Hi All, the report for Southport from last Saturday.
Location: Southport, Queensland
Vessel: 37 ft Steber monohull MV Grinner.
Crew: Darren Shringles (skipper)
Pax: Paul Walbridge (leader & organiser), Stuart Pickering, Rob Morris,
Dave Stewart, Brian Russell, Andrew Sutherland, Paul Brooks, Ron
Broomham, Colin Reid, Jim Sneddon, Rod Gardner, Glen Pacey, Nicolas
Rakotopare, Rachael Mebberson, Judy Leitch.
A high just east of Tasmania, with a ridge along the east coast of
Queensland brought SE-ESE winds to the SEQ coastline. Light winds to 10
knots ESE early on rising to 15-20 knots ESE by late morning. Squally
showers along the coast with heavy cloud early, clearing as the day
progressed out wide, with light, high cloud, visibility very good.
Maximum air temp. 28* C, barometer 1016 hPa.
On leaving the Seaway, light seas on a moderate swell, rising to 1
metre sea on up to 2 metre SE swell out wide. Sea-surface temps. 24.7* C
at the Seaway, 27.1* C at the Shelf-break and 28.2* C at the widest
point. EAC running at 2.5 knots out wide.
Left the Seaway at 0550 hrs and headed for the Riviera grounds, approx.
26 nautical miles ENE of Southport. Crossed the Shelf-break at around
0830 hrs and reached the final drift point at 0920 hrs. Drifted slowly
ESE for the next three hours and started the journey back at 1220 hrs,
heading back up the slick a short way to check for anything new. Then
heading back with a following sea at a good clip, arriving back at the
Seaway at 1430 hrs. Duration of trip 8 hrs 40 mins.
On leaving the Seaway there was little trawler activity with just 3
encountered in the first half an hour and little of note really save for
record numbers of Little Black Cormorants, a few Wedge-tailed
Shearwaters and a couple of Fluttering Shearwaters. At 0635 hrs about
5n.m. offshore we encountered a lone Fluttering Shearwater just loafing
on the water and decided to turn around in the hope of at least getting
some close flight shots. As we approached to within about 30 metres, it
took off but headed directly for us and landed about 8 metres away and
began to swim right to the back of the vessel, whereupon it shoved its
head under the water and began peering under the vessel, moving its head
from side to side. I have witnessed this before with another Fluttering
Shearwater and they are merely looking for small baitfish sheltering
from predators. Needless to say we had to advance several metres
forward, to get our photographs and it would then repeat the approach
but I think everyone eventually got plenty of fine pics.
We kept heading east with just a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters appearing
here and there foraging and lowered the berley bag astern, at the
customary 50 fathom mark, almost immediately attracting several
Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. At 0900 hrs the first Tahiti Petrel of the day
put in an appearance but was a flyby and just 10 minutes later the
first Great-winged Petrel appeared astern. Shortly afterward we reached
the drift point at the Rivieras and were immediately joined by a couple
of Great-winged Petrels and up to a dozen Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and 3
Flesh-footed Shearwaters. Over the next 40 minutes these were joined by
a Sooty Tern more Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, and a couple of Tahiti
By 1000 hrs up to 3 Tahiti Petrels were around the vessel with up to 6
Flesh-footed Shearwaters but the numbers of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters had
risen to about 80 and this was the dominant species of the day. Shortly
after at 1010 hrs the first Frigatebird arrived and approached quite
closely before drifting off high up. It was Southports 2nd Great
Frigatebird record and according to Carter & James from subsequent
perusal of photographs, a 3rd/4th year male. At 1035 hrs the first of
two White-necked Petrels arrived and put in several passes before
*floating* off down the slick, to be followed at 1110 hrs by a
second bird with photographs clearly showing a different underwing
pattern and this bird was far more accommodating for the photographers
on board, surely one of the oceans most photogenic tubenoses. At 1120
hrs the second Frigatebird of the day appeared briefly, high up from the
north which quickly disappeared, an adult female Lesser Frigatebird.
By now numbers of Flesh-footed Shearwater and Great-winged and Tahiti
Petrel had risen and we began to notice something in particular with the
Tahiti Petrel behaviour. At least two of the birds were making repeated
landings right at the rear of the vessel and diving right into the other
birds from behind with highly aggressive behaviour, driving Great-winged
Petrels Flesh-footed and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters off the food. Of
particular note was their aggression call, quite unlike the high pitch
piping of the Great-winged Petrel and deeper, more guttural than the
squeals of the Flesh-footed Shearwaters, a loud *eeeyaaah*, almost
Silver Gull like and quite unlike the *whistles* noted from their
breeding grounds.. I need to make an effort to record this vocalisation,
as I can find no record of it!
On heading back for home at 1220 hrs, little followed the vessel and
nothing recorded until 1325 hrs when a group of 4 Fluttering Shearwaters
passed by the vessel, followed by a Pomarine Jaeger just 5 minutes later
and another Pomarine Jaeger just 5 minutes after that. At 1350 hrs a
lone Hutton*s Shearwater put in an appearance , followed by a few
minutes later by the first Arctic Jaeger for the year, after that just a
few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters sighted before the Seaway loomed ahead.
Wedge-tailed Shearwater * 176 (80)
Flesh-footed Shearwater * 19 (6)
Fluttering Shearwater * 6 (4)
Hutton*s Shearwater * 1
Tahiti Petrel * 24 (4)
Great-winged Petrel * 18 (4) all P.m. gouldi
White-necked Petrel * 2 (1)
Lesser Frigatebird * 1
Great Frigatebird * 1
Little Black Cormorant * 25 (24)
Pied Cormorant * 1
Pomarine Jaeger * 2 (1)
Arctic Jaeger * 1
Sooty Tern * 2 (1)
Crested Tern * 52 (30)
Silver Gull * 12
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