Port Stephens Pelagic 18th November

To: "birding-aus ." <>
Subject: Port Stephens Pelagic 18th November
From: Steve Roderick <>
Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2012 21:04:30 +1100
Port Stephens Pelagic - Sunday 18th November
Vessel: M.V. Argonaut, skippered by Ray Horsefield
Clare Stapleton, Janet Washbon, Graeme O'Conner, Tom Wilson, David Mitford, 
Allan Richardson, Michael Kearns, Dan Williams, Trevor Williams, Jane Williams, 
Bob Titman, Sue Titman, Steve Edwards, Steve Roderick (leader and organiser).
Early morning produced calm winds on around 1m swell, from around 15km's short 
of the shelf NE winds picked up close to 15knots, swell around 1-1.4, this wind 
lasted for around 2hrs and eventually dropped to less than 10 knots. Being 
quite calm for the last 1.5hrs at the shelf and the trip back.
Another great trip was had off Port Stephens with more than one highlight! The 
big gun for the day was the sighting of a Cooks Petrel, which was our first 
'official' (one got away in 2010!) record since the trips started in Feb. 2010 
and from memory the third for the Hunter. The Cooks Petrel hung around the 
slick for around 5-6 mins before departing south, what made the moment even 
more special was that we were still on a high as just prior 6 Black Petrels had 
come in directly to the boat all in one flock!
Other highlights were having 6 Long-tailed Jaegers for the day and a Sooty Tern 
on the trip out.
Departed Nelson Bay wharf at 7am, returning around 430pm.
There was an 'air' of excitement for some around this trip as November has 
proved to be kind to us in the past. The hope of a cookalaria was talk of and 
also there were a few on board chasing a Black Petrel. Black Petrels had proved 
their worth last November and Oct. 2010.

Just outside the heads an Arctic Jeager was chasing Silver Gulls, our first 
Wedge-tailed Shearwater showed a few km's out from the heads and soon enough 
good numbers were seen, some off in the distance over fish.
Chumming started around 10km's out and after some time we had out first 
customers in the form of Wedgeys. Two Black-browed Albatross chimmed in with 
Silver Gulls as well, the odd Fluttering type was seen. Small numbers of 
Short-tailed Shearwaters flew past at pace heading south, the occasional 
bird/flock veered towards the slick but showed no interest in feeding and 
continued on.

Around 20km's out Michael Kearns called a Sooty Tern following up the rear, the 
Sooty came to about 100m from the boat and headed north. Soon after we had out 
first Pomarine and Long-tailed Jaeger come up the slick, and for some there was 
much rejoicing. A Shy Albatross showed some interest but soon departed, also 
our first Flesh-footed Shearwater for the season.
Strangely, about 5km's from the shelf the Wedgeys, Albas, Jaegers and Gulls all 
stopped following the boat and turned away.
The NE wind had picked up during the last part of the trip out and good white 
caps showed. The swell was slight but the wave period close, which made for a 
choppy shelf stop.

Upon reaching the shelf (32 54.875 S, 152 34.933 E) a Wilson Storm-petrel was 
seen, also a Great-winged Petrel flew in. Large numbers of Shearwaters were 
seen in the distance in flocks of up to 250 birds, slowly heading in a SE 
direction. Some birds came closer to the boat and some were identified as Sooty 
The flocks away from the boat certainly resembled the same 'jizz' as Sootys 
Shears but could not be positively identified.
A second Great-winged Petrel appeared along with a White-faced Storm-petrel.
The boat went into mayhem when (it seemed) out of nowhere 6 Black Petrels flew 
in and immeadiately started feeding, what a sight to have all these Blacks at 
The Black Petrels hung around for the duration at the shelf, with some dancing 
along the slick. Soon after their arrival I noted 'something' whitish out the 
back of the slick, although losing it briefly, David Mitford then called 
'Cookalaria!', followed by 'I think its a Cooks!'
Everyone shifted to one side of the boat to get a view, it didn't disappoint, 
hanging around the slick for around 5-6mins, close enough to get a good view.
A few piccys were taken and the back of the camera looked good for a Cooks, 
later id was confirmed.
A few more Wilsons showed and another White-faced Stormy. A few more 
Great-winged Petrels also flew in. Two Wandering Albatross arrived and landed 
in the slick. No birds were feeding at the back of the boat, which was very 
Long-tailed Jaegers and a few more Pomarines also showed, giving us our highest 
count ever of Long-taileds of 6 birds for the day.
The wind dropped off and so did the birds, the last 1hr or so at the shelf was 
very quiet, although we were still pumped!
The trip back was quiet until the last half where we had the usual 100-200 
Wedgeys. The one Fleshy had turned up again and small numbers of Short-Tailed, 
Fluttering and Huttons showed interest.
An unsual observation was that off a Wedge-tailed Shearwater with an all snow 
white head and nape, with black markings scattered amongst the white.
The bird was first seen briefly and then disappeared, it eventually showed 
again and followed the boat for sometime........if only it was bigger it 
could've passed for a Spectacled Petrel!
All in all a great day at sea, with all on board getting a new bird (or two).
Steve Roderick.
Species: Total (maximum number visible from the boat at one time)
White-faced Storm-petrel:  2 (2)
Wilson's Storm-petrel: 4 (4)
Fluttering Shearwater:  4 (4)
Hutton's Shearwater:  8 (8)
Fluttering-type Shearwater:  4 (7)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater:  400 (750)
Short-tailed Shearwater:  200 (900)
Sooty Shearwater:  30 (50) (possibly many more but could not confirm id from 
Black-browed Albatross:  3 (7)
Shy Albatross:  1 (1)
Wandering Albatross:  2 (2)
Great-winged Petrel:  3 (6)
Black Petrel:  6 (6)
Cooks Petrel:  1(1)
Pomarine Jaeger:  3 (5)
Arctic Jaeger:  3 (6)
Long-tailed Jaeger:  3 (6)
Australasian Gannet:  1 (2)
Silver Gull:  10 (15)
Sooty Tern:  1 (1)
Crested Tern:  1 (2)
Short-beaked Common Dolphin:  One pod of around 20
Oceanic Bottlenose Dolphin: A few pods total around 50
Humpback Whale: 2
Shark sp.: 1

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