Shy Albatross
Shy Albatross

I had a teaser to Pelagic birding when I went on a half day Pelagic out of Wollongong on the 12th July. I had so much fun I went on back to back Pelagics out of Wollongong on the 27th and 28th of July.

The boat named the Sandra K leaves from Wollongong Harbour at 7am and then travels out to the continental shelf which takes close to 4 hours. The purpose of the trip is to undertake seabird research. The researchers often catch seabirds using a large net and then bring them on the boat to process the bird. The boat then starts its journey back to shore and enters the harbour about 4pm.

On the Saturday the weather was very calm which created some beautiful smooth water. The only downside to the calm weather is many birds rely on the wind to enable them to fly easily. This didn’t seem to deter the Albatross as we were still treated to six species of Albatross being Wandering Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Campbell Albatross, Shy Albatross, Bullers Albatross and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross.

On the Sunday there was a lot more wind and we had high hopes for some good birds. We managed to get another Albatross species in the majestic Antipodean Albatross which breeds on the Antipodes Islands off New Zealand. I also added White-fronted Tern to my list and I had distant views of a White-faced Storm Petrel.

My list for the two days included the following 20 species;

Silver Gull, Darter, Pelican, Kelp Gull, Southern Giant Petrel, Fluttering Shearwater, Providence Petrel, Black Browed Albatross, Campbell Albatross, Shy Albatross, Wandering Albatross, Antipodean Albatross, Bullers Albatross, Indian Yellow Nosed Albatross, Crested Tern, Fairy Prion, Brown Skua, Australiasian Gannet, White-fronted Tern, White-faced Storm Petrel

Wandering Albatross  (Diomedea exulans)

Wandering Albatross Juvenile - Notice the very dark plumage and white face.
Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) Juvenile – Notice the very dark plumage and white face.
Wandering Albatross, Wollongong Pelagic
Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) Adult. Notice the white body and white flecks in the wings. A very impressive large bird.

Antipodean Albatross  (Diomedea antipodensis)

Antipodean Albatross (Diomedea antipodensis)
Antipodean Albatross (Diomedea antipodensis) – Possibly a young male, notice the dark cap and speckled brown plumage in the body.

Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta)

Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta)
Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta) – The largest of the Mollymawks the Shy Albatross is very similar to the Black-browed Albatross but notice the dull grey yellow bill with a yellow tip.

 

Campbell Albatross (Thalassarche impavida)

Campbell Albatross (Thalassarche impavida)
Campbell Albatross (Thalassarche impavida) – Notice the honey coloured iris, this is unique amongst Albatross and this species breeds solely on Campbell Island south of New Zealand. The light eye the only real noticeable difference with the Black-browed Albatross.

Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophrys)

Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophrys)
Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophrys) The most common Albatross species and very common off Wollongong. This is an adult bird with the orange bill and orange tip.

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche carteri)

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche carteri)
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche carteri) One of the smaller Albatross but distinctive with its yellow strip on its upper bill coupled with very dark wings.

White-fronted Tern (Sterna striata)

White-fronted Tern (Sterna striata)
White-fronted Tern (Sterna striata) – A migrant from NZ this small tern was a welcome sight. It is relatively small with a black bill.

Providence Petrel (Pterodroma solandri)

Providence Petrel (Pterodroma solandri)
Providence Petrel (Pterodroma solandri)

Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus)

Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus) Juvenile
Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus) Juvenile

Fairy Prion (Pachyptila turtur)

Fairy Prion (Pachyptila turtur)
Fairy Prion (Pachyptila turtur)

Crested Tern (Thalasseus bergii)

Crested Tern (Thalasseus bergii)
Crested Tern (Thalasseus bergii)

 Fluttering Shearwater (Puffinus gavia)

Fluttering Shearwater (Puffinus gavia)
Fluttering Shearwater (Puffinus gavia)

Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus)

Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus)
Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus)

Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator)

Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator)
Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator)

3 comments

  1. Hi Duade, I am in awe of your wader pics but these seabird images are something else. For Father’s day my kids booked me on a Wollongong pelagic, September I think, so I am wondering which lens to take. I have an 80-400 Nikkor VR which is good but very slow autofocus and an Nikkor 80-200 which is fast ?
    Cheers Richard

    1. Gday Richard, what an awesome fathers day present. I would take the 80-200 as when coupled with a crop sensor body will be long enough for the Albatross which come close to the boat. I found my 400 too long when coupled with my 7D. There is plenty of space in the cabin of the boat and you can bring both lenses and try them out. Have fun. Cheers, Duade.

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