*Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania - Pelagic Trip Report - 04/02/2012*
*Participants:* John Weigel (organiser, with thanks to Tim Faulkner), Paul
Brooks (report compiler), Richard White, Peter Jenkins, Ruth Brozek, Franz
Steinhauser, Andrew Walter, Maggie Mitchell, Stewart Mitchell, Richard
Johnstone, Els Wakefield, James Melville & JJ Harrison.
*Conditions:* Sunny for most of the day with just a small cloud band about
half way out to the shelf break. Light winds (5-10 knots, easterly) all
morning with the predicted strengthening of winds in the afternoon not
eventuating. If anything, conditions became calmer. Low swell of around
1m, with very little chop. A very comfortable ride all day.
*Activity:* Left Pirate’s Bay at 7.20 am, headed south-east to the
Hippolytes. Did a lap of Big and Little Hippolyte (Cheverton Rock) and then
headed straight out to the shelf break. Started our first berley run
148.243 from 10.25 am. Drifted up the slick before motoring north-east to
set up another slick at -43.1409, 148.3280 from 12.15 pm. Drifted along
this slick before motoring back to the shelf for a final stop at -43.1106,
148.255 from around 1:10 pm. Headed straight back to Pirate’s Bay at
around 1.50 pm, disembarking at 3.40 pm.
*Birds:* The total of 23 species was probably a good count due to the calm
conditions throughout the day. Undoubtedly, the highlights were the two
sightings of a White-necked Petrel (possibly two separate birds), seemingly
the first well documented record. Coming in a close second was the
extended view of an immature Sooty Albatross (initially thought to be a
Light-mantled). The bird was content to sit in the slick for some time, as
was a single Salvin’s Albatross.
Little Penguin: 5 (3) One inshore, 4 offshore.
Northern Giant-petrel: 1 (1) Pelagic.
*Pterodroma* sp. 1 (1) Offshore in the afternoon, too distant and fleeting
WHITE-NECKED PETREL: 1 (1) Pelagic, sighted at the first and second berley
stops. Possible that it was two separate birds.
Fairy Prion: 2 (1) 1 inshore, 1 offshore.
White-chinned Petrel: 30 (20) All pelagic, many followed the boat between
Sooty Shearwater: 2 (1) Pelagic.
Short-tailed Shearwater: Tens of thousands (1000+). A vast swathe of birds
heading south encountered in the afternoon stretching from horizon to
horizon. Several other small flocks encountered throughout the day.
Fluttering Shearwater: 2 (1) Offshore.
Common Diving-petrel: 2 (1) Offshore.
Wandering Albatross: 2 (1) Immatures, both pelagic.
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 2 (1) Immatures, both pelagic
Shy Albatross: Race *cauta*, c. 40 (12), race *salvini*, 1 (1) Race*
cauta*inshore to pelagic, many followed the boat between stops.
Race* salvini* pelagic.
Buller’s Albatross: 30 (19). Inshore to pelagic, many followed the boat
SOOTY ALBATROSS: 1 (1) Pelagic. Initially identified as Light-mantled
Sooty but corrected to immature Sooty after consultation with Rohan Clark.
Wilson’s Storm-petrel: 1 (1) Pelagic.
White-faced Storm-petrel: 7 (15) Pelagic.
Grey-backed Storm-petrel: 5 (9) Pelagic.
Australasian Gannet: 25 (15) Hippolytes and inshore waters.
Black-faced Cormorant: Hundreds on the Hippolytes and inshore.
Jaeger sp. 1 (1) Inshore near the mouth of Pirate’s Bay in the afternoon. Too
distant to ID to species level.
Pacific Gull: 2 (2) Little Hippolyte (Cheverton Rock).
Kelp Gull: c. 40 (20) Hippolytes and inshore.
Silver Gull: c. 50 (20) Hippolytes and inshore plus one pelagic.
Crested Tern: 80 (60) Pirates Bay, Hippolytes and inshore (60 roosting on
rocks at the mouth of Pirate’s Bay).
Australian Fur Seal: c. 30 on the Hippolytes and several more loafing
around in the surrounding waters.**
SHEPHERD’S BEAKED WHALE (probable): 2 (2) Pelagic. Identity unresolved at
sea but observers noted a beak as one whale broke the surface. Identity of
the whale tentatively confirmed as this species after examination of a
photograph of the dorsal fin and back colouration by the Australian Marine
Mammal Centre’s Paul Ensor. Very few live records in Australia or
worldwide and a stunning topper for the trip.
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