Sydney Pelagic Report - January 13, 2007

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Sydney Pelagic Report - January 13, 2007
From: "Roger McGovern" <>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2007 16:45:54 +1100

January 13, 2007

Despite initial expectations of low numbers of birders for the first Sydney 
pelagic trip of 2007, the Halicat left Rose Bay Wharf with a group of 23 people 
on board despite the less than ideal weather conditions. Participants were:

Steve Anyon-Smith

Roger McGovern

Kirsten Dyhm

Anders Magnussen

Ian Stevens

Nigel Miller

Brian Johnstone

Paul Johnstone

Alan Dare

Greg Dare

Dave Torr

Peter Madvig and partner

Niven McCrie

Stuart Robertson

Rodger Hall

Adrian O'Neill

Darryel Binns (aka Biggles)

Peter Hosking

Rob Gibbons

Lyn Fragar

Brock Wiley

Roger McNeill

It was good to have some prominent NT birders on board and I hope they enjoyed 
the experience.

A cool Sydney summer day with overcast conditions throughout with temperatures 
in a range from 17degC to 24degC

Water temperature was 21.7degC at the shelf break after a curious two week 
period off Sydney where water temperatures had been at 24degC, cooled off to 
19degC and now seemed to be on the way up again

Departed at 0705hrs and returned at 1530hrs

2.5 - 3.5m sea on a 1.5m swell, moderating slightly as the day progressed. 
Prevailing northerlies over the past few days had given way to a southerly 
change overnight causing disturbed and somewhat uncomfortable sea conditions

Southerly winds of 25 knots gusting to 35knots in the morning and easing to 20 
knots later.

Trip Summary
There is an old adage to the effect that pelagic seabirding is wet, 
uncomfortable, cold, tiring and sick-inducing, but somebody has to do it. Well, 
this trip was one of the few in recent times that has reinforced that view. We 
departed Sydney Heads in a strong southerly blow and lumpy sea conditions. 
Despite the skipper's best efforts to improve comfort by motoring slowly and 
avoiding the worst of the waves, some people quickly succumbed to mal-der-mer 
and, as the trip progressed, a few more gallant birders joined them.

However, as is often the case in windy conditions, the birding was good and the 
lack of bird numbers was compensated by the good diversity of species. The main 
surprise inshore was the almost total absence of shearwaters with just a few 
Wedge-taileds around. Indeed, there were more Pomarine Jaegers seen than all 
other species combined for the first few miles. One briefly seen Arctic Skua 
was the only one for the day and the only other notable bird seen on the way to 
Brown's Mountain was a passing Shy Albatross which we thought was good for 
January - but it was to be an unusual day for albatross numbers.

We arrived on the shelf break at Brown's Mountain much later than usual at 
10.45, due to the difficult sea conditions, cut motors and began to berley. A 
good slick was quickly established and the birds began to appear from nowhere 
with Great-winged Petrels, Flesh-footed and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and 
Pomarine Jaegers being the early arrivals. After some more Shy Albatross fly 
bys, we were joined by a magnificent old Wandering Albatross (exulans) in 
pristine plumage to the great joy of many on board for whom it was their first 
Wanderer. Not long afterwards, more Wandering Albatross (all gibsoni) joined us 
and then Steve Anyon-Smith picked up on a huge pod of 150 Pantropical Spotted 
Dolphins which approached the boat closely enough to give excellent views. The 
first real rarity of the day to show up was a WHITE TERN which gave acceptable 
views for everyone despite not lingering. A brief visit from a sub-adult 
Black-browed Albatross was unheard of for January and this was followed by a 
Buller's Shearwater which came in on the slick and which was a lifer for 
several on board. Just before setting off back to Sydney, a Wilson's 
Storm-Petrel put in an appearance and good views of Hutton's Shearwaters and 
Short-tailed Shearwaters on the journey home rounded out the tally for the day.

Of particular note for the day were the numbers and species diversity of 
albatross for January (typically the worst month for albatross off Sydney), 
probably the biggest count ever from the Sydney boat of Pomarine Jaegers (26) 
and,of course, the stunning White Tern. In summary, it was a memorable day out 
on the water for everyone on board despite the difficult sea conditions.

Bird List
(Note that numbers in parenthesises represent the maximum numbers seen at any 
one time)

Great-winged Petrel                  30    (6)

Buller's Shearwater                     1    (1)

Wedge-tailed Shearwater          32    (4)

Short-tailed Shearwater             5     (2)

Flesh-footed Shearwater          10     (3)

Fluttering-type Shearwater       20     (2)

Hutton's Shearwater                  3     (1)

Wandering Albatross                  6     (5)    one exulans and five gibsoni

Black-browed Albatross             1     (1)

Shy Albatross                           10     (2)

Wilson's Storm-Petrel                1      (1)

Australasian Gannet                   2      (1)

Arctic Jaeger                              1      (1)

Pomarine Jaeger                       26      (7)

Silver Gull                                30      (10)

Crested Tern                             16      (5)

WHITE TERN                            1      (1)

Pantropical Spotted Dolphins       150

Next Sydney pelagic trip will be on Saturday 10 February, 2007 departing Mosman 
Ferry Wharf at 0645 and from Rose Bay Public Wharf at 0700. Call Hal on 0411 
311 236 to make a reservation


Roger McGovern

To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Sydney Pelagic Report - January 13, 2007, Roger McGovern <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU