11 September 2016 Report

OVERVIEW

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 on 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.

TRIP SUMMARY

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 presence.

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.

BIRD LIST

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

Wilson's Storm Petrel2(2)
White-faced Storm Petrel8(3)
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross6(2)
Buller's Albatross8(5)
Shy Albatross5(3)
Black-browed Albatross60(40)
Wandering Albatross (Gibson's)4(2)
Northern Giant Petrel1(1)
Great-winged Petrel6(6)
Providence Petrel25(15)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater400(300)
Fluttering Shearwater20(10)
Hutton's Shearwater 15(3)
Fluttering-type Shearwaters50
Fairy Prion15(4)
Prion sp.6
Australasian Gannet50(30)
Brown Skua1(1)
Silver Gull75(50)
Greater Crested Tern20(10)

OTHER

Humpback Whale5
Risso's Dolphin10
Minke sp.1
Fur Seal sp.1
Marlin1

The next Sydney pelagic trip is scheduled for Saturday 8th October 2016 departing from Mosman at 6.45am and Rose Bay at 7.00am. You can also find us on Facebook and post photos at https://www.facebook.com/sydneypelagics


(The photographs attached were taken by Gillian Mountwinter and Greg McLachlan)

Gillian Mountwinter

Gillian Mountwinter

Gillian Mountwinter

Gillian Mountwinter

Greg McLachlan