BOCA pelagic trip off Eaglehawk Neck Tas Sat 26 Nov 2011

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Subject: BOCA pelagic trip off Eaglehawk Neck Tas Sat 26 Nov 2011
From: Rohan Clarke <>
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2011 21:29:45 +1100
Hi All,
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.
Rohan Clarke

Bird Observation and Conservation Australia PELAGIC TRIP OFF EAGLEHAWK NECK, TASMANIA
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 points.

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 point.
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 Hippolytes. 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.

Rohan Clarke

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