6 November 2016 Report
This trip was an extra trip to the normal 2nd Saturday of the month schedule but still attracted a boat full of eager birders. We experienced a day with strong winds and big swell, which meant for some fairly uncomfortable conditions at times during the day and unfortunately several aboard succumbed to those conditions. The sun shone throughout and the wind and seas were starting to ease towards the end of the trip, although it was certainly by no means tranquil even then. We had lots of birds around the boat (my count numbers, particularly for the shearwaters are probably very conservative) but the variety of species was a little down on what we expected (or hoped for), although 18 species is by no means a bad haul.
We left Rose Bay at 7:05 with 23 passengers on board and during the trip towards the heads, some were lucky enough to see a single Little Penguin in the boat’s wake. There were definitely fewer Silver Gulls than normal – they may have also decided the conditions in western NSW were too good to miss despite the promise of tasty morsels from the burley bucket! We did attract a small following and as we went through the heads it wasn’t long before we also started to attract a following crowd of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. These were joined by a fly-by Jaeger, which turned out to be a Pomarine and before long we also picked up a couple of Black-browed Albatross. There were small groups of Fluttering Shearwaters about but the Wedgies were the dominant species on our trips in and out. Not far out from the heads we slowed the boat to check out some splashing and were rewarded with great views of a mum Humpback Whale with her frisky calf and another hanger-on. We saw a couple more humpbacks as we headed out. As we motored on, the Jaeger numbers slowly increased and the Pomarines – a couple of which still sported their tail spoons – were joined by Arctic Jaegers as well. The Black-browed Albatrosses were supplemented by first one and then several Shy Albatross, sporting a range of plumages from scruffy immature to very clean looking adult. As we approached the shelf, we were briefly accompanied by a small pod of Short-beaked Common Dolphins. We also encountered some Short-tailed Shearwaters and a possible Sooty Shearwater as well – another was seen later. There was also a call of a Flesh-footed Shearwater but if there was one in the throng feeding in the wake it didn’t hang about.
We reached Browns Mountain at about 10:20 and started our first drift. We were shortly joined by the first of a good number of Grey-faced Petrel and a single Wilsons Storm-Petrel and finally a Huttons Shearwater was picked out from the passing Flutterers. A few Providence Petrels also joined the group circling the boat and then a single Antipodean Albatross. After 30 minutes we motored back up the slick and started a second drift, which netted us a second Antipodean Albatross. The two birds sat close to each other several times and it was clear that they were different sizes so we may have had a nominate and Gibsons race bird together. The second drift also saw one or two more Wilsons Storm-Petrels and a much better view of a Sooty Shearwater that circled the boat once before heading southwards. A possible Long-tailed Jaeger was called, but again the ID was never confirmed. We motored into deeper water after about 30 minutes but didn’t pick up any new species, although we did find a Southern Ocean Sunfish, so we came back in and started a third drift. Up to that point, the Providence and Grey-faced Petrels seen were in pretty scruffy condition but two very smart Great-winged Petrels joined the birds near the boat – much cleaner, not in moult, almost no grey on the face and a much smaller bill all helped to clinch the ID of (what I understand) is an uncommon bird for NSW waters. This species, following the recent Great-winged/Grey-faced split, was a lifer for several on board.
At 12:45 we started the haul homewards, which wasn’t as lumpy as on the way out as we were running with the swell and the breeze was slowly dropping. We didn’t get any new species on the way in, although we did encounter some more dolphins and got some good close views of another Huttons Shearwater. We docked at Rose Bay at 3:20 after another great day out on the water. It’ll be interesting to see what this trip this coming Saturday (12 November) turns up.
(Note that the numbers in parentheses represent the approximate maximum number of that species in view at one time)
|Wilson's Storm Petrel||2||(2)|
|Great-winged Petrel||2||(2) Both unconfirmed sightings.|
|Greater Crested Tern||8||(4)|
|Short-beaked Common Dolphin||10|
The next Sydney pelagic trip is scheduled for Saturday 12th November 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