Sydney Pelagic Report September 8, 2007

To: "birding-aus " <>
Subject: Sydney Pelagic Report September 8, 2007
From: "Roger McGovern" <>
Date: Sun, 9 Sep 2007 12:27:22 +1000


September 8, 2007



More like a winter day than early spring with scudding clouds, some rain
squalls and a maximum air temperature of about 17degC

Water temperature inshore and at the shelf was 17.5degC which is about as
cool as it will be this year

Departed from Rose Bay at 0715hrs and returned at 1515hrs

The seas were quite sloppy with a 1.0 metre wave on top of a 2.0 to 2.5
metre swell

The wind was a brisk (15 knot) southeasterly all day increasing to 25 knots
in the occasional rain squalls

Despite the uncomfortable conditions, there were only two people who
suffered from sea-sickness and neither of these very seriously.


Trip Summary

For me, this was a perfect pelagic day in terms of conditions for seeing and
enjoying the birds - the solid southeasterly wind and messy sea gave a
promise of plenty of birds for the day. In these conditions, the pterodromas
are a joy to watch as they arc high into the air and swoop back like arrows
to the water surface.

We departed Rose Bay with about 20 passengers on board from Sydney,
interstate and from various overseas locations including Switzerland,
Norway, The Netherlands, Germany, UK, USA and Canada. As soon as we passed
through Sydney Heads, we could see at least eight Humpback Whales blowing as
they journeyed south surprisingly close to the shore - on their southward
migration they normally travel about 8 to 10 miles offshore to make best use
of the prevailing north to south current. As we headed over to get a closer
view of the whales, there were plenty of birds in evidence with good numbers
of recently-returned Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and several parties of
fluttering-type shearwaters. The first few groups that passed by were indeed
Fluttering Shearwaters but, as we went a little wider, we were treated to
excellent views of Hutton's Shearwaters in immaculate fresh plumage.

A lone Yellow-nosed Albatross came obliging in to the boat and landed on the
water and was the only inshore albatross seen. The journey to the
continental shelf break across the 'abysmal plain' was typically fairly
empty of birds but we did come across a group of three Wandering Albatross,
a Black-browed Albatross and a distant Giant-Petrel that was too far away to
call as to species. 

As we approached the area of Brown's Mountain at the shelf break, the number
of birds in evidence increased dramatically with, at first several
Providence Petrels wheeling around the Halicat, followed shortly afterwards
by several Great-winged Petrels. When we cut the motors and began to berley,
the birds began to arrive in good numbers with up to 20 Wandering Albatross
being the first to appear. The wanderers were of various ages from very
young to completely mature and were mostly gibsoni - however there were at
least two larger exulans and a smaller bird that had the characteristics of
antipodensis. Yellow-nosed and Black-browed Albatross were also in good
numbers with one stunning adult of the Campbell Island subspecies impavida
feeding close to the boat and giving excellent photo opportunities. Cape
Petrels began to arrive in good numbers and, at one stage, there were 19 of
these birds around the boat. A lone fly-by Shy Albatross was the only one of
the day and this was followed shortly afterwards by the first sighting of a
stunning WHITE-HEADED PETREL which was undoubtedly the bird of the day.
There were to be four more sighting in the next two hours but it was
difficult to know whether it was the same bird returning each time. A lone
Fairy Prion was the only one of the day, as was the briefly-seen Wilson's
Storm-Petrel which came by shortly before we began heading back to Sydney.

As we approached Sydney Heads, we were very fortunate to spot a Little
Penguin which uncharacteristically remained on the surface for several
minutes and allowed a close approach by the boat as well, giving a memorable
lifer to many of the overseas birders on board.


Bird List

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


Little Penguin                                  1        (1)

Giant-Petrel sp.                                1        (1)

Cape Petrel                                      25      (19)

Great-winged Petrel                        30      (5) 

Providence Petrel                             40      (4) 

WHITE-HEADED PETREL          1        (1)               possibly more than
one bird              

Fairy Prion                                       1        (1)

Wedge-tailed Shearwater                240    (200)            

Fluttering Shearwater                      50      (15)

Hutton's Shearwater                        40      (10)

Fluttering-type shearwater               240    (30)                 

Wandering Albatross                       26      (20)             two
exulans and a possible antipodensis       

Black-browed Albatross                  12      (3)               one

Yellow-nosed Albatross                  15      (4)

Shy Albatross                                  1        (1)

Wilson's Storm-Petrel                      1        (1)

Australasian Gannet                        10      (3)

Brown Skua                                     2        (1)
race lonnbergi                    

Silver Gull                                        60      (25)

Crested Tern                                    12      (4)




Humpbacked Whales                       8



Next Sydney pelagic trip will be on Saturday 13th October, 2007 departing
Mosman Ferry Wharf at 0645 and Rose Bay Public Wharf at 0700. Call Hal on
0411 311 236 to make a reservation



Roger McGovern 




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