10 February 2018 Report
The weather was fine with a forecast of 29degC along with an ocean perfectly suited to those with uneasy sea legs. There was very little wind to speak of and markedly so well out to sea. It wasn't until we turned back to shore that it started to pick up slightly. Sea water temperatures were over 24degC. We departed the Heads around 7:35am motoring out to Brown's Mountain (approx. 22.5NM ESE off the Heads) arriving there a little after 10:00am. After drifting for a while we slowly motored further east where another drift was set up before returning back closer into shore for another drift. We arrived back at 3:40pm.
Prior to departure four Channel-billed Cuckoos were stirring up the locals while flying back and forth across the treetops along New South Head Road before moving toward Point Piper. We departed Rose Bay at 7:15am with 23 on the MV Avalon IV. Somehow we managed to sneak out of the Harbour without the typical complement of Silver Gull. Soon after leaving the heads Wedge-tailed Shearwater were seen passing the boat initially showing no interest in the berley trail we were dispensing. Eventually one bird came in and from there it cascaded to a large following. Simon spotted an immature Australasian Gannet well away from the boat as we continued to motor away from the Heads. The first of the Crested Terns were also seen. A Fluttering Shearwater was observed not long after.
As we continued out with our hungry following in tow the first of the Pomarine Jaegers started showing some interest with two coming up towards the back of the boat. One showing the distinctive tail plumage. The Jaegers were a constant presence out to Brown's Mountain only to suddenly disappear before reappearing once we started motoring back. Hutton's and Fluttering Shearwaters were seen briefly a number of times along with Flesh-footed and Short-tailed Shearwaters a little further out. The only Sooty Shearwater for the day was picked out in amongst the throng as it zipped past the boat. Also on the voyage out Rob spotted an adult Sooty Tern in breeding plumage coming in from the north-east off the bow. The Tern flew past the boat before turning giving everyone good views and an opportunity to photograph it.
On arrival at Brown's Mountain we started the drift. With no wind blowing the conditions were calm and uncomfortably hot. The majority of the birds alighted on the water some distance from the boat showing little interest in feeding leaving only a handful at the back of the boat. We decided to keep moving further out motoring slowly along. While everyone was focused on a Hutton's Shearwater Corey got on to the first of the four Grey-faced Petrel that were seen during the trip.
The excitement rose when a splash next to the boat announced a pod of Dolphin which were quickly identified as Oceanic Bottlenose Dolphin. Several blows were also seen some distance from the boat with Risso's Dolphin appearing. Turning toward the action Melon-headed Whale were spotted by a few observers from the bow. The cetaceans appeared to be loosely following a long current line which had quite a bit of unidentified matter suspended in it.
After motoring a further 2NM E we briefly stopped to set up another drift with the same result as before. The birds were active when we were moving. It was decided to head back closer into shore and try a drift there. Shearwater and Jaeger continued to follow us as we made our way back in where we set up a brief drift. No additional species were added apart from Silver Gull just prior to entering the Heads. Although no rarities seen during the trip this was compensated for by the large numbers of relatively hungry birds following us while we were moving.
David and I would like to thank Roger and Hal for the many years of organising and running the pelagic trips out of Sydney and for their guidance with seeing the trips continue to run. It was a pleasure to see a smiling and relaxed Roger enjoying his second retirement, so to speak, on this trip.
(Note that the numbers in parentheses represent the approximate maximum number of that species in view at one time)
|Greater Crested Tern||6||(3)|
|Oceanic Bottlenose Dolphin||4|
The next Sydney pelagic trip is scheduled for Saturday 10th March 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, Nick Giles, Rob Hynson and Jodi Osgood for photographs).