Stephens Pelagic Trip Report – Sun 12 January 2014
M.V. Argonaut, skippered by Ray Horsfield
Curry, Tony Bischoff, Brook Whylie, Greg and Judy Little, Allan Richardson,
Kearns, Steve Cooper, Steve Edwards, Mike Kuhl, Darryl Eggins, Dean Portelli,
Steve Roderick and Mick Roderick (organiser).
day at sea with us in baking sunshine for most of the day. Combined sea/swell
<1m with only the slightest wind chop from the gentle north / north-east
breeze. Water temperature at the shelf was predicted to be around 22.8 degrees.
juvenile (or immature?) White-tailed Tropicbirds were the highlight in an
otherwise quiet but entertaining pelagic. 3 Sooty Terns and a Long-tailed
Jaeger were also seen, with 3 albatross species being unusual for Port Stephens
in the height of summer.
DepartedNelson Bay Public Wharfat 0705 returning at 1630.
contrast to ‘typical’ summer pelagics there was very little interest in the
boat and berley from the local Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. Instead, most birds
that we saw were flushed from the sea surface, owing presumably to the lack of
wind. A group of 3 Fluttering-type Shearwaters were seen in the wake and seen
reasonably well (and photographed) to be able to confirm 2 of them as Hutton’s
Shearwaters. About half way out when some wedgies were actually following us a
lone Long-tailed Jaeger attended the wake of the boat. An adult Shy (type)
was an unexpected sighting also en-route to the deep water.
short of the shelf and with about a dozen wedgies and one or two Fleshy-footed
Shearwaters behind the boat (which were again scarce), a very white bird was
seen to lift of the water about 100m to the south. A second bird went with it
and the call of “White Tern!” went out. However, it did not take long before we
realised we were looking at a couple of young tropicbirds. Views were quite
awkward into a bright sky as the birds flew high above the boat and eventually
south. Photographs confirmed them as juvenile (possibly 2nd year?)
White-tailed Tropicbirds, a new bird for many observers on board. An adult
Sooty Tern was also at the same location.
continued to the shelf and set up a drift at 32 55 43s 152 36 3e. Very little
interest was shown in the berley and with the glassy conditions and somewhat
‘lazy’ birds we thought we would be in for a quiet day. This was largely the
case and was typified by the fact that the first petrel for the day (one of 3
Grey-faced Petrels) was first seen sitting on the water only metres from the
boat! Some excitement was caused when a beautiful metre-long Mahi Mahi (Common
Dolphinfish) swam under the boat, displaying its incredible blue and green hues
on its dorsal surface. The same fish was seen a few times later on. This was
more than reasonable evidence that the water was quite warm.
third Sooty Tern came in before a Wandering (type) albatross appeared on the
side of the bow, identified as an adult Gibson’s (Antipodean). We finished the
drift at 32 57 10s 152 35 7e and made a very uneventful trip back to port,
adding only a Short-tailed Shearwater and immature Black-browed (type) Albatross
to the list, along with closer views of very stand-offish Pomarine Jaegers and
a distant adult Australasian Gannet.
in all it was a slow but entertaining and somewhat unusual pelagic with a mix
of cold and warm water birds with the albatross flying north and tropicbirds
flying south. It was also the first Port Stephens pelagic where no
storm-petrels had been recorded.
Total (maximum number visible from the boat at one time) – note that many are
(Gibson’s) Albatross: 1
(type) Albatross: 1
(type) Albatross: 1
Shearwater: 5 (2)
Shearwater: 250 (40)
Shearwater: 3 (2)
(type) Shearwater: 5+
(Grey-faced) Petrel: 3 (2)
TROPICBIRD: 2 (2)
Tern: 3 (2)
Tern: 3 (2)
Jaeger: 3 (1)
Gull: 2 (1)
Common Dolphin: 10+
Mahi (Common Dolphinfish): 1
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