28/1/06 Wollongong NSW Pelagic Trip Report

Subject: 28/1/06 Wollongong NSW Pelagic Trip Report
From: Peter Milburn <>
Date: Mon, 13 Feb 2006 11:14:13 +1100

Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn. 

Departed: 07:15 returned at 15:45 EDT. 
Sea conditions: calm at first rising to 0.5 to 1.0m NNW later.
Swell: 1 to 1.5m ESE offshore. 
Weather: pleasantly warm with clear skies at first but some high patchy cloud later. 
Temperature range: 23.6 to 29.8°C. 
Barometric pressure: 1006HPa steady. 
Wind: calm at first with an early NE breeze backing to NNW 10 to 15 knots by mid morning. 
Sea surface temperature: 22.8 to 26.6°C. 
Primary chumming locations: S 34° 22' - E 151° 20'. 


A high-pressure system located in the Tasman Sea and a tropical low over northern Australia combined to produce a moist northeasterly airflow.  The morning had a distinctly tropical feel as we headed out of the harbour into a short, choppy northeasterly swell.  Beyond the inshore current the sea was smooth heralding the beginning of a very enjoyable day. 

There was a modest assortment of seabirds and calmer water beyond Wollongong Reef.  The birds present included 4 species of shearwater and Pomarine Jaegers.  Bird numbers remained low and, indeed, decreased as we headed into deeper water. A lone LONG-TAILED JAEGER was the most significant sighting during our journey to the edge of the continental shelf. 

With no birds whatsoever within sight, most of those on board were comatose as we reached the top of the continental slope but this was to change suddenly.  Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were searching for fish and ignored us at first but eventually decided that a session of boat following would be too good to resist.  Birds arrived from all points of the compass; several Great-winged Petrels appeared and then, those harbingers of excitement to follow, 2 SOOTY TERNS flew overhead. 

Would be seabird observers were still struggling to rouse themselves from slumber when the roar of 'BLACK PETREL' from the upper deck brought everyone to their senses.  We began a drift-and-berley session and birds continued to appear from all directions.  As we were hurtling south in a warm current it became apparent that the large throng of seabirds around us was comprised mainly of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters.  However, more SOOTY TERNS appeared in dribs and drabs and then, sensationally, an adult COMMON WHITE TERN appeared overhead.  We had good views although mostly posterior and, while absorbing the spectacle of this exquisite tern investigating our berley with its entourage of SOOTY TERNS we realised that at least 2 BROWN NODDYS were also present. 

We cruised slowly northeast up the berley trail but the tern flock had departed.  Continuing northeast we searched for more petrels but were unsuccessful. 

The trip back to port produced BULLER'S, Sooty and Hutton's Shearwater and Arctic Jaeger as additions to the species tally for the day. 

BROWN NODDYS were last observed at Wollongong in 2000 and COMMON WHITE TERN was last seen in 2002. 

A mixed tern flock that included
COMMON WHITE TERN, BROWN NODDYS and SOOTY TERNS provided breathtaking excitement.  LONG-TAILED JAEGERS, a BLACK PETREL and 2 BULLER'S SHEARWATERS made supporting appearances

Birds recorded according to the latest Environment Australia Reporting Schedule:

Species code:                       Species name:           Numbers:

(Note: numbers in parenthesis = highest count at any one time)

073 Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma macroptera gouldi 17 (15)
917 BLACK PETREL Procellaria parkinsoni 1
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 16 (10)
913 Hutton's Shearwater P. huttoni 1
069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 325+ (250+)
070 Sooty Shearwater P. griseus 1
071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 6 (4)
975 BULLER'S SHEARWATER P. bullerii 2 (1)
072 Flesh-footed Shearwater P. carneipes 24 (15)
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 6 (2)
945 Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus 25 (12)
128 Arctic Jaeger S. parasiticus 3 (3)
933 LONG-TAILED JAEGER S. longicauda 3 (1)
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 1 (1) adult
25 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 33 (28)
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 13 (11)
120 SOOTY TERN S. fuscata 29 (13)
122 BROWN NODDY Anous stolidus 2 (2)
972 COMMON WHITE TERN Gygis alba 1

In the harbour:

096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 2 (2)

19 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater. 

Other birds








For previous trip reports and selected images from this trip visit

Future Trips

All Pelagic Trips from NSW are operated at no profit to the organizers, being operated as group boat charters for the benefit of all who wish to join us.  If you would like to join one of these trips please contact us as detailed below:

To make a booking on the SOSSA Wollongong Pelagic Trips that departs on the 4th Saturday of each month contact:

SOSSA: Phone 02 4271 6004.

Carl Loves Phone: 0427 423 500

Pete Milburn: Mobile 0428 249 506, 02 6255 1313 (AH) or 02 6125 4173 (BH)

To make a booking for Sydney Pelagic Trips that depart from Rose Bay public jetty on the 2nd Saturday of each month contact

Tony Palliser Ph; 02-99001678 (w), 02-94115272  (h)

To make a booking for Eden Pelagic Trips, which are run on the 5th Sunday of each month as it occurs, contact

Barbara Jones or Ph (02) 6495 7390

Note:  SOSSA = Southern Oceans Seabird Study Association
Dr P.J. Milburn
Technical Specialist
ANU Biomolecular Resource Facility
John Curtin School of Medical Research
Australian National University
GPO Box 334
Canberra ACT 0200
'Phone +61 2 6125 4326
FAX +61 2 6125 4326
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