Eaglehawk Pelagic Trip Report- October 15th, 2017
Paul Ashley, Sheila Ashley, María Llorente Corcobado, Graeme Bullock, Ian
Halliday, Rob Hamilton, Mona Loofs-Samorzewski, Tony Nairn, Álvaro Díaz
Pastor, Peter Vaughan, Els Wakefield and Paul Brooks (organiser and report
The Pauletta, skippered by John Males, with deckhand Hugh Smith.
An enjoyable trip in lovely spring conditions. Species diversity was
average but numbers of birds were good for the majority of the day.
Highlights were an adult Northern Royal Albatross and spectacular numbers
of Short-tailed Shearwaters, in particular the massive flock around the
Hippolytes and Cheverton Rock. We also had a good array of *Diomedea*
albatrosses, with several Southern Royal Albatross in a variety of plumages
and a few Gibson’s Albatross as well.
Left port at 0715 hrs and headed straight down to the Hippolytes. After
circumnavigating both Cheverton Rock and The Hippolytes, we headed
south-east to the shelf-break, pulling up over 380 fathoms at 0935 hrs. We
drifted in a confused pattern until 1055 hrs, when we headed north to
intercept a long-line tuna trawler with its accompaniment of seabirds.
This put us over 460 fathoms, and we had another confused drift from here
until 1230, when we headed back to port via the Hippolytes to dock at
around 1445 hrs. We dawdled back to port once we passed The Hippolytes,
hoping to come across a humpback which had reportedly breached in Pirates
Bay around midday, but didn’t see any sign of it.
The sky was nearly cloudless in the morning and remained so for the whole
day; air temp was cool to begin with but ended up being mild for October.
A 5-10 knot westerly and a swell of under 1.5 m prevailed on the way to the
Hippolytes. As we headed past the Hippolytes, the swell rose to 2 m with a
very long period. At 90 fathoms, the swell picked up again to 3 m with
occasional waves to 4 metres but the period remained long so things were
quite comfortable. At the shelf break, the breeze picked up to around 15
knots but seas rarely topped 1 m. Conditions were constant until just
before 1230 hrs, when the forecast southerly change came through, seeing
the wind pick up to 20 knots +, but it was time for us to head back in.
Water temperature was around 13 deg C inshore, rising to 14 deg C out
wide. Two seasick, but both still had smiles on their faces.
Short-beaked Common Dolphin: 3 (3) Near the Hippolytes in the morning. 3
more animals were seen inshore in the afternoon but they may have been the
Australian/New Zealand Fur Seal: 33 (16) On the Hippolytes.
Bumblebee: 2 (1) Offshore (about 60 fathoms).
Birds (IOC v 7.1 – max at one time in brackets):
Wilson’s Storm Petrel: 12 (9) Pelagic. Had a few in the slick throughout
the day but numbers rose dramatically just before the southerly change came
Antipodean Albatross: 4 (1) All adult male *gibsoni* in pelagic waters.
Southern Royal Albatross: 5 (2) One juvenile early and other birds of
varying age in pelagic waters.
NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS: 1 A lovely, clean, adult bird made a couple of
passes in pelagic waters.
Black-browed type Albatross: 1 A juvenile/immature in pelagic waters.
Campbell Albatross: 3 (3) an immature/sub-adult and 2 adults in pelagic
Shy Albatross: c. 80 (c. 40) 4 inshore in the morning; 5 offshore in the
morning; remainder pelagic. The fishing boat we intercepted had a flock of
c. 40 birds in tow. Mainly adult *cauta/steadi*; many birds showing
breeding flush of *cauta*. Two birds in juvenile plumage were potential
Southern Giant Petrel 2 (1) Both juveniles in pelagic waters.
Northern Giant Petrel: 5 (4) 1 juvenile offshore in the morning; 2
juveniles and 2 immatures in pelagic waters.
Cape Petrel: 3 (3) Pelagic.
Fairy Prion: 9 (1) 5 offshore in the morning; remainder pelagic.
White-chinned Petrel: 5 (3) All pelagic.
Sooty Shearwater: 2 (1) 1 pelagic; 1 offshore in the afternoon.
Short-tailed Shearwater: c. 30,000 (c. 15,000) Difficult to count and
actual numbers may have been much higher. A flock of at least 15,000 birds
encountered at The Hippolytes in the morning was still there when we came
back in the afternoon. We passed through several flocks totalling over
5000 in offshore waters in the morning and could see other large flocks all
around throughout the day.
Common Diving Petrel: 4 (1) Offshore in the morning.
Black-faced Cormorant: c. 200 (c. 150) Inshore and on The Hippolytes in the
Australasian Gannet: c.25 (c. 20) Inshore and on the Hippolytes in the
White-bellied Sea Eagle: 1 Adult flying near the Hippolytes in the morning.
Swamp Harrier: 1 Flying over the Hippolytes in the morning.
Silver Gull: c. 150 (c. 50) Inshore and on the Hippolytes in the morning.
Pacific Gull: 3 (2) 1 adult on the rock shelf outside Pirates Bay and 2 on
the Hippolytes in the morning.
Kelp Gull: c. 80 (c. 40) 20 inshore in the morning; c. 60 around The
Hippolytes; a couple pelagic.
Greater Crested Tern: 27 (4) 2 inshore in the morning; 16 offshore in the
morning; 9 pelagic.
Forest Raven: 1 Flying low over the water back into Pirates Bay in the
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