Southport Pelagic 23rd March 2013

To: <>
Subject: Southport Pelagic 23rd March 2013
From: "Paul Walbridge" <>
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2013 08:32:32 +1000
Hi All, here is the report for last Saturdays' Southport pelagic.

Location: Southport, Queensland
Date: 23/3/2013
Vessel: 37 ft Steber monohull.
Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)
Pax: Paul Walbridge (leader & organiser), Jon Norling, Vernon,
Kretschmann, Andrew Sutherland, Russell Yong, Stuart Pickering, Angus
McNab, Steve Murray, Colin Reid, Dave Stewart, Ian Churchward, Jeanie
Churchward, Rod Gardner, Peter Morgan, Bev Morgan.

Weather conditions:
A high over New Zealand pushed a ridge up through the east Queensland
coast bringing light 5-10 knot E-NE winds early, rising to 10-15 knots
NE-N by midday. A generally fine and hot/humid day with just some light,
filtering cloud and visibility very good. Maximum air temp. 31* C,
Barometer 1016 hPa.

Sea conditions:
Light seas on a light swell on leaving the Seaway, rising to a maximum
of .5 metre seas 0n 1.5 metre swell with the increasing winds later in
the day. Sea-surface temps. 24.3* C at the Seaway, rising to 25.7* C at
the Shelf-break and 26.4 at the widest drift. EAC out wide, running at
3+ knots.

Left the Seaway at 0550 hrs and travelled out to Jim*s Mountain, some
31 nm ENE of Southport. Crossed the Shelfbreak at approx. 0815 hrs. and
reached the final drift point at 0910 hrs. Drifted in a SSE direction
until 1230 hrs when it was time to head for home but as happened in
January there was once again a problem with batteries and we couldn*t
get underway. Radioed home to the  skipper*s wife and their back-up
vessel was eventually sent with a spare battery. The boat finally
arrived at 1705 hrs and we headed for home at 1735 hrs, arriving back at
the Seaway at 2250 hrs. Total birding hours 11 hrs 45 mins, duration of
trip 17 hrs 10 mins. Total distance of drift approx. 24 nautical miles
SSE of the starting drift point.
On leaving the Seaway we ran into 5 trawlers over a distance of approx.
 5 miles and encountered a total of  7 species with Silver Gulls and
Crested Terns being predominant but with a smattering of two species of
cormorants, Pomarine Jaegers and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and a single
Hutton*s Shearwater. We then proceeded out over the shelf with very
little seen, just a few foraging Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. It wasn*t
until 0900 hrs and some way after crossing the shelf-break that we
encountered our first Tahiti Petrel, more than likely attracted to the
shark liver filled berley bag, bouncing in the water at the back of the
boat. Just five minutes later the first Great-winged Petrel turned up as
did almost immediately a White-necked Petrel, which moved on pretty
A few minutes after the drift started, with the Great-winged Petrel
numbers building the first Providence Petrel of the season appeared, an
early sighting as with last year. At 0935 hrs the first Kermadec Petrel
appeared followed shortly by another, just as a small white bird loomed
up from astern, an adult White Tern. Numbers of birds were now quickly
coming in from the south where the northerly winds were carrying the
scent of the berley, with Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Tahiti and
Great-winged Petrels being predominant. At 1015 hrs the sole Common
Noddy of the day appeared briefly before disappearing down the slick to
the north, with another Providence Petrel arriving along with even more
Tahiti Petrels and Great-winged Petrels.
At 1035 hrs the first of many Wilson*s Storm-Petrels arrived in the
slick, with a couple of this species over the next couple of hours
coming ridiculously close to the back of the vessel enabling some great
photography with the very stable conditions. So for the next couple of
hours it was pretty much the same with more Tahiti, Kermadec and
Great-winged Petrels, Wilson*s Storm-Petrels, appearing from the south
and moving up the slick, occasionally circling back and feeding at the
back of the vessel. With the vessel going nowhere at 1230 hrs when we
should have been heading for home, it just meant that much more extra
time for birding but no mega bird  this time with just Flesh-footed
Shearwater being the only added species for the day at 1350 hrs, with a
solitary bird appearing briefly. 
As the rest of the afternoon progressed the numbers of Wedge-tailed
Shearwaters gradually dropped off as they headed back to the local
colonies but a few more Kermadec Petrels appeared, mostly dark birds,
some in moult, some not and for the first time we obtained photographs
of this species actually feeding close by, on the sea surface and
aggressively so. In the past I had seen this species land to feed but
too far off to get meaningful evidence but this time several of this
species hung around for some time actively feeding and interacting with
other species. At one point, mid afternoon, the only species circling
the vessel was Tahiti Petrel as the other birds rested in the slick but
this is not an uncommon occurrence off here. As the battery replacement
went ahead at 1705 hrs there were still 8 Great-winged Petrels, 3 Tahiti
Petrels and a solitary Providence Petrel around the vessel. We then
headed home under a moonlit sky, in calm seas and all that was missing
was a Crownie or a glass of Red, celebrating another great, albeit
extended day out on the Blue Paddock.
Wilson*s Storm-Petrel * 13 (3)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater * 112 (50)
Flesh-footed Shearwater * 1 
 Hutton*s Shearwater * 1 
Tahiti Petrel * 90 (13)
Kermadec Petrel * 8 (2) 
Great-winged Petrel * 63 (8)
Providence Petrel * 5 (1)
White-necked Petrel * 1 
Little Black Cormorant * 3 
Pied Cormorant * 6 (3)
Pomarine Jaeger * 12 (3)
Common Noddy * 1 
White Tern * 1 
Crested Tern * 153 (100)
Silver Gull * 170 (100)


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