Trip Report

Tolaga Bay Pelagic – 09 October 2004

Participants: Bert Lee (skipper), Pam Agnew, Des Agnew, Tim Barnard, Nigel Milius, Steve Wood, Cheryl Doyle, Brent Stephenson and Sav Saville (organisers).

Weather: Despite strong southerlies forcasted with heavy rain and wind leading up to the trip, we were again amazed at the luck with which we have had out of this area. Sea started with a 1-2m swell and decent chop, but eased during the day, although the swell lessoned it still meant several of us (yeah yeah of course I was one of them – Brent) feeling a bit green. Wind was from the NW for most of the day, around 20 knots and easing later.

The trip to the sea from the boat-ramp saw us off to a good start with NZ dotterel, banded dotterel and variable oystercatcher at the rivermouth. We chummed at two primary locations. Birds on the sea were the expected mix of summer and winter species, with the most notable occurrences being the large number of wandering albatross (at least 8 birds) with most appearing to be Antipodean birds. A steady stream of passing sooty shearwaters numbering several hundreds and a new bird for our Tolaga trips (and indeed for Bert who has sailed and fished this area for “quite some time”!) in the form of an Antarctic fulmar, proving once again that we really have no idea what will turn up. Not great numbers of birds and nothing truly startling, but good diversity of species and excellent views of almost all made it a really good day. As we came through the bar at the end of the trip we had an obliging reef heron and a pure white variable oystercatcher to round it all off.

Birds seen

Wandering albatross – presumed Gibson’s 2+, presumed Antipodean 6+
Black-browed/Campbell albatross – 1 adult Campbell, 2 immatures
Salvin’s albatross – 10+
White-capped albatross – 2+ adults, 2+ immatures
Northern giant petrel – 2+
Buller’s shearwater – 10+
Sooty shearwater – 500+ never looked to be that many around but a fairly constant stream through the day, virtually all moving south showing no interset in the boat.
Flesh-footed shearwater – 1
Fluttering shearwater – 30+
Common diving petrel – 4
White-chinned petrel – 1
Antarctic fulmar – 1
Cape petrel – 3+
Fairy prion -1
“cookilaria” petrel (presumed Cook’s) -1 rather distant
Grey-faced petrel – 20+
White-faced storm-petrel – 3
Blue penguin – 2
Australasian gannet – 4+

For the first time – no Skuas of any species


Probable Gibson’s albatross

Probable Antipodean albatross

Salvin’s albatross coming in to land

‘White’ variable oystercatcher at the mouth of the Uawa River, Tolaga Bay