Southport Pelagic 18/10/03.

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Southport Pelagic 18/10/03.
From: "Paul Walbridge" <>
Date: Sun, 19 Oct 2003 15:24:44 +1000
Hi Birding-aussers, a summary of saturdays pelagic trip from Southport, Queensland.
Vessel: 60ft monohull, Skybird III.
Crew: 2
Pax: 15
Weather Conditions:
A High over the Tasman forced moderate E-SE winds on to the South Queensland coast, producing isolated squally showers early, with the wind lightening off later in the day to E-NE and conditions clearing. Maximum temp. 24C, barometric pressure 1020 hPa. Visibilty outside of squalls, good to excellent.
Sea Conditions:
Seas to 1.5 metres at times, on a light swell. Sea surface temp. 23C inshore, 24C at Shelf-break & 25C in Slope waters. Southerly current out wide to 2 knots.
After our disastrous winter with June-August a no go and September a no wind/no birds day we were due for a change of luck & some. We were not to be disappointed, in fact one well known Gent from the deep south finally had a 'monkey' removed from his back (someone cruelly suggested 'gorilla'). I'm sure that person will have something to 'CROW' about.
On leaving the Seaway at 0720 hrs it was not long before we located a couple of large rafts of mainly Wedge-tailed Shearwaters with the first good sighting of the day, a lone Buller's Shearwater. We then headed out over the Shelf to our usual 'drift point' out wide with a few Wilson's Storm Petrels & Sooty Terns, plus a Cape Petrel and Long-tailed Jaeger showing promise of things to come.
On entering Slope waters, some time was wasted while caught up in an extensive rain squall and we were forced down to a crawl. Visibility at that point was poor and we were in a main shipping channel - the radar was constantly manned!! With the squall finally passing, we sped out to the drift area approx. 56 kilometres ESE of Southport, stopping adjacent to a party of feeding shearwaters & Sooty Terns at 1120 hrs.
The Flesh-footed Shearwaters were first to arrive to the chum offered, followed by Wedge-tails and Wilson's Storm Petrels. With the first of what became a procession of Kermadec Petrels arriving, one of the real surprises of the day appeared as if from nowhere - a Gibson's Albatross. This bird remained close to the vessel for almost the remainder of the drift. Black-bellied Storm Petrels & Tahiti Petrels were now starting to arrive in reasonable numbers close to the stern of the vessel, offering amazing photo opportunities
With plenty of birds of good variety around & still arriving, I'd negotiated  for an extension of the drift but by 1330 hrs it was time to start the long haul home. The ever hungry Flesh-foots continued to follow in the vessels wake and within 15 minutes whilst still in Slope waters a hulking, menacing shape with dazzling white wing flashes loomed astern - an intermediate South Polar Skua - which remained in view for a good 15-20 mintes. This was followed shortly after by the last surprise bird for the day, a White-headed Petrel.
Little of note crossing back over the Shelf, with a fishing party of about 350 Little Terns interspersed with the occasional Common Tern greeting us on the shallow 'banks' outside of the Seaway on our return. It was a long day, over 9 1/2 hours but enjoyed by all, with some patrons managing up to 7 or more new species.
Cape Petrel - 1
Tahiti Petrel - 9
Providence Petrel - 5
Kermadec Petrel - 4 (2 light intermediate, 2 dark)
White-headed Petrel - 1
Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 866
Buller's Shearwater - 1
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 38
Short-tailed Shearwater - 29
Fluttering Shearwater - 1
Hutton's Shearwater - 2
Gibson's Albatross - 1
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 32
Black-bellied Storm Petrel - 6
South Polar Skua - 1
Pomarine Jaeger - 2
Long-tailed Jaeger - 1
Crested Tern - 12
Common Tern - 2
Little Tern - 350
Sooty Tern - 20
Very little to report, the Hump-backs appear to have finally moved back south and just the occasional pod of Offshore Bottle-nosed Dolphins were encountered.
I'll be posting next years itinerary onto Birding-aus shortly. Cheers - Paul W.


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