I went on my second pelagic trip today, again ably organised by Paul W. Not
wanting a repeat of the out of stomach experience from last time, I took a
motion sickness pill before the trip and had a trouble free day.
There wasn't much of a breeze all day, so although there was a fair swell early
on, it flattened out to a millpond by lunchtime. This made things easier on the
stomach and easier to lock onto birds. However, the lack of breeze meant that
there were fewer birds up and about to look for.
As was the case last time, there were many birding-aus acquaintances on board,
including Tony Russell [and a fellow pair of crow-eaters] who I believe were up
in search of the laughing gull.
Again as was the case last time, there were a couple of rafts of gulls [no
comedians], shearwaters and the odd common tern about a kay outside of the bar.
After that the birds were fairly sparse.
The early bird of interest was a white tern. As was often the case, I saw the
bird in question, but not well enough to tick it. [The same applied to the
black noddies and assorted jagers that cruised past.] Unfortunately, most of
these birds did their cruising in the distance - they seemed to be most reticent
to come in for a flyby.
Anyhow, there were the usual calls of storm petrel [no tahitis and only the odd
providence petrel] and few streaked shearwaters.
The feature bird of the trip happened to be a pale morph south polar skua - it
did the right thing and flew overhead, so even I could identify one of the
dollarbirds of the sea. Just about everyone on board said that was a lifer for
them [one of those joyous moments in birding circles] presumably because that
may have been only the second sighting of a SPS on the Queensland list.
Ironically, later on as we were drifting at lunchtime in the one spot that had a
few wedgies [shearwaters, not eagles] I spotted a bulky bird on the water at
about 150 metres. I made numerous attempts to bring the bird to the others'
attention, but they seemed disinterested, even when I said it was considerably
bigger than the shearwaters they were looking at. After half an hour, it took
off and proved to be the feature skua.
Fortunately we managed to sidle up to a skua about 10 minutes later -
interesting to see it sitting in the water like a bulky seagull.
I don't know if Tony found the day's birding worthwhile, but I'm sure [as an
adopted croweater] he enjoyed watching watch the Lions scratch out a hard fought
victory against the Bulldogs tonight.
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