Southport Pelagic 19th April (Hard days plod).

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Southport Pelagic 19th April (Hard days plod).
From: "Paul Walbridge" <>
Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2003 16:03:03 +1000
Hi Birding-aussers, here is the report for saturdays' 19th April pelagic from Southport.
Vessel: 53ft monohull Flying Fish II.
Crew: 2.
Pax: 17 (5 new).
Weather: A stationary High over Tasmania combined with a Low over the Tasman to 'squeeze up' a strong SE flow onto the east coast. Moderate to fresh SE winds to 20 knots early, increasing to 25-30 knots at widest drift point. From early afternoon several squally rain fronts passed through with the wind at times gusting to 35 knots. Visibility good until turning for home, due to constant spray and squally conditions. Barometric pressure 1024hPa & rising, maximum air temp. 24C.
Seas: On leaving the Seaway 1.5 metre seas on 2 metre swell rising to at the widest point up to 2.5 metre seas on up to 4 metre swell. Seas easing slightly on the way back, when getting closer to land. Water temp. not taken.
By Friday evening no Strong Wind Warning was current so the charter operator left the call to me (none of their boats had gone out on that day). On leaving the Seaway conditions started to deteriorate so it was decided to head ENE to make things more comfortable, thereby maximising achievable distance from shore.
It wasn't until we had reached the widest drift point, approx. 63 kilometres ENE of the Seaway that we fully appreciated the conditions we were in. The vessel was quite stable generally but the occasional call of "watch this one" saw most of us rushing back to cover as a wall of water came rushing at us side-on, soaking the unfortunates not watching or listening.
Because of the conditions the birds found it easier to sight the 'berley' close to the vessel and great views were had of Providence Petrels, Tahiti Petrels & Wilson's Stormies down to less than 5 metres at times. Other highlights were of brief, but good views of a Kermadec Petrel (seen by only a few) and of 5 White Terns together, low over the water due to the conditions. Although generally, most birds were nice & close, I doubt whether many photos were taken due to the constant spray and movement.
Turning back for home saw the cessation of all recording and observing, with everyone jockeying for the dryest, most comfortable position. Most of the journey back was at a crawling 6 knots and on arriving back, under cover of darkness the radio crackled "Strong Wind Warning issued for blah, blah, blah". (yeah, right, guess who gave 'em that info!!).
Despite the conditions, these converted Western Australian cray boats handle these conditions with aplomb and at no point were we in any danger, only 3 people were sick (none of the 1st timers).
Tahiti Petrel - 29 (7)
Providence Petrel - 28 (7)
Kermadec Petrel - 1
Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 92 (30)
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 9 (2)
Hutton's Shearwater - 2
Fluttering/Hutton's Shearwater - 5
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 33 (10)
Australasian Gannet - 1
Arctic Jaeger - 1
Crested Tern - 6
White Tern - 6 (5)
Next trip is saturday May 17th, hope to meet some of you out there. Cheers - Paul Walbridge.
Contact: PH. (H) 61 7 3391 8839  (W) 61 7 3350 8258
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