BOCA pelagic trip off Eaglehawk Neck Tas Sun 27 Nov 2011

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Subject: BOCA pelagic trip off Eaglehawk Neck Tas Sun 27 Nov 2011
From: Rohan Clarke <>
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2011 21:31:16 +1100
Hi All,

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.


Rohan Clarke

Bird Observation and Conservation Australia PELAGIC TRIP OFF EAGLEHAWK NECK, TASMANIA
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 report compiler).

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 the AM. 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
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 the Hippolytes.
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 list.

Rohan Clarke

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