Originally we were booked on the Saturday trip, but due to predicted bad weather and the number of enthusiastic participants, the trip was brought forward to the Friday.
The boat must have been near capacity with about 14 people on board. It was a good mix of keen photographers and birders. A novice like me could be positioned to take photographs yet still be close enough to one of the experts to hear them call out and identify any new birds that arrived on the scene. Once out of the heads it was soon apparent that it was not going to be a smooth trip with a decent swell and white caps visible. Even though the weather looked threatening at times, we managed to avoid rain for the whole trip.
|Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross|
The first part of the ride out to the edge of the continental shelf was very quiet with only a couple of gannets flying overhead. A distant trawler drew us in like a magnet. Even at a distance you could see a mass of swirling birds around it. As soon as we got near the burly was used to draw the shearwaters away from the trawler and have them follow us. There were so many shearwaters about that it was often difficult to focus on one target. At this stage there were none of the rarer species about, but my previous images of the Wedge-tailed and Flesh-footed shearwater were so bad that I was happy to have the opportunity to improve my images. Besides if we didn't have these birds for company it would have been a pretty boring 3 hour trip to the shelf.
During our time drifting we also had a visit from a Great-winged Petrel and a couple of Pomarine Jaeger. Unfortunately neither of these species hung round long or close enough to be photographed well.
The return trip again had the shearwaters following behind in big numbers. They were joined at various stages by three species of albatross, including Shy, Indian Yellow-nosed and Black-browed. By this time the light was starting to fade due to high cloud, which explains the lack of punch in my albatross shots.
I thoroughly enjoyed the trip as I saw and got to photograph some great birds in the company of some really friendly and helpful people. In particular Mick Roderick who did a wonderful job organising the trip and his brother Steve, Allan Richardson and Rod Warnock for their expert knowledge and help.
Birds recorded on the trip were:
Flesh-footed Shearwater, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Short-tailed Shearwater, Hutton's Shearwater (not seen by me), Fluttering Shearwater, Black Petrel, Great-winged Petrel, Wilson's Storm-petrel, Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Shy Albatross, Pomarine Jaegar, Australasian Gannet and White-bellied Sea-eagle. In all I managed to photograph three new birds.