*Saturday 22^nd May 2010, SOSSA PELAGIC TRIP, WOLLONGONG, NSW, AUSTRALIA.
*Report prepared by: Lindsay Smith.
Departed: 07:15 returned at 16:00.
Sea conditions: S-SE 2.0 to 3.0m.
Swell: S to 2.0 to 3.0.
Weather: overcast in morning with scattered shows clearing later in the day.
Temperature range: 11 to18.0°C.
Barometric pressure: 1026 HPa steady though out the day.
Wind: South -- South-East at 18-20 Knots all day
Sea surface temperature: 22 degrees
A series of cold fronts had past through the southwest of NSW in the
preceeding week creating moderate to strong southwest winds and rain.
This was now was moving eastwards into the Tasman Sea under the
influence of a high pressure system followed by a trough bringing with
it a significant rain band. .
The cold, wet and windy conditions, with the sea current pushing south
into the south-east swell made for an uncomfortable day at sea and
prevented us from reaching the continental shelf break.
It is fair to say that we got "Flogged"! It was WET! It was COLD! It was
ROUGH! It was a GREAT PELAGIC EXPERIENCE!
Birds however were in good numbers and the species diversity was very
good, with many typical winter species being about. The change in
seasons and species was well represented on this pelagic.
With good numbers of birds observed inshore. Albatrosses, in particular
the smaller species were abundant.
An immature Grey-headed Albatross, blended in amongst the Black-browed
and Campbell Albatrosses of various ages, juvenile to adults, gave
observers, including several very experienced seabirders the opportunity
to find out just how cryptic this species can be at this stage of
plumage development. (A "White-headed", Grey-headed Albatross)
A Wandering Albatross (/D.exulans/) and a few juvenile Australasian
Gannets past over our wake and were soon joined by a distant Buller's
Albatross. A few Silver Gulls and Crested Terns were soon joined by a
single Short-tailed Shearwater and a late Arctic Jaeger. As we cleared
the Wollongong Reef a Brown Skua appeared amongst to following throng of
birds as did a number of Yellow-nosed and Shy Albatrosses. Progressing
south-east into the swell we added Fairy Prion, Wilson's Storm-Petrel
and another two Buller's Albatrosses.
An Immature Wandering Albatross /D.exulans/ with a band fitted to its
left leg was then observed feeding off the stern. A short stop to
capture the Wandering Albatross to check its band No, proved very
eventful. The bird had been banded by our French colleagues in the South
Indian Ocean, most likely at Crozet or Kerguelen Isles. Whilst we were
stopped a Northern Giant Petrel, Cape Petrel and a further seven
Buller's Albatrosses coming to the boat as did a number of Fairy Prions.
These offered the best views of the birds for the day.
After this short stop, just three miles short of the continental shelf
break, we turned and headed back towards the harbour. Another brief
stop, just out side the Trap reef to check on a number of Black-browed
Albatrosses with bands on, proved worthwhile. Here an Arctic Tern was
attracted by birds over the wake, putting in a brief appearance to
inspect the slick behind the boat. A Southern Giant Petrel followed by
two Brown Skuas and an assemblage of Campbell, Black browed, Buller's
and Shy Albatrosses of several ages. These included a most beautiful and
unusual individual Campbell Albatross, with a full pale grey head and
neck (similar to a Grey-headed Albatross) a pale eye and bright orange,
As we head back from here we came in close to the Five Islands for
protection from the swell. We also took this opportunity to check for
Fur Seals hauled out on Martin Island. To no avail as no Seals were
present. However here a small group of Australian Pelicans flew directly
overhead fluttering their salmon pink bill pouches in courtship display.
They flew to Big Is No 2 where the Pelicans had established two separate
new breeding colonies.
As the mêlée of the Gulls Terns, descended on us it was pleasing to add
Kelp Gull to our tally for the day.
(Note: numbers in parenthesis = highest count at any one time)
086 Wandering Albatross /D.exulans/ 3 (one with French band)
088 Black-browed Albatross /T.melanophris/ (several including adults &
immature with bands)
859 Campbell Albatross /T.impavida/ 18 (7)
091 Shy Albatross/ T. cauta/ 10 (5)
090 Grey-headed Albatross /T.chrysostoma/ 1 imm. Possibly 2
089 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross/ T. carteri/ 5 (3) (No immature
Yellow-nosed Albatrosses were present)
931 Buller's Albatross /T.bulleri/ 8(7) (Highest number recorded off
929 Southern Giant-Petrel `/Macronectes giantus/ 1
937 Northern Giant-Petrel /Macronectes halli / 1 age 1+ <2 years Plumage
080 Cape Petrel /Daption sp/. 1
083 Fairy Prion /Pachyptila turtur/ 15+
063 Wilson's Storm-Petrel /Oceanites oceanicus/ 10+
071 Short-tailed Shearwater /Puffinus tenuirostris/ 1
104 Australasian Gannet /Morus.serrator / 15+ (5)
106 Australian Pelican /Pelicanus conspicillatus/ 6
128 Arctic Jaeger /Stercorarius parasiticus/ 1
952 Arctic Tern /Sterna paradisaea/ 1
115 Crested Tern /Sterna bergii/ 10+
981 Kelp Gull /Larus dominicanus/ 1
125 Silver Gull /Larus novaehollandiae/ numerous
*In the harbour*:
106 Australian Pelican/ Pelicanus conspicillatus/ 8 (5)
131 Sooty Oystercatcher 2 (2)
191 Great Egret
For previous trip reports and selected images from this trip visit
All Pelagic Trips from NSW are operated at no profit to the organizers,
being operated as group boat charters for the benefit of all who wish to
join us. If you would like to join one of these trips please contact us
as detailed below:
To make a booking on the SOSSA Wollongong Pelagic Trips that departs on
the 4th Saturday of each month contact:
SOSSA: Phone 02 4271 6004.
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