Sydney Pelagic Trip Report - Saturday 9 June, 2012

To: "birding-aus " <>
Subject: Sydney Pelagic Trip Report - Saturday 9 June, 2012
From: "Roger McGovern" <>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2012 16:59:40 +1000


Earlier this week, the coast of NSW had been hit by a major southerly storm
generating waves up to 6 or 7 metres in height. Along with this event came
reports of Southern Fulmar from the cliffs at Maroubra and beach cast
specimens of Southern Fulmar and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross at Wreck Bay
just to the south of Jervis Bay. Although the weather had calmed
significantly in the ensuing days, there was a certain air of anticipation
amongst the participants of the pelagic trip (this participant in
particular) for whom these two species would have a profound effect upon
their Australian lists. In the event, we had a superb day of winter birding
with heaps of birds and a very good species count but, unfortunately,
without the appearance of any rarities. There were good numbers of albatross
with us all day along with the appearance of expected winter species such as
Fairy Prions, Northern Giant-Petrel and Cape Petrel.

Surface water temperatures had cooled considerably since last month being
16.5degC at Sydney heads and rising steadily to 17.5degC at the shelf break.
We departed from Rose Bay at 7.20am and returned at 3.25pm. Seas conditions
were surprisingly good after the big storm event with a southerly swell of
about 2.0 meters and only a small chop on top of that. The winds were SSW at
about 10 - 12 knots in the morning and they dropped right away to almost
calm conditions later in the day.


We headed out of the harbour with a complement of over 20 passengers on
board, comprising mostly local and interstate birders and including Lindsay
Smith from SOSSA who it was good to see on the Halicat for his first trip.
David James was back on berleying duties after his trip to Christmas Island
and he started a berley trail as soon as we left Rose Bay wharf and he kept
a great contingent of birds travelling with the boat throughout the trip -
he must have learned this art from a good teacher! As we left the heads, we
motored south to look for migrating humpbacks before heading off to Brown's
Mountain. The accompanying Silver Gulls and Crested Terns were soon joined
by Black-browed and Yellow-nosed Albatross with several Australasian Gannets
and Fluttering Shearwaters soon putting in an appearance. We came across two
Humpback Whales off Coogee Beach and, after everyone had had good looks and
photo opportunities, we set course at ESE for Brown's Mountain. As we
progressed into deeper water we were joined by Brown Skuas, Northern
Giant-Petrels, Sooty Shearwater, Shy Albatross and Buller's Albatross along
with the lovely sight of Fairy Prions skimming along close to the boat. It
was a truly great moment to look behind the boat and see a wheeling mass of
birds with a Sydney skyline backdrop on a perfect winter's day - archetype
pelagic birding!. 

As we reached the continental shelf drop off, we recorded the first Hutton's
Shearwater of the day and our first Providence Petrels of the day began to
appear. We commenced out first drift at 10.30am and we soon added
Great-winged Petrels, Wilson's Storm-Petrels and Cape Petrels to the day's
tally. All the birds appeared to be hungry and made very close approaches to
the boat providing excellent views and photo opportunities. Towards the end
of this drift, the first of several Wandering Albatross put in an appearance
- we had been commenting on the fact that they had been much less numerous
this year than in recent years. At 12.00pm we motored further north of
Brown's and had another long drift but, although there were always large
numbers of birds with us, we did not add any new species to the day's count.

The journey back to Sydney continued in the same vein with large numbers of
birds following the boat but nothing new showing up. At about 3NM off the
heads, we came across two Humpback Whales travelling north and had great
views of them in the much calmer sea conditions which now prevailed. It was
a marvellous day on the water with 18 species recorded but we will have to
wait until next month for that Southern Fulmar!

(Note that the numbers in parentheses represent the maximum number of that
species in view at one time)

Northern Giant-Petrel           2       (2)
Cape Petrel                             3         (2)
Great-winged Petrel           12      (3)  some thought to be macroptera but
will await photographic analysis 
Providence Petrel                       20        (4)
Fairy Prion                             35        (6)
Sooty Shearwater                        2         (1)
Fluttering Shearwater           24        (4)
Hutton's Shearwater             5         (3)
Wandering Albatross           4       (2)  gibsoni and a possible exulans
Black-browed Albatross          45        (20) several impavida (Campbell
Island Albatross)
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross   28        (10)
Shy Albatross                   3         (2)
Buller's Albatross              4         (3)
Wilson's Strom-Petrel           10      (3)
Australasian Gannet             40        (25)
Brown Skua                              4       (3)
Silver Gull                   60      (40) 
Crested Tern                  5       (2)


Humpback Whale                  4

The next Sydney pelagic trip will be on Saturday 14 July 2012 departing
Mosman Ferry Wharf at 6.45am and Rose Bay Ferry Wharf at 7.00am. Call Hal at
0411 311 236 to make a booking.

Roger McGovern  


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