Albany deep ocean pelagic trip report - 24th May 2015

To: Birding-Aus <>, "" <>
Subject: Albany deep ocean pelagic trip report - 24th May 2015
From: John Graff <>
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 03:51:54 +0000
Hi again,

The highlights of the Sunday trip were probably the excellent views of an 
Arctic Tern around the boat and a brief pass by a small pod of Orcas.

The full report is available online at
 Once again, I've included the text only version below


A second good trip for the weekend, again with 13 tubenose species recorded, 
though the species mix varied a little from the Saturday trip. The highlights 
included an Arctic Tern, several Black-bellied Storm-Petrels, and a brief visit 
by a small group of Orcas.

Alan Collins (Organiser), John Graff (Organiser), Plaxy Barratt, Damian Baxter, 
Richard Baxter, Bill Betts, Bob Dawson, Ben Dicker, Stewart Ford, Geoff Glare, 
Neil Macumber, Dan Mantle, Ian Mayer, Wayne Merritt, James Mustafa, Sean 
Tomlinson, Chris Tate, Gavin White

Wind was forecast SW’ly at 10-15 knots, dropping to variable below 10 knots 
during the morning then swinging NW’ly and increasing to 10 knots in the 
afternoon. Seas were forecast at 1m, decreasing to 0.5m before increasing 
again, with swell forecast SW’ly at 2-2.5m. Conditions were approximately as 
forecast, which made for a relatively comfortable trip, though the swell was 
more noticeable than the previous day.

We again departed early at 0510, and made our way across King George Sound and 
through the heads in darkness. Some extra cloud cover to the east meant that we 
were even further offshore before the light was sufficient to identify birds 
with confidence. Indian Yellow-nosed and Black-browed Albatross and 
Great-winged Petrels all appeared fairly quickly, though Black-browed numbers 
were lower than the previous day. We were also surprised to see a Tree Martin 
pass behind the boat again in a similar location to the previous day's 
sighting. A Shy Albatross was also seen, and the first Wilson's Storm-Petrel 
also made an appearance. As we approached the shelf break, two Little 
Shearwaters were seen briefly crossing the bow, and a few people briefly saw a 
Cape Petrel. We headed for two seamounts to the south-east of our usual 
stopping point, approximately half way between the 1000m and 2000m contours. 
However, on stopping to the south-west of the seamount, the depth readout was 
only 1100m, though we may have been over the outer parts of the seamount at 
this point.

We deployed the chum shortly after stopping. The winds were light, so the 
build-up of birds was slower than the previous day. The numbers of Indian 
Yellow-nosed Albatross around the boat grew steadily to fifteen, and were 
joined by a Black-browed Albatross, while Great-winged Petrels made regular 
passes. The first Wilson's Storm-Petrels also arrived, and a Soft-plumaged 
Petrel made a couple of passes. Although activity was generally lower than the 
previous day, the species list continued to grow steadily with the addition of 
the first White-faced Storm-Petrel. The first major sighting of interest came 
when an Arctic Tern made its way up the slick and approached the boat. It fed 
in the slick close to boat, and made several passes around (and over) the boat, 
allowing good views. This was followed shortly afterwards by the first 
Wandering-type Albatross, a relatively dark bird with quite a dark cap, 
suggestive of nominate antipodensis. However, taxon identification was not 
possible with any certainty. This was followed shortly afterwards by a juvenile 
Northern Giant-Petrel, which landed at the back of the boat.

We drifted more slowly than the previous day and as a result, the storm-petrels 
were feeding in the slick closer to the boat, and a Black-bellied Storm-Petrel 
was seen in the slick. We moved back up the slick to try to approach it, and 
located a second individual. Shortly after repositioning, a second 
Wandering-type Albatross of the day made several passes. The large bill and 
overall size, and extensively white plumage suggested a Snowy Albatross 
(exulans). After another quiet period, a dark intermediate Soft-plumaged Petrel 
made a brief pass, and the first Cape Petrel arrived. Shortly afterwards, an 
unusual small albatross made a brief pass and disappeared to the west. 
Unfortunately it didn’t return – photos show a small albatross with a 
relatively white underwing, dark bill and a greyish face and upper throat. Both 
Indian and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross were considered, along with Buller’s 
Albatross, but the available evidence shows inconsistencies with all three 
species and it remains unidentified. The number of Cape Petrels around the boat 
had increased to three, and the Wilson's Storm-Petrels continued to provide 
entertainment feeding close to the boat. We were also briefly distracted by a 
Man-of-war Fish (Nomeus gronovii) associating with a man o’ war. We had also 
drifted across both seamounts and into just 700m of water so the decision was 
made to move to the location of our last stop the previous day, not far from 
our usual stopping location, though we were briefly delayed by the appearance 
of a Brown Skua.

We motored west for about 20 minutes and stopped in about 1000m of water and 
began a new slick. Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross and Wilson’s Storm-Petrel 
appeared around the boat almost immediately, and Great-winged Petrels continued 
to make passes. An adult Black-browed Albatross also arrived at the boat, and a 
few Little Shearwaters passed in the mid-distance. A Shy Albatross was also 
seen. After about an hour, the call went up for whales, and a small, loose 
group of Orcas (Killer Whales) were seen; unfortunately, they didn’t remain in 
the area for long. The final new species for the weekend came when an adult 
Campbell Albatross joined the Black-browed Albatross at the boat.

Male Orca, with a slightly deformed dorsal fin. Dorsal fin characteristics like 
this can be used to identify individual whales within a population. Photo 
courtesy Plaxy Barratt.

The return journey was relatively comfortable, though there was some spray from 
the port side. A Cape Petrel followed us for a large part of the return 
journey, but nothing new was seen for the return journey. After entering the 
heads, we noted a number of skuas sitting on the water. There were at least six 
individuals present, but all appeared to be Brown Skuas. A few people also saw 
a Little Penguin briefly on the surface. We docked at about 1635 to finish 
another weekend of trips. As always, thanks go to all trip participants for 
making these trips possible, and the boat crew Tony and Fred from Spinners 
Charters for their usual patience and friendly assistance

Species List [Total count (Max. seen at one time)]
Little Penguin 1 (1)
Wandering Albatross 2 (1) – 1+ Snowy
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 30 (16)
Black-browed Albatross 5 (1)
Campbell Albatross 1 (1)
Shy Albatross 3 (1)
Northern Giant-Petrel 1 (1)
Cape Petrel 5 (3)
Great-winged Petrel 50 (8)
Soft-plumaged Petrel 7 (1) – 1 intermediate/dark intermediate
Little Shearwater 8 (1)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 100 (55)
White-faced Storm-Petrel 13 (3)
Black-bellied Storm-Petrel 3 (2)
Brown Skua 8 (5)
Arctic Tern 1 (1)
Australasian Gannet 18 (6)

Orca 5+ (5)

<BR> Birding-Aus mailing list
<BR> To change settings or unsubscribe visit:

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Albany deep ocean pelagic trip report - 24th May 2015, John Graff <=

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