Trip Report

Napier pelagic – 10 July 2004

Participants: Martin Snowball, John Winters, Tim Barnard, Rebecca Boulton, Tamsin Ward-Smith, Sav Saville, Brent Stephenson (Leader), and George (Skipper).

Weather: Overcast and drizzling with several showers passing through during the day. Mod 10 knots in the bay, with about 15 knots once outside the Cape, from a southerly direction. Building as we left to head back in to port. Sea was rough, with about 2m swell at the chumming location, with some chop making it a very bumpy ride out, and a bit of rolling around whilst chumming.

We left Napier at 0836, with the forecast not looking good (Gale warning) and the sea state ruling out the plan of heading out to Lachlan Banks. We headed out towards Cape Kidnappers with the plan of drifting in water approximately 100 m deep. On the way out came across several small flocks of fluttering shearwater and gannets, with black-fronted terns amongst them. At 0904, 7.7 km off the Ngaruroro River mouth we saw at least 4 black-fronted terns, with singles in the area also. A little later at 0925, there was another small group of birds feeding (mainly gannets and gulls), and another 3 black-fronted terns (6.6 km from the tip of Cape Kidnappers). Also a very brief appearance of dolphin dorsal fins – probably common dolphins.

We then started to see the odd Cape petrel, and prions, with the first birds (as usual) appearing slightly darker and chunkier. We continued motoring though, spotting a Buller’s albatross, and then a steady stream of prions as we motored to the chumming location. At 0945 we stopped the engine, and drifted whilst chumming. We drifted in a NNE direction for almost 9 km, until 1348. During this time we were constantly chumming, but had very few birds come to the boat. Prions came past in ones and twos, with almost all being id’d as Fairy. Also single common diving petrels buzzed past. One prion that came quite close to the back of the boat was clearly not a Fairy, and was either a Salvin’s or Antarctic. Unfortunately no photos were taken of the bird. Some discussion ensues as exactly what this bird was.

We had a small group of about 6 Cape petrels around the boat for most of the time, and this grew to about 11 birds towards the end of the drift, but they failed to really attract much else. Several albatross made brief sorties around the boat, with at least two different adult white-capped albatross, and two sub-adult white-capped, several different northern giant petrels, and two black-browed/Campbell albatross, unfortunately not coming close enough to be id’d. Perhaps the highlight of the trip, apart from the different prion, was a brown skua, which came past at about 1340. One flight past and it was gone, but again a winter pelagic reveals that these birds are not uncommon off the east coast of NZ at this time of the year.

Heading back in we cruised along a bit slower. Saw another couple of giant petrel, and several small pods of common dolphins, one of which briefly came in to bow ride. In close encountered fluttering shearwater again, and several white-fronted terns. Arrived back at port at 1518.

Birds seen

Cape petrel – 40+
Diving petrel – 8
Northern giant petrel – 2
Giant petrel sp – 2
Buller’s albatross – 1
Black-browed/Campbell albatross – 2 ads
White-capped albatross- 2 ads, 2 imms
Salvin’s albatross – 1 imm
Brown skua -1
Black-fronted tern – 10
Australasian gannet – 6
Fairy prion – 80+
Salvin’s/Antarctic prion – 1(+)
Fluttering shearwater – 30+
White-fronted tern

3 small pods of common dolphins