Eaglehawk Pelagic Trip Report, Sep 1st 2018

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Eaglehawk Pelagic Trip Report, Sep 1st 2018
From: Paul Brooks <>
Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2018 16:16:29 +1000

Graham Barwell, Donna Belder, Michael Ellison, Mark Sanders, Ramit Singal,
John Tongue, Shirley Tongue, Peter Tongue, Kimberley Tongue, Peter Vaughan,
Tom Wheller and Paul Brooks (organiser and report compiler)


The Pauletta, skippered by John Males, with deckhand Michael Males.


We weren’t sure if the trip was going to get far, with a strong
south-westerly airstream approaching through the week.  In the end we made
it to the shelf-break but John, skipper of the Pauletta, had to pull out
all the stops to get us there in very wet and trying conditions.  While the
forecast left us wondering whether we’d make it, it also boded well for
some interesting birds; we probably didn’t do as well as we’d hoped but
were very happy to have good looks at 2 Grey Petrel and a good count of 7
White-headed Petrel.  The bird of the day was a very showy white morph
Southern Giant Petrel which hung around the boat for some time, taking food
off the water and doing several laps of the boat.  We also had a nice array
of great albatrosses in various plumage, including 8 different Southern
Royal Albatross.


Left port at 0710 hrs and headed straight down to the Hippolytes, bypassing
the rocks in the rough conditions, before labouring east to the shelf
break. We pulled up just beyond the drop-off over 210 fathoms at 0930 hrs
to berley, drifting north-east to 320 fathoms at 1230 hrs.  We headed back
to port a little early, expecting a slow, rough ride; it wasn’t quite as
bad as we feared, and we docked at 1440 hrs.


The forecast strong south-westerly hit us as soon as we rounded the heads
of Pirates Bay, with the wind up around 15-20 kn. Skies were cloudy with a
bit of drizzle and the swell was up towards 2 m.  Nearer the Hippolytes,
the wind picked up and, as we passed the rocks, it was hitting 30 + knots
at times, with seas to 2 m; some rain squalls also began to pass through.
The wind remained strong out wide, in the 25-30 knot region, with some
gusts approaching 40 kn; the regular rain squalls were like showers of icy
needles.  The swell hit 3 m and the seas often topped 3 m and it got pretty
uncomfortable, with a couple of birders spilled to the deck (and in the
berley box on one occasion) by some of the bigger waves.  Despite the
conditions nobody experienced any overt seasickness and we all remained in
one piece.  Water temperature was 12.7 deg C inshore, rising to 13.1 deg C
out wide.


Cetacean sp.: 1 distant blow seen by a couple of observers in pelagic

Australian/New Zealand Fur Seal: 6 (6) On the Hippolytes.

Birds (IOC v 8.1 – max at one time in brackets):

Grey-backed Storm Petrel: 3 (3) Pelagic.

Antipodean Albatross: 4 (3) 3 adult male *gibsoni*.

Wandering Albatross: 3 (2) 1 adult and 2 young (probably 2nd year) birds.

Southern Royal Albatross: 8 (2) 2 younger immatures and 1 older immature
offshore in the morning; 2 young immatures and 2 older immatures in pelagic
waters; 1 juvenile offshore in the afternoon.

Black-browed Albatross: 5 (2) 2 immatures offshore in the morning; 2 adults
and an immature in pelagic waters.

Campbell Albatross: 2 (1) An adult and an immature in pelagic waters.

Black-browed type Albatross: 3 (2) 2 immatures offshore in the morning; 1

Shy Albatross: c. 50 (21) 9 inshore in the morning; 18 offshore in the
morning; remainder pelagic.  Mainly adults with a couple of immature birds
and one juvenile – it’s plumage didn’t look fresh enough for *steadi*,
probably *cauta*.

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross: 2 (1) Both pelagic.

Buller’s Albatross: 2 (1) Both pelagic.

Northern Giant Petrel: 3 (2) 1 immature offshore in the morning; 2
immatures in pelagic waters.

SOUTHERN GIANT PETREL: 1 A spectacular white morph gave excellent views in
pelagic waters.  The bird stayed with us for some time, flying close around
the boat and feeding in the slick.

Cape Petrel: 2 (1) Both pelagic, both nominate race.

Fairy Prion: c. 50 (c. 25) 20 offshore in the morning; remainder pelagic.

Great-winged Petrel: c. 30 (12) 8 offshore in the morning; c. 20 pelagic.

WHITE-HEADED PETREL: 7 (1) 3 offshore in the morning; 4 pelagic.  Most gave
good views, often passing quite close and sometimes circling the boat.

Grey-faced Petrel: 12 (2) 1 inshore in the morning; 8 offshore in the
morning; remainder pelagic.

GREY PETREL: 2 (1) Both birds circled the boat a few times each in pelagic

Sooty Shearwater: 3 (1) All pelagic.

Common Diving Petrel: 22 (2) 18 offshore in the morning; 4 pelagic.

Black-faced Cormorant: 7 (3) 7 inshore in the morning.

Australasian Gannet: 3 (1) 1 inshore in the morning; 2 pelagic.

Silver Gull: 6 (3) 6 inshore in the morning.

Pacific Gull: 1 inshore in the morning.

Kelp Gull: 34 (12) 34 inshore in the morning.

Greater Crested Tern: 9 (4) 1 inshore in the morning; 8 pelagic.

White-fronted Tern: 4 (3) All pelagic.

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