Eaglehawk Pelagic 23rd March, 2013
Seabirders: Peter Bain, Diana Womersley, Rob Hamilton, John Weigel, Glen Pacey,
Els Wakefield, Jeremy O’Wheel, Dave James, Lee Jian Hui, Jim Stephens,
Christine Hackwood, Ruth Brozek and Paul Brooks.
We had a solid day on the water, encountering a good range of
species. Some were in high numbers, others were not so common, and we saw no
real stand-out species. Conditions for the trip were good, with a 20-25 kn
north-westerly dropping to around 15 kn during the day and swinging around to
the west. The swell was a long and lazy 1-2 metres with seas never greater
than 2 metres and decreasing as the day progressed. Water temperature was
17-18°C at the shelf. Our skipper informed us that it had dropped from
21-22°C only a few days beforehand.
We departed Pirates Bay at 0705 hrs. On our way to the Hippolytes, good numbers
of Buller’s Albatross became apparent; this would continue throughout the day.
The Hippolytes themselves hosted high numbers of Black-face Cormorants, many of
them immature, along with Australasian Gannets, Kelp, Silver and a few Pacific
Gulls. A few Crested Terns cruised around and popped up from time to time
throughout the day.
Beyond the Hippolytes, Shy Albatrosses became more common amongst the many
Buller’s and a steady stream of Short-tailed Shearwaters appeared. We also had
fly-bys from 2 Fluttering Shearwaters and a lone Common Diving-petrel. Nearing
the shelf, we encountered a trawler to our south and wandered over to inspect
its retinue. It was a veritable cloud of albatrosses, around 200, comprised
mainly of Buller’s and Shy, with singles of Wandering Albatross, Black-browed
Albatross, Northern Giant-petrel and White-chinned Petrel.
We started our first drift over 400 fathoms. Things were initially
quiet but built slowly. Interestingly, one of the first birds to take an
interest in our offerings was a Great-winged Petrel, the first of four around
the boat. Singles of Wilson’s, Grey-backed and White-faced Storm-petrel,
Hutton’s Shearwater and another Wandering Albatross provided interest but the
highlight was a Brown Skua which circled the boat several times, often quite
close, before landing in the slick and hanging around until we departed.
We motored back in to 200 fathoms to set another slick, here adding
our only Sooty Shearwater for the day, plus 2 Black-browed Albatrosses of the
race impavida, to go with two nominates from the previous stop. Another
Hutton’s Shearwater sat in our slick for some time, although a fair distance
from the boat. An additional Wandering Albatross, this time what appeared to
be an adult female gibsoni, sat close at the back of the boat.
In the fairly calm conditions, we decided to go out wider and set
another slick over 600 fathoms but encountered nothing new. While motoring
back to port, we changed course to intercept a different trawler. This one had
another cloud of albatrosses in tow although nothing we hadn’t seen already.
Heading for home, we added a single, immature Yellow-nosed Albatross, docking
at Pirate’s Bay jetty at around 1500 hrs.
Mammal species: 30+ Australian Fur Seals on the Hippolytes.
Other species: 1 Shortfin Mako right at the back of the boat on the first drift.
Wandering Albatross: 3 (1) 2 probable adult male gibsoni, 1 probable adult
Shy Albatross: c. 150 (60)
Black-browed Albatross: 6 (3) 3 melanophris, 2 impavida.
Buller’s Albatross: c. 250 (80)
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 1 (1) Immature inshore in the afternoon.
Northern Giant-petrel: 1 (1) 2nd year bird, following trawler.
White-chinned Petrel: c. 30 (11)
Great-winged Petrel: 6 (4) First and third drifts.
Sooty Shearwater: 1 (1) Second drift.
Short-tailed Shearwater: Hundreds. A steady procession most of the day.
Fluttering Shearwater: 2 (1) Offshore in the morning.
Hutton’s Shearwater: 2 (1) Drifts 1 and 2.
Wilson’s Storm-petrel: 3 (1) One on the first drift, others seen while motoring.
White-faced Storm-petrel: 1 (1) First drift.
Grey-backed Storm-petrel: 3 (1) One at each drift.
Common Diving-Petrel: 3 (1) All offshore.
Australasian Gannet: c. 80 (10) Hippolytes and offshore. A few pelagic.
Black-faced Cormorant: c. 600 (200). Large numbers, including immatures, on
White-faced Heron: 1 (1) Hippolyte.
Sooty Oystercatcher: 2 (2) Inshore in the morning.
Brown Skua: 1 (1) First drift.
Pacific Gull:5 (2) Three on the Hippolyte, two near the mouth of Pirate’s Bay.
Kelp Gull: c. 120 (20) Hippolytes and inshore.
Silver Gull: c. 50 (10) Hippolytes and inshore.
Crested Tern: c. 30 (5) Inshore to out wide.
Forest Raven: 1 (1) Hippolyte.
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