Weather conditions : A Ridge along the east coast of Queensland with a weak
High in the west Tasman brought light east to southeast winds onto the SEQ
coast, with the wind freshening to 15 knots from the northeast in the
afternoon. A fine, sultry, December day, with just light, high cloud at times.
Visibility, very good, max. air temperature 29°C. Barometer, 1016 hPa.
Sea conditions: Calm seas on probably less than a metre swell for most of the
morning, increasing to about 1.5 metres by late morning, with seas rising
slightly by mid afternoon. Sea surface temperatures; 24.2°C at the Seaway,
26.1°C at the Shelf-break with a max. of 27.3°C at the widest point.
Surprisingly the current was running at only .5 of a knot.
Skipper: Craig Newton.
Leader & organizer: Paul Walbridge.
Pax: Brian Russell, Steve Murray, Chris Clark, Jack Brandt, Stewart Pell, David
Attrill, Frances Attrill, David Attrill (jun), Robert Attrill, Judith Hoyle,
Peter OMeara, Kathy Wilk, Peter Wilk.
Headed out of the Southport Seaway at 0630 hrs and proceeded ENE to a spot
called the Rivieras a few kilometers south of the popular Jims Mountain,
approx. 54 kilometres ENE of the Seaway. Arrived there at 1000 hrs and tried
several drifts over the next three hours, heading back for home at approx. 1300
hrs, arriving back at the Seaway at 1533 hrs. Duration of trip about 9 hrs.
Heading out, a couple of trawlers were noted coming back in so a raft or two of
shearwaters were a distinct possibility close in. Sure enough at 0650 hrs a
large raft of shearwaters was located, consisting of mainly Wedge-tails but
also several Huttons Shearwaters and at least 30 resting, still migrating
Short-tailed Shearwaters. Then, a shout went out, with two small, grey birds,
first sitting on the water then flying close around the vessel for several
minutes, only the second record for Southport of Grey Ternlet. The first
record, in 1997 also comprised of a pair.
Continued to head out to the Shelf-break with both Pomarine & Arctic Jaegers
sighted and the occasional Wedge-tail, Short-tailed & Huttons Shearwaters.
Reached the Shelf-break at approx. 0845 hrs with the first Tahiti Petrel of the
day appearing closely to port, immediately, joined by the first Goulds Petrel
of the day. Reached the Rivieras at 1000 hrs where birds located immediately
where huge numbers of pelagic fish such as Yellowfin Tuna to 1.5 metres and 10
kg+ Mahi Mahi were present & the next cookilaria in the form of a Black-winged
Petrel circled the boat. The skipper couldnt help himself and we soon had
onboard 3 Mahi Mahi & a Yellowfin. At one point I counted 8 Mahi Mahi (
Dolphinfish) at the back of the vessel, on the surface, eating my shark liver.
Bugger that, I told the skipper we were here for birding & we moved a couple of
kilometres eastward & started a new drift.
This was to no avail as the Mahi Mahi merely followed us and the birds seemed
to be more interested in the pelagic activity than our berley, that is until it
was almost time to go. In the meantime, a good variety of species appeared
around the vessel with several Sooty Terns another Goulds Petrel and the only
Kermadec Petrel of the day, a dark bird, putting in an appearance. On the way
back, a lone Long tailed Jaeger, still in Slope Waters was the only new
addition for the day.
Not a bad December day really, with a total of 16 species outside the Seaway,
8 of which were Procelariiform and no Albatross to bolster the numbers. By the
way, The Mahi Mahi tasted delicious that night.
Tahiti Petrel - 11 (2)
Kermadec Petrel -1
Black-winged Petrel -1
Goulds Petrel -2 (1)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater -443 (300)
Flesh-footed Shearwater -4 (1)
Short-tailed Shearwater- 73 ( 30)
Huttons Shearwater -10 (6)
Pomarine Jaeger -3 (2)
Arctic Jaeger -1
Long-tailed Jaeger- 1
Silver Gull -2
Crested Tern -22 (6)
Sooty Tern -15 (8)
Common Noddy -1
Grey Ternlet - 2
I'd like to thank those of you on Birding-Aus who came out with us during the
year and also wish all on Birding-Aus a safe & happy Xmas & New Year,
Cheers Paul W.
Next years pelagic dates are:Jan 26th
Feb - 16th
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