Sydney Pelagic Trip Report - Sunday 11 September 2016

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Sydney Pelagic Trip Report - Sunday 11 September 2016
From: Greg McLachlan <>
Date: Tue, 13 Sep 2016 05:27:31 +0000

Saturday's regular trip was rescheduled to the following day due to the
forecast. With much better weather conditions than the previous day - and
fewer participants (including Roger McGovern!) - we headed out to calm seas
on a perfect Spring morning. There was no seasickness and the weather held
throughout the trip. Although no rarities were seen there was a good mix of
birds observed for this time of year. Highlights included great views of
White-faced and Wilson's Storm-Petrels as well as Fairy Prion with all
coming in close to the boat at times. Cetacean highlights included a pod of
Risso's Dolphin which cooperated for several minutes giving good views,
also a breaching Humpback was seen as well along with a distant Humpback
repeatedly tail-slapping. A Fur Seal sp, was spotted loafing on the surface
close to the Heads. Also briefly seen by some were Minke sp. and Marlin.

We exited the Heads around 7:30am making Brown's Mountain in good time well
before 10:00am. After drifting for a while the decision was made to motor
further out to the self given the ideal conditions on the water. A number
of birds followed the boat further out. Another drift was made in the
deeper water where most of the highlights were seen. Motoring back to the
Harbour we stopped just outside the Heads to view Humpbacks which were
putting on a show. We arrived back at Rose Bay around 3:45pm.

We left Rose Bay a bit after 7:00am on the MV Avalon IV with a mixture of
regulars, first timers and a handfull of visiting overseas birders. We
departed the Heads at around 7:30am with zero birds following the boat.
Soon after hitting open water we encountered migrating Wedge-tailed,
Fluttering and Hutton's Shearwaters as well as the often seen Silver Gull
and Greater Crested Tern mix. Australasian Gannet were also about with
quite a few immature birds making up their numbers. It looked very
promising with so many birds! Despite the delightful temptations of the
berley on offer the Shearwaters showed little interest with none persisting
in following the boat. From what had been reported the previous day along
the coast of Sydney the Shearwaters/Gulls/Terns were feeding well on the
food that is around at the moment.

Waving goodbye to the seemingly endless stream of migrating Shearwater we
continued motoring out toward Brown's Mountain with no birds in tow.

On our approach to Brown's the first of the interested - and no doubt
hungrier - Wedge-tailed Shearwater picked up the berley trail. Numbers of
distant Fluttering-type Shearwater were also seen with a few Hutton's and
Fluttering positively identified amongst them. Black-browed Albatross were
also starting to show some interest as well as the occasional Australasian
Gannet. They were joined by the first of the Buller's Albatross which
tagged along for the remainder of the trip.

With our small party of birds we arrived at Brown's Mountain before 9:45am
and set up a slick and slowly drifted. An immature Wandering Albatross
(Gibson's) flew in and landed on the water which was quickly followed by an
older bird. A couple of White-faced Storm-Petrel were also seen feeding in
the slick with several close approaches as they danced across the surface.
The first of the Providence Petrels joined the party coming in close to
pick berley titbits from the water surface before quickly flying off again.

After drifting for some time at Brown's, given the superb conditions, we
decided to motor further out to the shelf. A small detour was made enroute
after a pod of Risso's Dolphin was spotted in the distance by Steve
Anyon-Smith. The dolphin did not disappoint and were quite tolerant of our

At the shelf we set up a berley slick and once again drifted. Two Indian
Yellow-nosed Albatross had joined us by now. One being an immature bird and
the other an adult allowing a comparative view of the two. A young Shy
Albatross also gracefully glided past the boat without landing initially.
Two Wilson's Storm-Petrel were seen briefly working their way down the
slick. Fairy Prions were also working their way through the slick with one
sitting on the water for a moment to preen. Great-winged Petrel also made
an appearance while we were drifting. The older Wandering Albatross seen
earlier had caught up to us and landed close to the boat. A second adult
Shy Albatross wheeled its way in to the mix. Wedge-tailed Shearwater,
Providence Petrel, Black-browed Albatross and Buller's Albatross were also
a constant presence while we drifted.

Given the distance we had travelled from shore we decided to start heading
back around 12:30pm. During the return trip we had most of the species seen
further out, including the older Wandering Albatross, following us for most
of the journey. Closer to the Heads a Northern Giant-Petrel was seen flying
past the boat as well as a Brown Skua. The former landed well behind the
boat. We stopped briefly to observe Humpbacks with breaching prior to
stopping and a distant whale actively tail-slapping. A Fur Seal sp. was
seen loafing on the water near the Heads. The return journey was a pleasant
affair seeing us arrive at Rose Bay around 3:45pm. Ocean temperatures were
around 19 deg C.

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

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 6 (2)
Buller's Albatross 8 (5)
Shy Albatross 5 (3)
Black-browed Albatross 60 (40)
Wandering Albatross (Gibson's) 4 (2)
Northern Giant-Petrel 1 (1)
Great-winged Petrel 6 (6)
Providence Petrel 25 (15)
Fairy Prion 15 (4)
prion sp. 6
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 400 (300)
Hutton's Shearwater 15 (3)
Fluttering Shearwater 20 (10)
fluttering-type Shearwaters 50
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 2 (2)
White-faced Storm-Petrel 8 (3)
Australasian Gannet 50 (30)
Brown Skua 1 (1)
Silver Gull 75 (50)
Crested Tern 20 (10)

Humpback Whale 5
Risso's Dolphin 10
Minke sp. 1
Fur Seal sp. 1
Marlin 1

All information on our trips including dates and contact details can be
found in the website at and you can also find us on
Facebook and post photos at

Our next scheduled trip is Saturday 8th October. Book early!

Greg McLachlan
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