Hi All, last months trip was all about Storm-Petrels, this month, it's
all about the Prions. Read on.
Location: Southport, Queensland
Vessel: 37 ft Monohull, M.V. Grinner
Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)
Pax: Paul Walbridge (leader & organizer), Brian Russell, Stuart
Pickering, Steve Murray, William Abbott, John Woods, Brian Coates,
Richard Noske, Kevin Delahoy, James Stephens, Christine Hackwood.
Weather conditions: A high centred just south of Victoria and moving
slowly eastward extended a ridge into Queensland bringing strong
southerlies and rain periods to SEQ on the Saturday easing on Sunday.
On leaving the Seaway, fine conditions with light winds, increasing on
the way out to 10+ knots with cloud increasing to heavy, with frequent
rain squalls. Visibility only moderate, with maximum air temp. 18*C,
barometric pressure 1024 hPa.
Sea conditions: Light seas on a low swell on leaving the Seaway,
increasing to 1.5 metres on up to 2 metre swell out wide. Sea surface
temps. 19.2*C at the Seaway, rising to 21.9*Cat the Shelf-break and a
maximum of 22.1 *C at the widest point.
Left the Seaway at 0700 hrs and headed out to the Riviera grounds 28 nm
ENE of Southport crossing the Shelf-break at roughly 1100 hrs and
arriving at the widest drift at 1135 hrs. Drifted south until 1300 hrs
then headed for home arriving back at the Seaway at 1550 hrs. Total
duration of trip 8 hrs 50 mins.
On leaving the Seaway nothing much of note save for the odd
Australasian Gannet and Crested Tern but just a couple of miles offshore
the first Fairy Prion was encountered so things were starting to look
promising. There seemed to be little trawler activity but just a few
minutes later we headed for a charter fishing vessel which had birds
around it, namely our first Brown Skua for a couple of years and the
first Yellow-nosed Albatross of the day. We stayed in the vicinity for a
while, while people on board took photos and then proceeded east with
more Fairy Prions sighted and a couple of juvenile Black-browed
Albatrosses within minutes of each other.
With the days preceding bearing quite strong sou-easterly onshore winds
it wasn*t at all surprising that birds normally sighted out wide were
being encountered quite close in and just after 8 am we encountered the
only prawn trawler of the day which had another juv. Black-browed
Albatross and 3 Yellow-nosed Albatrosses behind it, plus another Fairy
Prion and the first Wilson*s Storm-Petrel of the day. Proceeded on and
just a few minutes later and just 6 nm from shore 2 more Yellow-nosed
Albatrosses and the first pterodromas of the day in the form of single
Providence Petrel and dark phase Kermadec Petrel, the closest inshore
that I*ve seen either in SEQ waters.
Kept heading out eastward over the Shelf with just a few Australasian
Gannets noted and the occasional Fairy Prion, Yellow-nosed Albatross and
Providence Petrel, when at 1030 and still a couple of nm short of the
Shelf-break a different albatross appeared around the vessel,
Southports* second ever Buller*s Albatross, a full adult bird and
enough to stop the boat for a few minutes as the bird was ravenous &
punters on board wanted photos of one of the planets most stunning
albatrosses. At one point the skipper could be seen to feed the bird
with one hand and phone-cam it full frame with the other. It was shortly
joined by two more Yellow-nosed Albatrosses and increasing numbers of
Providence Petrels and Fairy Prions and another Wilson*s
We were losing time with all the stoppages and it was time to move on
and at 1135 hrs just 2 nm short of the Rivieras a squall loomed ahead,
so the skipper and I decided to pull up and start to berley. Almost
immediately on doing so and with rain starting to fall, 4 prions landed
beside the vessel and started to feed, one of these was obviously a
Fairy Prion but the other 3 were darker and heavier looking and I called
people*s attention to them. I initially thought they were Antarctic
Prions but on closer scrutiny that night on my laptop it soon became
apparent they were Salvin*s Prions (since confirmed by several
independent sources). Lots of gripping photographs were taken of this
rarely photographed species.
More prions began to appear in some numbers including Antarctic, Fairy
and at least one if not more Slender-billed Prions plus more photos
taken of the Salvin*s Prions in flight. Another dark-phase Kermadec
Petrel appeared around the vessel and over the next hour seemingly kept
appearing but on once again on scrutinising the images, one was in
fairly fresh plumage and two were showing different moult, so actually 3
dark plumaged birds were present. 1300 hrs and it was time to return and
3 Yellow-nosed Albatrosses followed us back and at 1440 hrs, we stopped
and 7 Yellow-nosed Albatrosses surrounded the vessel plus Wilson*s
Storm-Petrel, Fairy Prion and Providence Petrel. Just a few more
Australasian Gannets on heading back to shore.
Wilson*s Storm-Petrel * 6 (1)
Black-browed Albatross * 3 (1)
Yellow-nosed Albatross * 22 (7)
Buller*s Albatross * 1
Salvin*s Prion * 3 (3)
Antarctic Prion * 16 (8)
Slender-billed Prion * 1+
Fairy Prion * 20 (6)
Kermadec Petrel * 4 (all dark phase)
Providence Petrel * 39 (15)
Australasian Gannet * 20 (3)
Brown Skua * 1
Crested Tern * 16 (10)
Silver Gull * 8
There are still several vacancies for the August 20th pelagic and all
most welcome. Contact Paul Walbridge on (PH) (H) 07 3256 4124 (W) 07
3139 4584 E-mail:
Cheers - Paul W.
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