Sydney Pelagic Trip Report - April 13, 2013

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Sydney Pelagic Trip Report - April 13, 2013
From: "Roger McGovern" <>
Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2013 13:48:23 +1000


Having had more than a week of settled warm weather and very light winds, my
expectations for this pelagic trip were not high although it is always a
pleasure to be out on the ocean in benign conditions. In terms of the bird
species seen, it was a somewhat disappointing trip but, everyone on board
felt that with two excellent cetacean species seen along with a fascinating
micro-habitat of floating pumice containing all kinds of strange creatures,
the old adage that you always see something new and interesting was
certainly proven today.

Weather conditions were excellent with mostly clear skies and temperatures
in the mid-20's. Water temperatures ranged from 23.2degC inshore up to
25.5degC beyond the shelf break. Winds were very light from the northeast
for most of the day but picked up a little as we headed back to Sydney. We
departed from Rose Bay at 7.10am and returned at 3.55pm.


We were greeted at Mosman Wharf by the three young lads bearing a platter
holding a "bird-day cake" in the form of a New Zealand Storm-Petrel for Max
and Nathan who both had birthdays the next day. Unfortunately, it was the
only NZ Stormy we were to see during the day but it was a great effort by
Josh who apparently made the cake. We departed from Rose Bay Wharf with 16
passengers on board comprising mostly local birders and headed out to sea
with David James on the berley table. There were very few birds in evidence
for the first few miles with just Silver Gulls, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters,
Australasian Gannets and the odd Crested Tern in evidence. A Black-browed
Albatross put in an appearance and a single Long-tailed Jaeger flew across
the wake at some great distance which was a source of frustration for those
who needed this species for their Australian list. Flesh-footed Shearwaters
began to appear in reasonable numbers, a single Short-tailed Shearwater put
in a brief appearance, a Shy Albatross came past and then a Campbell
Albatross joined us for an extended period. As we reached the shelf break,
our first cetaceans of the day, a pod of around 100 Oceanic Bottlenose
Dolphins came and rode on our bow for a while.

We stopped at Brown's Mountain (where the bird-day cake was cut and served)
and set up a slick but the only new birds which came by were a few
Great-winged Petrels (all ssp gouldi) and some Providence Petrels looking
almost silver on the upper wing in their sparkling fresh plumage. After an
hour or so drifting with no new birds appearing, we set off eastwards on a
run into deeper water. We hadn't progressed very far when we encountered a
pod of small fast moving dolphins which were eventually identified as
Long-snouted Spinner Dolphins, a tropical species which hadn't been seen
from the Halicat in over 15 years. In following these dolphins, we actually
back tracked to our original berley slick at Brown's where we discovered
four Wilson's Storm-Petrels. Setting off again in an easterly direction, we
soon encountered another pod of small dolphins, this time around 40
Pantropical Spotted Dolphins - two excellent cetacean sightings within 20
minutes of each other. Things became very quiet as we headed into deeper
water and our only excitement for a while was a passing Antipodean Albatross
of the race gibsoni. In previous reports, this bird would be recorded as a
Wandering Albatross but, with BARC and NSW ORAC now using the IOC World Bird
List version 3.3, albatross taxonomy is changed from the previous Christidis
& Boles taxonomy.

As we were slowly motoring along, we encountered an area of water covered in
what looked at first to be yellow coloured algae and we stopped to
investigate. It turned out to be a patch of small to medium sized pieces of
pumice from some far away volcanic eruption and closer inspection revealed
that it was a complete micro ecosystem with all kinds of organisms living in
it and on it. Steve went off the side and collected some samples in small
buckets and we were amazed to find many differently coloured spheroid puffer
fish, goose barnacles, various tiny crabs, pelagic sea slugs and pelagic sea
snails. It was truly a remarkable sight which left us wondering how this
community stays together in 50 knot winds and 5 metre seas!

With no new species and very few birds in evidence on the way back, we
reflected on the fact that even though it had been a quiet trip, it had also
been a very interesting one that we will remember for some time.


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

Antipodean Albatross    1   (1)  (gibsoni)
Black-browed Albatross  3   (1)
Campbell Albatross      1   (1)
Shy Albatross   2   (1)                                 
Great-winged Petrel     7   (2)  (gouldi)
Providence Petrel       11  (2)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 90  (30)        
Short-tailed Shearwater 1   (1)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 60  (20)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel   4   (3) 
Australasian Gannet     13  (3) 
Silver Gull     40  (20)
Greater Crested Tern    9   (3)     
Long-tailed Jaeger      1   (1)                         


Oceanic Bottlenose Dolphin      100
Long-snouted Spinner Dolphin    25
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin     40              
Flying fish     2

The next Sydney pelagic trip will be on Saturday 11 May, 2013 departing
Mosman Ferry Wharf at 6.45am and Rose Bay Public Wharf at 7.00am. Call Hal
at 0411 311 236 to make a booking.

Roger McGovern  

__________ Information from ESET Smart Security, version of virus signature
database 7210 (20120610) __________

The message was checked by ESET Smart Security.

__________ Information from ESET Smart Security, version of virus signature
database 7304 (20120716) __________

The message was checked by ESET Smart Security.

__________ Information from ESET Smart Security, version of virus signature
database 7678 (20121109) __________

The message was checked by ESET Smart Security.

__________ Information from ESET Smart Security, version of virus signature
database 8003 (20130213) __________

The message was checked by ESET Smart Security.


To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Sydney Pelagic Trip Report - April 13, 2013, Roger McGovern <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU