November 2016

Tasmania, Australia
Part 3 : Eaglehawk Neck Pelagic (20th November)

Southern Royal Albatross (Diomedea epomophora)

On 20th November I joined a pelagic boat trip for a day's birding off the coast of the Tasman peninsula.

Unfortunately the weather was too good, with little or no wind to carry the smell of the fish bait to any seabirds in the area, and both the number and diversity of species seen was pretty low. Despite this, it wasn't a complete waste of time, and a few decent birds made an appearance.

Southern Royal Albatross (Diomedea epomophora)

With a wingspan of over 3m, Royal Albatrosses are a spectacular bird and it is always a privilage to watch them soar effortlessly over the waves.

immature Southern Royal Albatross (Diomedea epomophora)

The degree of white on the upperwing increases with age.

Southern Royal Albatross (Diomedea epomophora)

Northern Giant Petrel (Macronectes halli)

A couple of Northern Giant Petrels also made an appearance when we were out in the pelagic waters. As their name suggests, they are giants among the petrels and have a wingspan only slightly shorter than a Shy Albatross.

Northern Giant Petrel (Macronectes halli) & White-chinned Petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis)


"Shy-type" Albatross (Thalassarche cauta/T. steadi)

Numbers of "Shy-type" Albatrosses seen were low, with only a maximum of about 10-20 being seen at any one time while we were out at the continental shelf.

[Note: Shy and White-capped Albatrosses are virtually identical and identification to species out at sea, away from their breeding grounds, is unsafe. Hence the "Shy-type" moniker.]

Short-tailed Shearwater (Ardenna tenuirostris)

There was a large movement of Short-tailed Shearwaters offshore during the day, with several thousand being seen.

Oceanic form of Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

A few good sightings of a variety of cetaceans helped make up for a lack of diversity in the birdlife and, while we were out in the pelagic waters, we were followed around for a while by a small pod of the oceanic form of Common Bottlenose Dolphins.

Long-finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala melas)

Shortly after the dolphins left us, a group of about 7 Long-finned Pilot Whales joined us briefly.

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

The highlight of the day didn't occur until we were almost back to shore, when we came across a Humpback Whale and her calf.

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

The calf was in a playful mood and spent at least half an hour repeatedly breaching, while the mother joined in by waving her enormous flippers in the air and occasionally tail-slapping.

Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) - mother (waving flipper) and calf (breaching)

"The Candlestick"

The coastal scenery along the Tasman peninsula is quite spectacular.

Islands at the entrance to Fortescue Bay

November 2016 (Tasmania pt.2) 2016 Index November 2016 (Tasmania pt.4)