Sydney Pelagic Report - February 10, 2007

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Sydney Pelagic Report - February 10, 2007
From: "Roger McGovern" <>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 21:27:51 +1100

February 10, 2007

 Participants were:

Roger McGovern

Phil Maher

Peter Madvig

Adrian O'Neill

Derek Porteous

Antoine Joly

Dianne Lucas and partner

Marguerite Cousins

Jon Irvine

Charlie Andrews

Peter Marsh

It was good to have Phil Maher on board having a 'busman's holiday' from 
Deniliquin where, he tells us, the drought is digging deep.

A very pleasant Sydney summer day with mostly sunny conditions throughout and 
air temperatures offshore reaching a maximum of 27degC

Water temperature inshore was around 21.4degC and reached as high as 23.1degC 
at the shelf break

Departed at 0730hrs and returned at 1545hrs

Zero sea on a 0.5m swell (if that!), with a very late south-easterly breeze 
causing the only ripples seen all day. Needless to say, we had an extremely 
comfortable ride with no sufferers from sea-sickness

Winds were light and variable all day, never reaching more than 5knots

Trip Summary
As we left Sydney Heads, it was apparent that we were going to have a very 
benign day in terms of sea conditions which is never a good portent for seeing 
birds since they prefer to float on the surface, rather than fly, when there is 
no wind. Motoring through the inshore section of our journey, we had reasonable 
numbers of the birds that we would expect at this time of the year including 
Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Short-tailed Shearwaters, Pomarine Jaegers, Crested 
Terns, Australasian Gannets and Fluttering Shearwaters.
As we continued across the 'Abyssmal Plain' out towards the shelf break, bird 
numbers dropped right off and the sea conditions became more and more calm. 
When we reached Brown's Mountain at the shelf, the sea was oily smooth without 
a ripple to be seen. It was quite eerie and put me in mind of the line from the 
Rime of the Ancient Mariner - "As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean". 
Mind you, he copped that because he had shot an albatross with his crossbow but 
I don't know where we had transgressed. We commenced berleying operations with 
not a lot of optimism but, as always, some birds began to appear with 
Flesh-footed Shearwaters and Great-winged Petrels making up most of the 
numbers. Suddenly, a call of 'albatross' went up and a young Stage 3 Wandering 
Albatross (gibsoni) came flying close by and continued on, never to be seen 
again. Another brief fly-by, this time a Long-tailed Jaeger was a lifer for 
several birders on board and then, some time later, a visit by two Sooty Terns 
(an adult and a juvenile) caused some excitement.

With things fairly quiet, we gave up berleying and motored slowly northwards 
for several kilometres hoping to come across something different. However, in 
all the parties of Flesh-footed Shearwaters and Great-winged Petrels sitting on 
the water, we could not find a single Procellaria or, indeed, anything to raise 
the pulse.

On the way back to the heads, we encountered a large pod of Oceanic Common 
Dolphins which amused themselves (and us) by riding on our bow wave in good 
numbers and, in some cases, with some very small calves in tow.

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

Great-winged Petrel                  60    (10)

Wedge-tailed Shearwater         140   (20)

Short-tailed Shearwater             25     (8)

Flesh-footed Shearwater          100   (20)

Fluttering Shearwater                  6     (2)

Wandering Albatross                  1     (1)

Australasian Gannet                   2      (1)

Long-tailed Jaeger                      1      (1)

Arctic Jaeger                              1      (1)

Pomarine Jaeger                       12      (4)

Silver Gull                                30      (10)

Sooty Tern                                  2      (2)

Crested Tern                               6      (2)

Oceanic Common Dolphins       200

Next Sydney pelagic trip will be on Saturday 10 March, 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

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