Vessel: 37ft monohull, MV Grinner
Crew: Craig Newton (skipper) Gail Le Mesurier
Weather conditions: A high south of New Zealand extended as a ridge over SEQ waters producing very light SE winds, mostly < 10 knots. Heavy cloud, with rain close to coast easing to light cloud then mostly fine conditions later. Hot & sultry conditions with maximum air temp. 30°, barometric pressure 1008 hPa.
Sea conditions: Mainly calm seas on up to 1.5 metre swell. Sea surface temps. 26.4° C at the Seaway, rising to 27.1° C at the shelf-break and a maximum of 28.2° C at the widest drift point.
Left the Seaway at 0620 hrs and headed for the ‘Rivieras’ 28 nm ENE of the Southport Seaway. Reached that drift point at 0945 hrs and drifted there for a while then headed to Jim’s Mountain approx. 7 nm to the north. Continued to drift there until 1240 hrs when headed for home. Returned to the Southport Seaway at 1530 hrs, total duration of trip 9 hrs 10 mins.
Just after leaving the seaway we encountered a trawler with a fair amount of birds around it consisting of mainly Silver Gulls, Crested Terns and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters but also a good gathering of Pomarine Jaegers and a lone Arctic Jaeger. Very little sighted on the way out across the Shelf and crossed the Shelf just after 0900 hrs with still very little being noted, just the odd Wedge-tailed Shearwater. Reached the Rivieras at 0945 hrs just as a largish, all dark petrel crossed in front of the bows, Southport’s first summer sighting of Black Petrel, which sadly kept flying in a southward direction. Drifted here for some half an hour with nothing else appearing so it was decided to head for Jim’s Mountain, a few miles to the north.
Arrived at Jim’s at 1100 hrs with only a family group of 3 Sooty Terns sighted on the way there. As we were arriving at this final drift point a white bird could be seen on the water, a sub-adult White-tailed Tropicbird which we overshot slightly. We slowly backed up to the bird, which allowed us to get closer than I’ve been before, before deciding to take off low past the boat, then soaring high and disappearing off to the east. Lots of photographs taken of this extremely photogenic species.
Continued to drift with very little appearing, the seas were flat and there was little wind to carry the scent of the berley. With just the occasional Wedge-tailed Shearwater putting in an appearance the first Tahiti Petrel cruised in just after 1130 hrs with the numbers soon building up to 5 individuals. At 1145 hrs a ‘cookilaria’ type shot across the front of the vessel and luckily several punters got some distant shots off as the initial ID caused some confusion. Even on studying the many photos there was some conjecture but finally it wore down to a heavily worn plumaged Gould’s Petrel. Still not much appearing save for Tahiti Petrels and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters until 1225 hrs when a much anticipated White-necked Petrel appeared briefly but fairly close to the vessel, before it too flew off to the south.
Headed back to the Seaway at 1240 hrs and little else except Wedge-tailed Shearwaters observed on the way back over the Shelf. Just before the Seaway a large feeding flock of small terns were sighted around the ‘Deadmans’ area just to the north and we swung over to investigate. Amongst the large numbers of Common and Little Terns and Wedge-Tailed Shearwaters were single Great-winged Petrel and Hutton’s Shearwater.
White-tailed Tropicbird – 1
Black Petrel – 1
Wedge-tailed Shearwater – 153 (60)
Hutton’s Shearwater - 1
Tahiti Petrel – 10 (5)
Great-winged Petrel – 1
Gould’s Petrel – 1
White-necked Petrel – 1
Pied Cormorant – 1
Pomarine Jaeger – 9
Arctic Jaeger – 1
Sooty Tern – 3
Little Tern – 40
Common Tern – 60
Crested Tern – 275 (270)
Silver Gull – 50