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Old Sunday 26th February 2017, 10:48   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Sydney
Posts: 185
February Kiama pelagic (Australia)

This years summer pelagics from Kiama have been some of the best for many years. These trips are run by the Southern ocean seabird study organisation (SOSSA) and are research trips involving catching and banding various seabird species.

February's trip was hampered by bad weather, a strong southerly wind of up to 35 knots and seas of 3-4 meters meant a rough and rocky ride was in store. We typically aim to reach deeper waters over the continental shelf aiming for between 150 to 400 fathoms where deep water specialties reside. Due to the bad weather we were only able to reach waters of 75 fathoms.

As soon as we left the harbour it was apparent there were a lot of birds about, hundreds of wedge-tailed Shearwaters were feeding in inshore waters on baitfish with a few Flesh-footed Shearwaters joining the fray. Once were in about 70 fathoms of water the skipper informed us we could not go out any further due to the poor conditions so we set up a slick which we worked for several hours. Typically in 75 fathoms we struggle to get any deep water species but with a strong southerly blow, plus recent trips producing a few rarities hopes were high.

The first good bird of the day was a Gould's Petrel, a species rarely encountered on Kiama pelagics especially in shallow waters, we ended up seeing an amazing total of 10 Gould's Petrels on this trip. Soon after was the first of 4 White-necked Petrel seen that day. A distant Cook's Petrel was seen by only a few on board, although a common breeding species in New Zealand they are frustratingly rare in Australian waters. A few Grey-faced Petrels were seen before heading back to shore, Grey-faced Petrels are a bird we normally see in decent numbers out at the shelf break but today we only saw a handful.

Back in inshore waters we again encountered a large flock of Wedge-tailed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters feeding on baitfish along with several Short-beaked Common Dolphins. A flyby Kermadec Petrel caused some excitement as did a distant Buller's Shearwater which was only identified later after reviewing photos.

All-in-all this was one of the best summer pelagics I've been on in Australia, one can only dream about what we could have seen if we made it out to deeper waters.

I've attached a few photos from todays trip, I only took about 20 photos as it was so rough. Other photos from this years trips can be seen here


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