A whole boatload of us went out on the Sydney
pelagic this month due to it being combined with a Macquarie University course
outing. it was a glorious day with lots of sun though cold, 10 Kt SW with 1
m swell inshore and 15 Kt+ with a 2 m swell offshore.
The usual Australian Pelicans saw us off,
accompanied on this occasion by a pair of Chestnut Teal and a flock of Little
Black Cormorants. Heading past Nielson Park three Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos
flew over heading for Mosman.
Silver Gulls, Crested terns, a single Shy Albatros
sighted heading off into the sun, a number of Australian Gannets and a
Fluttering Shearwater were seen as we headed south towards Botany Bay to observe
a pod of 5 Humpback Whales. The Whales were slowly swimming north with their
rolling backs breaking the surface intermittently. Heading out to Brown's
Mountain we passed a fishing boat beside which was floating a brown skua,
unfortunately too far away to determine the species. A fleeting glimpse of
a Storm Petrel on the way out was declared a White Bellied on the basis of white
on the underwing and the lack of a black belly stripe.
Offshore, despite a nice breeze the birds were
elusive. There were plenty of Providence Petrels around but they seemed
singularly disinterested in the chum. A number of Crested Terns picked over the
offering, rejecting the fat but relishing the pilchards. Eventually a
Yellow Nosed Albatross alighted on behind the boat and took the chum.
It was soon joined by a single Black Browed Albatross (race impavida
with a pale eye). These birds remained for some time and were circled a number
of times by a largely brown winged Wandering Albatross before it too deigned to
join the feeding pair. Steaming back along the slick we picked up a single
Wilsons Storm Petrel.
While chuming a large striped marlin came
alongside the boat just below the surface, the spectacular electric blue
stripes glistening in the sun. More aquatic pleasures on the way home
included a pair of Rissos dolphin, a small pod of False Killer Whales and
3 or 4 Bottle Nose Dolphins who headed towards us until about 50 m away and then
swung left into a semi-circle around the boat before continuing on their
original track north. Finally off Manly we reconnected with the morning's pod of
Humpbacks, now surrounded by a small flotilla of spectator craft. Coming into
the harbour a school of small fish breaking the surface had Gannets
streaming in and diving vigorously.
Hal tells me that there is no Sydney pelagic in
July but back to normal on the second Saturday in the month