8 Nov 2010

Hauraki Gulf Pelagic - Monday 8th

A full day pelagic on Hauraki Gulf with Pterodroma Pelagic was planned, but due to few partcipants the trip were cancelled about a week ago. However, in short time an option of a half day pelagic were offered, which made me happy as there were still a chance to see New Zealand Storm-petrel. Unfortunately, mainly because of misunderstandings, the departure place were located to far away and I couldn't find any transports. I was quite sad when I phoned Karen to tell her the bad news early in the morning. No pelagic and still no baggage. What a bad start! But, there were an alternative, which I had checked last week when I received the message that the full day pelagic were cancelled. There is 4,5 hours Whale and Dolphin tours on Hauraki Gulf with departure from the harbour in Auckland (e.g. ten minutes walk from my accommodation). I called them and they told me that it would be a tour in the afternoon. I left the baggage issue behind. Had a tasty lunch in the harbour area and got aboard the huge catamaran, which took off at 13:30.

The weather were perfect, more or less clear blue sky, rather calm sea and moderate winds. The skipper were very knowledgeable and in amusing way. We steered for Coromandel Peninsula, Little and Great Barrier Islands. Well offshore we found several areas with dolphins and seabirds foraging. At three occasions during the pelagic the numbers of seabirds were huge and it was somewhat an orgiastic experience. Perhaps a foretaste of Kaikoura later on. Australian Gannets, Flesh-footed and Fluttering Shearwaters were the most numerous seabirds with several hundreds. I also recorded Buller's Shearwater (40), Sooty Shearwater (15), Pomarine Skua (5), Parasitic Skua (2), Little Penguin (50), White-fronted Tern (30) and Pied Cormorant. In addition we saw about 200 Short-beaked Common Dolphins and two Bryde's Whales! What a great day at sea! We landed at 18:15, mentally exhausted, but happy in mind! The beautiful Buller's and all the cute penguins were a happy experience.

When I got back to X Base the airport had delivered my baggage. I celebrated with a shower and a nice seafood dinner. Now it's time for bed. Up early tomorrow and catch the train to Tongariro National Park.
Leaving Auckland behind us.
Australian Gannets, Flesh-footed and Fluttering Shearwaters and Common Dolphins. The tip of Coromandel peninsula in far background.
Unsharp, but dramatic shot of Common Dolphins.
A huge Bryde's Whale about to dive.
A nice Little Penguin!
Close up of a beautiful Buller's Shearwater.
Three of about 40 Flesh-footed Shearwaters following the boat.

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