The Bird Observation and Conservation Australia (BOCA) pelagic got out off
Eaglehawk Neck, SE Tasmania on the weekend. The trip was an outstanding success
(see below). The next scheduled trips are for September 19th and November 28th
2010. Both trips are at present fully booked, but contact me if you wish to be
on the waitlist for either.
BOCA PELAGIC TRIP OFF EAGLEHAWK NECK, TASMANIA
Sunday 21st Feb 2010
OBSERVERS: Ben Allen, Marg Beames, Geoff Bromfield, Mike Bysouth, Giles
Daubeney, Henry Cook, Eula McKane, Lorna Mees, John Stirling, Dejan Stojanovic,
Alan Stuart, Brook Whylie & Rohan Clarke (organiser and report compiler).
WEATHER: High hazy cloud through much of the day clearing at times to full sun.
Remarkably warm in the morning thanks to a northerly airstream that had
persisted for 24+ hrs. A SE change at about 0900 brought with it a slight drop
in temperature. Initially a 10-15 knot northerly wind, swinging SE and gusting
to 20 knots. Short-lived squalls to 25 knots with the front. Fortunately,
conditions moderated quickly and winds dropped to 10-15 knots SE for the
remainder of our time beyond the shelf.
SEA: A fairly lively sea with moderate swell. The boat seemed to handle this
well and the trip wasn't too bumpy. There was some spray when underway but this
was intermittent and although a few got damp nobody was drenched. A 1.5 to 2.0m
swell with occasional larger sets to 2.5m. Moderate chop (to 1.5 m) meant we
did rock and roll at times when stationary. Two seasick.
ACTIVITY: Departed Pirates Bay Wharf at 0715. Headed directly to the shelf
break. Good numbers of birds on the way out with concentrations of albatross
and shearwaters in the 50 to 70 fathom zone. Crossed the shelf break (100
fathoms) at 0855 before making our first stop at 43º08.33'S 148º14.67'E over
600 fathoms of water. Here we berleyed with bread, beef fat, tuna frames and
fish oil. A second stop was made 5 miles SE of this point and then a final stop
was made back on the shelf break at 43º10.193'S 148º11.919'E. Headed back in at
1330. We circumnavigated the spectacular Hippolytes (a prominent rock stack)
before running across inshore waters to dock at 15:10.
MAMMALS: Australian Fur Seals perhaps 100 on the Hippolytes. Also 2 offshore in
the AM and 10 inshore in the PM.
Common Dolphin: A single pod of 30 including some calves in relatively shallow
water a few hundred meters outside of Pirates Bay in the AM.
Bottle-nosed Dolphin: 10 adults in the PM in relatively shallow water a few
hundred meters outside of Pirates Bay (same location as Common Dolphins).
BIRDS: 27 (+1) species beyond the point at Pirates Bay is a high count for a
Tasmanian pelagic. Highlights were Cook's, Gould's and Soft-plumaged Petrels,
Buller's Shearwater and Long-tailed Jaeger. Unfortunately none provided
prolonged views. A probable dark morph South-Polar Skua got away. Numbers of
Wandering Albatross (which did provide superb views) were outstanding.
Wilson's Storm-Petrel: 1 pelagic.
Grey-backed Storm-Petrel: 30 (15). All pelagic.
White-faced Storm-Petrel: 120 (70). 1 offshore, remainder pelagic.
Wandering Albatross: 50 (34) exceptional numbers behind the boat at each berley
stop. There is something special about 30 great albatross on the water together
as another four or so fly circuits around the boat. All pelagic. Almost all
appeared to be gibsoni. One probable antipodensis and 2 probable exulens (on
snowy plumage but not bulk). One Wandering Albatross was observed with a hook
(and accompanying leader) from commercial fishing gear embedded in the palate
of the upper mandible. We captured it using tasty morsels of beef fat and a
hand net, notified DPWI staff and returned it to shore for a vet check. Fingers
crossed for a positive outcome.
Black-browed Albatross: nominate race 1 older immature pelagic. impavida 5
(3). All pelagic. Two adults and at least 2 immature.
Shy Albatross: 45 (15). All cauta. 2 inshore, 12 offshore, remainder pelagic. 3
imms, remainder adult.
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 5 (3). All pelagic. 1 sub-adult, remainder adults.
Buller's Albatross: 40 (10). 10 pelagic, 5 inshore, remainder offshore. The
dominant albatross species in offshore waters.
Fairy Prion: 10 (3). 1 offshore, remainder pelagic.
Short-tailed Shearwater: 1000 (500). Mostly offshore, a few inshore and 80
Sooty Shearwater: 5 (2). All pelagic.
Fluttering Shearwater: 15 (4). 3 pelagic, remainder offshore.
BULLERS SHEARWATER: 1 flyby at the first berley stop.
White-chinned Petrel: 100 (40). 2 offshore, remainder pelagic.
Great-winged Petrel: 35 (10). All NZ gouldi. All pelagic
COOK'S PETREL: 1 brief but close flyby at the first berley point.
GOULD'S PETREL: 3 (1). Single flybys at each of the three berley stops.
SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL: 1 at the second berley point - a bird that didn't
approach too closely, but it did at least hang around for a couple of minutes.
Little Penguin: 1 inshore in the AM.
Australasian Gannet: 20 (5), 1 pelagic, 5 offshore, remainder inshore. Also
500+ on the Hippolytes.
Black-faced Cormorant: 4 inshore in the AM, 10 offshore in the pm and 300
ashore on the Hippolytes.
[SOUTH POLAR SKUA: 1 dark bird whilst in transit from first to second berley
point. Bird seemed a bit small/fine for a Brown Skua, appeared to have reduced
white flashes in spread wing and colder grey-brown tones to plumage but still
only a probable.]
LONG-TAILED JAEGER: 1 adult at first berley point.
Arctic Jaeger: 2 inshore chasing crested terns in the AM.
Crested Tern: 20 (10). Mostly inshore, but 4 offshore.
Pacific Gull: 4 inshore in the AM.
Kelp Gull: 16 inshore in the AM, many (perhaps 50) around the Hippolytes.
Several ages classes (juv through to adult).
Silver Gull: 4 inshore and about 50 around the Hippolytes.
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