Southport, Qld. Dec. 21st. (Longish).

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Southport, Qld. Dec. 21st. (Longish).
From: "Paul Walbridge" <>
Date: Sun, 22 Dec 2002 13:13:54 +1000
Conditions overcast and sultry to begin with, the cloud cover breaking up out wide to reveal a glorious Qld. summers day. Wind, light to moderate E-SE, seas moderate on a gentle, up to 1.5 metre swell. Southerly current at up to 3.5 knots out wide. Water temp. not recorded as the measurement device was indicating ridiculously high temps. Frankly, instead of the sea 'boiling with boids', it would have been 'boiling the boids'. 'Nuff said.
We haven't conducted many December trips over the years due to the proximity to Christmas and many of the locals finding more family orientated stuff to do. With 8 'new chums' from as far afield as the U.S. and Sweden providing us with a total of 17 pax. the trip went ahead.
On leaving the Seaway it was soon evident that there was a lot of surface fish activity, with the Mack Tuna getting stuck into the small baitfish and with several large rafts of mainly Wedge-tailed Shearwaters present. Although fairly early into the season, the scenario looked ripe for Streaked Shearwater and sure enough a big baldy faced bird stuck out like a sore thumb in the second large raft we headed for. Good views were had by most both on the water and in flight. Not wishing to waste more precious drift time inshore, we headed out south east to the usual drift site approx. 55 kilometres offshore.
Little encountered on the Shelf with a few shearwaters, Sooty Terns & Pomarine Jaegers sighted. We reached the drift point in Slope waters at 1120 hrs drifted at various spots until 1230 hrs, arriving back at the Seaway at 1545 hrs. As usual 'out wide' provided the most excitement for the day.
The deckie had barely started throwing the chum over when the 2nd Tahiti Petrel for the day - a lovely fresh plumaged bird (uniformly dark upper tail coverts & only a thin greyish line up the centre of the underwing) - flew majestically over the stern of the vessel (bins not needed)! Much to the delight of all on board it landed and with wings held constantly aloft tucked into the chum. (OK Tony R. say it).
In short time a few Wedge-tails appeared followed by the cry of Kermadec Petrel, a well marked dark morph. This bird stayed around for some time giving everyone good views of the (in this bird) prominent upperwing primary flashes, both in flight and on the water when wings held aloft. With a couple more Tahiti Petrels appearing the next pleasant suprise was Gould's Petrel which hung around long enough for most to get good views. The Kermadec by the way, was the 8th sighting for the year - chooks!
Full list;
Tahiti Petrel - 5
Kermadec Petrel - 1
Gould's Petrel - 1
Streaked Shearwater - 1
Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 890
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 2
Short-tailed Shearwater - 3
Brown Booby - 1
Pied Cormorant - 1
Pomarine Jaeger - 7
Crested Tern - 41
Sooty Tern - 18
Thresher Shark, Black-tipped Reef Shark
Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Common Dolphin.
All in all a great way to finish the year 2002, a year that saw all 12 pelagics proceed, although Nov. ended up being a half day due to weather. The first trip planned for 2003 is January 18th with several spots still available. I'll be posting the full itinerary soon. Have a pleasant and safe Xmas & New Year. Cheers - Paul Walbridge.
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