Hi All, after a quiet Oct/Nov, Southport saw the year out with a bang!!
Below, is the full report.
Location: Southport, Queensland.
Vessel: 37 ft Steber Monohull. M.V. Grinner.
Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)
Pax: Paul Walbridge (leader & organizer), Rob Morris, Jon Norling,
Chris Watson, Paul Watson, Brian Russell, Heyn DeKock, Stuart Pickering,
Simon Buckell, Rod Gardner, Michael Mcnaughten, Dave Stewart, Greg
Anderson, Glen Pacey, Steve Murray.
Weather conditions: A high over the Great Australian Bight extended a
strengthening ridge, over the lower half of the Queensland coast
bringing moderate to fresh S-SE winds. Moderate cloud cover for most of
the day with occasional sunny spells, with a few rain squalls moving
through close to the coast, visibility very good. Wind, light SW on
leaving the Seaway, quickly veering to S-SE to 15 knots at first, then
gusting to 22 knots, late morning. Max. air temperature 26* C, barometer
Sea conditions: Moderate seas on 1.5 metre swell close in, increasing
to 1.5 metre seas on 2+ metre swell across the Shelf, with the sea
easing somewhat at the drift point, where there was negligible current.
Sea surface temps. 23.2* C at the Seaway, rising to 24.3* C at the
Shelf-break and just reaching 25* C at the widest drift point.
Left the Seaway at 0600 hrs and headed ENE to the Shelf-break, reached
the final drift point approx. 1.9 miles SW of the Riviera grounds at
0935 hrs. Remained there until 1230 hrs, then headed back for shore,
arriving back at the Seaway at 1535 hrs, total duration of trip 9 hrs 35
After another interesting seaway crossing we sighted a concentrated
fishing flock of around 150 Common Terns feeding on small baitfish.
Shortly after, we encountered a trawler but this revealed nothing more
than a few Crested Terns, Silver Gulls and one or two Wedge-tailed
Shearwaters. With the prevailing conditions worsening it was no
certainty we would get to the shelf-break so the vessel headed out
steadily east at a comfortable speed. A single Pomarine Jaeger was
sighted early on and small parties of Short-tailed Shearwater began to
cross in front of us, heading south, the only Flesh-footed Shearwater of
the day approached astern. As we approached the shelf-break a least two
*cookilaria* petrels crossed astern but were too distant to identify
and didn*t approach the moving vessel.
On reaching the drift point and with chum being tossed over a Tahiti
Petrel arrived from the south almost immediately but soon headed north
and never returned. A few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters appeared and started
to work the slick and after just 20 minutes at 0955 hrs two Gould*s
Petrels arrived and made a few circuits around the vessel before they
too worked down the slow moving slick. Shortly after, two Black-winged
Petrels also appeared from downwind, from the north and for the next 3
hours became a procession of these two species, with new arrivals from
the north and also birds working back up the slick and circling the
The next surprise for the day arrived shortly after, Southports first
ever summer Black Petrel, usually a Spring or Autumn passage rarity, a
species however becoming increasingly more frequent, this bird typically
hanging around for well over an hour for a feed. This was followed at
1020 hrs by a dark phase Kermadec Petrel which also stopped and landed
to pick a chum from the surface, not far from the vessel, before working
down the slick. 30 minutes later the first of several Great-winged
(Grey-faced) Petrels appeared and fed ravenously right at the stern of
the vessel, nearly all these birds were showing a fair degree of moult.
Although this species (Pterodroma.m.gouldi) is the common petrel off
southern NSW in summer, that is not the case in the southern Coral Sea
and we always consider Great-winged Petrels as a bonus species.
For the rest of the drift it was basically the afore-mentioned species
replenishing and returning until the first of two Wilson*s
Storm-Petrels arrived (not often present in December in these waters)
and then the bird of the day at 1200 hrs, a resplendent White-necked
Petrel which circled the vessel, briefly. We headed for home with new
birds still appearing and on crossing back over the Shelf, more
Gould*s, Black-winged Petrels, Short-tailed and Wedge-tailed
Shearwaters and a lone Fluttering Shearwater were sighted.
Wilson*s Storm-Petrel * 2 (1)
Black Petrel * 1
Wedge-tailed Shearwater * 64 (30)
Flesh-footed Shearwater * 1
Short-tailed Shearwater * 181 (70)
Fluttering Shearwater * 1
Tahiti Petrel * 1
Kermadec Petrel * 1
Great-winged Petrel * 7 (2)
Gould*s Petrel * 25 (3)
White-necked Petrel * 1
Black-winged Petrel * 8 (2)
Pomarine Jaeger * 2 (1)
Common Tern * 150
Crested Tern * 53 (40)
Silver Gull * 15 (12)
A great day out on the Blue Paddock had by all with several punters
clocking up several new species. Here is a reminder of next years dates,
Jan 28th, Feb 18th, Mar 17th, Apr 21st, May 19th, Jun 16th, Jul 21st,
Aug 18th, Sep 15th, Oct 20th, Nov 17th, Dec 15th. Cost is still $100 per
head and contact Paul Walbridge on (PH) (H) 07 3256 4124 (W) 07 3139
I'd like to thank all who came out during the year and wish all on
Birding-aus a very merry Xmas and prosperous and safe New Year and look
forward to meeting some of you out on the ocean. Cheers - Paul W.
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