Here?s a trip report for one of the three days of pelagics off St Helens in
NE Tasmania organised by Ian May. The boat also went out on Friday 21 July.
On that day they had Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Blue Petrel and 2+
Westland Petrels. The plan was to head out again today (Sunday). No doubt a
report for this trip will appear in due course.
Pelagic off St Helens, Tasmania, Sat 22 July 2006
Participants: Ian May (organiser), Dave Stickney, Warwick Pickwell, Bill
Maclean, Bill Watson, Rohan Clarke (report compiler).
Activity: Left the wharf at 0630, clearing the bar at 0710, before heading
northeast to a seamount inside the shelf (55 fathoms) off Eddystone Point
(0840). Briefly berleyed here, then moved out another mile or so to cross
the 100 fathom line. For the remainder of the day we worked our way south
and east of here with a number of stops to berley. Best was a seamount about
10 NM east beyond the shelf where we had huge numbers of birds. Headed in at
1450, docking at around 1630.
Conditions: Throughout the day the sea was calm on a very gentle rolling
swell of less than 1m, while the wind was less than 5 knots and variable.
Generally bright, well lit conditions with little cloud. These conditions
made for a very pleasant day at sea but the lack of wind meant large numbers
of birds were loafing on the sea surface rather than actively seeking us
MINKE WHALE: 1 seen well, albeit briefly, over 67 fathoms of water on the
Bottle-nosed Dolphins: At least 2 (and possibly 2 more) as we motored up the
harbour in both the am and pm. The animals in the pm were huge (for
Bottle-nosed Dolphins), and on size alone I would normally have had no
hesitation in identifying these as of the Oceanic form?.except that they
were in just a couple of metres of water in a sheltered harbour. Is the
oceanic form seen in this environment very often?
Australian Fur Seal. About 20 in inshore waters on the way out.
Wandering Albatross: 25 (20). An aggregation of 20 alongside 3-4 Royals made
for an impressive collection of great albatrosses at the seamount. All
others Wanderers were also pelagic.
exulens: At least 5 ?Snowy Albs? together at the side of the boat, with
another 4 that were also clearly exulens on size.
gibsons: at least five that I was comfortable were gibsons.
No putative antipodensis seen. Just one Stage 1 bird for the entire day, the
remainder were all stage 3 or above.
Royal Albatross: 4 (4) Southern: 3 different birds on plumage at the
Northern: 1 at the seamount.
Black-browed Albatross 70 (45).
impavida: 50 (35). All pelagic, mostly at the seamount.
melanophrys 20 (10). 2 inshore, 2 offshore, remainder pelagic.
cauta: 400 (350). A high count of 350 together at the seamount, 2 inshore, 5
offshore, the remainder at other sites beyond the shelf. About 90% were
salvins: 2.(2).1 adult and 1 sub-adult together at the seamount.
Buller?s Albatross: 15 (5). 1 inshore, 3 offshore, remainder pelagic. All
were adults of nominate form.
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 60 (25). 20 pelagic mostly as ones and twos, 10
offshore, remainder inshore including a flock of 25 in pm. All were adults
of the Indian Ocean form, though one scruffy individual that appeared more
grey-headed than usual had me going for a while.
Northern Giant-Petrel: 35 (25). All pelagic, with the highest count at the
seamount. Several followed us back into offshore waters. 1 adult, 4-5
sub-adults, remainder imm. or juv.
Southern Giant-Petrel: 2(2). An immature and a juvenile at the seamount,
greatly outnumbered by their northern cousins.
WESTLAND PETREL: 1 seen and well photographed at the seamount. Although
attracted to the boat on several occasions, it remained with us for only a
few minutes at a time.
Cape Petrel:35 (15). All pelagic, though several followed us back into
offshore waters. Most were of the nominate race though there was one very
distinct individual of the race australe at our first stop beyond the shelf
and a second later in the day.
Common Diving Petrel: 30 (10). All in inshore and offshore waters. Excellent
views of several.
Grey-backed Storm-Petrel: 13 (10). All pelagic.
Fairy Prion: 15 (7). 2 offshore, remainder pelagic.
Slender-billed Prion: 22 (10). 3 offshore, remainder pelagic.
Antarctic Prion: 1 pelagic.
Sooty Shearwater: 15 (4) Mostly pelagic as ones and twos but at least 4 in
offshore waters in the pm. (No Short-tailed Shearwaters were seen).
Australian Pelican: Ok so normally I?d be pushing it to include this on the
list, but it was on the sea about 1 NM off the coast (in the am).
Black-faced Cormorant: 1 inshore in the am, a second (or the same bird) on
our return in the pm.
Southern Skua: 1 inshore in the am
Crested Tern: 30 (10). 20 inshore, 4 offshore, remainder pelagic as ones and
Silver Gull: 14 (10). All inshore.
Kelp Gull: 3 (3). 2 adults, 1 imm. All three on rocks just beyond the bar in
Pacific Gull: 4(2). All inshore.
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