14 July 2018 Report
The conditions in the days leading up to the trip were anything but benign. Fortunately wind speeds were downgraded with each successive forecast 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 C.
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 group 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 directions.
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)
|Wilson's Storm Petrel||1||(1)|
|Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross||10||(6)|
|Wandering Albatross (Gibson's)||2||(1)|
|Northern Giant Petrel||3||(2)|
|Greater Crested Tern||15||(5)|
|Fur Seal sp.||1|
The next Sydney pelagic trip is scheduled for Saturday 11th August 2018 departing from Mosman at 6.45am and Rose Bay at 7.00am.
All information on our trips including dates and contact details can be found on the website at sydneypelagics.info
Book at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find us on Facebook and post photos at https://www.facebook.com/sydneypelagics
(Many thanks to Corey Callaghan, Roksana Boreli and Aaron Payne for photographs).