. It promised to be an interesting ride back to port but
the wind dropped out a bit as we crossed the shelf and it ended up being
fairly smooth. Water temperature ~18.2 deg C in all waters.
Common Bottlenose Dolphin: c. 200 (c. 20) A pod of at least 200 offshore
bottlenose travelling north at speed in the morning, well to the east of us.
Short-beaked Common Dolphin: c. 75 (c. 20) Around 55 inshore in the
morning, including at least 10 at the bait ball south of the Hippolytes. At
least 20 in pelagic waters.
Australian/New Zealand Fur Seal: c. 35 (12) 30+ on Cheverton Rock and the
Hippolytes in the morning (including 1 at the bait ball south of the
Hippolytes) and 1 offshore.
Shortfin Mako Shark: 1 A ~7 foot beast circled the boat for some time in
Flying fish sp.: 1 inshore in the morning. A fish of around a foot in
length approached from the stern before splashing down right next to the
Birds (IOC v 7.3 – max at one time in brackets):
Wilson’s Storm Petrel: 3 (2) Interestingly, a bird just south of the
Hippolytes in the morning; 2 pelagic.
Grey-backed Storm Petrel: c. 10 (8) Pelagic.
White-faced Storm Petrel: c. 30 (18) Pelagic.
BLACK-BELLIED STORM PETREL: 1 One bird stopped in the slick for a minute or
so before heading off. Photographs show the bird was missing its left foot.
Southern Royal Albatross: 1 A juvenile in pelagic waters; the bird left and
returned for most of the day.
Campbell Albatross: 1 immature in pelagic waters.
Shy Albatross: c. 120 (c. 40) 7 inshore in the morning; 90 offshore in the
morning, most of which were around a bait ball south-east of the
Hippolytes; remainder pelagic. Mainly adults with 3 immature birds.
Buller’s Albatross: c. 30 (c. 15) 4 inshore in the morning; c. 20 offshore
in the morning, most of which were around a bait ball south-east of the
Hippolytes; 3 pelagic.
Fairy Prion: 1 Pelagic.
Grey-faced Petrel: 2 (1) Pelagic.
SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL: 2 (1) The first bird shot past the stern giving very
fleeting views but the second bird made a couple of passes.
White-chinned Petrel: 2 (2) Pelagic.
BULLER’S SHEARWATER: 1 Seen by at least one observer not long after we
headed back to port.
Sooty Shearwater: 1 Pelagic.
Short-tailed Shearwater: c. 4,650 (c. 1,000) c. 100 inshore in the morning;
c. 3,800 offshore in the morning; c. 750 pelagic.
Fluttering Shearwater: 3 (1) 2 offshore in the morning; 1 pelagic.
Fluttering-type Shearwater: 1 Offshore in the afternoon.
LITTLE SHEARWATER: 1 Observed off the stern over 56 fathoms. We turned
around to see if the bird returned to a bait ball we had just passed over
but it couldn’t be relocated.
Common Diving Petrel: 3 (1) Inshore in the afternoon.
Black-faced Cormorant: c. 465 (c. 250) Inshore and on the Hippolytes in the
Australasian Gannet: c. 115 (c. 35) c. 115 inshore and on the Hippolytes in
the morning, including up to 9 chicks at two different sites on the
Hippolytes – the second breeding attempt in 2 years; 2 offshore in the
White-bellied Sea Eagle: 1 On the Hippolytes in the morning; a bird seen at
the mouth of Pirates Bay in the afternoon may have been the same bird.
Silver Gull: c. 110 (c. 80) c. 110 inshore and on The Hippolytes in the
morning; 5 offshore in the morning which followed us out beyond the shelf
break; these were joined by 7 birds in pelagic waters, including a juvenile
Pacific Gull: 3 (2) 2 adults on a rock shelf outside Pirates Bay in the
morning and an adult on The Hippolytes in the morning.
Kelp Gull: c. 70 (c. 20) c. 70 inshore and on The Hippolytes in the morning.
Greater Crested Tern: 4 (2) Pelagic.
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