Southport Pelagic 20/10/13

To: Paul Walbridge <>, "" <>
Subject: Southport Pelagic 20/10/13
From: Nikolas Haass <>
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2013 14:46:01 -0700 (PDT)
Thanks Paul, this was an excellent pelagic!
Here are Raja's photos:


Nikolas & Raja
Nikolas Haass

Brisbane, QLD

From: Paul Walbridge <>
Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2013 6:33 AM
Subject: Southport Pelagic 20/10/13

Hi All, the pelagic for Saturday 19th was postponed to the following
day, read the report below.

Location: Southport, Queensland
Date: 20/10/2013
Vessel: 37 ft Steber monohull, MV Grinner
Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)
Pax: Paul Walbridge (leader & organiser), Kevin Bartram, Rob Morris,
Trevor Lumb, Brian Russell, Nikolas Haass, Raja Stephenson, Scott Baker,
Dave Stewart, Andrew Sutherland, Janet Benwell, David Benwell, Mike
Lewis, Linda Lewis

Weather conditions:
A high near New Zealand extended a ridge onto the Queensland coast,
with a southerly change passing through on the Friday bringing strong SE
winds into the region, and Saturday also experiencing unstable
conditions, with strong winds and big seas. Conditions however eased
somewhat over Saturday night and Sunday saw lighter SSE-NE winds 10-15
knots. Clear skies early on with cloud cover increasing approaching the
shelf-break, with several heavy rain squalls noted heading coastward.
Visibility generally quite good, maximum air temp. 27* C, barometer 1020

Sea conditions:
Light seas, on a negligible swell on leaving the seaway, with seas
rising to about half a metre on a maximum 1.5 metre swell out wide. Sea
surface temps. 20.4* C at the seaway rising to 25.4* C at the
shelf-break and a maximum of 25.7* C at the widest point. EAC running at
a max. of 2.5 knots out wide.


Left the Seaway at 0600 hrs and headed out to the Rivieras, some 28 nm
ENE of Southport. Crossed the Shelf break at 0845 hrs, reaching the
final drift point at 0935 hrs. Continued to drift south until 1205 hrs
then headed back up the drift before heading back home, with one short
stop back on the shelf at 1330 hrs. Arrived back at the seaway at 1530
hrs, total trip duration, 9 hrs 30 mins.

On leaving the seaway, zero trawler activity so none of the usual
Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Crested Terns etc. but Short-tailed
Shearwaters were encountered immediately, some on the water but most,
curiously heading slowly north. There has been a large wreck of this
species up and down the east coast, particularly SEQ/northern NSW.
Moving out, a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were noted, foraging, until
at 0655 hrs, just 8 nm off the coast a large shaped loomed in from the
north, a worn plumaged Shy Albatross cauta/steadi type with a totally
bleached out white head. We stopped the vessel and fed this bird for a
while before it headed south and we moved on. Cauta/steadi types are
uncommon winter visitors at best in these waters let alone a bird in

Over the next hour or so, species sighted were just more Wedge-tailed
and Short-tailed Shearwaters until the 50 fathom mark when the berley
bag was lowered astern and at 0805 hrs the first Wilson*s Storm-Petrel
appeared in the wake along with an ever increasing bunch of Short-tailed
Shearwaters. This continued until we reached the drift point at the
Riviera grounds where we noted an abundance of bait and a largish
feeding flock of Short-tailed and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. At least the
Short-taileds out wide had found some food source unlike the starving
birds closer to shore, which now found their selves at the point of no

On stopping here, the foraging shearwaters headed over us on dropping
the berley over and almost immediately at 0935 hrs another Shy
Albatross, this one a much fresher plumaged bird, also a sub-adult
appeared, this one staying for some considerable time, although unlike
the first bird never feeding close to the vessel. By 0940 hrs the
numbers of Wilson*s Storm-Petrels had built up to 15, when the first
Black-bellied Storm-Petrel and Providence Petrel arrived in the slick.
All the birds were very hungry and were feeding that close that even
with a short handled net one could have plucked several birds at once
from off the water. The storm-petrels in particular warmed to Rob
Morris* fish bomb mix which broke up into tiny storm-petrel sized
morsels and they were literally climbing over other birds to get to it.

Experienced sea-birders will know that Short-tailed Shearwaters
although a compact species are quite rotund but a lot of those present
at the start of the drift were showing more of a Wedge-tailed Shearwater
type jizz, courtesy of a long flight and bad weather and other factors.
At 1050 hrs a hoped for prediction for the day arrived from the north a
fast flying Mottled Petrel, typically shooting quickly through although
some *shooters* got some record shots. Just 20 minutes later a lone
White-faced Storm-Petrel appeared on the starboard side with just two
observers getting good enough views of it. This constitutes the first
Spring Southport record for this species but as some quite possibly
winter in the Coral Sea along with other storm-petrel species, hardly

Large numbers of both Short-tailed Shearwaters and Wilson*s
Storm-Petrels were arriving mainly from the south interspersed with
Wedge-tailed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters, Providence Petrels and
Black-bellied Storm-Petrels, when at 1125 hrs a Gould*s Petrel made a
timely appearance and gave superb close-up  views for at least 20
minutes. Fifteen minutes later at 1140 hrs a menacing shape loomed up
close in the slick, a dark plumaged South Polar Skua, not unexpected
given the amount of Short-tailed Shearwaters passing through, this bird
remaining for a few minutes and allowing a few photographs. 

At 1205 hrs we headed back up the slick and then for home with several
Short-tailed Shearwaters and Wilson*s Storm-Petrels following the
vessel almost all the way back. At 1330 hrs on a warm current line
another Mottled Petrel zoomed in from the north and it was decided to
stay for a few minutes and drop some more berley as several other birds
appeared including the second Hutton*s Shearwater for the day. Sure
enough, a second Mottled Petrel appeared soon afterward but it too,
passed quickly to the south. Mottled Petrel by the way was a new species
for most of the punters on board, surprisingly. Nothing much of note
then until just outside the seaway over the tide current line with 20
Little Terns in a fishing party.


Wilson*s Storm-Petrel * 356 (70)
White-faced Storm-Petrel * 1 
Black-bellied Storm-Petrel * 10 (3)
Shy Albatross, cauta/steadi * 2 (1)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater * 35 (20)
Flesh-footed Shearwater * 6 (2)
Short-tailed Shearwater * 219 (60)
Hutton*s Shearwater * 2 (1)
Providence Petrel * 34 (6)
Mottled Petrel * 3 (1)
Gould*s Petrel * 1 
Little Black Cormorant * 2 
South Polar Skua * 1 
Little Tern * 20 
Crested Tern * 5 (2)
Silver Gull * 1 

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