Jeff Clarke Ecology

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In Pursuit of Prions Part 8

In Pursuit of Prions (Part 8) Tasman Sea 2

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On the first day of our return leg to Sydney I awoke to a day of dense sea fog. Today was not going to be one of memorable sighting and stunning photography. It persisted most of the day but latterly we managed a few hours watching in poor light when we eked out all too distant views of a pod of Striped Dolphins and variety of petrels and shearwaters, including White-headed Petrel.

Our final day at sea proved more successful. The light was excellent, but the sea was definitely lumpy and though we had plenty of bird activity few birds came close enough for decent record photographs.

The cetacean highlight was a pod of female Sperm Whales, which were just close enough to photograph and a more distant pod of Pilot Whales which could not be identified to species as both Short-finned and Long-finned have been recorded in that part of the Tasman Sea.

The birds came thick and fast, with many new species making it onto the trip list including Parkinson's Petrel, Kermedec Petrel, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Black winged Petrel, White-necked (naped) Petrel and Sooty Tern.

It was a great finish to the cruise element of our tour and it proved just how brilliant a large ocean-going cruise liner can be as a wildlife watching platform in that part of the world, and it is possible to get some decent wildlife photographs into the bargain. If you plan to do the same I'd suggest you sort out your own shore excursions and you will get the best of both worlds. If you can find a ship that gives you access to the bow so much the better.

A digital camera is a definite plus on these trips even a half decent image can help you confirm an identification of a bird seen for just a few seconds, even if the photograph never gets into the public domain.

Back in Sydney we headed straight for the airport and immediately flew to Wellington. To begin the shore based (dedicated wildlife watching) part of our trip. If it had been good before, it was now about to get exponentially better!

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