Southport Pelagic 17/9/2011.

To: <>
Subject: Southport Pelagic 17/9/2011.
From: "Paul Walbridge" <>
Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2011 07:19:56 +1000
Hi All, here is the report for last Saturdays' Southport Pelagic.

Location: Southport, Queensland
Date: 17/9/2011
 Vessel: 37 ft Steber monohull
 Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)
 Pax: Paul Walbridge (leader & organizer), Rob Morris, Heyn De Kock,
Peter Kyne, Glen Pacey, Dave Stewart, Steve Murray, Bill Murray, Rod

Weather conditions:
A large high pressure system over southern Queensland brought stable
conditions with generally light winds to the SEQ coastline. Light SW
winds on leaving the Seaway turning to NW-NE to 7-8 knots. Generally
cloud free day, visibility overall good but horizon hazy due to smoke.
Maximum air temperature 27* C, barometric pressure 1022.

Sea conditions:
Calm seas on a light swell on leaving the Seaway with the swell rising
to approx. 1.5 metres by late morning, out wide. Sea surface temps. 19.4*
C just outside of the Seaway, 21.3* C at the Shelf-break and 23.1* C at
the widest drift point. EAC out wide running at 3+ knots.

Left the Seaway at 0605 hrs and headed directly out to the area known
as Jim*s Mountain, approx. 30 nm ENE of the Seaway. Crossed the
shelf-break at about 0810 hrs, reaching the final drift point at 0845
hrs. Drifted south for approx. 10 nm over the next 3 * hours before
heading for home at 1220 hrs. Arrived back at the Seaway at 1520 hrs,
total duration of trip 9 hrs 15 mins.
On leaving the Seaway no trawlers noted with just a solitary Crested
Tern and Silver Gull present and one or two Australasian Gannets soon
after. Very quiet crossing the Shelf in the relatively flat conditions
with just one or two Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and Australasian Gannets
On reaching Jim*s Mountain, the vessel was immediately joined by a
Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Providence Petrel and Crested Tern and there
was little change over the next hour. At 0935 hrs the first
Black-bellied Storm-Petrel arrived at the stern and with the numbers
arriving over the next 3 hours it would appear they were in passage
mode. They all seemed to be ravenous and put on quite a display for the
punters* cameras for the rest of the morning, at times approaching to
within less than 2 metres. The sight of these storm-petrels hovering at
eye level, eyeing off the burley on the cutting board was quite
something, problem was they were often too close for the lenses to focus
on! Also, their mode of flight makes them particularly hard to lock
Given the time of year and Southports* relative proximity to Lord
Howe Island all Fregetta Storm-Petrels are scrutinised to check for the
much scarcer White-bellied Storm-Petrel. There was a huge variation in
the plumage of Saturdays* birds and one or two looked particularly
clean cut in the underparts but closer scrutiny revealed obvious feet
projection (in level flight) and at least some speckling down the centre
of the belly. If Tahiti Petrel is Southports* iconic Summer species
then surely Black-bellied Storm-Petrel is our iconic Winter species. No
other venue in Australia sees them in the numbers or with the regularity
that we do here from Southport.
September is the month when Flesh-footed Shearwater usually reappears
but were a no-show and it also marks the peak southerly movement of
Wilson*s Storm-Petrel. It wasn*t toward the end of the drift at 1212
hrs that the first one of two Wilson*s Storm-Petrels turned up. The
journey back was pretty uneventful with just the occasional Wedge-tailed
Shearwater sighted.
Wilson*s Storm-Petrel * 2 
Black-bellied Storm-Petrel * 19 (3)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater * 32 (10)
Providence Petrel * 18 (4)
Australasian Gannet * 5 (3)
Crested Tern * 9 (2)
Silver Gull * 1 

 Cheers - Paul W.

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