Hi Birding-aussers, a summary of saturdays pelagic
trip from Southport, Queensland.
Vessel: 60ft monohull, Skybird III.
A High over the Tasman forced moderate E-SE winds
on to the South Queensland coast, producing isolated squally showers early, with
the wind lightening off later in the day to E-NE and conditions clearing.
Maximum temp. 24C, barometric pressure 1020 hPa. Visibilty outside of squalls,
good to excellent.
Seas to 1.5 metres at times, on a light swell. Sea
surface temp. 23C inshore, 24C at Shelf-break & 25C in Slope waters.
Southerly current out wide to 2 knots.
After our disastrous winter with June-August a no
go and September a no wind/no birds day we were due for a change of luck &
some. We were not to be disappointed, in fact one well known Gent from the deep
south finally had a 'monkey' removed from his back (someone
cruelly suggested 'gorilla'). I'm sure that person will have something to
On leaving the Seaway at 0720 hrs it was not
long before we located a couple of large rafts of mainly Wedge-tailed
Shearwaters with the first good sighting of the day, a lone Buller's Shearwater.
We then headed out over the Shelf to our usual 'drift point' out wide with a few
Wilson's Storm Petrels & Sooty Terns, plus a Cape Petrel and Long-tailed
Jaeger showing promise of things to come.
On entering Slope waters, some time was wasted
while caught up in an extensive rain squall and we were forced down to a crawl.
Visibility at that point was poor and we were in a main shipping channel - the
radar was constantly manned!! With the squall finally passing, we sped out to
the drift area approx. 56 kilometres ESE of Southport, stopping adjacent to a
party of feeding shearwaters & Sooty Terns at 1120 hrs.
The Flesh-footed Shearwaters were first to arrive
to the chum offered, followed by Wedge-tails and Wilson's Storm Petrels. With
the first of what became a procession of Kermadec Petrels arriving, one of the
real surprises of the day appeared as if from nowhere - a Gibson's Albatross.
This bird remained close to the vessel for almost the remainder of the drift.
Black-bellied Storm Petrels & Tahiti Petrels were now starting to arrive in
reasonable numbers close to the stern of the vessel, offering amazing photo
With plenty of birds of good variety around &
still arriving, I'd negotiated for an extension of the drift but by 1330
hrs it was time to start the long haul home. The ever hungry Flesh-foots
continued to follow in the vessels wake and within 15 minutes whilst still in
Slope waters a hulking, menacing shape with dazzling white wing flashes loomed
astern - an intermediate South Polar Skua - which remained in view for a good
15-20 mintes. This was followed shortly after by the last surprise bird for the
day, a White-headed Petrel.
Little of note crossing back over the Shelf, with a
fishing party of about 350 Little Terns interspersed with the occasional Common
Tern greeting us on the shallow 'banks' outside of the Seaway on our return. It
was a long day, over 9 1/2 hours but enjoyed by all, with some patrons managing
up to 7 or more new species.
Cape Petrel - 1
Tahiti Petrel - 9
Providence Petrel - 5
Kermadec Petrel - 4 (2 light intermediate, 2
White-headed Petrel - 1
Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 866
Buller's Shearwater - 1
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 38
Short-tailed Shearwater - 29
Fluttering Shearwater - 1
Hutton's Shearwater - 2
Gibson's Albatross - 1
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 32
Black-bellied Storm Petrel - 6
South Polar Skua - 1
Pomarine Jaeger - 2
Long-tailed Jaeger - 1
Crested Tern - 12
Common Tern - 2
Little Tern - 350
Sooty Tern - 20
Very little to report, the Hump-backs appear to
have finally moved back south and just the occasional pod of Offshore
Bottle-nosed Dolphins were encountered.
I'll be posting next years itinerary onto
Birding-aus shortly. Cheers - Paul W.