14 July Sydney Pelagic Report

Subject: 14 July Sydney Pelagic Report
From: Sydney Pelagics <>
Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2018 13:15:26 +1000
14 July Sydney Pelagic Report

The conditions in the days leading up to the trip were anything but
benign. Fortunately wind forecasts were downgraded with each successive
update for the weekend. The final forecast for the Saturday was for 3-5m
seas with the wind dropping to 10 knots by morning. Thankfully the wind
did subside on schedule however the seas remained as forecast. We left
the heads in a rolling sea which stayed with us throughout the journey
to Brown's seamount and back. We departed the shelf around midday. A few
on board succumbed to the conditions. Sea water temperature was ~18 deg

With a boatload of enthusiastic birders aboard the MV Avalon we left
Rose Bay for the Heads. As we approached to pass through the Heads the
rolling seas became apparent to all on board. We made it out of the
Heads safely motoring our way through heavy seas with our usual throng
of Silver Gull following the boat. It wasn't long before the first of
the many Black-browed Albatrosses seen during the day were following us.
A fur seal was spotted behind the boat giving good views as it craned
its head well out of the water in amongst the berley trail. Greater
Crested Terns and the occasional Australasian Gannet were also seen soon
after leaving the Heads. We berleyed with fish offal - which was eagerly
snatched by the many birds - throughout the journey. 

More albatrosses joined our growing following as we got a little further
out. Shy-type Albatrosses started to appear along with the first of the
Brown Skuas which seemed particularly hungry as they stayed with us, on
and off, for most of the trip. The odd flock of Fluttering Shearwater
were also seen moving southward rapidly as we crested the waves.
Buller's Albatross and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross joined us a little
later. Fairy Prion were starting to be picked up as well. We were to see
high numbers of these birds throughout the day.

Our first sighting of Cape Petrel in two years appeared well behind the
boat. Our last record was from July 2016, a single bird. We have had
very few records in the last 6 years - mostly single birds - with
numbers in serious decline over a longer period.

As we approached the shelf, we saw our first Wandering-type Albatross
(gibsoni). The first of the Providence Petrel were also seen. They were
well away from the boat initially before making a few close approaches.
Grey-faced Petrel were also observed along with another Cape Petrel. The
conditions prevented us from stopping the motor to set up a drift, which
didn't seem to matter as all the birds were eager to follow the berley
trail, so we decided to keep moving further east. A couple of sets of
waves were well over 5 metres (7m according to the skipper). Fortunately
we only had a few instances where the water broke over the bow and down
the side of the boat catching a few with a drenching. Campbell Albatross
were starting to be seen in amongst the many Black-browed Albatross. A
lone Wilson's Storm-petrel flitted by before disappearing. A constant
stream of Fairy Prion were zipping by and were coming from all

Given the trying conditions it was decided to make our way back. The
skipper made a very quick turn in one of the troughs and we were on our
way. The birds followed suit. A second Wandering-type Albatross joined
us as we motored toward shore. The first 'wanderer' returned again
later. The first of three giant petrel of the day, which was identified
as a Northern Giant Petrel, made a close approach behind the boat
alighting on the water to retrieve some offal before taking to the air
again to follow us. Two Cape Petrel were seen following us on the trip
back. We had many birds with us throughout the trip. 

Humpback whales were seen as we neared the Heads. Most of those on board
had not previously seen many of the species. The good numbers and the
variety made it a memorable Winter pelagic trip. If the birds weren't
memorable than the conditions certainly were!


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

Yellow-nosed Albatross  10 (6)
Buller's Albatross  10 (5)
Shy Albatross  50 (30)
Black-browed Albatross  200 (120)
Campbell Albatross  3 (2)
Wandering Albatross (Gibson's)  2 (1)
Northern Giant-Petrel  3 (2)
Cape Petrel  4 (2)
Grey-faced Petrel  2 (1)
Providence Petrel  20 (11)
Fairy Prion  300 (70)
Fluttering Shearwater  30 (9)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel  1 (1)
Australasian Gannet  30 (18)
Brown Skua  4 (2)
Silver Gull  200 (120)
Crested Tern 15 (5)


Humpback Whale 2
Fur Seal 2


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