The Bird Observation and Conservation Australia (BOCA) pelagics got out
off Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania on both Saturday and Sunday just gone. Some
good birds were to be had on both days. Below is Saturdays trip report.
Bird Observation and Conservation Australia PELAGIC TRIP OFF EAGLEHAWK
Saturday 26th Nov 2011
OBSERVERS: Tim Bawden, Iian Denham, Jan Erasmus, Dougald Frederick,
Geoff Jones, Gina Hopkins, Marlene Lyell, Grant Penrhyn, Sue Taylor, Els
Wakefield, Mark Yunker & Rohan Clarke (organiser and report compiler).
WEATHER: Fairly cloudy through much of the day with occasional hazy
sunlight breaking through. In the early afternoon low cloud descended on
the nearby hills and light rain fell for most of the return leg to
Pirates Bay. Though most of the day the wind was north to north easterly
at 10-15 knots. This eased slightly with the onset of rain.
SEA: A mild sea with moderate swell. At the shelf there was a 1 to 1.5 m
swell (fairly broad interval) with smallish chop (0.5 to 1 m). As a
consequence, barring the occasionally sloppy set it was a comfortable
ride. Inshore, and especially when in the lee of the cliffs of Tasman
Peninsula conditions were quite mild. There was relatively little spray
when underway and just the occasional small splash when at the berley
ACTIVITY: Departed Pirates Bay Wharf at 0740 EST. Headed south east out
of Pirates Bay to Hippolytes before heading in a more easterly direction
to the shelf and beyond. ‘Worryingly’ few birds inshore other than small
scuds of Black-faced Cormorants and gulls. Fortunately there was good
activity around the Hippolytes followed by dense bands of shearwaters
and a smattering of other birds from the Hippolytes out to the shelf
edge. We crossed the shelf break (100 fathoms) at 0935 before making our
first drift and berley session at 43º07.28’S 148º15.98’E over ~400
fathoms. We drifted south west with the wind and current for nearly two
hours before moving north east again to start another berley session at
43º03.80’S 148º17.67’E over 500-600 fathoms. From here we moved back to
the shelf break (100 fathoms) for a third berley session at 43º04.10’S
148º13.86’E. Started heading in at 1350. Berley was a mix of chicken
skin, fish frames and fish oil. Disembarked at ~1530.
MAMMALS: Australian Fur Seals perhaps 15 on the Hippolytes. Also 2
offshore in the AM and about 10 offshore in the PM.
BIRDS: 27 species (+ two ‘possibles’) beyond the entrance to Pirates Bay
is good count for a Tasmanian pelagic. Highlights were the many
pterodromas, especially Cooks, Mottled, Soft-plumaged and White-headed,
a Buller’s Shearwater and two Long-tailed Jaegers.
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel: 6 (4). All pelagic.
White-faced Storm-Petrel: 2 (1). Both pelagic.
Wandering Albatross: 8-10 on plumage/6 together at one time. All
pelagic. All appeared to be gibsoni.
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 1 adult pelagic.
Black-browed Albatross: 1 juvenile in pelagic waters. It was presumably
the same bird that visited us at each berley point. Because of its age
the taxon involved couldn’t be identified with certainty.
Shy Albatross: 80 (40). All cauta. 5 offshore, remainder pelagic. Mostly
adult but at least 2 immature birds at berley point.
Northern Giant Petrel: 5 (4). At least 4 immature individuals on plumage
and 1 young adult. All pelagic.
Fairy Prion: 35 (10). All pelagic. Only 3-4 attended each berley point
but whilst moving between points we encountered several groups of 10+.
[Slender-billed Prion: 1 probable at the third berley point.]
Short-tailed Shearwater: 40,000+ (4000). Mostly offshore as several
dense bands of rapidly moving birds, but also continuous streams of
birds passing us at each berley point. Most birds heading south or
south-east with occasional small groups heading north.
Sooty Shearwater: ~10 (1). All pelagic. With masses of Short-tailed
Shearwaters around and many pterodromas I spent most of day seeking
pterodromas rather than picking through the shearwaters so this count is
probably an underestimate.
Hutton’s Shearwater: 1 at the first berley point.
BULLER’S SHEARWATER: 1 between the second and third berley point.
Common Diving Petrel: 2 (1). 1 offshore in the AM, 1 at the first berley
White-chinned Petrel: 35 (20). 2 offshore in the PM, remainder pelagic.
Great-winged Petrel: 16 (8). All gouldi. All pelagic
White-headed Petrel: 8 (2). All pelagic, mostly as single flybys. As
with most Pterodromas they appeared to be heading south or south east.
COOKS PETREL: 1 as a close flyby almost as soon as we stopped at the
first berley point.
SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL: 3 (1) at and beyond the shelf. Two of these were
typical pale birds but the third was notably sooty around the head and
showed a particularly prominent breast band.
MOTTLED PETREL: 15 (2). All heading south or south east over pelagic
waters. Several made two or three passes through the berley trail but
none showed particular interest. Some pics here
Little Penguin: 2 (1) both in offshore waters in the PM.
Australasian Gannet: 4 (2) 2 pelagic, 2 offshore. Also 265 on the
Black-faced Cormorant: 30 (15). 25 inshore, 5 offshore plus 385 ashore
on the Hippolytes.
LONG-TAILED JAEGER: 2 (2) immature birds at the second berley point.
[Southern Skua: a dark Catharacta skua that flew past whilst underway
was probably this species].
Crested Tern: 3 (2). 1 inshore, 2 pelagic and 30 on the Hippoloytes.
Kelp Gull: 19 inshore in the AM and at least 10 at the Hippolytes.
Pacific Gull: 1 adult inshore in the AM and 1 adult at the Hipploytes.
Silver Gull: 10 inshore and 60+ around the Hippolytes.
On the Hippolytes a White-bellied Sea-eagle and several Welcome Swallows
rounded out the list.
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