BirdLife Australia pelagic trip off Eaglehawk Neck, Tas 14 Sept 2013

Subject: BirdLife Australia pelagic trip off Eaglehawk Neck, Tas 14 Sept 2013
From: Rohan Clarke <>
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2013 09:34:03 +1100
Hi All,

We had two pelagic trips off Eaglehawk Neck, SE Tasmania on the weekend. The highlight on both days was the great diversity of cold water specialists. Below is the report for Saturday.

Rohan Clarke

Saturday 14th September 2013

OBSERVERS: Tim Bawden, Geof Bromfield, Dave Bullock, Steve Edwards, Dougald Frederick, John Lillywhite, Marlene Lyle, Glen Pacey, Jim Sneddon, Jenny Spry, John Weigel & Rohan Clarke (organiser and report compiler).

WEATHER: 80% cloud cover through much of the day, clearing occasionally for short breaks of sunlight. Cool but not particularly cold. Initial calm conditions built to a 10 knot northerly around 0800 where it stayed for the rest of the day.

SEA: Almost glassy on a moderate swell as we headed out. This built to a 1-1.5 m swell with a 0.5 m sea at the Hippolytes and beyond. A very comfortable ride with no spray or slop. No one noticeably seasick.

ACTIVITY: Departed Pirates Bay Wharf at 0715. Headed to the shelf break via the Hippolytes (a prominent rock stack). Except for Common Diving-Petrels there were few birds on the way out. Before we reached the shelf the first White-headed Petrel flew past ? an indicator of what lay ahead. Crossed the shelf (100 fathoms) at 0900 before making our first stop at 43º12.55?S 148º11.89?E over 180 fathoms of water. With berley the number of birds gradually increased. Although we had soon logged Grey Petrel, Soft-plumaged Petrel we stayed here for only half an hour before moving further out to much deeper water. This second stop was made at 43º15.57?S 148º15.28?E over 500-700 fathoms and then a final stop was made back on the shelf break very near to our first berley stop. Headed back in at 1335. Docked at 15:15.

Australian Fur Seals: 15 on the Hippolytes.
NZ Fur Seal: 1 on the Hippolytes.

BIRDS: 29 seabird species (+1 possible) beyond the point at Pirates Bay is above average for a Tasmanian pelagic. Highlights were the suite of sought-after cold water specialties including Light-mantled Sooty and Grey-headed Albatross, Grey and Blue Petrels. Numbers of petrels, especially White-headed Petrels, were exceptional. Almost all of the petrels and most of the albatross passed the vessel on a southerly course with only a cursory visit to the vessel meaning double counting was unlikely.

SOUTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS: 3 (2). At least 3 different individuals on plumage. All pelagic.

NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS: 1. An immature at the 2nd berley point landed behind the boat and approached closely.

WANDERING ALBATROSS: 5 (4). At least 5 different individuals ? all huge with rather clean white plumage. At least 2 additional birds that were either Wandering or Antipodean Albatross.

Antipodean Albatross: 9 (4). At least 9 different individuals on plumage. A good number together at the back of the boat. One brown bird with a very dark brown cap was a potential antipodensis (cf gibsoni). All pelagic, but 2 followed us back into offshore waters.

Black-browed Albatross: 3 (2). 2 adults and 1 immature beyond the shelf.

Campbell Albatross: 2 (1). 1 adult and 1 immature beyond the shelf.

Shy Albatross: 70 (20). 5 inshore, 6 offshore, remainder pelagic. All adult. The dominant albatross of the day. All cauta-like except for single white-headed adult with no yellow towards the bill base which may have been steadi.

GREY-HEADED ALBATROSS: 2 (1). Both pelagic. A worn adult at the second berley point and a distant juvenile near the third berley point.

LIGHT-MANTLED SOOTY ALBATROSS: 2 (1). Both pelagic, both adult. Different individuals on plumage. Rather distant.

SALVINS PRION: 2 (2).  Both pelagic.

[Slender-billed Prion: 1 pelagic flyby was probably this species.]

Short-tailed Shearwater: 20 (15). 2 inshore, 18 offshore.

Sooty Shearwater: 2 (1). 1 offshore, 1 pelagic.

Northern Giant Petrel: 6 (3). 2 immatures offshore, 3 immatures, 1 juvenile pelagic.

Southern Giant Petrel: 5 (2). 1 juvenile, 2 immatures offshore, 2 juveniles pelagic.

Common Diving Petrel: 130 (20). 16 inshore, 20 pelagic, remainder offshore.

Great-winged Petrel: 76 (5). All NZ gouldi. 5 in offshore waters in the PM remainder pelagic.

WHITE-HEADED PETREL: 110 (5). 2 offshore in the AM (90 fathoms), remainder pelagic as a steady stream heading south - a remarkable count for a one-day pelagic.

SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL: 4 (1). 1 offshore in the AM (90 fathoms), remainder pelagic.

BLUE PETREL: 32 (4). All pelagic.

GREY PETREL: 7 (2). All pelagic. Some approached and stayed for a while, at least one landed on the sea surface.

White-chinned Petrel: 3 (1). All pelagic.

Cape Petrel: 5 (5). All pelagic. All of the nominate ssp.

Little Penguin: 13 (10). 3 offshore in the AM, 10 pelagic as a single tight group.

Australasian Gannet: 4 (2). 2 inshore, 2 offshore plus 10 sitting on the Hipploytes

Black-faced Cormorant: 15 (6) All inshore. Also 31 perched on the Hippolytes.

Crested Tern: 5 (2). 1 offshore, 4 pelagic.

Pacific Gull: 7 (2). All inshore in the AM. 6 adults, 1 second year bird.

Kelp Gull: 17 (12). All inshore in the AM. About 80 on the Hippolytes. Almost entirely adult but at least 1 second-year bird.

Silver Gull: 22 (14). All inshore.

A Skylark that flew around the boat over pelagic waters (500+ fathoms) was a surprise. Single Swamp Harrier, Peregrine Falcon and Forest Raven at the Hippolytes rounded out the list.

Rohan Clarke


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