19 August 2017 Report - Eaglehawk Neck

This trip was organised by the Sydney Pelagics birding group for the weekend of August 19 and 20, 2017.


OBSERVERS: Hal Epstein, Steve Hey, Greg McLachlan, Jodi Osgood, Dean Purcell, Dirk Tomsa, Els Wakefield, Richard Webber, Tom Wilson, Andrew Wood, Melanie Wood and Roger McGovern (report compiler).

WEATHER: Partly cloudy with numerous sunny breaks and squally, heavy showers. Cold south westerly winds at 25 to 30 knots in the morning and increasing to over 30 knots at midday and the air temperature ranged from 3degC in the morning up to 8degC in the mid-afternoon.

SEA: Quite uncomfortable seas at around 2 metres inshore to the Hippolytes and increasing to 3 to 3.5 metres at the shelf. The large chop and heavy spray on the return journey was unpleasant and there were a couple of cases of sea sickness.


ACTIVITY: Departed Pirates Bay Wharf at 7.10am and headed out to the Hippolytes before continuing in an easterly direction to the continental shelf break. Started berleying at 9.20am in 400 fathoms and stayed at this location (drifting north east in the strong wind) until heading back as the wind increased at around 12.30pm, arriving back at the dock just before 3.00pm.

MAMMALS: Common Dolphin: two small pods of 6 to 8 encountered on the journey out to the shelf. Australian Fur Seals: small numbers of Australian Fur Seals (up to 8) on and around the Hippolytes.

BIRDS: We recorded a total of 29 species beyond the entrance to Pirates Bay with the highlights being two Sooty Albatross, two Light-mantled Albatross and three Grey Petrel making this an outstanding pelagic trip, even for Eaglehawk Neck and especially for the Sydney-based birders for whom these were life birds.


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

Grey-backed Storm Petrel8(1) All pelagic
Wandering Albatross1(1) Adult bird, pelagic
Antipodean Albatross5(2) All pelagic. Three adults, one immature and one juvenile ssp gibsoni
Southern Royal Albatross2(1) One offshore and one pelagic
SOOTY ALBATROSS2(1) Both pelagic.
LIGHT-MANTLED ALBATROSS2(1) One offshore on the outward journey and the other pelagic
Shy Albatross42(20) About ten inshore, ten offshore and the rest pelagic
Campbell Albatross1(1) Pelagic
Black-browed Albatross5(2) All pelagic
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross1(1) Inshore
Buller's Albatross2(1) Both pelagic
Providence Petrel1(1) Photographed twice but probably the same individual
Cape Petrel5(1) One offshore, four pelagic. One capense and four australe
Southern Giant Petrel2(1) Both pelagic
Northern Giant Petrel1(1) Pelagic
Great-winged Petrel18(4) Six offshore and the rest pelagic
Grey-faced Petrel12(2) All pelagic
GREY PETREL3(1) All pelagic
White-headed Petrel1(1) Only briefly seen in pelagic waters
Soft-plumaged Petrel5(1) One offshore and the rest pelagic
Common Diving Petrel7(2) All offshore not far from the Hippolytes
Fairy Prion20(3) All pelagic
Slender-billed Prion1(1) Pelagic - identified from photograph
Antarctic Prion1(1) Pelagic – identified from Steve Hey photograph
Prion species30All pelagic
Australasian Gannet12(2) About 8 inshore and the rest offshore
Silver Gull30(20) All inshore
Pacific Gull2(2) On the Hippolytes
Kelp Gull40(15)
Greater Crested Tern5(2) All inshore


Short-beaked Common Dolphin16
Australian Fur Seal8