Sydney Pelagic Trip Report November 12, 2005

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Subject: Sydney Pelagic Trip Report November 12, 2005
From: Roger McGovern <>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2005 15:32:31 +1100 (EST)

  NOVEMBER 12, 2005

  Trip Summary  A group of twenty or so birders from the UK, Sweden, USA and 
Australia set out from Sydney Harbour on a lovely early summer morning at 
07.00. After clearing the Heads, we sailed northwards parallel to the coast at 
about one mile offshore, looking for migrating female Humpback Whales with 
calves, as the protective mothers tend to hug the shoreline on their journey 
south. There were a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Fluttering Shearwaters and 
Australasian Gannets around and, surprisingly at this date, steady small groups 
of Short-tailed Shearwaters passing by on their southwards migration.
  With no whales around, we turned eastwards and motored out to the Continental 
Shelf in the vicinity of Brown?s Mountain some 22.5NM east of Sydney Heads. 
Initially, we saw several Pomarine Jaegers, one Arctic Jaeger and a couple of 
Hutton?s Shearwaters and, then, things became quiet bird-wise as we crossed the 
?Abysmal Plain?. Brief views of a passing Wandering Albatross increased the 
excitement level for the overseas visitors but it didn?t stay around for closer 
inspection. A couple of groups of Short-beaked Common Dolphins provided some 
interest as they came for a ride on our bow-wave and, just before the shelf 
break, we had excellent close views of a Sunfish.
  As we reached the shelf, water temperatures climbed to 23degC, which was not 
a good indicator for bird numbers in early November. Sure enough, although 
there were a lot of fishing boats at Brown?s Mountain, there were fewer birds 
than I have ever seen at this location. We berleyed for an hour or more, and 
attracted a few Great-winged Petrels and a single Providence Petrel before 
giving up and moving further to the north east. The combination of light winds 
and high water temperatures was not conducive to good pelagic birding. On the 
way to our second location, we were joined by a pod of Pantropical Spotted 
Dolphin, a rare cetacean off Sydney, as they prefer water temperatures above 
25degC and rarely are seen south of Brisbane. About 3NM from our first stop, we 
cut the motors and started laying out another berley slick. This time we had a 
little more success as we saw three more Wandering Albatross, one of which 
settled on the water and came very close to the boat, and a
 Flesh-footed Shearwater and a Wilson?s Storm-Petrel added to the species count.
  On the way back to shore, we encountered a female Humpback Whale, with a calf 
in close attendance, only a mile or so off Collaroy, which provided a 
satisfactory finish to a fairly quiet day.

  Conditions  Mostly sunny and warm, with an odd rain shower
  Water temperature 19.5 to 23.0degC
  Departed at 0700 and returned at 1545
  1.0m sea on a 1.0m swell, moderating later in the morning
  Light north-west winds in the morning backing to the north-east later.

  Bird List  (Note that numbers in parenthesises represent the maximum numbers 
seen at any one time)
  Great-winged Petrel            20   (8)
  Providence Petrel                 1    (1)
  Wedge-tailed Shearwater    50   (20)
  Flesh-footed Shearwater       1    (1)
  Short-tailed Shearwater      400  (50)
  Fluttering Shearwater          25   (8)
  Hutton?s Shearwater             2    (2)
  Wandering Albatross            4    (2)     all Gibsoni
  Wilson?s Storm-Petrel          1    (1)
  Australasian Gannet            12   (3)
  Pomarine Jaeger                   6    (1)
  Arctic Jaeger                        1    (1)
  Silver Gull                          60   (20)
  Crested Tern                        8    (3)

  Sea Monsters  Humpback Whale                                 2
  Short-beaked Common Dolphin          60
  Pantropical Spotted Dolphin               20
  Sunfish                                                  1
  Breaching Marlin                                  1

  Next Sydney pelagic trip will be on Saturday 10 December 2005 departing 
Cremorne Point at 0645 and from Rose Bay at 0700. Call Hal on 0411 311 236 to 
make a reservation.

  Roger McGovern
Birding-Aus is on the Web at
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