Birdlife Australia Pelagic trip off Eaglehawk Neck Tas, 2nd Dec 2012

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Subject: Birdlife Australia Pelagic trip off Eaglehawk Neck Tas, 2nd Dec 2012
From: Rohan Clarke <>
Date: Sat, 08 Dec 2012 21:06:03 +1100
Hi All,
Here's the second trip report from a weekend on the water off Eaglehawk Neck, Tas.

Sunday 2nd December 2012

OBSERVERS: Scott Baker, Tim Bawden, Geoff Bromfield, Javier Cotin, Karen Dick, Dougald Frederick, Dean Ingwersen, Chris Sanderson, De Stojanovic, Sue Taylor, Els Wakefield, & Rohan Clarke (organiser and report compiler).

WEATHER: High hazy cloud clearing at around midday to patchy clouds with periods of full sun for the remainder of the day. A 10-15 knot south-westerly through much of the day, moderately slightly as we headed back in.

SEA: A messy sea to 1.5 m with very little swell on the way out. As the sea was following conditions were reasonably comfortable. At the shelf there was a 0.5 to 1 m swell with a small to moderate sea (0.5 to 1 m). Conditions remained much the same on the return leg except that as we were pushing into it there was a reasonable amount of spray across the port side.

ACTIVITY: Departed Pirates Bay Wharf at 0720 ESST and headed north west across the bay towards the shelf. Many birds, especially great flocks of shearwaters, in both inshore and offshore waters. We crossed the shelf break (100 fathoms) at 0905 for our first drift and berley session over 200-450 fathoms at 42º56.15’S 148º19.02’E. After an hour and a half we headed west to meet a trawler that had just finished hauling its catch at 42º53.70’S 148º16.84’E over 80 fathoms. Here we were surrounded by birds, especially White-chinned Petrels and Shy Albatross. We drifted a mile or so to be back on the shelf by midday. We then moved back to pelagic waters for a final berley session at 42º55.23’S 148º19.99’E over 350 fathoms. Started heading in at 1240. Disembarked at ~1450. As we did not visit the Hippolytes on this trip counts for some species that frequent that island were low when compared with recent previous trips.

Australian Fur Seal: 2 (1). A single adult male with a pod of dolphins in inshore waters and a second at the second berley point in offshore waters.

Bottle-nose Dolphin: 12. Two groups of animals (10 and 2) of the large offshore form in the AM.

SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALE: 1. A single adult gave fleeting views at the entrance to Pirates Bay in the AM - it was presumably the same animal that we'd seen well the previous afternoon.

BIRDS: ~23 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 and good views of both Northern and Southern Royal Albatross. As with the previous day, good records involved birds that made neither close or nor repeated approaches (Mottled Petrel and Bullers Shearwater).

White-faced Storm-Petrel: 1 at the first berley point.

Wilsons Storm-Petrel: 3 (2). 1 in offshore waters, 2 at the first berley point.

Grey-backed Storm-Petrel: 1 at the third berley point.

Wandering Albatross: 6 on plumage/4 together at one time. 1 over 60 fathoms in the AM, 2 at the second berley point with the trawler and the remainder pelagic. All appeared consistent with gibsoni.

SOUTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS: 1 at the second berley point in the vicinity of the trawler.

NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS: 2 (2). 1 adult at the first and second berley point, 1 immature at the second and third berley point.

Black-browed Albatross: nominate 4 (2). 2 inshore, 2 offshore in the AM. All adults. impavida: 3 (2). 1 at the first berley point, 2 at the second berley point. All adults. Also 1 juvenile in offshore waters in the PM that was either a Black-browed or a Campbell's Albatross.

Shy Albatross: 250 (180). All cauta. 18 inshore, 10 offshore, remainder pelagic. Mostly adult but at least 1 immature and 2 juvenile birds at berley points.

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 1 sub-adult joined the boat in pelagic waters just as we started heading in.

Southern Giant-Petrel: 4 (3). 1 juvenile inshore in the AM, remainder pelagic (2 immatures and 1 sub-adult).

Northern Giant-Petrel: 10 (8). All worn juvenile or immature birds. 1 offshore in AM, 8 near trawler, 3 followed us to pelagic berley stops.

Short-tailed Shearwater: ~15,000 (3000). Both inshore and offshore as several dense bands of rapidly moving birds, but many birds also passing us at each berley point.

SOOTY SHEARWATER: ~60 (24). Mostly pelagic but at least 9 inshore and 4 offshore in the AM.

BULLER'S SHEARWATER: 1 seen very poorly in pelagic waters by just a couple of participants.

WHITE-CHINNED PETREL: 150 (80). 4 offshore in AM (including 1 over 58 fathoms), up to 70 at pelagic berley stops and 80 around the trawler.

MOTTLED PETREL: 1 seen briefly whilst underway in offshore waters in the PM (over 57 fathoms which is quite unusual).

Little Penguin: 1 in offshore waters in the AM.

Australasian Gannet: 5 (2). 4 inshore, 1 offshore, all adults.

Black-faced Cormorant: 22 (12). All inshore in the AM.

Crested Tern: 12 (3). 5 inshore, 3 offshore, remainder pelagic. All adults.

Skua species: a large dark skua flew in and over the boat whilst we were berleying near the trawler. Unfortunately views were brief and just two photos were obtained by one participant. I suspect it was a dark morph South Polar Skua but the evidence is inconclusive.

Kelp Gull: 30 (15). 2 inshore, 2 offshore, 15 near the trawler and 2-6 at pelagic berley stops.

Pacific Gull: 1 adult just outside Pirates Bay in the AM.

Silver Gull: 3 inshore in the AM.

Rohan Clarke

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