Hi All, once again Southport saw the year out with a bang and it was a
particularly pleasant day out on the Blue Paddock, our interstate
visitors particularly impressed.
Location: Southport, Queensland
Vessel: 37 ft monohull, MV Grinner
Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)
Pax:m Paul Walbridge (leader & organiser), Brian Russell, Rob, Morris,
Jon Norling, Glen Pacey, Dave Torr, Iain Denham, Chloe Youl, Richard
Noske, Colin Reid, Niel Bruce, Jim Sneddon, Richard Thomis, Daniel
Thomis, Alex Thomis.
Weather conditions: In the week leading up to the trip there had been
moderate to strong SE winds, brought on by a high over the Tasman with a
deepening trough over the Coral Sea. On the day, light SE winds to about
10 knots easing off even more during the morning, switching around to NE
during the afternoon. Just some light cloud early, with visibility
generally excellent. Max. air temperature 27 * C, barometer 1016 hPa.
Sea conditions: Conditions eased off considerably over the Friday
evening with calm seas on a swell up to 2 metres decreasing as the day
wore on. Sea-surface temperatures, 23.7* C at the Seaway and a max. of
26.4* C at the Shelf-break. EAC running
Left the Seaway at 0600 hrs and headed out ENE towards the Riviera
grounds some 26 nm. Crossed the Shelf-break at 0855 hrs and reached our
final drift point at 0920 hrs. Drifted south in the current for 6.5 nm
until 1240 hrs, then headed for home. Reached the Seaway at 1510 hrs,
duration of trip, 9 hours 10 minutes.
On leaving the Seaway, 2 trawlers were already at the entrance and it
was some eight minutes later when we encountered the final returning
vessel which had just a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters plus singles of
Short-tailed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters and a lone Pomarine Jaeger.
Shortly after at 0615 hrs and just 3 nm offshore a large dark shape
loomed from astern, passing over us just briefly before heading south
* a dark phase South Polar Skua, with the pale nuchal collar
showing clearly and hastily taken photographs showing an obvious whitish
area above the bill. Sighting will be submitted to BARC.
Not much of note crossing the shelf, with just the occasional Pomarine
Jaeger and Wedge-tailed Shearwater until just inside the shelf-break at
0850 hrs, when a Black Petrel appeared in front of the bows, passing
close down the port side and around the stern of the vessel as we
stopped but it just kept going, to the south. With the berley bag
bouncing in the water and putting out a nice slick we had began to
attract a few birds, first of all some Great-winged Petrels, then the
first Kermadec Petrel of the day at 0910 hrs.
Just 10 minutes later, still a few miles short of the Rivieras we
happened upon a substantial feeding flock of mainly Wedge-tailed
Shearwaters and Sooty Terns in a warm current flow and the sounder
showing substantial bait activity, so we decided to drift at this point.
After a few minutes the Wedge-taileds and Sooty Terns stayed with the
baitfish but more Great-winged (Grey-faced) Petrels began to arrive in
some numbers and the heavily in moult birds of various ages fed heartily
on the berley thrown over, devouring it as quickly as we could offer it.
Another Kermadec Petrel arrived from the north along with more
Flesh-footed Shearwaters and with the Great-winged Petrels now arriving
in some numbers the next new arrival for the day happened to be the
first *cookilaria* a Black-winged Petrel, which although giving good
views, quickly headed off to the south.
At 1100 hrs the first Gould*s Petrel appeared, again from the NE and
was more accommodating than the Black-winged Petrel, performing a couple
of circuits. At 1130 hrs a lone Long-tailed Jaeger did a flyby
completing the list of jaegers for the day and it was from then that the
Kermadec Petrels started to appear at regular intervals from the north ,
with at one point up to three around the vessel and with highly variable
plumage, some greyish, some sandy coloured intermediates and a couple of
dark birds. Several of these birds showing quite advanced secondary
moult. Another Gould*s Petrel appeared, this one being very
accommodating for the photographers on board and shortly after at 1200
hrs the first belated appearance of a Tahiti Petrel, much to my relief!
In the next 40 minutes before heading for home, another Tahiti Petrel
appeared and gave good, close-up views along with more Kermadec Petrels
and the ever present Great-winged Petrels. Great-winged Petrel was once
considered an uncommon to rare visitor at best to this region but in the
last couple of years is occurring in similar numbers to NSW, where it
has always been a summer fixture. On heading for home at 1240 hrs we
encountered another feeding party shortly after with several
Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, yet another Gould*s Petrel and a second
Arctic Jaeger for the day. On crossing back over the Shelf, little of
note but getting closer to the coast small parties of southward moving
Short-tailed Shearwaters began to cross past us again.
Black Petrel * 1
Wedge-tailed Shearwater * 264 (100)
Flesh-footed Shearwater * 22 (6)
Short-tailed Shearwater * 67 (30)
Tahiti Petrel * 2
Kermadec Petrel * 12 (3)
Great-winged Petrel * 139 (40)
Gould*s Petrel * 3 (1)
Black-winged Petrel * 1
Pied Cormorant * 4
South Polar Skua * 1
Pomarine Jaeger * 6 (1)
Arctic Jaeger * 2 (1)
Long-tailed Jaeger * 1
Sooty Tern * 16 (12)
Crested Tern * 35 (30)
Please note that the January 26th 2013 pelagic has now come forward to
the 19th as the scheduled game fishing tournament has been pushed to the
12th. Once again Birding-aussers, thank you for your support and I hope
to see some of you out on a pelagic. Seasons greetings and a very happy
and safe New Year to you all. Cheers - Paul W.
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