9 June 2018 Report
Compared to the conditions leading up to this trip the weather for the day was thankfully predicted to be relatively benign with milder winds and a 1-1.5m swell accompanied by patchy showers. There was very little swell or wind on the way out giving a comfortable ride for the 23 passengers on board. Sea surface temperatures were around 20 C. While drifting at the seamount conditions deteriorated with a change that brought increased wind and rain. The list of species for the day matched a typical June although numbers for Buller's Albatross and Wilson's Storm-Petrel were at the higher end.
It was a relief to be out on the water after the cancellation of the previous two trips due to very unfavourable conditions at the time. Given recent sea-watching reports in the lead up to this trip most on board were enthusiastic to get out to sea. With the MV Avalon arriving early we were through the Heads and motoring out to sea earlier than expected.
We had attracted a crew of Silver Gull hungry for a feed in the Harbour which followed us out through the Heads. A few curious Australasian Gannets passed the boat with a more adventurous Crested Tern coming in closer. A White-bellied Sea-Eagle glided in high from the north making its way to the boat before dropping down to the water line for a grab at the berley. It wasn't long before we had our first Albatross behind the boat. Black-browed. A few Bottlenose dolphin were also seen outside the Heads just after 7:30am.
On the 23NM voyage out to Brown's we picked up the odd Fluttering-type Shearwater. All Shearwater turned out to be Fluttering and continued that pattern throughout the day. Motoring east we added Indian Yellow-nosed, Shy and Buller's Albatross. Soon a Campbell Albatross was picked out from the birds around the boat which turned out to be the first of three seen during the day. A Brown Skua joined the party. An easily identified individual from the others observed later in the trip by its dishevelled flight feathers. A Northern Giant-Petrel made a line to the boat but stayed mostly a distance away before disappearing. An unidentified cetacean was spotted as well as Humpback whales some distance from the boat. Fairy Prion were also making a presence. Close to the seamount we started seeing Wilson's Storm-Petrel in increasing numbers.
Arriving at the eastern edge of the seamount in a little over 500m of water we set up a berley trail and began to drift across the slope of the mount. The first pterodromas for the day were seen some distance from the boat. They were quickly identified as Providence Petrel. Another Northern Giant-Petrel made its way to the back of the boat in prime position making the most of the berley and giving everyone excellent views. After drifting for close to 1NM we motored back down the slick picking out more Storm-Petrel and Prions. We continued moving on a path which would take us directly over the the summit of the seamount. Here we set up another slick. It wasn't long before a change came bringing increased wind and rain which left everyone huddled under cover. Interest from the birds as well as interest in the birds dropped off markedly. It was decided to motor further north in a slow westerly arc away from the rain.
A handful of Albatross followed the boat on the trip back toward Sydney. The occasional Prion was also seen as well as the odd Fluttering Shearwater along with more Australasian Gannet. Approaching the Heads a small pod of Bottlenose dolphin turned towards the boat to ride the bow wave. Prior to entering the Heads two Little Penguins were seen to the side of the boat. Tom also spotted a flock of Topknot Pigeons on the seaward side of the Heads. Pelagic Pigeons?
(Note that the numbers in parentheses represent the approximate maximum number of that species in view at one time)
|Wilson's Storm Petrel||25||(18)|
|Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross||15||(6)|
|Northern Giant Petrel||2||(1)|
|Greater Crested Tern||15||(4)|
|Inshore Bottlenose Dolphin||8|
The next Sydney pelagic trip is scheduled for Saturday 14th July 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
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(Many thanks to Corey Callaghan, Alex Berryman, Arthur Carew and David Irving for photographs).