Southport Pelagic 18/9/04.

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Southport Pelagic 18/9/04.
From: "Paul Walbridge" <>
Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 17:56:23 +1000
Hi Birding-aussers, here is the report for saturdays pelagic from Southport, Queensland, 18/9/04.   
Vessel:  53ft Monohull, 'Flying Fish II'.
Crew:  2.
Pax: 15.
Weather conditions: A High centered just off the southern Qld. coast brought light to moderate offshore NW winds to SEQ waters, changing to NE as the High moved eastward. Light NW winds early to 10 knots freshening to 15 knots by mid morning then to 20 knots by midday, ahead of a swing to NE winds by late afternoon. Fine & mild mostly sunny conditions throughout the day, with some light cloud early, visibility generally very good. Maximum temp. 24C. Barometer 1024 hPa.
Sea conditions: Light seas on negligible swell on leaving the Seaway  with the swell increasing to 1.5 metres at widest point. On the return just after midday freshening NW winds increased seas to 1.5 metres but very messy, particularly with wind changing to NE creating a lot of sea-spray. Sea surface temp. not taken as thermometer inadvertently left at home but official inshore temp. 19C. Southerly current out wide running at 2.5 knots.
Departed the Seaway at 0630 hrs & with precious little around, save for lots of local fishermen in their 'tinnies', headed straight out over the Shelf at 14.5 knots. On crossing the Shelf-break at 0815 hrs the first Providence Petrel appeared & a small fishing party of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters shortly after revealing only a lone Common Noddy as an extra.
On arriving at the first drift point approx. 51 kilometres ESE of Southport at 0845 hrs some 'mild excitement' was created by the arrival of the first Kermadec Petrel for the day-a very pale intermediate phase bird, which flew astern of the vessel. Also present, a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters & a Providence Petrel. Right across the horizon to the southeast, large numbers of milling (feeding) seabirds could be seen so it was decided to head straight off in that direction.
Arrived at the final drift-point at approx. 0900 hrs & 'parked between two large rafts of what appeared to be mainly Wedge-tailed Shearwaters but noted large numbers of birds could still be seen on the horizon to the south. This should explain why nothing was seen inshore or across the Shelf as all the surface activity was here, out wide. The vessel drifted southeast at 2.5 knots with the berley slick stretching way to the north. Over the next 3 1/2 hours several small 'waves' of mainly Wedge-tailed Shearwaters with a mixture of other species passed through following presumably small bait fish, with some of the birds breaking off to work the 'slick'.
This was the scenario for the remainder of the drift with the odd Kermadec & Tahiti Petrels showing around the vessel with small numbers of Providence Petrels & several 'groups' of 2-3 Black-bellied Storm Petrels appearing. The latter approaching within 3-4 metres at times, for good photographic opportunities. Flesh-footed Shearwaters also had started to appear in increasing numbers.
The main excitement for the day (for up here) occured at 1120 hrs when a huge albatross loomed astern, a mature 'exulans'. This bird spent the next hour, around & above us and was then joined by an equally huge but even 'whiter' bird, which came around to investigate as the first bird headed off to the south. Most of this 'complex' observed up here are of the smaller 'gibsoni', with the last 'exulans' recorded being a banded beach-washed specimen on North Stradbroke Island in 2000. This constitutes the first sighting on a Southport pelagic.
Headed back for the Seaway at 1230 hrs with a couple more Black-bellied Storm Petrels, Sooty Terns & Wedge-tailed Shearwaters sighted but conditions not conducive to good observation due to more than ample seaspray. Arrived back at Southport Seaway at 1515 hrs. Duration of trip 8 hrs 45 mins, furthest distance recorded offshore approx. 63 kilometres ESE of Southport Seaway.
Tahiti Petrel - 6 (2)
Providence Petrel - 13 (2)
Kermadec Petrel - 4 (2 dark morph, 2 intermediate)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 596 (500)
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 22 (12)
Wandering Albatross - 2 (2 exulans)
Black-bellied Storm Petrel - 15 (3)
Australasian Gannet - 6 (2)
Silver Gull - 4 (2)
Crested Tern - 23 (20)
Sooty Tern - 6 (2)
Common Noddy - 1
Next trip from Southport is on 16th October, with a few spaces still available. Cheers - Paul W.
Contact Paul Walbridge:
PH: (H) 3391 8839  (W) 3350 8258
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