Saturday, May 11, 2013

Albany Pelagic Trip Report - 5 May 2013

Participants: Alan Collins (Organiser), John Graff (Organiser), Sue Abbotts, Xenia Dennett, Stewart Ford, Alison Gye, William Gye, Jane Hogben, Ross Hogben, John Lillywhite, Dan Mantle, Michael Morcombe, Simon Nevill, Glen Pacey, Ray Turnbull, John Weigel

Conditions: Seas were forecast to be around 1m, with swell to 2-3m, and light NE’ly winds. Conditions were generally as forecast, but the wind was light-moderate from the SE throughout the day. Overall, conditions were fairly typical for an Albany trip

Following on from a successful Saturday trip, this was another excellent trip with at least 13 tubenose species recorded, highlighted by a pair of Sooty Albatross and a Black-bellied Storm-Petrel, along with another South Polar Skua.

The second Sooty Albatross of the day. The buffy collar indicates an immature bird.

We left Emu Point shortly after 0700, picking up a Nankeen Night-Heron in the harbour as we left. Once again, there were Flesh-footed Shearwaters well inside King George Sound, along with the customary Australasian Gannets and Brown Skua. As we cleared the heads, the first Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross was seen, followed shortly afterwards by a Black-browed Albatross. Up to three Black-browed Albatross were seen at one time, and one bird was seen well enough by several people to be identified as a Campbell Albatross. After an initial albatross burst, a long period of inactivity followed, punctuated by the first White-faced Storm-Petrel and two possible Little Shearwaters. Shortly before we reached the shelf, the first Shy Albatross made an appearance in the wake, and the first Wilson’s Storm-Petrel was also seen.

Wilson's Storm-Petrel were numerous, with up to 53 counted in the slick at one point.

We stopped the boat at 1000m depth in a similar area to the Saturday trip. Before we had even deployed the chum, the first Soft-plumaged Petrel made an appearance, and an immature Black-browed Albatross landed at the back of the boat with the Flesh-footed Shearwaters. We deployed the chum, and several Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses arrived, along with Wilson’s & White-faced Storm-Petrel and the first Great-winged Petrel. A young Shy Albatross also arrived. The first major excitement came when a Wandering Albatross suddenly appeared in the wake, but unfortunately did not stay long. A Northern Giant-Petrel then arrived from the port side and made a pass, but again did not stay long. A second individual appeared shortly afterwards and hung around for longer. Then the skipper spotted a young Wandering Albatross crossing the bow, which hung around for a while, at one point landing in the slick well away from the boat. However, the major excitement was still to come, when the call went out for a Sooty Albatross which made a pass on the port side and continued on to the west. Before it was out of sight, the call went out for a second Sooty Albatross, this one also coming from behind the boat but passing along the starboard side before following the first bird off to the west. The excitement was only just dying down when a Black-bellied Storm-Petrel appeared amongst a group of Wilson’s Storm-Petrels just off the stern. It only made a brief pass, but a short while later it (or another) reappeared off the stern and gave slightly longer views as it flew across the stern then back up the slick - photos revealed no obvious plumage differences so both sightings probably involved the same bird. The number of Wilson’s Storm-Petrels in the slick had also grown to at least 53.

The first Sooty Albatross of the day.

Black-bellied Storm-Petrel.

We had again drifted a reasonable distance, so we travelled back up to the start of our slick and stopped again. Most of the species already seen were present. The first excitement came from a South Polar Skua, paler than any of the three seen on the Saturday trip, which hung around at the back of the boat for some time harassing the shearwaters. Another two Wandering Albatross (an older adult and a very young bird) made passes, along with another Shy Albatross, and a Campbell Albatross made a pass and settled on the water in front of the boat. A Blue Shark also made an appearance at the back of the boat.

South Polar Skua, a fairly pale individual which showed very well and was easily identified.

We started the return journey just before 1400, with a brief stop for the crew to try to catch themselves dinner, without success! The trip back did not add any new species, but several Black-browed Albatross were again encountered close to the heads, along with a single Campbell Albatross. A flock of 20 Australasian Gannet were seen on the water inside King George Sound, and a few Flesh-footed Shearwaters followed us across the sound almost to the harbour, where we docked at approximately 1630. As always, many thanks to all the participants, and to Tony and Fred from Spinners Charters.

The second Wandering Albatross of the day. Little indication of specific identification from the plumage, but large size in the field, and seemingly large bill possibly suggest Snowy.

The third Wandering Albatross of the day. An older adult, the clean white head and body and extent of white in the wings rules out Amsterdam and Antipodean. The relatively small size in the field suggests Gibson's or Tristan, though female Snowy cannot be excluded.

The fourth Wandering Albatross seen on the day. Difficult to ID on plumage though the already pale collar *may* suggest Snowy.

Species List [Total Count (Maximum no. seen at one time)]
Wandering Albatross [sp] 4 (1) - comments are welcome on the specific ID of any/all of the three birds pictured. More photos are available on request
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 18 (6)
Black-browed Albatross 10 (3)
Campbell Albatross 3 (1)
Shy Albatross 4 (2)
Northern Giant-Petrel 2 (1)
Great-winged Petrel 12 (6)
Soft-plumaged Petrel 8 (2)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 250 (45)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 250 (53)
White-faced Storm-Petrel 15 (4)
Black-bellied Storm-Petrel 1 (1)
Brown Skua 4 (1)
Australasian Gannet 32 (20)

Blue Shark 1 (1)

1 comment:

  1. What a shame I was unable to be there for this one. The good news though, my wife feels much be4tter now the Kidney Stone is gone. Thanks for the great time on Saturday and hopefully I'll be able to get a ride on the next one.