Here’s the trip report for the Sunday pelagic. Given the marked change
in the weather it is remarkable how similar the species lists and counts
were for the two days.
Bird Observation and Conservation Australia PELAGIC TRIP OFF EAGLEHAWK
Sunday 27th Nov 2011
OBSERVERS: Frank Ball, Wendy Ball, Jan England, Geoff Jones, Elizabeth
Lloyd, Grant Penrhyn, Geoff Smith, Lynn Smith, Jim Sneddon, Wes
Tolhurst, Els Wakefield, Richard White & Rohan Clarke (organiser and
WEATHER: Departed Pirates Bay with low misty cloud and persistent
drizzle. Fortunately this began to clear as we entered offshore waters
and for large parts of our time beyond the shelf we had intermittent
sunshine. Gusty south westerly winds 20-25 knots were experienced on the
way out, moderating an hour after crossing the shelf to 15 knots then
easing further to around 10 knots on the return leg. We were fortunate
with the timing, for another frontal system passed through with winds to
20-25 knots as we returned to the harbour.
SEA: A bumpy sea on a moderate swell with occasional larger sets. At the
shelf there was a 1.5 – 2 m (short interval) swell with small but steep
chop (0.5 to 1 m). With the addition of wind-driven white caps this was
a fairly bumpy day with regular spray when underway and the occasional
sloppy wave across the rear deck catching a few out. Conditions
(movement, buffeting winds and spray) meant it was a poor day for
photography. Inshore conditions were milder. Sunday’s conditions
contrasted strongly with Saturday’s trip and highlight the need for
participants to don good wet weather gear.
ACTIVITY: Departed Pirates Bay Wharf at 0730 EST. Headed south east out
of Pirates Bay to the Hippolytes before heading in an easterly direction
to the shelf. Many more birds were in evidence in both inshore and
offshore waters (when compared with Saturday’s trip). We crossed the
shelf break (100 fathoms) at 0930 before a 3 hr drift and berley session
that commenced at 43º04.35’S 148º15.43’E over 200 fathoms and concluded
at 43º01.74’S 148º17.71’E over ~550 fathoms (~5nM to the NE). From here
we moved back to the shelf break (100 fathoms) for a third berley
session at 43º00.42’S 148º14.85’E. Started heading in at 1320. Berley
was a mix of chicken skin, fish frames and fish oil. Disembarked at ~1505.
MAMMALS: Australian Fur Seals ~5 on the Hippolytes. Also 1 offshore in
In the rough seas on the return leg a blackish cetacean was also seen
breaking through a wave. It was either a smallish Killer Whale or a
Pilot Whale but the ID was not resolved.
BIRDS: 29 species (+ several additional albatross taxa) beyond the
entrance to Pirates Bay is very good count for a Tasmanian pelagic. The
vast numbers of ever-present Short-tailed Shearwaters provided a
spectacular background to the regular passage of pterodromas, especially
Mottled, Soft-plumaged and White-headed. The Black-bellied Storm-Petrels
were also a great sighting for a Tassie pelagic.
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel: 1 pelagic in the PM
White-faced Storm-Petrel: 1 pelagic in the PM
Grey-backed Storm-Petrel: 1 pelagic soon after we stopped to berley
BLACK-BELLIED STORM-PETREL: 2 (1) pelagic.
Wandering Albatross: 12-14 on plumage/6 together at one time. All
pelagic though one followed us back into offshore waters. Most appeared
to be gibsoni but there was one exulens type individual.
Northern Royal Albatross: 1 juvenile at the shelf in the PM.
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 10 (3). All adult. 2 offshore, remainder pelagic.
Black-browed Albatross: Nominate: 10 (4). 3 adult, 7 immature, 3
offshore remainder pelagic. impavida: 1 adult in pelagic waters.
Shy Albatross: cauta: 100 (50). 5 inshore, 25 offshore, remainder
pelagic. Mostly adult but at least 4 immature birds at berley points.
salvini: 1 juvenile in pelagic waters.
Northern Giant Petrel: 10 (4). At least 6 immature individuals on
plumage and 2 young adult. 3 offshore, remainder pelagic.
Fairy Prion: 30 (10). 20 offshore, remainder pelagic.
Antarctic Prion: 1 briefly at the first berley point.
Short-tailed Shearwater: 100,000+ (10,000). A feature of the day. Masses
of birds visible at almost all times in both offshore and pelagic waters.
Sooty Shearwater: 8 (2). 2 offshore in the PM remainder pelagic.
Hutton’s Shearwater: 4 (2), 2 offshore in the AM, 1 pelagic and 1
offshore in the PM
BULLER’S SHEARWATER: 1 briefly in offshore waters in the PM.
White-chinned Petrel: 60 (30). 3 offshore in the AM, remainder pelagic,
though many of these followed us back in the PM.
Great-winged Petrel: 22 (10). All gouldi. All pelagic
WHITE-HEADED PETREL: 8 (2). 1 inshore over 50 fathoms in the AM, the
remainder pelagic, mostly as single flybys. A tail-less bird fed in the
berley trail for ~20 mins.
SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL: 2 (1) at and beyond the shelf.
MOTTLED PETREL: 15 (2). An identical count to the trip on Saturday! One
just 2 miles beyond the Hipploytes in the AM (60 fathoms) and 1 offshore
in the PM, remainder pelagic.
Little Penguin: 3 (2). All in inshore waters in the PM.
Australasian Gannet: 250 (200) 7 pelagic, 6 offshore, with the remainder
inshore. Also 200 on the Hippolytes.
Black-faced Cormorant: 85 (20). 80 inshore, 5 offshore (not counted on
the Hipploytes as we did not circumnavigate the rock)
Pomarine Jaeger: 1 inshore (briefly) in the AM.
Crested Tern: 3 (2). All inshore in the AM
Kelp Gull: 10 inshore, 11 offshore and 20 pelagic. Also at least 25 at
Pacific Gull: 1 first year bird offshore.
Silver Gull: 9 inshore and 100 around the Hippolytes.
On the Hippolytes 2 Forest Ravens and 1 Welcome Swallows rounded out the
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