Newcastle, NSW, Pelagic Trip report 10 April 05

Subject: Newcastle, NSW, Pelagic Trip report 10 April 05
From: richard baxter <>
Date: Thu, 14 Apr 2005 02:15:58 -0700 (PDT)
Newcastle,NSW, Australia Pelagic Trip Report

Sunday 10th April 2005

Conditions: Departed 7.15am from Newcastle Harbour. Returned 6.30pm.

Sea Conditions: 1-1.5m swell early in day, easing slightly later in the

Weather: Fine and sunny all day.

Wind: 15knots from the N/E

Maximum distance from shore. 75km.

Those on board: Alan Stuart, Ann Lindsay, Alan Morris, Greg Little,
Dick Jenkin, Robert Quinan, Inger Vandyke, Leanne Maffesoni, Joanne
Natano, Phil Hansbro and Richard Baxter.

An excellent April Pelagic trip with FIVE pterodroma species seen.  We
exited Newcastle Harbour about 7.15am and headed North east towards the
Northern Canyons and beyond.  Our first stop was to scrutinize a flock
of about 400 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters following two trawlers about to
enter the harbour.  Apart from the WTSW we observed 1 Arctic Jaeger and
2 Pomerine Jaegers.  These would be the only Jaegers we saw all day.

After this short stop we once more headed out to sea.  The sky was
clear and it was warming up and looking like a nice day ahead.  The further
out we went the more the swell increased as we headed into a 1.5m swell
coming from the N/E. 

We crossed the shelf about 10am after a fairly slow trip out and
commenced to burley, while we continued east at about 10knts.

Not long after crossing the shelf we encounted a lone Solanders Petrel
and several Flesh-footed Shearwater.  As we continued, we soon had
several birds behind the boat and at 75km offshore a small white cookalaria
type petrel was observed a long way from the boat.  We immeadiately
stopped but this bird remained elusive and was probably a Cook?s Petrel.

Soon, Great-winged Petrels began to appear and 1-2 Wilsons Storm
Petrels appeared on the emerging slick.  We had only been stopped for a few
minutes when Phil shouted ?WHITE-NECKED PETREL?.  We had all missed it
fly in, as it was now only about 30m from the boat and gave all on board
great views.  It stayed for a few minutes allowing some fantastic
photos to be taken before departing to the north.

Over the next 30minutes numbers of Solanders (Providence) Petrel and
Great-winged Petrel grew and the Wilsons Storm Petrel count had grown to
over 20 birds.  The next bird of interest to arrive was an unseasonal
Juvenile Wandering Albatross which eventually landed about 50m behind
the boat.  Not long after this a lone pale phase KERMADEC PETREL flew
down the slick and circled the boat several times, coming quite close and
giving everyone excellent views.  This bird soon departed and was not
long after replaced by a darker pale phase Kermadec petrel, which also
came very close to the boat.

We had been at this location about 4hours and the Wilson?s Storm Petrel
count was now about 50, with no doubt many further along the slick, the
end of which was now well out of sight.  The next bird to arrive was a
BLACK-BELLIED STORM PETREL, which fed in the slick and at times, came
very close to the boat.  It eventually disappeared further down the
slick only to return 15minutes later and circle the boat allowing some
great photos to be taken by those at the back of the boat with cameras.

Two White-faced Storm Petrel were found amongst the Wilsons but refused
to come near the boat.  Another Black-bellied Storm petrel also
appeared briefly but soon departed just prior to a third Kermadec appearing. 
This Kermadec Petrel was also a pale phase but in between the two
previous birds in plumage and definitely a third bird.  Again this kermadec
came in close to the boat and some excellent photos were taken and all
on board had good views.

We departed the 75km mark just after 3pm after 5hrs of chumming and
headed in to shore.  About 30minutes after crossing the shelf we yelled,
?Stop the Boat!?as another cookilaria petrel was approaching from the
rear and obviously darker than the possible Cook?s Petrel we had seen
before.  The GOULD?S  PETREL refused to come very close to the boat giving
very frustrating views and soon disappeared.

Prior to entering the harbour we had a pod of about 50 Common Dolphins
around the boat.

We arrived at the jetty in total darkness after a long and successful
day at sea.

Birds seen

Wandering Albatross 1 juv


Great-winged Petrel 30+

Solander's Petrel 20+

KERMADEC PETREL 3 all pale phase

Possible Cook's Petrel 1


Wedge-tailed Shearwater 500+

Flesh-footed Shearwater 100+

Wilson's Storm-Petrel 60+

White-faced Storm-Petrel 2


Pied Cormorant 1

Intermediate Egret 1

A. Gannet 10

Arctic Skua 1

Pomarine Skua 2

Silver Gull 50

Crested Tern 5


Richard Baxter

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