Birdlife Australia Pelagic trip off Eaglehawk Neck Tas, 1st Dec 2012

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Subject: Birdlife Australia Pelagic trip off Eaglehawk Neck Tas, 1st Dec 2012
From: Rohan Clarke <>
Date: Sat, 01 Dec 2012 17:47:28 +1100
Saturday 1st December 2012

OBSERVERS: Scott Baker, Tim Bawden, Paul Brooks, Dean Ingwersen, Annette Hatten, Michael Kerns, Jim Snedon, Mark Stanley, Els Wakefield, Andrew Walter & Rohan Clarke (organiser and report compiler).

WEATHER: Patchy cloud in the morning clearing at around 1000. Bright full sun (and a bit glary) for the rest of the day. Windy ? A 15 knot north-westerly through much of the morning, moving more westerly by midday and increasing to 30 knots on the return leg. Occasional gusts to 35 knots with a little wind whipped spray by the time we reached Pirates Bay.

SEA: A mild sea with moderate (following) swell on the way out meant conditions were pretty comfortable ? despite the forecast wind. At the shelf there was a 1.5 to 2 m swell (short interval) with moderate sea (1 to 1.5 m) ? the ride at this point was still remarkably good. On the return leg the conditions deteriorated with 2 to 2.5 m messy sea on a 1 to 2 m swell ? we suffered a slow rough ride home. Inshore, and especially when in the lee of the cliffs of Tasman Peninsula sea conditions were again mild despite the wind. Relatively little spray on the way out, just the occasional small splash when at the berley points, but much spray on the return leg.

ACTIVITY: Departed Pirates Bay Wharf at 0720 ESST. Headed south east out of Pirates Bay to Hippolytes before heading in a more easterly direction to the shelf and beyond. Many birds in offshore waters though diversity was a little low. We crossed the shelf break (100 fathoms) at 0920 and almost immediately detected a Mottled Petrel so stopped for a drift and berley session over 200 fathoms at 43º05.71?S 148º13.77?E. After an hour we moved to a second berley location at 43º07.88?S 148º14.73?E over 200 fathoms. From here we drifted a mile or so east to be over 490 fathoms by midday. We then moved back inside the shelf break to an area that had held huge numbers of shearwaters in the AM for a final berley session at 43º06.61?S 148º10.41?E over 81 fathoms. Started heading in at 1305 with a short detour at the entrance to Pirates Bay for a whale sighting. Disembarked at ~1520.

Australian Fur Seals 25 on the Hippolytes.
NZ Fur Seal ? 1 probable on the Hippolytes.
SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALE ? A single adult gave great views (and swam under the boat) at the entrance to Pirates Bay in the PM.

BIRDS: 22 species beyond the entrance to Pirates Bay is fairly low count for a Tasmanian pelagic. Highlights were the many White-chinned Petrels and Sooty Shearwaters. Good records included Mottled, Soft-plumaged and Providence Petrel but unfortunately none of these birds made close or repeated approaches.

White-faced Storm-Petrel: 2 together at the second berley point
Wandering Albatross: 5 on plumage/3 together at one time. All pelagic. All appeared consistent with gibsoni.
Black-browed Albatross:  nominate - 1 immature in pelagic waters.
impavida ? 7 (4). 1 adult offshore, remainder pelagic. 6 adults (in total), 1 immature. Also 2 juveniles that could not be identified to ultrataxa. Shy Albatross: 130 (50). All cauta. 13 inshore, 18 offshore, remainder pelagic. Mostly adult but at least 2 immature birds at berley points.
Southern Giant Petrel: 1 juvenile near the Hipploytes (offshore) in the AM.
Fairy Prion:  4 (1). 3 pelagic, 1 offshore.
Short-tailed Shearwater: ~10,000 (1000). Mostly offshore as several dense bands of rapidly moving birds, but many birds passing us at each berley point. Sooty Shearwater: ~60 (20). Mostly pelagic but at least 20 in offshore waters - a high count for a Tassie pelagic.
Hutton?s Shearwater: 3 (1) around the first berley point.
Common Diving Petrel: 1 offshore in the AM.
White-chinned Petrel: 45 (20). 25 pelagic 20 offshore in the PM.
Great-winged Petrel: 3 (2). All gouldi. All pelagic.
PROVIDENCE PETREL: 1 briefly at the second berley point.
?cookilaria? petrel: 1 in the berley trail at the second berley point was seen briefly by a few but unfortunately ?got away?. SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL: 1 in offshore waters on the return leg was seen poorly by just a few. MOTTLED PETREL: 1 at the first berley point was seen by most but only briefly as it departed.
Little Penguin: 4 (4) in offshore waters.
Australasian Gannet: 10 (3). 3 pelagic, remainder inshore. Also 115 on the Hippolytes. Black-faced Cormorant: 32 (10). All inshore plus 120 ashore on the Hippolytes.
Crested Tern: 3 (2). All adults, all offshore.
Kelp Gull: 10 inshore in the AM and at least 25 at the Hippolytes.
Pacific Gull: 1 2nd year bird near the Hiploytes and another adult at the Hipploytes.
Silver Gull: 7 inshore and 200+ around the Hippolytes.

On the Hippolytes there were also 2 White-faced Herons, a Forest Raven and 2 Welcome Swallows. Finally in the PM whilst in offshore waters over 80 fathoms a flock of 12 Red-necked Stints flew past low to the water.

Rohan Clarke


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