9 February 2019 Report
The forecast for the first trip of 2019 was relatively benign compared to the closing trips of the last quarter of 2018. Wind speeds were forecast to fall within the 10-15 knot range for most of the day with wave height edging up to 1.5 m. A change closer to shore, which we encountered on the return leg, rolled through in the afternoon bringing rain and increased wind. Sea surface temperatures had been quite high with BOM reporting >28 deg C currents penetrating southward along the east coast. The day produced all of the expected species for this time of year.
We left Rose Bay after 7am with less than our usual full complement of passengers. The journey out of the Harbour was on glassy water. Several flocks of Silver Gull were observed rafting amongst what appeared to be schools of feeding Tailor in the Harbour. Just outside the Heads a commercial fishing boat was busy sorting their by-catch which a dozen Great Cormorant as well as many Silver Gull were taking advantage of the discarded sea life.
It wasn’t long before we started seeing the first of many Wedge-tailed Shearwater. A small group had formed around a loafing fur seal. A Pomarine Jaeger was also spotted winging its way to the congregation. A shark species was also observed briefly nearer to the boat. We continued on without stopping. The bulk of the Shearwater encountered closer to shore were well spread out with most birds observed loosely heading southward. Around 8 NM offshore we could see a more concentrated stream of Shearwater ahead moving northward. As we approached it became clear the birds were feeding. Flesh-footed Shearwater were also present. It was decided to approach the flock. A pod of Common Dolphin were driving the focus of the melee from below. Several came to the boat to ride the bow waves much to the delight of everyone onboard. The first fluttering-type Shearwater was observed which was identified as Hutton’s. After circling the flock of feeding birds we managed to pique the interest of a handful of them enough to convince a few to break away and follow the boat. Despite following the boat the birds didn’t appear to be overly hungry. Those that fed only picked off the choice bits of berley and ignored the remainder. Several Pomarine Jaeger joined the wake as we motored toward the shelf.
On the journey out we lost then regained our contingent of followers. The mix of Wedge-tailed Shearwater to Flesh-footed Shearwater shifted as well. At one stage it was close to 50-50. Upon arrival at the shelf the birds following the boat alighted on the water where they mostly remained while we drifted. A lone Sooty Tern was spotted flying northward near the shelf. Good views were had by most on board of a Sooty Shearwater as it passed nearby showing off the distinguishing field marks and behaviours for this species. Short-tailed Shearwater made an appearance as well.
While at the shelf a Long-tailed Jaeger was spotted making its way to the stern. As it approached it gave good views and plenty of opportunity for photographs. A second bird was seen before the trip was over. Grey-faced Petrel were also seen at the shelf albeit fleetingly. Our journey back to the Heads took us into a front which had been building further in to shore. A fur seal was observed loafing on a buoy within the Harbour. We arrived at Rose Bay around 4pm.
(Note that the numbers in parentheses represent the approximate maximum number of that species in view at one time)
|Greater Crested Tern||5||(2)|
|Fur Seal sp.||2|
The next Sydney pelagic trip is scheduled for Saturday 9th March 2019 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 Roksana & Terry, Dave Irving and Greg McLachlan for photographs).
Roksana & Terry
Roksana & Terry