Southport Pelagic 19th Jan. 2013

To: <>
Subject: Southport Pelagic 19th Jan. 2013
From: "Paul Walbridge" <>
Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2013 07:40:47 +1000
Hi All, by now the news will be out but here is the full report for

Location: Southport, Queensland
Date: 19/1/2013
Vessel: 37 ft Steber monohull, MV Grinner
Crew: Darren Shringles (skipper)
Pax: Paul Walbridge(leader & organiser), Rob Morris, Carl Billingham,
Stuart Pickering, Brian Russell, Steve Murray, Todd Burrows, Colin Reid,
Judith Hoyle, Kathy Wilk, Chris Wiley, Dick Andersson, Andrew
Sutherland, Rick Franks, Greg Anderson.

Weather conditions:
A high over the Tasman extended a weak ridge along the southern
Queensland coast. Light northerly winds early, freshening to 10-15 knots
by mid morning and increasing to 15-20 knots from the SE with the
southerly change, late afternoon. Fine for most of the day, with
increasing light cloud until the change late in the day with increasing
heavy cloud with rain. Max. air temp. 30* C, barometer 1008 hPa.

Sea conditions:
Light seas on a low swell early on and with the wind speed increasing,
seas rising to a metre on a 1.5 metre swell by mid-morning. With the
southerly change arriving late afternoon, seas rose considerably on a 2
metre swell. Sea-surface temps. 23.7* C at the seaway rising to 26.9* C
at the Shelf-break and 27.4* at the widest drift point. EAC out wide
running at 3.5 knots.

Left the Seaway at 0550 hrs and proceeded out ENE to Jim*s Mountain,
some 30 nautical miles. Reached the Shelf-break at 0815 hrs and on to
the final drift at 0850 hrs. Proceeded to drift for approx. 11 nautical
miles until 1220 hrs when it was decided to head for home. Unfortunately
the batteries had failed and after much effort with the mobile phones,
able to text to shore and arrange for assistance. The boat owner,
organised a new battery and rescue vessel and the rendezvous occurred at
sometime after 1700 hrs by which time we had drifted another 10 nautical
miles to the SE. Arrived back at the Seaway at 2100 hrs, duration of
trip 15 hrs 30 mins.
On leaving the seaway encountered several returning trawlers, three of
which were checked and produced nothing more than a few Pied & Little
Black Cormorants, Silver Gulls and Crested Terns and only two tubenose
species, Wedge-tailed and Fluttering Shearwaters. On lowering the berley
bag over the stern at the 50 fathom mark, nothing seemed to be attracted
until just before the Shelf-break with a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters
appearing astern. On reaching the drift point at Jim*s Mountain and
throwing berley over the side the first birds arrived almost
immediately, with 3 Tahiti Petrels quickly gliding in, followed
immediately by a couple of Great-winged Petrels, now showing a much
advanced state of plumage moult compared to the previous month.
For the next hour or so, Tahiti Petrels and Great-winged Petrels
streamed in from the south and at 0930 hours a feeding party was noted
just to the south, with these birds comprising of mainly Wedge-tailed
Shearwaters and Sooty Terns gradually drifting over to us. Typically, an
adult Sooty Tern with a juvenile closely in tow, both calling loudly,
came right to the vessel, with the adult dipping and picking up some
berley, rising & then dropping the food to encourage the young bird to
do the same, neither bird of course actually eating the berley. At 1005
hrs the first Kermadec Petrel arrived, again from the south, along with
another 6 Tahiti Petrels and a Black Noddy. 
Another Kermadec Petrel arrived at 1025 hrs and at 1035 hrs the first
Streaked Shearwater for the season arrived with just brief views at a
distance, before it disappeared to the south. For the next half an hour
it was basically Tahiti, Great-winged and Kermadec Petrels arriving
astern from the south until at 1100 hrs there were up to 4 Kermadec
Petrels around the vessel. More Great-winged, Tahiti and Kermadec
Petrels were arriving along with Wedge-tailed Shearwaters when at 1150 a
suspected Fregetta storm-petrel arrived astern, all but too briefly but
subsequent photographs revealed it to be a New Zealand Storm-Petrel,
which untypically did not hang around. Not long after, another Fregetta
type arrived, with very pale underparts but the jury is still out on
this bird and photographs need to be further scrutinised (This bird does
not appear in the list below).
As mentioned above, we were heading for home at 1220 hours when trouble
struck and with the ensuing events unfolding the skipper advised us to
just carry on doing our thing, whilst he made the appropriate
arrangements, just 15 minutes later a rather large, broad winged
Storm-Petrel appeared on the starboard side of the vessel and flew
astern, not particularly close, left to right and disappeared.  A call
from one. I think Andrew, *it has a white throat* then someone else,
Rob I think, *there is a breast band* or words to that effect.  A
quick check of the images on the camera LCDs confirmed what we had just
witnessed, Australias first mainland sighting of Polynesian
Storm-Petrel! This and the New Zealand Storm-Petrel sighting are subject
to BARC submission and approval.
So, the vessel kept drifting to the south and 20 minutes later,
finally, the first *cookilaria* of the day turned up, a Gould*s
Petrel and it was particularly accommodating, providing very close views
to the punters on board who had never seen one. Shortly after, with the
light being compromised with the increasingly heavy cloud a near adult
Red-tailed Tropicbird arrived and spent the next several minutes
thrilling everyone on board, including the skipper with its close fly
byes. Tropicbirds of both species invariably perform around a vessel as
they are both highly inquisitive species. So, from then on it was pretty
much more of the same, with Tahiti and Great-winged Petrels arriving
with the occasional Sooty Tern, until the last new species of the day,
with a Wilson*s Storm-Petrel arriving astern, before heading south at
1515 hrs.
Red-tailed Tropicbird * 1 
Polynesian Storm-Petrel * 1
Wilson*s Storm-Petrel * 1 
New Zealand Storm Petrel* 1 
Wedge-tailed Shearwater * 226 (100)
Streaked Shearwater * 1 
Fluttering Shearwater * 2 
Tahiti Petrel* 93 (11)
Kermadec Petrel * 11 (4)
Great-winged Petrel * 36 (6) all P. m. gouldi
Gould*s Petrel * 1 
Little Black Cormorant * 11 
Pied Cormorant * 4 
Black Noddy * 1 
Sooty Tern * 19 (12)
Crested Tern * 74 (60)
Silver Gull * 28 (12)


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